Glastonbury 2016

Heroes tribute to David Bowie


In one of the not to be missed performances at Glastonbury 2016, an orchestra, conducted by Charles Hazlewood, performed composer Philip Glass’ Heroes Symphony in a headline set at midnight.


Filling the sky with an array of beautifully choreographed lasers, a display designed by artist Chris Levine accompanied the classical piece. Based on Bowie’s iconic 1977 album, Heroes Symphony was performed by members of the British Paraorchestra, a professional ensemble of musicians with disabilities.

Commenting earlier this week Hazelwood said, “If Bowie had any interest in what might be played by all of us after he’d gone, then I reckon a world class orchestra breathing fire into Glass’s Heroes Symphony would make him very happy indeed. And with the added genius of laser virtuoso Chris Levine creating a visual counterpoint to Glass’s luminescent textures, this will be the most extraordinary sound and vision ever witnessed at Glastonbury.”

Called the iy_project, the sonic laser show was created by Chris Levine in collaboration with Peter Hampel of Edenlab. Award winning laser specialist, ER Productions, brought Levine’s laser designs to life using a combination of high-powered OPSL lasers to create an ethereal display of geometric light forms, which complemented the highly sensory musical composition.  Known for making the impossible, possible, ER has created show stopping laser displays around the world for recording artists ranging from Kylie to Queen and at events including the 2012 Olympic Games.

To achieve the look, ER rigged Excellent 21 laser heads on the upstage truss focussed over the audience, while three single colour red Lase-Arrays sent triangular beams across the stage creating a focal point.

During the pre-programming stages at the ER facility in Dartford, the decision was made to operate the final movement and most dynamic part of Symphony live. With versatile live operating capabilities, Pangolin Beyond 2.1 operating software helped to create a very powerful finale. Midi controllers enabled Chris to control various elements of the show. 

Responsible for programming and operating the mind blowing laser display, ER Productions’ Project Manager, Andrew Turner, said “Having collaborated with Chris in the past we knew that this project would be something out of the ordinary.  In addition to the red Lase-Arrays and Excellent 21s, we created the swirling nebula patterns Chris is renowned for by projecting 18WRGBB OPSL lasers through Lumina glass. The beam quality and colour mixing of the lasers we used is second to none, making them perfect for a large outdoor festival like Glastonbury.

To achieve the right balance of atmospheric effects and counteract any weather related interference, we used a combination of Viper deLuxe and Unique hazers, eight in total, which were strategically positioned in a ring on stage, in the pit and in three audience locations.”

Marc Webber, co-founder of ER Productions added, “Working in a festival environment is challenging but our crew rose to the occasion and did us proud. At ER we are always mindful of safety, especially on a display as large as this.  The accommodating local production team and onsite health and safety offices worked closely with our team to ensure that Chris’ vision for the 45-minute performance went without hitch.”

Photo © Delmar Mavignier

How we did it


pangolin FB4 controls


tonnes of equipment


crew member