Jamie Lights Up the US

Jamie Schmidt, known locally for his lighting designs of local productions and the Mulkadee Youth Arts Festival, will travel to the USA as Lighting Designer for the Ten Tenors' Christmas Tour, which he has done for the past three years. IMAGE: Supplied

It’s hard to make Christmas performances unique: the list of popular carols is only so long. However, internationally-acclaimed ensemble the Ten Tenors have a secret weapon to freshen up their annual US Christmas Tour – and he calls Townsville home.

Jamie Schmidt has spent the past three Christmases on the road with the Ten Tenors as set and lighting designer, and will leave to do so again this November.

Jamie Schmidt. IMAGE: Sonia Warrell

“The USA is really big on Christmas shows: it’s the time of year when the Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform as well as a lot of legacy acts, and the Ten Tenors – because of their market – do a Christmas tour also,” Jamie said.

“The lighting and set does change every year. A lot of the content on a Christmas tour features similar songs, so you have to change the look every year or else it all seems the same.

“I’m hopeless on stage – I remember I won an award for something once and had to get on stage, and had trouble giving a speech for it. I’m hopeless at that sort of stuff so am quite happy to be working behind the scenes. Not only that, but I work with different facets of what I do – so with lighting and video integration becoming such an important part of shows, we’ve become content designers and learn how to produce shows as well.”

Jamie said lighting design isn’t an incredibly difficult industry to get into – if you’re willing to put the hard yards in.

“Lighting design is like any job: you only get employed once you get to a certain level. In fact we’re finding it hard to find up-and-coming lighting designers – especially in this age of instant gratification, where kids want the job title straight away instead of working up to it. At the moment, we’re trying to find young people who are interested and want to do the hard yards required. It’s not an instant process, and for me took about 15 years for me to work up to a point where I’m hired on word of mouth.

“There’s definitely talent here, and people coming through we’re keeping our eye on. With lighting designers it’s not just about being a lighting designer: it’s about being empathetic towards material you’re working on, and being nice.  We look for people who are good workers technically but who are also good people.”

The Ten Tenors’ Home for the Holidays tour stops at 17 locations across America from 2-22 December. Jamie’s lighting design will next be featured locally in the Townsville Choral Society’s We Will Rock You.

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