a field in the sky

August 21st, 1988 in Rotterdam, Netherlands must have been some kind of wonderful night. On that night, the music of composer Madrileño Mariano Lozano-Platas played to a crowd of 250,000 in attendance (and millions on TV) in an event unlike any seen/heard before. Heralding the designation of Rotterdam as the culture capital of European in 1988, and the beginning of the Festival of Rotterdam, it was his collection of macro-sized minimalist electronic songs which would soundtrack an unimaginably gigantic choreography of sound, light, and structure, dubbed “A Field In the Sky” by Irish artist Thomas Donnellan. Created using a Roland D-50, a Korg EX-800, and a Prophet 2002 sampler/synth (much like Nuno Canavarro), and released by the Grabaciones Accidentales label, A Field In the Sky/Rotterdam-88 was that rare thing: ambient music, where the “ambient” part should really read with a capital “A.” Now, “A Field In the Sky”, that was a whole lot of something else…


Under Tom’s direction, four of the world’s largest cranes (measuring nearly 1km long) and two fire boats kitted with the lighting power from 160,000 watts of halogen lights and speakers producing nearly 30,000 watts of volume, would move along to Mariano’s “dance” music. As millions tuned in to this awesome sight, culminating with the release of untold amounts of balloons across the Rotterdam sky, music filled the air, so much that Mariano could hear his music playing when he opened up the windows of his hotel room situated nearly 1km away.

What would the audience see?

The spectacle directed by computer, consists of three parts. In the first, two cranes located 20 meters from the dock and equipped with 160,000 watt halogen spotlights, will project light matching to the rhythm of the music on the water and the night sky of the port of Rotterdam.


Then a naval choreography of illuminated barges will begin, after which two bright lights will light up the night sky with a beam at a mile and a half in height. Slowly, these lights turn until they find themselves in the center of the stage, forming a giant X-ray in the sky. At that time, eight more lights will join them to raise a pyramid of light over the sky. In the meantime, several fire-fighting ships will come up with all their water hoses running.

The show, lasting 50 minutes, would end with a set of 120 horizontal lights, to a thousand white balloons rising from the water, illuminated like stars, under a crescendo of music and light.