UNCG Organ Recital Hall and the Birth of the RETRO-Passive Series

It’s often said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” This is most definitely true of how our RETRO-Passive® series came about. One job’s requirements made us push the limits further on what our RETRO’s are capable of doing.

The University of North Carolina in Greensboro has a 130-seat Organ Recital Hall which provides an intimate atmosphere, featuring a stunning 35-rank pipe organ made by the Andover Organ Company of Massachusetts. The recital hall also had plenty of old 1000 watt par lamp fixtures that were outdated. They weren’t getting the efficiency they needed from them. Lamps were constantly needing to be replaced. The heat issues from them were also getting in the way of tuning and performances. In 2017 it clearly became time to take advantage of the energy savings and longer lifespan of an LED upgrade.

This was not an easy chore though. The room is also acoustically isolated from the main building. Theatre Consultants Collaborative, who designed and specified the project directed the installer, Bandit Lites, to not add any additional conduits if possible. As such, everything had to dim via line voltage smoothly. The acoustic floor of the organ hall is also near zero, so any fan-cooled LED fixtures were out of the question.

Canto USA’s RETRO series was an easy answer for a dimmable LED retrofit that dims via line voltage. Usually, the RETRO-Classic™ or RETRO-Fusion™ is quiet enough for most venues, but this was a special case. Even the small fans on Classics could be heard on the floor at less than 5 db. Never to back down from a challenge, Canto USA started to work on developing a solution. Our 150’s are fanless but we needed to develop something brighter and this would require a much larger heat sink to dissipate the heat. This project is where our entire RETRO-Passive series came from. We were able to redevelop our RETRO-Classic 700’s into RETRO-Passive 700’s required for the project. The Passives produced no sound in the hall, absolutely 0 db on the floor.

With a solution in hand, Bandit began pulling wire, installing new controls, and replacing fixtures. Dark Lite recessed cans that used Par64 lamps were customized with the adapter rings and RETROs. They also customized uplight sconces with the already passive-cooled 150s, remoting the driver assembly to keep the profile low in the sconce. These were much brighter than the quartz they removed and had a wider distribution pattern that looked great on the walls. The RETRO series fit in perfectly, replicating the previous warm Par64 light and output. The smooth dimming and even wash were a perfect match/retrofit. The room was brighter, smoother, and cooler for performers and patrons. Altogether, the project took them about one month to complete.

“The RETRO has been one of our bullet-proof fixtures on the job,” said Andrew Fisher of Bandit Lites. “We haven’t been back to touch those fixtures and appreciate the support of Canto USA on the project!”

UNCG Organ Recital Hall Blog Article Photo
UNCG Recital Hall with RETRO-Passive 700’s installed inside recessed PAR cans.
UNCG Organ Recital Hall Blog Article PAR Photo
View of RETRO-Passive 700’s inside recessed PAR cans.
UNCG Organ Recital Hall Blog Article Sconce Photo
Customized uplight sconces with RETRO-Passive 150s remoting the driver assembly to keep a low profile.

RETRO-Passive®

CantoUSA RETRO-Passive Series Product Photo

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RETRO-Fusion™

CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion Series Product Photo

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RETRO-Classic™

CantoUSA RETRO-Classic Series Product Photo

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The RETRO. 3 Years Later.

One of Artistic Concepts Group’s typical go-to solutions for houselight replacements is Canto USA’s RETRO series line, and they have produced a number of success stories with them. Fairfax High School, is one of those stories.

It’s been about 3 years and we thought we would check in to see how everything is holding up. We reached out to Andrew Redmon, Field Services Technician for Fairfax County Public Schools, and he said, “The system has performed fantastically since installation. Both the school and myself love how much brighter it is, and the whole idea of never needing to do a huge lamp replacement job again.”

Fairfax High School originally had 500watt E11 Mini Candelabras, and they replaced all 105 units with 3000K RETRO-Classic™ 500 E11 mini candelabras with short reflectors. They dim on an ETC dimming system Sensor 3 Dimmer Rack. The school went from using 500 watts to 49 watts per unit or 52,500 watts down to 5,145 watts in total. That it is over a 90% reduction in power! Replacing with the RETRO-Classic™ also increased the light quality in the room by 30-40%. This is assuming the auditorium was fully lamped, as their previous lamps would start to go out after only 2-3 months of use.

CantoUSA RETRO Before After Fairfax High School Photo

The RETRO line continues to be a fantastic product. It is a great solution for us because we can go LED, get high quality dimming, and typically be brighter than before, all without having to replace fixtures, tear up a ceiling, or run new wire. I look forward to continue to use the RETRO line in the future,” said Andrew.

Below is a video of the before/after timelapse. The video was shot with a smartphone. Please excuse an iris/aperture adjustments during dimming up or down.

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RETRO-Fusion™

CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion Series Product Photo

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RETRO-Passive®

CantoUSA RETRO-Passive Series Product Photo

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RETRO-Classic™

CantoUSA RETRO-Classic Series Product Photo

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Westwood High School Auditorium’s Transformation

Westwood High School is a high school in Mesa, Arizona. With orchestra, band, guitar, choir, and drama as part of the school’s performing arts program, the auditorium is in demand. The lights that the theater had were easy to reach for maintenance, but the lamps were too dim for the throw distance. The school reached out to Clearwing Systems Integration, with offices in Arizona, Colorado, and Wisconsin.

Before Install

CantoUSA RETRO Before Install Westwood Blog Photo
CantoUSA RETRO Before Install Westwood Blog Photo

In 2017, Westwood had 60 RETRO-Classic™ 700s at 3000K and 14 RETRO-Classic™ 150s at 3000K installed. It has been a “night and day change” according to Jill Maurer, Systems Design Engineer. “It is so bright in that auditorium now.”

After RETRO Install

CantoUSA RETRO After Install Westwood Blog Photo
CantoUSA RETRO After Install Westwood Blog Photo
CantoUSA RETRO After Install Westwood Blog Photo

An auditorium is such an important showcase of a school with all the students’ performances, assemblies, and other events. We’re pleased that our lights have made the client and dealer happy, and that they’re part of the shows and presentations at Westwood.

RETRO-Fusion™

CantoUSA RETRO-Fusion Series Product Photo

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RETRO-Passive®

CantoUSA RETRO-Passive Series Product Photo

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RETRO-Classic™

CantoUSA RETRO-Classic Series Product Photo

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