The Lighting & Audio Symposium Celebrates 10 years!

The Lighting and Audio Symposium celebrates 10 years in 2023! The event has evolved into a 4 day workshop encompassing everything from lighting programming to real world audio troubleshooting and technical application. It is held at EV world headquarters just outside of Minneapolis MN. The event has educated and trained hundreds of DJs how to become professional lighting designers and audio specialists. But how did this come to be? Here’s a little trip back to how it all started.

Back in 2012 Mike Fernino had an idea to create a lighting event where DJs who offered lighting could better learn their equipment and how to use software. Mike reached out to long-time friend and industry colleague Ben Stowe, who is the owner and founder of NLFXProfessional located in Bemidji MN. Ben had the technical knowledge to really help DJs better understand how to use their lighting and make a dramatic impact at their events. Ben agreed to join Mike Fernino in creating the event and suggested they reach out to Michael Ducot from EV (Electro Voice)  located in Burnsville MN. There was a great classroom style academy which would perfectly accommodate up to 50 attendees. The stage was set and dates were selected for March 2013.

Things came together with 40 attendees jumping on board for the content. The event started out as a 2 day workshop and featured topics such as how to market your lighting, creative design, software programming, DMX 101 and more. There even was a evening out at Mall of America where everyone took their chances riding a mechanical bull. It was a great time, but more importantly the group learned a ton of valuable content. There was a huge buzz and the word got around fast that the event was a tremendous success. So, what was supposed to be a 1 time event opened up for a second year.

The following year added more content, additional presenters and included a road trip to world famous First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. First Ave is famous as the venue which hosted the filming and played inspiration for the movie Purple Rain starring Minneapolis native, Prince. Attendees were treated to a exclusive VIP night with dinner and the viewing of the movie, Purple Rain. Not only were the attendees getting great content but having a fantastic time as well! Things were really looking like this could turn into a annual event for the Lighting Symposium.

The very next year Mike Ducot from EV created a Audio Symposium held right at the academy, so instead of a Lighting Symposium 2015 was the beginning of the Sound Symposium, which later turned into Audio Symposium. It looked like the events would be separate but Mike Ducot had other ideas and presented both Ben Stowe and Mike Fernino with the concept of merging the 2 events into one large 4 day workshop. And thus, The Lighting & Audio Symposium made its premiere in 2018.

After taking off a year the 2020 event was looking to be sold out and loaded with amazing content, but we all know how 2020 turned out. With the cancellation of the symposium came concern that this would be the end of the event. Limitations with state law, travel restrictions and even protocol from Bosch, parent company of EV looked like a anchor holding back the symposium from being able to honor the sold seats. But, with determination and the lifting of restrictions 2022 saw the return to a somewhat normal event. Even though First Ave was not available for the BIG night out on the town a trip to see the Minnesota Twins Baseball team and a road trip to the Mall of America for Axe Throwing was on the agenda. The symposium was a success yet again delivering 6 great events in a 9 year span.

And that brings us to 2023. Understanding that this will mark 10 years Mike & Ben both agreed to offer 1 more symposium to mark the special significance of 10 years educating hundreds of DJs who wanted to bring their lighting and audio game to the next level. The 2023 offering will feature topics about video mapping and projection, Chauvet Show X-press software, lighting design concept, marketing to corporate events and more. On the audio side the engineers of EV will hit on topics including wireless microphone trouble shooting, digital delay, pink noice, bass optimization, phase cancellation and much more. It will be held at EV World Headquarters in Burnsville MN on Monday May 8 – Thursday May 11. 

Reflecting back on 10 years Ben Stowe offered these thoughts. “I just wanted to help my colleagues and make a difference. That’s all I have ever wanted to do and I think we have accomplished that with the symposium!” 

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