The time had come for change.
For too long I had been playing in orchestra pits where there were not enough lights to go around. For too long I'd been peering at my music and trying to read it by the dim glow from other people's stand lights. For too long I'd been lent cheap battery-powered lights that only illuminate a couple of bars on every page.
Yes, something had to give.
It was time I bought myself a stand light.
So I thought to myself, if I'm going to buy a stand light I'm going to buy a good one. I did a little bit of research and soon came across the Mighty Bright Orchestra Light which, in addition to having a catchy rhyming name, could do everything I needed. It wasn't cheap, with a retail price of £62.99, but I managed to get mine for £45 on Amazon, and I reasoned that it was worth spending a bit more in order to free myself from the horrors of pitch black sight-reading.
I must say, I was not disappointed. The first thing to note about this light is that the name is no misnomer. It's called 'Mighty Bright' for a very good reason. It has two brightness settings, but even on the lower one you could probably use this thing as a street lamp. Every little detail of the music is clearly revealed, and the fact that the lamp is so wide means that its illumination stretches right to the edges of the page, unlike with many smaller lights. The first time I ever used this light in a pit, I got a comment from the cellist remarking how bright it is. If you take a look at the picture below you will see just how much light it gives out on the low setting:
One important thing that is often neglected by stand light manufacturers is the effect on the audience. When an orchestra is visible but not the centre of attention (e.g. playing beside the stage in the absence of a pit) then poorly-designed lights can be a distraction and detract from the audience's enjoyment of the musical. The designers of this light have considered this, and been savvy enough to add a lip on the rear of the lamp. This does an excellent job of blocking the light from the audience, as you can see here:
Another great feature of this light is its versatility, brought about by the fact that it can be powered either by the mains or by three AA batteries (included). Given a choice I would always use the mains because you never have to worry about it dimming, but in many situations this is not an option so the batter power comes in very handy. I recently did a four-performance run of H.M.S. Pinafore using the batteries, and the original set survived for the whole run (although understandably the light did get gradually dimmer as the week progressed). For long runs, though, I would be tempted to employ an extension lead and power it from the mains.
While we're on the subject of mains power, there is a small complaint I feel I must make about this product. Namely, although the mains lead supplied is nice and long, it does not seem particularly robust. As you can see in the pictures below, it has a thin wire that may become damaged or broken if not treated with respect. The reason for this flimsiness is presumably the effort of the manufacturers to make the light more portable, but personally I would prefer a more sturdy cable even if it did take up a bit more room.
On the whole, then, would I recommend this light? Wholeheartedly, yes. One hundred percent, to anybody who often has to battle with the gloom of the orchestra pit. Although it is expensive, it is of exceptionally high quality and will no doubt last a long time. I have picked up on a couple of tiny niggles here and there, but really they are insignificant compared to the overall excellence of the product. I look forward to a bright future where I can actually see the notes I'm meant to be playing.