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We’ve Expanded!


Happy fall – can you believe the summer is over?  Schools are back in session, football season is about to start (do you have your fantasy rosters set yet?), and the holidays are just around the corner!  Here at Excel, we’ve been busy with more than just our usual event productions and installations – we are excited to finally announce a new chapter for Excel:  We have re-branded as Excel Event & Lighting Solutions! 

Over the years we have become so much more than the region’s theatrical lighting resource – and our team has developed to reflect that.  When asked about the change, Frank Serruto, President of Excel, said: “It was the natural next step for us to take – our core team has always had the experience to produce a variety of events at a very high level.  Not all of our clients realize we offer complete event planning management and production, but those who have been using us over the years have come to rely on us as an extension of their own team. It was time to change our name to reflect this.”

For those of you who have followed our journey for some time, we will still be offering the same high level installations, sales, design services, and rental support that you’ve experienced all along.  But you may have also noticed some changes that have been a part of our transformation – including a move to a bigger warehouse and office space in Hunt Valley this past year.

We hope you will stay tuned as we will share more news about what we are up to … and maybe even a few insider tips about the event biz!

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Monumental Lighting Event!

Another wonderful year at the Lighting of the Monument! Big thank you to the @downtownbaltimore team for ensuring the success of the night! Special shout out to all of the performing artists,
Baltimore Symphony Musicians
Kristen Toedtman
Community Chorus of Peabody
The Baltimore City College Choir
Baltimore Symphony Musicians
Morgan State University Choir
You are all truly the stars of the evening!

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Holiday Spirit

We teamed up with R&R Events, Inc. at the Sagamore Pendry Baltimore for the Annie E. Casey Foundation Holiday Party! The AECF is a private philanthropy based in Baltimore devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. Big thank you to the AECF, Sagamore Pendry and R&R team for sharing this experience with us!

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Wedding Night at the Old Ebbitt Grill, DC

Originally Posted on The Knot Real Weddings site

Photography provided by A.J. Dunlap Photography

“Steve Coppinger, 32, an executive buyer, married Maggie Gillespie, 31, an anesthesiologist, in a beautiful and elegant wedding in Washington, D.C.The couple knew they wanted to get married in DC and ended up choosing St. John’s Episcopal in Lafayette Square as the location for the ceremony and Old Ebbitt Grill as the location for the reception. “We knew that we wanted a spring wedding, and given the location of the church we envisioned our guests strolling past the White House as they walked from the ceremony to the reception,” says the bride.”

– The Knot

The client’s color palette for the wedding and reception was a classic mix of grey, navy, and white with very simple yet elegant decor. The client wanted lighting that would not only to complement their color palette but would also make a statement in the space.

Excel plotted a design for bright elegant up-lighting around the perimeter of the room highlighting the Ebbitt’s unique architectural design. Up-lighting was also strategically placed in some of the potted natural elements in the space to draw the eye and create a more bold look. “The building already has such a unique architectural build that when mixed with the lighting elements we provided the space was completely transformed and most importantly the client was happy,” said Frank Serruto, Excel’s President and CEO.

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Lilly Rose Garden Mitzvah

Originally Posted on Mitzvah Market site

Photography provided by Silber Photography

Lilly Rose was the honoree of the night at her beautiful lily rose garden themed Bat Mitzvah held at the Four Seasons Baltimore.

“Taking direction from magazine spreads that the Bat Mitzvah Mom had saved, linens and accessories such as elegant chargers, colorful chairs, beaded napkin wraps, custom floral Gobos (light projections) and handcrafted centerpieces were selected…. The dance floor plasma screens showed off the beautiful logo and the custom floral gobos danced along the walls.”
-Mitzvah Market

Excel worked with the design team to accentuate different decorative elements with up-lighting for the walls and furniture, as well as pinspots to highlight the beautiful centerpieces. To create a show-stopping effect as soon as guests entered the ballroom, we utilized a half dozen moving profile fixtures elevated on truss towers to project custom floral gobos around the walls and on the ceiling. This showcased the power of carefully designed lighting to tie together an event space – helping to create an unforgettable experience for Lilly’s special day!

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Excel Lighting Services Highlights Baltimore Ravens Ring Ceremony

Originally Posted on Lighting and Sound America site

SuperBowl XLVII was unforgettable in many aspects; from brothers as opposing head coaches to the famous “blackout” during the second half, the game (and season) was a rich experience for SuperBowl Champion Baltimore Ravens. When the Ravens’ players, coaches, and family gathered at the team’s training facility for the SuperBowl Ring unveiling ceremony, nobody in the organization could anticipate what was going to happen, but the company says the last thing the champions expected was another blackout.

Event producer R & R Events was contracted to spearhead the event, and in turn partnered with Excel Lighting Services of Baltimore, Maryland to handle lighting production for the ring ceremony and the evening’s festivities. In turn, Excel Lighting selected veteran lighting designer Mike Lurz to create the visual atmosphere needed for the celebratory event. Excel Lighting’s president Frank Serruto and Mario Serruto developed the initial design, one that would be universal to the various segments of the evening, and then brought in Lurz to fine-tune the show.

Frank Serruto explains, “Excel does quite a bit of work with The Ravens through R & R Events, and we typically bring Mike in when we get into heavier programming of large scale events. There were a lot of initial ideas that were culled through to produce the final product. This was the first time The Ravens had done any event of this scale in their training facility, so nobody was sure what we could hang. With no approvals from any engineers, we spent several weeks getting the go-ahead for the hanging of our equipment from the ceiling.”

Lurz comments, “As a huge Ravens fan, this turned out to be one of my most memorable shows, and it literally fell in my lap. I was doing a corporate awards show tour, and Excel called asking me to design and program, which I was thrilled to accept. I arrived at programming wearing a Ravens shirt and Ravens socks, so my loyalties were fairly evident from the start!”

Not surprisingly, the lighting system had to perform multiform duties during the evening, starting with a dramatic walk-in look and through the more subdued presentation and dinner portions of the evening. Frank Serruto says, “We were going for a party atmosphere mixed with a corporate environment for the ceremony — with the ability to pinspot 60 tables for the all-important ring portion of the evening.”

To accommodate the different atmospheres, Excel and Lurz used 60 Clay Paky Sharpys, 40 Martin MAC Vipers, and 50 Color Force LED strips, the latter staying in purple throughout the evening for obvious reasons. Serruto says the Clay Paky fixtures played an integral role in the climax of the event. “The ability to switch gears in the middle from a corporate pinspot look to a party atmosphere — we felt the Sharpys were the right answer. The MAC Vipers were another big part of the show; we were looking for a unit with a little more output than a MAC 700, something that could cut through the color in the room and give us some texture and movement, and the Viper was the best fixture for that application.”

Following video presentations of season highlights, it was time to unveil the rings to the SuperBowl Champions. Lurz explains, “We used a Sharpy over each table, which worked perfectly. Anybody that’s ever done a corporate event with pin spots over the tables should know the decorator’s tendency to move the tables around a dozen times. For this show we had a secret weapon; as the Sharpys were on moving yokes they couldn’t get away from it!”

Mirroring the events of the actual game, the lighting team used a “second half blackout” to set up the ring reveal. “Following the season highlights and a huge video presentation,” says Lurz, “we went to a full blackout – it was probably the simplest but most effective lighting cue I’ve ever done. The Sharpys pinspotted each table while Mr. Bisciotti asked the players to reach down and open the crystal cubes hidden in the tables’ centerpieces, so it was a very dramatic presentation of the rings.”

“Going into this gig, I had the idea that the Sharpys were going to be pin spots sitting over the tables all the time, but it didn’t work that way. We only hit the tables twice, the first time being the restore after the blackout. I created a cue that had a ‘spark up’ to simulate the stadium lights refiring.”

After the ring ceremony, the atmosphere turned into a dance party with a performance by Jacoby Jones, players and family dancing into the night, and Lurz getting to exercise some of his rock n’ roll lighting chops. He used the Vipers to create ambient lighting looks and breakups, moving constantly throughout the room. “People say they want the corporate look and feel,” Mike laughs, “but the first time you pull out a rock n roll lighting trick — especially with that many moving lights — they love it. One of my personal highlights was witnessing Ray Lewis singing ‘Purple Rain’ as the caterers pulled tablecloths off the tables!”

Lurz programmed and operated the show on his MA Lighting GrandMA console, and Mario Serruto served as crew chief for the event. Excel also brought in freelance production manager Alicia Lin as Excel’s event manager to coordinate the team’s efforts.

Lin says, “Once the design was in place, I was hired to oversee crew schedules and coordinate with R & R Events for timing, equipment, and other details. There were a lot of details that were refined; my role was to keep that line of communication open with the client, and make sure our team has everything they need to get the job done. I was really blown away by this one, just seeing what Mike was able to do, it was just amazing. The client was blown away as well. The Ravens’ management observed the whole process with a lot of interest — it took us a week to get in and programmed, and they were really amazed watching it go up. It didn’t feel like an indoor practice facility that night; they were excited and impressed with the professionalism and the gear we brought in.”