Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Concert Hall



As I wrote yesterday, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center opened in September, 2006. Before moving into the new hall, the Symphony performed for years in a hall in the Tennessee Performing Arts Center, a venue whose acoustics are not made for a symphony orchestra. The acoustics are definitely *not* a problem in the SSC as the Symphony Board advised the architects and engineers to design the best and most acoustically sound hall possible.

The designers of the 197,000 square-foot Schermerhorn Center looked to great concert halls of the world (Amsterdam, Boston, Vienna, and Zurich, in particular) for inspiration. The shoebox-designed Laura Turner Concert Hall (above) seats approximately 1860 people on the different levels. In this photo, you can see the main floor and, on either side, the Loge and Founders' Boxes and side balconies. The stage can accomodate up to 115 musicians. In addition, there is seating for 146 choral members which, if a choir is not performing, can seat additional audience members.

At the top of each of the side walls are soundproof windows (There are 30 in all.) which allow natural light in to the hall. The Schermerhorn is one of the few concert halls in the world and the only major one in the USA to have this feature. The "dual pane" windows are actually two panes of glass separated by 24 inches of dead air. While light comes in, outside noise does not. (Please note that I used natural light to take this photo.)

A two-inch acoustic isolation joint surrounds the entire concert hall to protect it from any vibration in other parts of the building. In addition, there is a hallway between the walls that you see in the photo and walls in other parts of the building. In other words, the concert hall is like a box within a box (I hope that makes sense!), and that extra buffer helps keep out exterior noises.

Everything in the hall, from the floor to the chairs to the lights to the molding and plaster used aid in making this hall acoustically sound. Be sure to join me tomorrow when I'll discuss the floor, the seats, and the concert-goers and their part in this acoustical marvel.

9 comments:

Strangetastes said...

Quite a striking design. Surprisingly retro look for a new symphony hall. The windows are a wonderful idea, although only a minority of symphony performances are matinées.

I have mixed feelings about the traditional shoe box design. When I was young, I went to N Y Phi performances at what is now Avery Fisher Hall, a huge version of that form. We've been subscribers to the St. Louis Symphony for close to 30 years and we are used to the shape of the enormous movie theater, which is what Powell Hall used to be. My favorite new symphony hall is Disney Hall in L.A., which is entirely unique.

Rambling Round said...

I know nothing about symphonies and acoustics, but the interior is beautiful.

isabella said...

Beautiful design - in and out! I bet the acoustics are awesome!

(PS Our halfway stop is at a Lookout Mountain hotel for the night...although we are too tired to really enjoy the view :-(

Kate said...

It would be a pleasure to attend a performance there! PS. Regarding your question about Mexico, my email is on my profile; just contact me offline, and I'll try to answer your questions. If you want to really "talk" I'll supply my phone number too.

slinger said...

awesome capture, looking forward to the rest of the photos and info.

Glenn Standish said...

Really stunning inside Chris! Thanks again for the comments and questions over at TORUŃ DP. I have been living here for almost 5 years now. Although I have lived in England for many years (and have an English accent), I am actually a New Zealander by birth. My Piscean birthday is 27th February!

Quint&arantino said...

It's a very nice and well designed symophony hall. It reminds me a bit of the one in Wien where the New Year Concert is done...

Bergson said...

A very beautiful concert hall; it misses only the music!

Gwen said...

Chris, thanks so much for the grand tour! You really researched the Center's history and architectural design well and the photos turned out nicely. You must have really taken alot of frames to end up with so many good shots.