The venue, built in 1974, will remain open throughout most of the renovation work, which will begin in 2009 and conclude before the orchestra's 2011 fall season.
Music director Osmo V‹nsk‹ said in a statement, "This plan addresses the needs of our audiences in an expanded lobby, and it supports our artistic aspirations through changes in the auditorium which will also benefit the community. Orchestra Hall is our instrument, and the better the hall is, the better our orchestra is."
According to Minnesota Orchestral Association (MOA) board chair Paul D. Grangaard, the renovation focuses on five main priorities: to expand the lobby to improve audience services during concerts, to establish more flexible acoustics within the auditorium to allow for performances of all types of music, to bring audiences closer to performers in the hall, to enhance backstage functionality, and to resolve building maintenance issues.
The most dramatic change within the Orchestra Hall auditorium will be the addition of a permanent choral loft upstage. When the program doesn't call for a chorus, the loft will be used for audience seating, offering about 150 patrons seats located directly behind the musicians and with a full-face view of the conductor. The installation of the loft will push the stage forward, eliminating about 150 seats on the floor level but bringing the stage farther out into the hall and closer to the audience. The auditorium will receive a complete refurbishing, including all-new seating, and sightlines will be improved in some areas.
Onstage acoustics will also be improved. "Making adjustments to the onstage acoustic means we will be able to spend less time trying to balance our sound and ensemble, and more time on interpretation, phrasing and other important details of the score," says V‹nsk‹.
The acoustics will also be improved for pops performers who use amplification, with the addition of large removable sound absorption panels throughout the auditorium.
The renovated auditorium will include a number of other updates, including a modern sound and light board, and a large video screen onstage that will be used at selected concerts.
The orchestra has not yet appointed an architect or acoustical consultant.