Orange County PAC Administrators Aim to Finish New Concert Hall Early

Classic Arts News   Orange County PAC Administrators Aim to Finish New Concert Hall Early
New performing arts venues often open later than planned, but officials at southern California's Orange County Performing Arts Center want the Ren_e and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, which is scheduled to open on September 15, to be completed a month ahead of schedule, to allow the resident orchestra time to adjust to the acoustics.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Pacific Symphony needs the extra time to get used to the 2,000-seat venue in Costa Mesa, which is more intimate and acoustically sensitive than the 3,000-seat Segerstrom Hall across the street, where it has played for nearly 20 years.

As of last week, according to the paper, the Pacific Symphony's first rehearsal in the new hall is planned for August 11. That is several months short of the time acoustician Russell Johnson suggested was needed when he presented his design model with architect Cesar Pelli in October 2002. It typically takes "three full months to get bugs ironed out," the Times quotes Johnson as saying then. (He was referring in particular to finding ideal settings for the adjustable acoustic elements, such as a canopy over the stage which can be raised or lowered and resonating chambers whose doors can be opened or partially closed, for which his concert halls are known.)

Pacific Symphony President John Forsyte, however, told the paper he is confident that 35 days will be enough. "We had never anticipated any more time. Our goal over this one month is to arrive at a setting as quickly as possible that we can live with."

The new hall's inaugural concert on September 15 will feature Carl St. Clair conducting the Pacific Symphony in Mahler's Symphony No. 1 and the world premiere of a song cycle by William Bolcom — with Plšcido Domingo as soloist — on texts by Federico Garc‹a Lorca.

The opening celebration continues the following evening, as the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale perform the world premiere of Philip Glass's The Passion of Ramakrishna; violin superstar Midori will be on hand for Beethoven's Violin Concerto.

The Cesar Pelli-designed limestone, steel and glass structure features a curvilinear glass fa‹ade comprised of 650 individual panes. The 250,000-square-foot facility also includes the 500-seat Samueli Theater.

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