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Posted at 5:44 PM ET, 02/ 1/2011

Dwell(ing) on theaters

By Anne Midgette

The architecture magazine Dwell recently asked me to weigh in on some of my favorite places to hear music. I came up with a few I especially like. (I confess I tried to avoid the obvious, and also tried to focus on new buildings rather than old, so I did not include, for instance, the Goldene Saal in Vienna's Musikverein.)

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts. (I know at least one person who detests Gehry's Fisher Hall, which I nonetheless named as a favorite.) Where are some of your favorite places to hear music?

By Anne Midgette  | February 1, 2011; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  national, random musings  
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This kinda doesn't count, but... When we lived in NH, we were season subscribers to the Boston Early Music concert series. The venues were usually churches rather than theaters/concert halls. Our favorite location is Church of the Advent, Boston (brick Gothic Revival), especially for a Tallis Scholars or Anonymous 4 concert.

Posted by: deemery | February 1, 2011 6:55 PM | Report abuse

You do want to hear a concert at the Disney Hall in LA. It is beautiful on the inside, with warm acoustics.

Then there is the Philharmonie in Berlin. Absolutely hideous on the outside. But the sound in there...

Posted by: GRILLADES | February 1, 2011 9:57 PM | Report abuse

I have attended about a dozen performances over the last ten years at the Lyric Opera of Chicago when I have been in the Windy City on business. I have sat in just about every section of the Ardis Krainik Theatre; the sight lines and sound are excellent irrespective of seat location.

Posted by: 74umgrad1 | February 2, 2011 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Here's one: the Garnier Opera in Paris, which is itself like the set of a 19th century opera, although there are plenty of seats with impossible sight lines.

Locally, the Terrace Theater at the Kennedy Center is always a delight, and Strathmore is a visually pleasing space with fine acoustics and not a bad sight line in the hall.

On the down side, the Kennedy Center Opera House is all right acoustically, and pleasant visually if you like the impression of being on the inside of a giant pin cushion -- but the minimal rake on the orchestra level means that unless you're of above average height (I'm not) or the people in front of you are very small, the chance of having an unobstructed view from an orchestra seat is minimal.

And the new Harman Hall, otherwise a delightful space, turns out to be a huge disappointment for music. The WPAS had a number of concerts there during the hall's first season, and the music seemed to go straight up the chimney, not projecting at all into the audience. I don't know if that's why WPAS isn't using the space any more, but I'm glad they're not.

And Anne, speaking of concert halls, to reiterate a question I asked at your talk at Politics & Prose a few weeks ago, why isn't the National Symphony making the splendid (to my taste) chorister seats in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall available any more?

Posted by: ChuckStark | February 2, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

From my travels to Romania I used to love the main concert hall in Bucharest called the Romanian Athenaeum. It is a small jewel of a place with just about 800 seats and built at the end of the 19th century, so it's definitely not a new hall, something my Romanian friends tell me Bucharest desperately needs. Still, the acoustics of the Athenaeum is warm, gorgeous, and it's shape is round; definitely unusual but works wonders. If only the orchestra was better - although who knows, it may have improved in the 10+ years since I last been there.

The Capitole Theater in Toulouse has a good acoustics for voices, but in large romantic operas its small size means that the orchestra often covers the singers. A good place to hear Mozart and Rameau though.

The most uncomfortable concert hall as far as seating is concerned is Konzerthaus in Vienna - or so I remember. I've only been there once but somehow it still remained in memory. Acoustics is not bad though not in the same class as Musikverein.

Posted by: cicciofrancolando | February 2, 2011 10:48 AM | Report abuse

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