Kimmel Music Center

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ASSESSING THE KIMMEL: With opening weekend behind them, the folks behind Philadelphia's imposing new Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts are reading the initial reviews, and beginning the years-long process of accommodating a new hall to its tenants. But reviews were wildly mixed, and the local perception seemed often at odds with that of out-of-town critics. The overall report card seems to indicate a promising future for Verizon Hall, but much acoustical tweaking will be needed. Philadelphia Inquirer 12/18/01

  • INCOMPLETE GRADE FOR KIMMEL'S 'OTHER' HALL: "In a valiant but ultimately futile effort, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts' Perelman Theater opened Sunday in such an unfinished state as to misrepresent what it will ultimately look and sound like." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/18/01

HOW'S IT SOUND? Philadelphia's new Kimmel Performing Arts Center opened this weekend. So how were the acoustics? It's too soon to tell it's too soon to tell it's too soon to tell.... "For now the musicians say they are happy. And happy musicians play better. When music is played well, it makes a concert hall's sound seem better. Such is the nature of psycho- acoustics." The New York Times 12/17/01 (one-time registration required for access)

  • THE MAKING OF... "Great concert halls are not born that way. They are designed, built and opened, and then coaxed, polished and aged before settling into a state of greatness. But Verizon Hall is off to a promising start." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/17/01
  • SOME PROBLEMS... The hall "would seem to have some serious acoustical problems, for all of its plush, burnished mahogany and elegant, cello-shaped frame. On the evidence of the two opening concerts the sound is dim, diffuse and unsupported, somehow managing to be both muddy and bone-dry." Washington Post 12/17/01
  • THE SOUND? From my seat, in what should be a prime location, I had trouble hearing the orchestra." Atlanta Journal-Constitution 12/17/01
  • IT WILL EVOLVE: "In the end, though, the acoustics left something to be desired. More definition and presence would be nice, and it will be interesting to hear how the sound evolves." Baltimore Sun 12/17/01
  • UNDERSIZED: "But the sound was distant and small and lacked presence. The audience should be swimming in the lushness of Ravel's Suite No. 2 from Daphnis et Chloe, but we were parched." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 12/17/01
  • FROM THE ORCHESTRA: "In terms of acoustics, 'it's a Stradivarius,' raved the orchestra's principal cellist, William Stokking." Baltimore Sun 12/17/01

KIMMEL CENTER OPENS: A night after Elton John opened Philadelphia's new concert hall (in return for a fee said to be $2 million), the Kimmel Center's real tenants moved in. "Rough edges in the still-to-be-finished performing arts center were well-hidden; the Philadelphia Orchestra's next music director, Christoph Eschenbach, was helicoptered into Philadelphia after his 5:19 p.m. curtain at New York's Metropolitan Opera; and guest cellist Yo-Yo Ma courted disaster when his chair slipped off a raised platform while performing (he was caught by orchestra violinist Nancy Bean)." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/16/01

  • FIRST REVIEWS - NOT A RAVE: "On Saturday the Philadelphia Orchestra played its first concert in its long-awaited home, the 2,500-seat Verizon Hall in the new $265 million, two-hall Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Alas, the first report can't be called wildly enthusiastic. Finished in almost unrelieved red mahogany, Verizon is a bit oppressive visually. And, at least in its initial incarnation, it's seriously short of sonic warmth." Dallas Morning News 12/16/01
  • LOOKS GOOD: "Philadelphia's new center distinguishes itself in a big way from the conventional models U.S. cities have been using for a century or more to carve out places for culture in the midst of chaotic urban circumstances. The Kimmel Center is a savvy mix of megastructure, modern architecture, shopping mall and civic plaza." Washington Post 12/16/01

PHILLY'S NEW CONCERT HALL: "Achieving good acoustics in a concert hall is an extremely complex balancing act. The sound of music inside an enclosed space is affected by an enormous number of variables — everything from the shape of the room to the thickness of the walls to the number of seats determines the acoustic environment. Acousticians attempt to collect and measure the quality of sound in a specific space. It all gets very technical, but there are several key elements involved." Andante 12/13/01

  • CONCERT HALL OR CIVIC REVITALIZATION? Philadelphia's new Kimmel Center was built with the help of nearly $100 million of public money, leading some to ask whether the expense of creating such cultural monuments is balanced by the benefits it returns to the community. "Officials say the Kimmel will create 3,000 jobs and generate $153 million in annual spending on tickets, parking, restaurants, hotels and the like. The building itself isn't expected to be profitable for several years." San Jose Mercury News 12/13/01
  • A NEW KIND OF CONCERT HALL: "Philadelphia now breaks ranks with cities that have regressed toward infinite infantilism in the quest to revitalize their downtowns. Rafael Viñoly's architecture is not nostalgic for ye olde city life. It's not ironic about it, and it's not cute. Apart from spatial amplitude, it makes few concessions to luxury or glamour. The exterior, particularly, may strike some concertgoers as harsh. It is only inside the building that the Kimmel Center reveals the elegance of its concept. Mr. Viñoly has designed an urban ensemble, composed primarily of city views. Classical music is the architecture here, the building an instrument in which to perform and hear it." The New York Times 12/13/01 (one-time registration required for access)

SOMETHING NEW IN CONCERT HALLS? Philadelphia's new Kimmel Center concert hall is not your traditional shoe-box design. "The Philadelphia Orchestra's new cello-shaped home, part of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, is a uniquely curvaceous, wood-lined concert room that may change the way future generations think about concert halls, the role of the arts in this city, and Philadelphia in general." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/09/01

LISTENING TO THE PHILLY'S NEW CONCERT HALL: The Philadelphia Orchestra has being trying to build a new home since about 1908. Next week it moves into the new $263 million Kimmel Center. This week the orchestra got its first chance to try out the acoustics: "The first impression is an overwhelming one, a wonderful one," says music director Wolfgang Sawallisch. "The musicians can hear each other. I can hear each section - individually and in ensemble. Of course, this will take time. You cannot do it in 15 minutes." Philadelphia Inquirer 12/07/01

  • HOW PHILLY GOT ITS NEW HALL: Decades in the dreaming, it took some adjustment in attitude to get it done: "We originally tried to go without support from the public sector. We arrogantly made the statement that we could do it all on our own. The original project was led by a small group of corporate leaders who were not successful at building consensus." The New York Times 12/09/01 (one-time registration required for access)




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