The Best Thing About The Bing

The Bing Concert Hall, Stanford University’s newest building devoted to the arts, is going to be an exciting addition to the west coast music scene when it opens in January 2013. The Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson are producing a new piece in the space; world-class ensembles like the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra are jostling to perform there. And it’ll certainly enrich students’ performing experiences.

I took a tour of the building site yesterday along with the head of Stanford Lively Arts, Jenny Bilfield, and a few other guests.

It is possible, however, to quickly get concert hall building fatigue. Every hall these days is being built with eco-friendly materials. Multimedia capabilities are de rigueur.

I’m not complaining. These are all good things. But what can a new concert hall do to differentiate itself from the pack?

The 844-seat Bing doesn’t have a whole lot about it that makes it stand out as far as I can tell from what I gleaned from the tour, except for one characteristic that caught my attention:

Because the space is like a nest — the copious stage is in the round with seats on encircling it, it’s possible for performers to rotate themselves to face the seats “behind” the stage at the back of the hall. The rest of the auditorium can be darkened to create a more intimate feel for a chamber concert or other small event that requires less capacity.

I love this idea and I can’t wait to see it in action.

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