Cheri Walsh, Director of Exploring the Arts, Larry Italia, VP/GM Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Tony Bennett and his wife Susan, and Tom Young.
In 1999, singer Tony Bennett and his wife Susan Benedetto, then a public school teacher, were inspired to start a public high school for young artists and envisioned a school that would integrate the arts with rigorous academics, require a commitment to community service, and help students cultivate a lifelong love of, and dedication to, their artistic passions and crafts.
With assistance from the New York City Department of Education and the not-for-profit Exploring the Arts (ETA) who assisted in raising the necessary funds required, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (named for Bennett’s long-time friend) opened in 2001 at a temporary space. In 2009, the school moved to its permanent home on the Kaufman Astoria Studios complex, in Astoria, Queens. Ennead Architects LLP (New York City, formerly Polshek Architects) designed the school, under lead architect Susan Rodriguez.
The Tony Bennett Concert Hall is a state-of-the-art performance 800-seat venue built specifically for use by the students. Tom Young, long-time front of house engineer for Mr. Bennett, was brought in at his bequest to specify the theatre’s sound system.
“The original audio design by David Harvey (Harvey, Marshall, Berling Associates) and myself was initially a typical value-engineered system required by any New York City school but with our added mission of creating a good sounding space,” said Young. After Young took the Bennett’s to hear a demo of the Yamaha Active Field Control (AFC) system, they all agreed, that AFC would be a key component of the concert hall. Active Field Control is a reverberation enhancement system that adjusts and enhances the acoustic characteristics of a facility while preserving natural characteristics.
The theatre’s AFC system is a hybrid AFC3/LAP3 system with both the standard AFC3 system utilizing a new AFC-FIR card for processing and the enhanced option of using a dedicated FIR processing computer with the LAP3 external computer. System 1 is used for reverberation enhancement in the house and under balcony areas. System 2 is designed for reverberation enhancement/energy exchange on the stage adding a sense of spaciousness to the normally “dead” sounding stage area, aiding performers to hear others on the stage.
The main loudspeaker system in the concert hall is based around a NEXO GEO S12 line array, NXAMP4X4 amplifiers equipped with EtherSound cards connected to the existing EtherSound network; four Yamaha DSR115 self-powered Yamaha speakers for stage fills/monitors, and a Yamaha M7CL-48ES digital audio console.
In a joint statement the Bennett’s said: "Putting the finest sound system in the Tony Bennett Concert Hall at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts has turned it into one of the best sounding halls in the United States. How fortunate we are that both Tom’s team and Yamaha were able to create this for the public school children of New York City."