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A Transformable Hall

Overture Hall in Madison, WI's Overture Center for the Performing Arts literally morphs from an acoustically dead space suited for amplified sound to an acoustically live space for symphony and opera. Designed by Cesar Pelli & Associates in collaboration with Potter Lawson, Flad & Associates, Theatre Projects Consultants and acoustical consultants, Kirkegaard Associates, the new 2,250-seat, multi-purpose hall is the heart of the Overture Center.

Overture Hall was designed with no flat, parallel surfaces. The hall's extensive adjustable absorption in the audience chamber (via a control system from Secoa of Minneapolis, MN) reduces reverberation modestly for opera, and dramatically for amplified shows. The orchestra shell's role in this transformative process is perhaps the most remarkable part of this hall: A 170-ton, steel-framed structure accommodates a 4,500-pipe concert organ and moves on railroad tracks beneath the stage from a storage space behind stage back wall.

With some three-quarters of events booked into the space requiring some sort of sound reinforcement-and half of those events using the house sound system-the choice of a new front-of-house console was critical. Thus technical director Steve Schroeder began his search in earnest long before the hall's grand opening festival in September 2004.

In January 2004, Schroeder and house audio engineer, Bruce (J.R.) Conklin, demoed a Yamaha PM1D for a week while Overture Hall hosted NPR's A Prairie Home Companion. "We were impressed by the mixing layout, which is very much like an analog control surface," Schroeder explained. So was the technical staff of Prairie Home, which purchased two PM1Ds for their own needs.

Apogee Sound...
Kirkegaard Associates...
Theatre Projects Consultants...

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