Tuesday, June 28, 2005


It is interesting that many of the new and wonderful concert halls are no longer built based on the traditional “shoebox” design, but have the audience sitting around the performers. The Berlin Philharmonic plays in this setting which is also used in the new Disney Hall in Los Angeles and the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. Even Mostly Mozart Festival is moving its stage in the much-criticized Avery Fisher Hall more to the middle, having part of the audience sitting behind them on the former stage area. Listeners in every direction make the performance more exciting and intimate as everyone is closer to the action.

So far I’ve never heard a violin soloist in any of these new halls, so I wonder how the designers have solved the problem of hearing an instrument, or singer for that matter, with a narrow angle of projection. There must be reflecting surfaces than compensate for this. We all know from placement of home speaker systems how much more directional sound becomes with a higher frequency. A bass speaker can be put almost anywhere as those low pitches don’t really seem to have a definite direction.

One thought seems to lead to another. Being brought up speaking Finnish, a language that doesn’t resemble Germanic or Latin tongues at all, I’m always fascinated by words and their origins. “Project” as a verb comes from proicere, to throw forth. However, the dictionary gives it more than ten meanings. As a noun it means a plan or proposal; an undertaking requiring concerted effort; or a research undertaking. In addition, less fortunate families often live in housing projects. Remodeling a kitchen is a project. In this morning’s New York Times article, former model citizen, Boy Scout leader and church president Dennis Rader, also known as the “B.T.K.” mass murderer, talks in detail about his killing ten victims. He refers to them as his projects. What a fascinating language English is.