Now surrounding the stage is a $500,000 privately funded, state-of-the-art wooden structure called a “shell” that enhances the overall auditory experience and is customized specifically for the orchestra. Julianne M. Fish, the orchestra’s vice president and general manager, said it replaces a 45-year-old structure that did not fully enclose the sound and was in need of repair.
“It really gives you that connection between the orchestra and the audience,” Fish said. “The sound on stage has been much improved and the orchestra can hear themselves better. Also, the audience has the benefit of getting a much clearer, richer sound in all of the hall.”
Concertmaster David Coucheron said during Thursday’s opening night performance, which drew about 2,000 attendees, the sound exceeded everyone’s expectations.
“There’s a lot more potential now than what we were able to do before,” he said.
Traveling all the way from New York, the 9-foot-long Model D Steinway took four people to get it back to the city. Fish said the piano was selected by soloist Jeremy Denk and joins a collection of three other pianos rotated depending on the concert venue and performers.
Audiences new to orchestral-style concerts may want to take advantage of the new additions during its inaugural First Friday concert series beginning Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Led by Music Director Robert Spano, the concert is the first of five and will last about an hour and feature abbreviated versions of feature performances. Patrons are encouraged to arrive at 5 p.m. for drink specials and light fare.
“It’s geared toward the Midtown crowd so they don’t have to fight rush hour,” Fish said. “If you don’t feel ready for a full-length experience, this is a good opportunity to try it out.”
And it’s obviously an ideal alternative to sitting in traffic, Coucheron said.
“Midtown has really expanded over the last couple of years” he said. “It’s very lively here. And now people have a great opportunity to check out the symphony at an earlier time and be able to go to dinner afterward.”
Of the season’s new additions, Fish said, “It’s all incredibly exciting, motivating and energizing. I am very proud to have this great orchestra in this great city.”