I have played countless concerts in this hall for the past over the past 15 years, and I always forget what a strange and unusual hall it is for performing. From the audience’s perspective it is warm and inviting hall to see a concert. The photo in this post was taken from about the 10th row on the main floor of Pick-Staiger. As you can see, the stage is only slightly elevated and the audience is quite close to the stage. This gives the concerts an intimate feeling even when the hall is packed. The acoustic is warm and lush and can sound great for symphonic music.
This hall is not so great for any sort of music requiring a lot of definition of the beat. Jazz, for example, does not work very well at all in here. I remember playing many jazz concerts here while I was in college and always having trouble locking the groove in, particularly on fast tempo tunes.
It is also a tough hall to play in from the stage. Everything has a warm, glowing mushiness to it, and this makes any sort of off-beat or fast playing requiring listening across the ensemble very difficult. In the Brahms symphony last night, for example, it was very hard to get the first Allegro of the third movement together in the strings. It is hard to join an already moving fast line or catch a tempo from the other side of the orchestra. Playing here reminds me of all the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra concerts I played through my degrees and how this was always a problem.
Still, it is a nice hall from the audience, and I always enjoy seeing concerts here. Also, it is only a mile from my place, so I can walk there even with my bass. That is always a plus!
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