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Close to 80 years after its founding, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (OSM) will finally move into a 260 million Canadian dollar, custom-built home this September.

Every element of the new 2,100-seat concert hall, which does not have a name yet, was chosen with acoustics in mind.

The hall’s architects are Montreal-based Aedifica and Toronto-based Diamond and Schmitt Architects; the latter is also designing a new opera house for the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, and previously designed the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. Their design for the Montreal hall is a “box within a box”, which means the auditorium is structurally separated from everything around it and sits on rubber and steel pads that block vibration and sound from the outside. The auditorium is shaped like a shoebox, relatively narrow, tall and long, with audience seating on multiple levels.

The hall has a transparent façade, and Quebec beechwood covers all surfaces of the auditorium except the ceiling and stage. The wood was chosen for acoustic and visual purposes, and to create a warm environment. 

The hall’s acoustics are by New York-based acoustic and theatre designers Artec Consultants, which also created the internationally-acclaimed KKL concert hall in Lucerne, Switzerland, among others. The new hall’s acoustics will enable the OSM to widen its repertoire and play chamber music, including more intimate works by composers like Mozart and Haydn that it could not play well in its previous home, the nearby Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, where it moved in 1963.  Both are located in the Place des Arts, Montreal’s performing arts centre.

“If one thinks of the great orchestral traditions, they are usually equated with a special sound,” said Kent Nagano, the orchestra’s music director. “One of the most exciting things for us is that for the first time in its history, the OSM will have a sound tied to its hall as part of its identity.”

The new hall is slated to open on 7 September, with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; this program will be repeated on 9 and 10 September.  Nagano will conduct a children’s concert for the first time on the afternoon of 11 September, and that night, the Borodin Quartet will perform quartets by Beethoven and Shostakovich.  Other highlights of the new hall’s first season will include performances, on 22 October, by the Mariinsky Orchestra of St. Petersburg, conducted by Valery Gergiev, and by the New York Philharmonic, under music director Alan Gilbert, on 4 and 5 November.

Information on the new season and tickets are available at www.osm.ca.

Correction: A previous version of this post said New York-based acoustic and theatre designers Artec Consultants created the “box within a box” design. This has been fixed.

 

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