Monday, October 03, 2005

I went to hear the Elgin Symphony Orchestra's Mozart/Bruch/Mahler program over the weekend, which gave me a chance to see what the Hemmens is looking like these days. In my opinion, the building doesn't do justice to the music. It has a clean exterior design in the modern International style, but the interior is dated. Its cinder block walls and painted concrete floors are more appropriate to a high school auditorium than a concert hall that is home to Illinois's second orchestra. Also, it may have been where I was sitting--the third row--but the acoustics were miserable. I was within ten feet of Robert McDuffie but I could barely hear his Guarneri del Gesu violin--I exaggerate slightly but you get the point. The space doesn't do justice to the music.

On the positive side, however, there's a lot of space between the rows, making it easy to navigate the rows without forcing those who are seated to stand up to get out of the way. In this regard, the Hemmens may have the most spacious seating of all the concert halls I've been to--if the Hemmens can be considered a concert hall, and I can see now how capacity can be added simply by adjusting the distance between the rows to what is more standard for a concert hall. A new concert hall hence would not need to be that much larger in dimension, because such an adjustment will add a good number of seats. Nevertheless it will still be very expensive as all concert halls are. As an investment in the image of the community, it would be a worthy expense.

And as for the music? The program was wonderful; the performance was enthusiastic; but for aforesaid reasons the sound was only good. I wonder if the Prairie Center in Schaumburg is a better venue to listen to the ESO. I'll try to find that out, but I know that until Elgin gets a new concert hall, we'll never be able to experience in Elgin what T.S. Eliot describes in his Four Quartets:

...Music heard so deeply
That it is not heard at all, but you are the music
While the music lasts...


Blogger Walt said...

Too bad Elgin and ECC can't get together with one Performing Arts Center. But just like the SW side library, we have to have duplicate facilities so as not to dilute any governmental entity's power.

We already have a fine public library on Elgin's SW side. It is called the ECC library - open to all ECC district residents. I go there all the time to read periodicals and check out books and videos. Imagine how much better it could be if GBPL, rather than constructing and operating their own SW library, contributed to ECC's library operation! A real winning solution for the taxpayers.

10:26 AM  

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