At the beginning of last month, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra at Walt Disney's concert hall was very relaxed.
Deborah Boda, general manager of the orchestra, pulled me aside and showed me something.
The workers are finishing the final details with new details every day.
"Look at what we 've added recently," she said, pointing to some mousetrap under the seat . ".
This major construction is expected to awaken some rodents.
But Boda is not aware of the symbolism.
The Times has just published an article about a strong rebound in the brewing relationship between Los Angeles and its first-class new buildings, an angry performance artist has proposed burning an iconic mouse in front of him on Thursday's opening night.
"They are actually very small and cute," Borda said with a smile . ".
"They don't look like Mickey at all.
"Yasuisa Toyota, the mysterious sonologist in the hall ---
Who doesn't like to reveal too much business secrets? -
And I just found a secret.
"They're not rat traps," he quipped . "
"They are sound traps.
"This type of joke is a sign of a major obstacle ---
In fact, the main tension-making hurdle --
Has been cleaned up
Over the past two months, the orchestra has had a lot of opportunities to try the building and no one has ever felt a little bit worried about acoustics.
The Mousetrap day was the first time Mahler played in the hall, and his First Symphony sounded so colorful and shocking that everyone was in a good mood.
This is much easier than what I encountered when I first asked to observe the tuning process in the hall.
Each concert hall will take some time to adjust.
Acoustic experts usually allow the last time
If the hall is shown to be too bright, the damping material is added in minutes; if there is a dead angle, the reflective surface is increased.
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Inclined acoustic experts designed movable walls and sound chambers so that, with a single push of the button, reverb time or Echo, it can be changed between a dry indoor music venue and a thriving church.
The orchestra must learn to play in any new room, which requires practice.
Toyota believes that the first impression is always the worst.
If you don't know what to listen-
Sometimes even if you do that-
You can't start by knowing what a hall will eventually look like.
Everything is online. -
Disney Hall is a masterpiece of Frank Gehry's architecture and an acoustic masterpiece of Toyota. -
The Philharmonic insists that the first contact between the orchestra and its new home must be a close affair.
In fact, three years ago, when I initially suggested that, no matter how personal, such moments were historic and should be on the record, Borda took the first one
A ticket to Paris.
Of course, she's not serious, but it does indicate a few miles from the hall she thinks the media belongs.
The Philharmonic Orchestra made some important decisions over time.
It believed that the hall would be completed in the spring of 2003 and therefore postponed the opening to the fall in order to have the summer tuning process.
What is vividly remembered is the Philadelphia Orchestra's fiasco when it was forced to open Verizon Hall 2001 months before construction was completed.
At Verizon, 18 months after performing in an adjustable Hall, the orchestra was satisfied with the acoustic setting.
The unusual exhibition brought great interest to the international community in Gary, and the basic idea of the architect that Disney is a popular open place in the city, the Philharmonic eventually, if it's not agreed to take an unusual risk, let me attend all the tuning rehearsals-
It turns out that there are nearly twenty.
Only the first hour of the orchestra in the hall was forbidden.
This will be a rare opportunity to report the mysterious science of acoustics.
However, after more than three months of rehearsal, the changes in the hall can be summed up in two words: almost nothing.
Esa, director of music: "We have always been very conservative . "
Pekka Salonen said before leading a public rehearsal.
"The basic quality is very good and I don't want to mess it up.
"Toyota's standard answer to what he's been doing during the rehearsal is," nothing.
"He is always there, always listening.
But he took no notes.
His only equipment is the small digital camera he carries with him.
However, there was a significant change between the orchestra's first rehearsal and the second rehearsal three weeks later.
After a private time on the day of the first rehearsal, the Philharmonic invited about 125 listeners-
Board members, $5-
Millions of donors, staff and journalists-to hear a run-
Through the finale of Mozart's "Jupiter" Symphony, the slow motion of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony and the Russian dance of "Petrushka" by struwski.
"The sound is detailed, balanced and the bass is very full ---
Dorothy Chandler Hall is a commendable improvement where the orchestra has been performing for 40 years.
But not perfect.
The orchestra was stiff.
The day it came back from a month's holiday, it hasn't been performing with the music director for seven weeks.
Salonen arrived from Europe, especially for the rehearsal, the night before.
Like a father in expectation, he has been unable to sleep, he said.
This is also his 45 th birthday.
When the orchestra finally gets its next chance at Disney, it will rehearse Ravel's elaborate ballet, Daphne and Chloe, which Salonen will be at the next night
This time, the Hall miraculously survived.
Earlier, the orchestra's voice, while wonderful, felt limited to the stage.
Now a new dimension of sound is added, and every inch of Disney's air vibrates cheerfully.
Toyota said he had never experienced this acoustic difference between the first and second rehearsals in any of the halls he designed in Japan.
Salonen couldn't believe his ears.
To his surprise, he found the wrong note in the Ravel print section of the player's stand.
The orchestra has had these scores for decades, but at Chandler, none of the commanders had heard good enough internal details to notice the errors.
Toyota said the players began to ask him what he had done and the change was very noticeable.
A violinist was convinced that the sonist had raised the ceiling several feet.
Another thought it had been lowered.
The roof is not movable and there is enough steel to withstand the big earthquake.
Completely changed by the orchestra.
Salonen took the brass back here and there, but most of what happened was intuitive to the player.
At Chandler, many orchestra members need to push unnaturally to be heard;
They can relax at Disney.
Even so, the players continue to rely on old habits.
"Having been in the pavilion for years, they have formed a muscular memory," explains Salonen . ".
"It's more difficult to reprogram than a conscious memory.
It's like what happens when you put the bedside table a few inches on the side of the bed, and then you keep touching it with your toes after a few months.
"Despite this, most of the players I 've interviewed think it's very easy to adapt to Disney.
Raynnor Carrol says he can finally play naturally.
William Lane, a horn speaker, said the same thing.
Everything was exposed because of Disney's transparency.
Bass singer Michelle Grego points out that she has to be particularly careful when preparing the reed.
They must be perfect because any Reed noise will stand out and so will her deep, mellow instrument, often buried in the current Chandler project.
Another difference that Grego noticed is that as the audience revolves around her, she must now also see how she cuts her hair in the back;
This is not a hall for a bad hair day.
Lane said with a smile, to have the audience look from their shoulders, which means that in some works, brass, sitting quietly for a long time, cannot display books or magazines on their music stations.
Los Angeles chorus master will be another resident company at Disney, and although it has a limited number of rehearsals in the lobby, its experience is similar to that of the Philharmonic Orchestra.
Music director Grant Gershon divided the singers into two groups during the first rehearsal of the full choir.
While rehearsing in one group, he asked the other group to sit in the hall and listen.
Gershon said the difference was "very unusual" when the singers returned to the stage ".
They are more free and open.
"With news of Disney's sound excellence this summer, Toyota's reputation has grown.
Toyota is a leading practitioner of vineyard style.
Inspired by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, he designed sound effects for two outstanding theaters in Japan.
Famous Suntory and updated
Famous Kitara in Sapporo.
In fact, in early October, Kansas City announced that it had hired him to design acoustics for a performing arts center designed by Boston --
According to the architect Safdie Moishe.
By doing so, Russell Johnson, America's best player, was disappointed.
A well-known acoustics and advocate for adjustable models, he is a sonologist at Verizon, Philadelphia, who will be in charge of the new concert hall at the Orange County Center for the Performing Arts.
During a rehearsal, I met Ernest friesmann, who has long been general manager of the Philharmonic Orchestra, who led the Disney Concert Hall through many crises in 17 years and asked him during the selection process at Disney, whether Johnson is a candidate or not.
He replied that there was nothing more proud of him than hiring Toyota.
Toyota may be deceptive about how much he knows and how much he does.
Again and again, he told me that he hasn't done anything to the Disney Hall since the first rehearsal.
What he is most willing to admit since the end of the building is that some voices have been added
High absorption plate on side wall.
This occurred after the first echo test with some brass and percussion instruments designed to suppress--
Sharp, fast impact sound.
Before the orchestra played in the hall, the display board went up and was visible for two months.
Gehry then designed the grilles to hide them.
Only after constant questioning, Toyota finally admitted that there was a small change in its work.
He will install a thin plywood panel behind the grille on the right side of the stage to enliven a dead angle in the far corner where the piano is located.
Salonen asked for a group on the other side to help with the long number item sitting on the trumpet in front of them.
But in the end, this was identified as an instrument balance problem that is more important than acoustics.
The other changes are Salonen's.
The stage is on the hydraulic lift and he has lowered it by 2 or 3 inch to slightly lower the wood wind.
During a rehearsal, Salonen moved the violins to the stage lip where the cello usually sits, so that they can stand out more.
He liked the effect and after the rehearsal I overheard him ask Boda and Toyota what they thought.
Toyota said very little, but while Boda was a former viola player, she said she was fascinated by all the bass in the lobby and she liked to put the cello outside and let them tear apart.
Salonen said he will continue the experiment.
The rehearsal schedule for the whole summer seems a bit casual.
In late July and early August, Salonen rehearsed his Hollywood Bowl show four times, meaning that the orchestra marched back and forth between the extremes of Disney's intimacy, animated natural acoustics and a huge enlarged amphitheater.
Later in August, after the orchestra returned from the Edinburgh Festival, Disney was restored-Bowl back-and-
Occasionally, he will perform with Salonen and assistant conductor Yasuo Shinozaki of the Philharmonic Orchestra.
The most striking occasion was Shinozaki's run rehearsal for Mahler's First and Salonen
The ninth episode of Beethoven.
They are just like hearing these overly familiar scores for the first time.
Disney is a airy space where music seems to be floating.
At the same time, it has a huge impact on the body.
The color of the instrument proved to be indescribable beauty. As a concert-
Goer, I tried to accept John Cage's motto that every seat is the best at home ---
The world is a good place, so be happy where you are.
During these rehearsals, I became a homeless man.
There are different places in different places.
The voice in front is relatively large.
Behind the stage, the instrument you sit closest to stands out most.
The sound is very bright and the view is spectacular.
I didn't find a place I liked or a sweet spot.
There is still a test by October.
All but the staff and some invited guests did not attend the rehearsal.
One day, George Armani and his entourage visited the lobby, but I didn't see the designer at the rehearsal.
When in town, you can often find Gary in the audience and always ask me what I think the Hall sounds like.
Stage director Peter Sellas and video artist Bill Viola took part in Beethoven's Ninth performance.
But who knows what happens to 2,265 of The Voice?
Has the absorber been added?
The seat is filled with materials that mimic this absorption, but this can only be similar.
There are three Philharmonic orchestras.
A week holiday in September, at the end of the bowl season.
It was returned on October.
Intense rehearsals and concerts for the audience invited for the Thursday evening party.
New self-confidence, the management opened some work rehearsals for the orchestra's first day to the Philharmonic staff, Gehry office and guests invited by construction workers.
In the first audition in front of these almost full houses, the sound was not significantly different.
However, the crowd offers thousands of potential new sources.
At the first public rehearsal, some people left early and Salonen heard them.
He did a good thing after the rehearsal.
How noisy people are when they think they sneak out of the concert.
But his point is serious.
He pointed out that the voice of Disney's audience on the stage can be the same as the music on the stage in the auditorium.
On the last day of the open rehearsal, I have been asking a few players.
It was almost empty in the lobby and I was about to leave and I heard an incredible sound.
Someone is fiddling with this organ.
The mechanism for operating the pipeline has just been installed, and it takes several months to adjust the 6,000 pipeline separately.
But even when they were sick
In Tune, in this lively Hall, the effect is simply incredible, more tactile, and more magnificent than any organ I 've ever heard.
I ran into a Philharmonic staff member in front of the hall happily but in a daze and blurted out that I had just heard the organ for the first time.
"You seem to hear something! " she said.
Mark Swed is a music critic for The Times.