Recently a few hundred people were invited to spend a pleasant afternoon in the nearly complete School of Music recital hall at Penn State and serve as the audience for acoustic testing and tuning. Since the presence and size of an audience affects the acoustics of the recital hall, they were a critical part of the process. Directed by acoustician Rick Talaske, the project team and students in Penn State’s acoustics program took measurements, listened carefully, and adjusted the room features while various School of Music ensembles performed. Meanwhile the invited students, faculty, and community members studied, graded papers, read, or simply enjoyed the music.
The new hall accommodates orchestras up to 50 pieces and holds 400 patrons in vineyard-style seating, including choral seating for 75. It is thought to be the first vineyard-style hall of its size. Nextstage Design worked closely with Rick and the project architects to specify 4,500 square feet of adjustable absorption – mostly in the form of AcouStaCorp banners that deploy from the recital hall ceiling. This adjustability allows the hall to accommodate a wide range of repertory and ensemble sizes. Finding the best placement of banners for each ensemble and type of performance was a primary task of the tuning effort. The verdict? Widespread delight in the quality of the acoustics and intimacy of the experience provided by the new hall.