Oregon Symphony and Portland’5 Centers for the Arts are proud to present the new, state-of-the-art Constellation Acoustic System by Meyer Sound at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Oregon Symphony is the first major orchestra in the United States to use the Constellation Acoustic System in its primary performance venue. The installation of this groundbreaking technology is the result of unique, public-private partnership. Contributors to the project include individual donors, foundations, the City of Portland, and Metro.
“Today is the culmination of enormous effort to bring a cutting-edge experience to Portland audiences,” says Scott Showalter, President and CEO of Oregon Symphony. “By introducing Constellation, we are significantly elevating the concert-going experience, delivering pristine sound quality not only for patrons of the Oregon Symphony, but also for everyone who attends events in the Hall.”
The Constellation Acoustic System is the most significant upgrade to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall since it became the Oregon Symphony’s permanent home approximately 40 years ago. The building that now serves as the Hall was first the Portland Public Theatre, built in 1928, when the science of acoustics was in its infancy. The building’s original design as a vaudeville hall, then movie theatre, did not factor in the need for top-quality acoustical support for live instrumental music.
In the years since the Hall became the permanent home of the Oregon Symphony with a gift from Arlene and Harold Schnitzer, acoustic challenges were significant. The Symphony and key partners explored several alternatives, including architectural intervention. It was not until recently that the fitting solution became available, and the Oregon Symphony and Portland’5 worked together to upgrade the acoustics with the Meyer Constellation Acoustic System.
“This historic improvement project was designed with the Portland community, and all visitors of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in mind. By installing Constellation, we can continue to preserve this historic building in the heart of downtown Portland, while also providing a thoroughly modern experience,” says Robyn Williams, Executive Director of Portland'5 Centers for the Arts.
The technology uses hundreds of individual microphones and speakers located throughout the entirety of the concert hall, all connected to a central computer processor. Acoustic properties can now be tailored to a range of performances—whether it be for a single speaker, large choir of vocalists, acoustic or amplified rock band, or a symphony orchestra.
No matter where patrons are seated in the hall, they will experience the full warmth and quality of the multi-Grammy nominated Oregon Symphony and other ensembles, as they are meant to be heard. Equally important, musicians on the stage will be able to hear one another with greater clarity as they rehearse and perform.
The project was made possible by a lead gift from Jordan Schnitzer through the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer Family Fund of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation, Portland’5 Foundation, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Robert and Janis Harrison, Globe Foundation, Ann & Bill Swindells Charitable Trust, the City of Portland, Metro, and additional contributors.
Oregon Symphony will unveil the system at its opening night on October 2, when it also launches its 125th anniversary season and debuts new Music Director David Danzmayr. The much-anticipated 2021/22 season will be one of celebration, bringing the joy and healing power of music back to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the greater Oregon community. The opening night program includes Mahler’s Second Symphony, aptly known as, “The Resurrection.”
About Oregon Symphony
Led by Music Director David Danzmayr, the multi-Grammy Award-nominated Oregon Symphony ranks as one of America’s major orchestras. It produces several hundred concerts and award-winning education and community programs each year, serving more than 250,000 people in-person and tens of millions more people through broadcasts and recordings. Oregon Symphony has broken attendance and fundraising records in recent years, while innovating on stage through multimedia series such as SoundSights, Sounds of Home and SoundStories. Celebrating its 125th anniversary in the 2021/22 season, Oregon Symphony is committed to building the audiences of tomorrow through breakthrough artistic programs with a wide-ranging coalition of cultural thought-leaders and musical innovators. For more information, visit www.orsymphony.org.