Berkeley, CA (November 3, 2006)–Zellerbach Hall at the University of California Berkeley campus is a 2,014-seat venue that regularly offers orchestral, chamber music, jazz, theatrical, dance, spoken word, operatic, and all variety of ethnic performances from around the world. It is also now home to the first Meyer Sound Constelation system.
The Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley now sports a Meyer Sound Constellation system.Offering that variety of music has had its drawbacks, as the venue, while certainly a “good” sounding room, is not always the ideal aural fit for every genre. “There are some instances, such as when a period orchestra like Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra performs, that I have wished we could modify the architecture of Zellerbach to better replicate the space in which the music was originally meant to be performed,” said Cal Performances’ Director Robert Cole.
The situation at Zellerbach Hall reached a turning point as Cal Performances approached a gala celebration of its 100th anniversary. The program for the evening was intended to portray the range of events presented by Cal Performances, and featured the Mark Morris Dance Group; San Francisco Symphony Music Director and pianist Michael Tilson Thomas accompanying Phantom of the Opera star Lisa Vroman; contemporary music ensemble Alarm Will Sound performing works of John Adams; and the San Francisco Opera Orchestra with a chorus of over 200 voices composed of the University of California Alumni Chorus, University Chorus and Piedmont Children’s Choir.
The logistics for this spectrum of performance styles made it untenable to consider using the orchestra shell, while, at the same time, exemplifying the need for different acoustics that would compliment each performance. Cal Performances’ Gala came just as Meyer’s vision for multipurpose venues coalesced into a new approach to the challenge of their acoustics: Constellation electroacoustic architecture.
Constellation employs Meyer Sound’s VRAS variable room acoustic system processor in combination with newly designed Stella loudspeakers and Constellation microphones certified by Meyer Sound. Each installation is designed and specified for installation, and tuned by professionals certified by Meyer Sound. Since Constellation incorporates a regenerative component (meaning that the hall’s acoustics are an integral part of the system), design and tuning must be carefully performed to the specific needs and characteristics of each venue.
Meyer Sound President/CEO John Meyer and a hand-picked team of high-level Meyer Sound staff worked with Cole and his team to define the system’s goals and design. The system that was installed included an onstage “orchestral shell” system to provide musicians with the all-important early reflections that promote a sense of ensemble, as well as the house system, to give audiences supplemental reverberation and early reflections.
The system has now proven itself with the Gala and recently with the highly successful U.S. premiere of Mark Morris’s production of Henry Purcell’s King Arthur. “Given the huge range of events we have coming up this season,” said Cole. “We are looking to Constellation to give us flexibility in pursuing our ongoing objective of achieving the finest possible musical and artistic results in every performance we present.”
Meyer Sound Laboratories