Jeanne Gang Designs New Concert Shell for Lyric Opera
One of the world's most innovative and respected architects, Jeanne Gang, and her firm Studio Gang Architects (studiogang.net), are designing a new concert shell for Lyric Opera of Chicago. The shell will be used for the first time at Lyric's 60th Anniversary Concert, which takes place at the Civic Opera House on November 1, 2014, at 6:30 pm.
Lyric General Director Anthony Freud said that Studio Gang was his first choice as architect for the project. "As a newcomer to Chicago in 2011, I was immediately enamored with the bold freshness of Ms. Gang's work," Freud said. "She has redefined the Chicago skyline, and seemed the perfect match for Lyric Opera as it moves into the future with passion and a redefined mission of what it means to be a great opera company in the 21st century.
"We asked Studio Gang to give us something that was fresh, forward thinking, and acoustically excellent for the wide range of performances Lyric now presents," Freud continued. "At the same time, in the interests of fiscal responsibility, we also asked for a design that allows for quick assembly and take-down. We could not be more thrilled with the direction Ms. Gang is taking."
Studio Gang's design explores the material properties of wood, bent into conic surfaces with varying degrees of concavity and convexity, and assembled into units that can be stored and assembled with ease. Modulating the surface quality of the wooden elements, with a greater variation of articulation near the top, results in a visually striking, technologically advanced form sculpted by sound. The design of the shell also explores moments of continuity with its surroundings, encouraging an elegant transition between the space of the Civic Opera House and the stage.
"The shell reflects highly calibrated sounds to the listener and forms a direct connection between the audience member and the musicians," said Gang. "The same parts can be reconfigured to accommodate a variety of performances, ranging from a soloist to a full orchestra and chorus."
Gang is working with acoustical consultant Threshold and structural engineer Thornton Tomasetti to complete the project. Drew Landmesser, Lyric's deputy general director and the company's former production director, is managing the project for Lyric Opera.
Lyric's 60th Anniversary Concert features a luminous assemblage of artists from Lyric's past, present, and future. Sir Andrew Davis leads the Lyric Opera Orchestra, Chorus, and artists including Renée Fleming and jazz legend Ramsey Lewis, Stephanie Blythe, Johan Botha, Christine Goerke, Susan Graham, Quinn Kelsey, Mariusz Kwiecie?, Ana María Martínez, Eric Owens, Sondra Radvanovsky, Samuel Ramey, Marina Rebeka, and Amber Wagner, as well as members of the Ryan Opera Center and The Second City.
Tickets are available to subscribers from $49 at lyricopera.org. Patrons wishing to attend the Diamond Ball that follows the concert should contact the Lyric Women's Board Office at 312-827-5681. For more information about the 60th Anniversary Concert, visit lyricopera.org/anniversaryconcert.
Photo by Jon Miller, Hedrich Blessing