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Ohio Theatre to Unveil New Custom-Designed Orchestra Shell

The stage of the Ohio Theatre has received a $1 million makeover in the form of a brand new custom-designed orchestra shell. Made possible through the generous support of Anne Melvin, the State of Ohio, CAPA, and the Jeffrey Company, this on-stage, removable enclosure surrounds live performances in a way that provides optimum on-stage acoustics for the musicians and outstanding sound projection to the audience. The new shell will make its official debut at the Columbus Symphony's "Beethoven & Don Quixote" concerts on November 21 and 22.

Through a unique collaboration of experts including architects Rogers Krajnak Architects, acousticians Acoustical Distinctions, and manufacturer The Wenger Corporation, the new orchestra shell was designed specifically for the Ohio Theatre stage to create an enhanced experience for both musicians and audiences. The project took a full year to complete, including one month of installation, and replaces a previous orchestra shell installed in 1984.

The new shell is made up of movable ceiling panels, lightweight towers, and acoustical shelves that work together to reflect sound back to the musicians on stage and project sound out into the audience. The improved design also includes a new ceiling extension that stretches out past the arch of the stage and into the theatre to further perfect the hall's acoustics.

"The new shell makes it possible for the CSO to get even closer to the audience," said CSO Music Director Designee Rossen Milanov. "The Ohio Theatre now becomes a venue where the music can create a sonic impact!"

Much of the shell's adornment was abstracted from the Ohio Theatre's existing wainscoting, plaster, and gilding, such as the gold stars on the shell's ceiling which were abstracted from the ceiling of the theatre. "Our team created a decorative design that is in harmony with the theatre's Baroque-style interior and extends that visual grandeur onto the stage," explained Peter Krajnak, Design Principal with Rogers Krajnak Architects.

The new shell can be arranged into a variety of configurations to best augment the size of the performing ensemble-symphony, chamber, or string orchestra. Because of its lightweight construction, it can be easily moved and stored with less labor and in less time. It also provides for a variety of lighting possibilities through a new LED lighting system which can be tailored to the performance and deliver a wide range of visual experiences.

Additionally, the theatre boxes on either side of the stage have been renovated to reduce their absorption of sound and further enhance the audience experience.

"Our goal was to provide a shell that would deliver superior acoustics to both musicians and audiences while reflecting the stunning décor of the Ohio Theatre," stated CAPA President and CEO Bill Conner. "This accomplishment was a long time in the making, but the end result far exceeds our expectations in functionality, beauty, and acoustics, and was well worth the time and investment."

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