Alex Ross: Wizards of Sound

Again, I’m a couple of weeks behind on this, but I found this piece by Alex Ross in the New Yorker fascinating: using technology to create artificial acoustics, live, is amazing, and just the kind of thing that gets me excited.

By nine o’clock, we had crossed San Francisco Bay and arrived at an event called SoundBox, presented by the San Francisco Symphony. Michael Tilson Thomas, the orchestra’s music director, had long been contemplating an auxiliary series, in which his musicians would play smaller-scale repertory in a casual, clublike atmosphere. The challenge was to find a suitable venue. At the end of 2013, he turned to the Meyers, who installed a Constellation system in a cavernous rehearsal space, in Davies Symphony Hall, that is used by both the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera. Joshua Gersen, who conducted that night, began the show with a demonstration of the Meyer setup. He clapped his hands; the sound resonated handsomely. Then he signalled for the power to be turned off. Suddenly, the clap was clipped and lifeless. The crowd gasped and applauded. The Meyers, sitting amid a throng of twenty- and thirty-somethings, smiled. “Isn’t that a kick?” Helen said.