Edsel Ford Auditorium was brand spanking new in the mid-50's, early in the Mercury contract with
Detroit. The Ford family was more than generous to the orchestra, so politics dictated that
recordings be made in the Ford Auditorium. It took several years to convince the orchestra board to
allow recordings in old orchestra hall (the Paradise Theatre). Cass was well known by Detroit
recording folks, but it wasn't even on Mercury's radar until the Paradise Theatre got too dangerous
and delapidated to use for recording.
Aside from being a great acoustic space, Cass Auditorium was a chamber within a building, so it was
very quiet to traffic, airplanes, train rumble, etc. This is one of the coolest photo spreads I've
seen about Cass:
Cass was also a great institution in its day, an idea about vocational-education that is sorely
needed today. Cass kids came out of high school with job skills and practical training, as well as
book learning. This concept is pretty much alien to public education today.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Haley" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 4:25 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Old Mercury recording venue gets a rebuild
> Starting in 1934 and continuing for a number of years thereafter, the
> Detroit Symphony appeared on a radio program, the Ford Symphony Hour. Some
> of the most distinguished conductors of that time regularly guested on this
> show, which also featured big name soloists. Preserved broadcasts show
> that the orchestra was an excellent one during this period, and the
> acoustics audible on these recordings sound OK, with a touch of nice hall
> ambiance. A number of these broadcasts are sought after by collectors. I
> don't know where these shows were recorded, but I assume they predate the
> Ford Auditorium referred to previously.
> John Haley
> On Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 3:57 PM, Leo Gillis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Hi Tom,
>> I must second that statement.
>> The Ford Auditorium had one of the worst acoustics
>> it has ever been my (dis)pleasure to experience.
>> No real music lover was saddened at the news of its demolition a couple
>> years ago.
>> I used to joke that the best sounding concert I ever attended there was
>> Marcel Marceau :-)
>> Meanwhile, a couple miles away on Woodward is the magnificent Orchestra
>> which has one of the best acoustics of any hall anywhere,
>> and it was built in a matter of 5 months - probably not to any
>> 'scientific' principles!
>> In between these two extremes, the excellent auditorium (and entire
>> of Cass Technical High School is now demolished.
>> Perhaps you have some info on the recording session for Berlioz'
>> Symphonie Fantastique that Paul Paray and the DSO did there for Mercury?
>> Despite my hometown bias, this is still one of my favorite versions of
>> that work.
>> -- Leo Gillis
>> On Tue, 3/18/14, Tom Fine <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Old Mercury recording venue gets a rebuild
>> To: [log in to unmask]
>> Date: Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 7:11 PM
>> As bad as Northrop was as a recording venue, the absolute
>> worst was the Edsel Ford Auditorium in Detroit. This was
>> another "modern" venue designed by "science." It was almost
>> unusable for stereo recording and barely usable for mono
>> recording. Mercury ended up using the old orchestra hall,
>> then called the Paradise Theatre and used at other times by
>> a local evangelical church. Then Cass Technical High
>> School's wonderful auditorium was "discovered," just in time
>> for 35mm recording and improved stereo cutting.
>> -- Tom Fine