Thank you Jon. Nice to hear this event. There certainly is good clarity and
balance evident, even given the losses of data compression. The recording
crew either worked hard to adapt to the new space or else it is an easy
space in which to make a good recording. Possibly a bit of each!


-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Butler, Jon
Sent: Sunday, May 04, 2014 11:46 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [ARSCLIST] Northrop Auditorium, Univ of Minn & Minnesota Orchestra

Readers of a previous discussion on this list about Northrop Auditorium at
the University of Minnesota, where C. Robert Fine, Wilma Cozart, and David
Hall made so many Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra recordings for Mercury
Records, may be interested in the concert Friday, May 2, by the Minnesota
Orchestra.  It reprised the Oct. 29, 1929 dedicatory concert with the
Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra led by Henri Verbrugghen to celebrate the
reopening of the Auditorium.  It can be downloaded at

The evening was a revelation for those who, like me, attended many years of
concerts in the old Northrop Auditorium, with its absurd 4800 seats, from
the 1950s to the 1970s.  Mathematically, the refurbished auditorium is a
little more than half the size of the original at 2700 seats. (Eugene
Ormandy had suggested dynamite to fix Northrop's acoustics, but an
architectural firm did it better.)  To old-timers, it feels like it's about
a third the size, with 3 balconies, the 3rd seeming very high indeed.  On
the main floor, row S, near the right side and just under the first balcony,
the sound was wonderful.  It had a reverberation that seemed just right (the
old Northrop was utterly dead).  The sound was warm, not harsh, with almost
startling clarity in quiet passages, and a terrifically clear projection of
the bass lines, one of the biggest problems in so many concert halls.  In
loud passages, the violins sometimes seemed overwhelmed, but one assumes
that between a conductor and acoustician, that could be adjusted.  In truth,
the hall seemed possibly as good as Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis
and maybe even better, which for a full symphony orchestra would be very,
very good indeed.

Maybe sadly, it's not likely to get used that much for big orchestra
concerts.  The Minnesota Orchestra now has Orchestra Hall, and the cost of
bringing visiting orchestras has become prohibitively high.  Condoleeza Rice
just filled the auditorium several weeks ago and Bill O'Reilly and Dennis
Miller are coming (making up for the University's liberal reputation?).
Also coming are an Irish tenor, Daniel O'Donnell, and Bob Weir (advertised
as a "founding member of the Grateful Dead" & Ratdog; the auditorium is
equipped with a frightful bank of speakers, which one assumes that
O'Donnell, Weir, and Ratdog will use.  Plus, the new stage was designed to
accommodate ballet, which prospered even in the old auditorium despite
cramped quarters, and the American Ballet Theater opened Northrop in April.
Times change, and so do venues.

Jon Butler