Our First Crack at the Palladium

December 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Posted in Concerts | Leave a comment

Last Wednesday, Dec. 1, the IWS had a concert of sorts at the nearly finished Palladium at The Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The purpose for this concert was to help the Palladium’s acousticians “tune” the hall for a group like ours. It also gave us a chance to hear what we sounded like and find the best seating arrangement for the band.

The performance was educational (we hope) all around. The Palladium folks got to hear us, we got to see what the new stage was like, and Charlie, our Musical Director, took the opportunity not only to introduce to Indiana Wind Symphony to a lot of people who had never heard us before, but to introduce the idea of the wind symphony and the various instruments found within it, which we hope the audience found both educational and entertaining; you know, edutaining.

After intial performances of Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival and Sleigh Ride, we began doing some experimenting with the seating arrangement, which made a world of difference both to the audience and to the band. The audience, then, got to see and hear something concertgoers rarely get to hear: the effects of different seating arrangements on the sound of the hall.

After the concert, we asked for responses from both band members and concertgoers. Below are the responses we received.

Response from the Audience

From Emily Walk:

I was fortunate to be in attendance for the IWS tuning on Wednesday, December 1, at the Carmel Palladium. I have been to many IWS performances and they’re always excellent, but the tuning session was educational. They sounded pretty awesome to begin with, but after Charlie moved players around, it was amazing to hear the difference it made. Who would have known that just by moving tubas to the end, or moving other instruments closer together that it would make such a difference. I also thought it was great that Charlie kept the audience involved by explaining what he was doing, and by introducing the different sections and letting us hear how the different instruments sounded. It was a special evening for all.

One of the ladies with me had never heard the IWS before. She LOVED it! She says Charlie is a fantastic director. She wants to go to more concerts, and I have assured her that she will.

Oh, yes, the Palladium is fantastic and I’m happy that the IWS has found a home there.

From Matt Burke:

It was like floating on sound.

From Chris Bailey (husband of IWS flutist Ellen Logan Bailey):

How much more exciting does a rehearsal get than last night! Wow! Group sounded fantastic and they made the new Palladium look good too! Way to go IWS. You all have come a long way and I am so glad for your success. Also, flute section rocks! Yeah flutes!

From Mark Burke:

The sound last night in the Palladium was great. One thing I would say is that after the tubas were moved to the right side of the stage, it became pretty difficult to hear the trumpets. This was especially evident during the Christmas Festival piece. The trumpets had the melody, but were drowned out when the woodwinds would come in with their parts. Moving the tubas did give them more presence, but it was a bit too much presence. There were others seated around me that felt the same way.

Overall though, your group sounded great. Thanks again for the tickets.

From Josh Frank:

This was my first time seeing the Indianapolis Wind Symphony and I was blown away. The Symphony sounded amazing and the beautiful backdrop of the new Palladium enriched the experience even further. It was almost as if I was in another time. I highly recommend any music enthusiast to check out the Indianapolis Wind Symphony.

From Patricia Pan:

Thanks so much for the opportunity to hear the IWS at the Palladium. The venue was very impressive, and seeing the band members in “concert dress” made the event even more special.

I especially enjoyed learning about the types of instruments in the band and hearing how the sound changes when the players are moved to different parts of the stage.

As the band was playing, the words lush, ripe, and sexy(!) came to my mind as I thought about the shape of the sound.

I look forward to seeing more of the IWS at the Palladium!

From Beth Knapik:

Wow! I was not impressed by the first song but OMG the sound was incredible by the time you moved and tweaked!!!! You could hear all of the instruments by the end of the rehearsal. There was still a discrepancy between the jungle bells and the trumpets (I don’t think they could hear each other). I noticed, as did my parents, that the flutes were still drowned out. But overall, the sound was fantastic and I was quite impressed by the wind symphony. I will definitely go back to hear you/them again. Great job.

Now the Palladium on the other hand is a different story (says a tax paying Carmel resident). Ha ha!

Responses from IWS members

From contrabass clarinetist Don Poulsen, quoted from a letter he shared with members of the Indianapolis Municipal Band:

“In my opinion, the Palladium lives up to its hype, despite still being under construction. The interior is beautiful, but I didn’t get much of an impression of the exterior because it was dark outside. The concert hall felt pretty intimate in that none of the seats are terribly far from the stage. On the stage, it seemed as if I could hear other instruments and sections more clearly than most any other place I’ve ever played. The stage is definitely a concert stage and not a multipurpose stage. I expect the audience would be able to hear a reed drop on stage when the hall is quiet. And, when a piece ends on a loud note, you will notice the sound decaying afterwards.

“Overall, it felt as though I’d made it to the big time, both from the feel and acoustics of the hall. I’m sure it inspired me to play better. I’m also sure everyone in the IMB will enjoy the experience of playing on that stage at least once in their lives. (Between the Palladium and the ArtsGarden, we’ll end up playing at both ends of acoustic spectrum during December, in my opinion.)”

In addition, last night I had trouble falling asleep because I was still thinking about the experience.

From Hornist Jason Gardner, who wasn’t playing with us that evening:

I think the Palladium is a beautiful venue. Wish I would have brought my horn and tux and sight-read the concert.

I was sitting on stage left (Orchestra right) in row U.

From the light trap the first piece sounded great. Good balance. Then the ushers let us in.

For Sleigh Ride there was just way too much reverb throughout. After the last note I counted to six or seven before the sound completely dissipated. Trombones got lost in the mix (but I did hear the seven most important notes!). F Horns were clearly audible all night, but at the beginning their articulation wasn’t very clear due to the reverb. I think their placement on stage was perfect. To me, trumpets really stood out and I think the clarinets and flutes were the most prominent at the beginning.

As curtains were added and seats moved around the brass blend as a section improved (although euphonium stayed very strong all night and even overbalanced the trumpets at times). I thought bringing the tubas to stage left helped a lot. Moving them back from the edge was better. Trumpets were noticeably reduced when moved towards the center as were the saxes.

The woodwinds alone sounded wonderful! Great balance. When the brass were playing, however, only the highest frequencies from the woodwinds were heard; mid and low range clarinets were lost and only the piccolo and first clarinets were clearly audible.

The glockenspiel was way too loud during RCM [Alfred Reed’s Russian Christmas Music]. I think it would be best to move the percussion to the center to blend in and to help with communication with the tubas.

I think adding a few more curtains in the second balcony would help clarify sound even more. There was still just a little too much reverb for my taste at the end, but adding the third balcony curtains all around was a huge improvement.

I think a little more fine-tuning is in order, but I heard much promise. The IWS sounded great! Can’t wait to play with the group again.

From clarinetist Amanda Dowell:

My parents were there. They said the sound of the ensemble did NOT come from the stage, as it usually does is an auditorium, but from the walls around them. Dad used the term “surround sound” to describe it. They thought it was just amazing!

The Center for the Performing Arts has some wonderful pictures of the Palladium on their Facebook page, including pictures of the IWS performance. Here’s my favorite:

IWS at the PalladiumThe space is just beautiful, both visually and acoustically. It has a real high-class, European feel to it, and a lot (and I mean a LOT) of great marble in the lobby areas.

Though I will note that I heard a few band members comment on what they believed was an overuse of pastel colors.


Posted by Andy Hollandbeck

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