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Greensboro Symphony to premiere Tanger Center sound system
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Greensboro Symphony to premiere Tanger Center sound system

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GREENSBORO — The Greensboro Symphony Orchestra will perform its first public, in-person classical concert on Saturday at the new Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts — with premier sound.

The $93 million Tanger Center has become the country’s largest venue to feature the Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system.

Created by California-based Meyer Sound, the Constellation system combines electro-acoustic technology with a venue’s physical architecture to provide natural-sounding acoustics important for live classical music.

The Meyer Sound Constellation system combines electro-acoustic technology with a venue’s physical architecture to provide natural-sounding acoustics important for live classical music.

Tanger Center uses a separate amplified sound system to accommodate other performances: touring Broadway shows, rock concerts, comedians, symphony Pops concerts and Bryan Series lectures by prominent speakers.

The venue will be able to switch easily between the two.

Symphony Music Director Dmitry Sitkovetsky will conduct Saturday’s concert, titled “Tchaikovsky and Beethoven Treasures” and featuring guest pianist Olga Kern playing the symphony’s Steinway D concert grand.

Sitkovetsky promises a “real treat.” He praises the Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system.

“The result is quite unique for such a large 3,000-seat auditorium,” Sitkovetsky said. “You can hear the orchestra just as well from the first to the last row of the house.”

“On top of it,” Sitkovetsky added, “all the sections of the orchestra — strings, winds, brass and percussion — can hear each other very well.”

The symphony will follow Saturday’s concert with a 2021-22 season of classical Masterworks, Pops and a gospel concert at Tanger, and chamber concerts at UNCG School of Music.

The symphony and its supporters long had lobbied for the Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system for the classical concerts it will play at Tanger.

Shortly before Tanger planners broke ground in April 2017 at 300 N. Elm St., symphony supporters learned that it would have Constellation.

The Tanger Center hosted its first public performance on Sept. 2, nearly 18 months from its planned opening in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 1959, the orchestra had been without a permanent venue since War Memorial Auditorium closed in 2014. Until early 2020, it performed most classical Masterworks concerts at Guilford College’s Dana Auditorium and Pops concerts at Westover Church.

The Tanger Center, financed by the city and private donors, has become the symphony’s permanent venue.

Tanger Center planners landed Constellation for about $959,000.

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That’s more than a $500,000 savings from the original price quote, said Greensboro Coliseum Managing Director Matt Brown, who oversaw the project and will manage the Tanger Center.

Constellation also was recently installed in The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon.

Schnitzer has more speakers and microphones than Tanger, making Schnitzer the largest system in the United States, Meyer Sound officials said.

But Tanger is a larger space because it has more seats — 3,023 versus 2,700 for Schnitzer, Meyer Sound officials added.

With the push of a touchscreen button, Constellation can tailor the room acoustic to achieve optimum results for any type of event, Meyer Sound said. The same physical space can have the natural acoustics of an ideal classroom, chamber music hall, symphony hall or a vast cathedral.

For creative effect, the room acoustic even can be modified during the course of a single performance.

But Constellation is not a direct sound reinforcement “PA” system where direct microphone signals from individual voices or instruments are amplified.

It is also not a surround sound or immersive audio system where discrete sound sources are placed around the sides or rear of a room.

The system also can be found in such venues as Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, California; the Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York; SoundBox in San Francisco, and Svetlanov Hall at the International Performing Arts Center in Moscow.

In March 2020, the symphony rehearsed at the Tanger Center as it prepared to open — before the pandemic delayed that.

But those rehearsals gave sound engineers the opportunity to fine-tune the Meyer Sound Constellation acoustic system.

There to assist were Greensboro-based SE Systems, which installed it, and theatrical acoustical consultants at Arup in New York.

“We are trying to get things set so that the balance is correct in the hall and the balance is correct on stage for us to be able to hear one another,” Wendy Rawls, assistant concertmaster, said back then.

Then in May of this year, the orchestra rehearsed with Sitkovetsky for a June virtual performance there for the national conference of the League of American Orchestras.

The June concert was closed to the public, but audiences could watch online.

On Saturday, the audience can watch and listen in person.

This also will be the symphony’s first classical concert featuring its concert grand piano.

Earlier this month, the symphony had used the Steinway D in its Pops concert featuring Michael Cavanaugh and another with vocal harmony group Boyz II Men.

The symphony paid $88,526 to obtain the piano from the Chicago Symphony and refurbish it. Two donors made that possible, said Keyshia Haithcock Gray, symphony development and public relations director.

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow @dawndkaneNR on Twitter.

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