2006 Summer Institute – Aspen, Colorado

Nearly 60 participants attended “CHRG Aspen” the Concert Hall Research Group’s Third Summer Institutive in beautiful Aspen Colorado during the week of August 14-18, 2006. Participants included faculty members from the architectural, acoustical consulting, theatre consulting, and teaching professions, practicing acoustical consultants and architects, university students, and accompanying persons. The Institute was funded primarily by participants, but also with a generous contribution from the Robert Bradford Newman Student Award Fund, which allowed all 13 university students to attend the Institute free of charge. The textbook “Concert Halls and Opera Houses” by Leo Beranek was provided to participants with the help of the Leo Beranek, Bill Cavanaugh, and the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). The textbook “Acoustics” by Charles M. Salter Associates, Inc. was provided to university students by Charles M. Salter Associates. Advertising and marketing assistance was provided by the ASA Technical Committee on Architectural Acoustics and the National Council of Acoustical Consultants.

The clear air and magnificent views in Aspen proved invigorating, and the tradition of friendly networking, socializing, and sharing of information at CHRG summer institutes was continued. Institute Chair Carl Rosenberg “handled” the week-long event with his characteristic ease, charm, and good humor (and a ski pole which he frequently raised as a “warning timer” for faculty nearing the end of their allotted presentation periods). Past summer institute coordinators Bill Cavanaugh and Tim Foulkes (CHRG Tanglewood, 1999) and Chris Jaffe and Robin Glosemeyer (CHRG Saratoga Springs, 2003) joined the Institute as invited VIPs and faculty.

Faculty members Jack Bogan, Bob Coffeen, Tim Foulkes, Dana Hougland, Chris Jaffe, Larry Kirkegaard, Vance Larson, Ron McKay, Chris Savereid, David Schwind, Gary Siebein, Rick Talaske, Harry Teague, George Wilson, and Michael Yantis presented material supporting two general concert hall design themes – variable acoustic design and special design for sound isolation and noise control. In addition to “classroom” study, participants toured three concert halls and attended multiple concerts and rehearsals at the Aspen Music Festival and School. On Tuesday morning, architect Harry Teague led tours his projects, the Harris Concert Hall (along with project acoustician David Schwind) and the Benedict Music Tent (along with project acoustician Dawn Schuette). On Tuesday evening, participants attended a recital by Apollo’s Fire in the Harris Concert Hall in Aspen. On Wednesday afternoon (after a bus ride through magnificent Glen Canyon Preserve), project acoustician Ron McKay and project theatre consultant Jack Bogan led a tour of the Vilar Center for the Arts in nearby Beaver Creek, where the performance space is located directly under an ice-skating rink (with obvious sound isolation challenges). On Thursday night, participants attended a concert by the American String Quartet at the Benedict Music Tent in Aspen.

CHRG Aspen introduced a number of “new features,” including presentations of listening notes, a design challenge, and a formal accompanying persons program. On Wednesday morning and Friday morning (after each of the previous evening’s concerts), a panel of participants presented their impressions of each musical performance, spurring lively discussions. On Wednesday morning, small groups of faculty, professionals, and students participated in “The Robert Bradford Newman Student Award Fund Design Challenge,” planned and orchestrated by Bob Coffeen and Gary Siebein on the subject of performance space / concert hall design. At the end of a two hour design charrette, each team’s sketches and written results were taped up on windows around the meeting room and team leaders were given time to present their impressive results. After these presentations, it became obvious to the coordinators that all teams had to be declared “the winners.” For accompanying persons, there were less serious and fewer “ski-pole-regulated” activities planned throughout the week. Some of these folks actually came to Aspen without concert hall design as their primary focus (imagine!), and a series of tours, walks, meals, shopping excursions, and socials (arranged by accompanying person coordinator Gale Kordowski) proved much more interesting to them.

After the first CHRG Summer Institute, participant David Egan wrote a follow up report for the JASA in which he mentioned: “It is anticipated that future institutes will be organized in the years ahead to build on the enthusiasm and student-researcher-consultant-architect links established during CHRG Tanglewood 99.” David was correct. All three of the CHRG summer institutes have generated “enthusiasm” in the field of concert hall design, testing, and evaluation, and many, many “links” (aka friendships) have been formed. As at CHRG Tanglewood and CHRG Saratoga Springs, the key to success at CHRG Aspen was participation, and the coordinators wish to thank all participants and sponsors for contributing their time, resources, and enthusiasm to the Institute.