Toronto to add a 2,800-seat concert hall

Toronto welcomes an addition to its thriving cultural life come September, when a new concert hall with the latest in acoustical design will open.

Designed by Arthur Erickson, the $39 million (Canadian) Roy Thomson Hall will be the home of both the Toronto Symphony and the Mendelssohn Choir. Twelve thousand square feet of adjustable acoustical banners have been built into the auditorium to control reverberation and echo and to isolate exterior noise from the auditorium. Special facilities for the handicapped have been installed.

In the past, Massey Hall, a late-19th-century building, was acknowledged to have serious inadequacies that affected both performers and the public. One problem is the obstructed views in seats behind columns. City noise penetrates the building.

The new hall, beyond the main 2,812-seat auditorium, contains a rehearsal hall, musician support areas, music libraries, changing rooms, offices, and parking. In the main auditorium, no seat is farther than 107 feet from the stage. This auditorium includes a concert organ of 5,207 pipes and 71 stops divided over six tonal divisions.

The organ has an electronic memory that permits the organist to program stop combinations and recall them with a push of a button during a recital.

Designed to be energy efficient, the designers say that nearly 80 percent of the heat needed for the building can come from the warmth generated by lights, people, and the sun.

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