Professional musician Stefan Gawlick travels the world and knows almost every major concert hall around the globe. In this series, he reports on the acoustics and other characteristics of famous venues both in the auditorium and on stage.
Now it’s happening again: we’re grazing off the beaten track and taking care of halls that are not necessarily to be found on every SXL or LSC. Halls that seem to be overlooked by the media world, although they actually have every right to play a musical starring role. This is certainly the case with the Sala Teatro in the Lugano Arte e Cultura complex, a conglomerate of different buildings from different centuries that together form an immensely exciting cultural center with cinemas, cafés, various halls and lavish youth programs.
If you come to Lugano as a musician, you don’t really want to go into the hall, because the location directly on the lakeshore makes you think of a number of things, but certainly not of rehearsals under artificial light. And while we’re at it: After a leisurely walk of only 10 minutes from the forecourt, we reach not only the stage house of the Lugano Arte e Cultura (LAC for short), but also the Flamel, one of my favorite restaurants in this world, a place of senses and delights, if you like refined Italian cuisine.
Very well, we are dutiful after all and direct our steps towards the stage. The backstage area, which is both spacious and bright – neither is a matter of course even in modern halls -, reconciles us a little, after all, after the renunciation of great food, the work should be a joy. Once you leave the concrete-dominated ambience of the dressing rooms and enter the stage, it takes your breath away. Light wood, pleasant brown tones, bright and at the same time glare-free lighting everywhere – we didn’t expect that.
Moreover, you don’t notice the hall’s transformative talent; you have the feeling of sitting in a real concert hall and not in a multi purpose hall. The only thing that is due to the theater geometry is the clear distance to the audience. Especially as a timpanist, who usually sits in the last row of the orchestra, one feels a certain distance to the action. Also the conductor is not just around the corner, here you have to adjust to the distance a bit and correct the running time by means of experience (i.e. play a bit earlier). However, thanks to the wooden side walls, you get all the relevant information about what your colleagues are doing, so that’s not a major problem either – after a few moments you’ve arrived and are enjoying the wonderfully transparent and at the same time warm sound of this hall.
By the way, it sounds quite similar for the audience, as the projection from the stage works quite excellently. Speech intelligibility is excellent, as befits a theater, and at the same time the room carries sound sufficiently so that not every note falls directly on the floor in front of the instrument or singer.
And if you are lucky as a musician, you will play in one of the earlier concerts, which start already at 7 pm. Afterwards there is still time for at least a short menu at Flamel. The spectator is left with the hope of a later concert and an early dinner at the table booked beforehand.
Music tips – recordings with typical room sound
No well-known CD productions, but many streams of the SFR with the Orchestra della Svizzera italiana (OSI).