When Beauty and Acoustics Meld To Create Sonic Impact

The historic Ohio Theatre offers a stunning setting for performing arts. A Baroque architectural style conveys visual grandeur that carries a mystique that one is destined to be treated to a life-time memory. While visually impressive, the Hall’s acoustic performance fell shy of its eye-appeal much to the dismay of resident artist, the Columbus Symphony. A million dollar effort led to a custom-design and installation for a new state-of-the art orchestra shell to replace a 30-year old model. In the course of a single year, the shell advanced from concept to reality.

Core to the shell’s acoustic design was its responsiveness to musician needs — the ability to hear one another and themselves. As musicians are more confident in what they can hear and have a stronger perception of what their audience hears, they are able to better focus on the artistic aspects of their performance, and are able to play as a more cohesive ensemble.

While carrying an immediate improvement to the musician’s experience, additional scrutiny was provided on the shell’s ability to enhance the audience experience by providing better coverage in areas of the audience chamber. Careful consideration was provided to preserving the Theatre’s visual aesthetic by carrying decorative design elements of the Hall’s Baroque style to be in harmony with the design of the new shell. The visual consistency between the shell and the theatre’s interior, coupled with the acoustical improvements, allow a far more successful conversion of the Ohio Theatre into a concert hall.

The final design component addressed the venue operator needs in having flexibility to adjust to varying ensemble sizes and be easily moved and stored while the stage hosts other performance types.

The shell’s movable ceiling panels and ribs, and the towers with their acoustical shelves, work together to reflect sound back to the musicians on stage and project sound out into the audience. A new ceiling extension stretches out past the arch of the stage and into the theatre to better connect the audience and performers, more like in a traditional concert hall. As explained by CSO Music Director Designee Rossen Milanov, “The Ohio Theatre now becomes a venue with sonic impact!”

The shell made its debut in November with the Columbus Symphony’s performance of “Beethoven and Don Quixote” and has since drawn accolades of musicians, the new music director, venue operators and critics. To read more about the shell and what people think, check out these links:




Ohio Theatre

Photo: Brad Feinknopf