Over my professional career as a composer and violinist, I have had the opportunity to play and record in spectacular rooms and halls. You know that adage, “…but I sound great when I sing in the shower”? Well, there is truth in it. It’s called reverberation, or REVERB.
The best rooms simply have either by natural luck or design a fortunate, slightly echoey wash of sound that seems to envelop the performer/listener without distorting or blurring the distinct voice and quality of each instrument. I have listed below the best venues I have ever played in. Notice I have not included any cathedrals of churches in this list; this is because although the sound is beautiful-perhaps perfect for sacred intents, it is invariably excessively reverberant for many musical uses (e.g. a musician or conductor must choose slower tempos for fast-moving passages). [BTW, the fastest, easiest way to make computer instrumental samples sound convincing is to slather on the REVERB!]
The best concert halls I have played in include, IN THIS PARTICULAR ORDER:
Carnegie Hall-NY (by far!), Orchestra Hall-Chicago, Ambassador Auditorium-Pasadena, Royce Hall-UCLA & Disney Hall-LA (honorable Mention goes to Mechanics Hall in Worcester, MA, Little Bridges Auditorium at Pomona College, CA and San Francisco Conservatory; see pix below:)
The greatest scoring stages I have played in include, IN THIS PARTICULAR ORDER:
Skywalker Studios-Lucas Ranch (by far!), 20th-Century Fox Newman Scoring Stage-LA, MGM/Sony Streisand Stage-Culver City, ToddAO (extinct)-LA, Paramount Studios (extinct)-Hollywood, and of course Bachiosaurus Studios!
Locally, in the sprawling metropoles of Nevada City and Grass Valley, CA, the best musical hall is the 7th-Day Adventist Church (see below:)
( Richard, Concertmaster, shakes the hand of Conductor of InConcert Sierra, Ken Hardin: )
Speaking of InConcert Sierra, we are at this moment preparing to build a new, beautiful performance hall featuring the acoustic properties of the aforementioned church!
Other wonderful venues include St. Joseph’s Concert Hall (a bit on the “churchy” side of sound, but great for 1 to 3-part instrumental chamber music), the Donald Besemer Concert Hall housed in a private home as well as numerous other fine homes and estates, some of which boast wonderful natural acoustics: