Great Hall – Krannert Center

Great Hall - Krannert Center

The University of Illinois Bands Held an Alumni Reunion and Concert this last weekend.  There are over 12,000 living U of I Band Alumni scattered throughout the world and this group met and gave a fine concert Sunday.  The concert was a tribute to Dr. Harry Begian, who passed away recently.  In the long history of the U of I Bands, there have only been five directors; Begian was the third.  In this image, Dr. Robert Rumbelow, the current Director, is conducting the band.


The setting is the Great Hall of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts on the U of I campus in Urbana.  The Center was built while I was an undergrad at the U of I and I have been fortunate to see and hear some wonderful programs over the years ranging fron the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy to Garrison Keillor along with The New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble, Burl Ives, Marvin Hamlisch and the ubiquitous ‘many more’. I also attended a number of Christmas Carol concerts put on by the U of I Music Department, where all the choral groups would each sing a few selections.  The viewpoint of this image is from the back of the balcony, and you can see how there is seating around the sides and also behind the stage.  Several of the concerts started out with a women’s choir standing all around the opening looking down on the main floor, and to those sitting below, the voices from above and around had an almost angelic quality.


I was also lucky to be on the press tour of the building before it opened with the architect Max Abramovitz, who designed the building.  He had some major problems with the acoustics at Avery Fisher Hall in New York, which he also designed (he blamed the problems on having to redo the plans several times to increase seating and not having the time to start over from scratch, but rather having to tweak the design until the acoustics finally went bad) and so he wanted to show that if given a free hand, he could design for good acoustics.  I’ve performed on stage numerous times and have sat in all parts of the hall and can attest to the wonderful sound (I was in the first – or one of the first – groups to rehearse on the stage – the workmen were still putting up the finishing touches.  We were amazed at how well we could hear each other, which made for a much better ensemble.).  The Chicago Symphony, under Solti, recorded the Beethoven Symphony #9 in the Great Hall and would have recorded more if not for the expense and logistical problems of being so far from Chicago.

May 23, 2011 | |



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