Quietness, Comfortable Sound and Excellent Acoustics NAGATA ACOUSTICS

News 13-11 (No.311)

Issued : November 25, 2013

[ Japanese Version ]

Walt Disney Concert Hall Celebrates 10th Anniversary

By Dr. Yasuhisa Toyota

Walt Disney Concert Hall Exterior
Walt Disney Concert Hall Exterior
(Courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic)

Walt Disney Concert Hall Interior
Walt Disney Concert Hall Interior
(Courtesy of the Los Angeles Philharmonic)

In October, 2013, Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall ("WDCH") marked its 10th anniversary. (Our December, 2003 newsletter for the opening.) WDCH is the home hall of the Los Angeles Philharmonic which has embarked on a season-long series of concerts and events in 2013 and 2014 to celebrate the milestone anniversary year. The details of the concerts and events as well as a fascinating retrospective on the hall can be found on the orchestra's website.

When I think about WDCH's first 10 years, I am struck by the inextricable relationship of the hall to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. As the orchestra's home hall, the Los Angeles Philharmonic rehearses and holds its season and other concerts in the hall, but by no means does the relationship end there. The orchestra's organization also oversees the sponsorship of all hall programming by all performers and has full authority and responsibility for all hall operations, including fiscal responsibilities. To tell the story of WDCH's first 10 years is synonymous with telling the story of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra during the same 10 years.

<< The Salonen Era >>

When WDCH opened, the Finnish-born composer and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen was the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Music Director. (Currently, he is Conductor Laureate.) Maestro Salonen joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1991 and participated in the planning and design of WDCH from the hall's inception. By the time the hall opened, Maestro Salonen had 12 years of experience with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and a perfect grasp of every nuance of his orchestra.

Maestro Salonen's vision for the Los Angeles Philharmonic was that of the ultimate contemporary classical music orchestra. Under his baton the orchestra's sophisticated performance of contemporary classical works was second to none. The sound was clear and transparent from start to finish and the orchestra rose to extremely high levels of precise ensemble performance.

For me, a personal highlight of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's Salonen era-related to WDCH-was the orchestra's 2008 Japan performances at Suntory Hall. Thirteen years had elapsed since the orchestra's previous visit and the Los Angeles Philharmonic was not yet well known in Japan's classical music world. Before the orchestra's arrival, I wrote a series of 5 articles about Maestro Salonen, the orchestra and WDCH for the Suntory Hall website. Readers of this newsletter may be interested in the thoughts I shared then. (The articles are now available in English on the Nagata Acoustics website.)

At Suntory Hall, Maestro Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic-feeling as at home as if they were in their home hall-brought forth the full power of their artistry. The Japanese music journal Ongaku no Tomo, which publishes an annual ranking of best concerts in Japan, ranked the Los Angeles Philharmonic's 2008 Suntory Hall concerts as number one that year.

<< Transition to Young Maestro Gustavo Dudamel >>

When Maestro Salonen decided that he wanted more time to compose music and therefore needed to resign from the Music Director position, the baton passed to Venezuelan-born Gustavo Dudamel. The year was 2008 and Maestro Dudamel was just 27 years old.

Maestro Dudamel came into international prominence when he won the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra's Gustav Mahler competition. At the time, Maestro Dudamel's meteoric rise to the top caused a stir in classical music circles that is still fresh in my memory. Maestro Salonen was among the judges at the Gustav Mahler competition the year that Gustavo Dudamel won, and it was Maestro Salonen who invited Maestro Dudamel to replace him at the Los Angeles Philharmonic when Maestro Salonen decided to step down.

<< Continuing Successes in the Maestro Dudamel Era >>

For me, a most noteworthy innovation ushered in with the Maestro Dudamel era is the Venezuelan "El Sistema"-style music pedagogy system that he transplanted from his home country to Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Philharmonic's free, El Sistema-inspired YOLA music program for underserved children of Los Angeles provides musical instruments and opportunities for musical activities and interaction with the orchestra, making a huge impact on this demographic of young people who surely are among the potential future patrons of classical music concerts.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic's season ticket subscriptions sell very well. When combined with the revenues from ticket sales of its annual summer music festival at the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Philharmonic may be the most financially successful orchestra in the United States. The orchestra also continues to be well-known for continuing Maestro Salonen's commitment to performing works by living composers. The New York Times and other major media repeatedly laud the Los Angeles Philharmonic as the premiere U.S. orchestra for its "energetic" and "soul-stirring" performances.

<< 10th Anniversary Opening Night Gala Program >>

On September 30, Maestro Dudamel led the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the following extraordinary program:

(1) Cage's 4'33"
(2) Bach's Cello Suite No. 3, Prelude
(3) Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations
(4) Adès' These Premises Are Alarmed
(5) Mahler's Symphony No. 9, 3rd movement and
(6) Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3, "Organ," 4th movement.

This program might be described as an ambitious and delightful mélange of playthings from Maestro Dudamel's toy chest.

Perhaps the most interesting piece on the program was the first piece, by John Cage. The 4'33" composition, with its 4 minutes and 33 seconds of continuous silence is a composition both famous and infamous that invariably generates many comments. Before the Los Angeles Philharmonic performance I was only familiar with the piano version of this work. At the 10th Anniversary Opening Gala, the full orchestra and soloist Yo-Yo Ma performed (if that be the correct verb to use) the work and it was amazing. Yo-Yo Ma "played" the spotlight role and was later applauded for it by the critics.

In this hall with an audience of 2,265 persons, each one experienced "hearing" the silence of Cage's work individually. Notable to me was the difference compared with the hall's opening night 10 years previous, when the audience seemed indifferent to minimizing rustling and other audience-generated noises during the performances. Now, during the Cage piece, the hall was wrapped in silence. I keenly felt how the Los Angeles audience has matured over the course of these past 10 years. Each person in the hall participated in the silence to enjoy 4'33".

The Los Angeles Philharmonic is succeeding, and also succeeding at being the most forward-looking orchestra we have today. We should all keep our eyes and ears trained on this strong force in the classical music concert world.

"Musi-sion" Condominiums for Musicians and Music Lovers

By Akira Ono

Readers of Nagata Acoustics' monthly newsletter may recall my previous two articles in October, 2000 and July, 2010, about the Japanese developer company Livlan's "musi-sion" condominiums. These condominiums have enhanced sound isolation so that musicians can play music at any time of the day or night without disturbing their neighbors. Livlan coined the name "musi-sion" for these properties, combining the English word "music" with "mansion" (the Japanese word for condominium).

Musi-sion Nishidai Interior
Musi-sion Nishidai Interior
(Courtesy of Livlan)

This year, Livlan completed 3 new musi-sion projects, one in Kanagawa Prefecture's Musashi-Nakahara and one each in Tokyo's Shimo-Akatsuka and Nishidai neighborhoods. In the paragraphs below I share some of the distinctive features that make Livlan's condominiums popular properties for musically inclined home owners and tenants. I also describe the projects' basic sound isolation design and our ongoing work with this client.

<< Livlan's Owner Occupied Condos >>

One Livlan project, at Shin-Egota , provides an example of the company's owner-occupied condominiums. Here, Livlan combines the architecture of a typical Japanese condominium with the special feature of a room with robust sound isolation. For example, the first floor unit has a below grade room designed with sufficiently strong sound isolation performance that the owner can even play drums loudly in the middle of the night without disturbing other owners in the condominium. Livlan's marketing concept is that this design approach eliminates the possibility of complaints or disputes between condominium owners about during what hours and how loud music can be played.

In addition, in this owner-occupied property, Livlan built a recital hall that accommodates up to 100 persons and installed in the hall a Steinway Model B-211 semi-concert grand piano. The residents use the hall and the piano for individual practice, recitals and other performances.

<< Livlan's Rental Properties >>

Livlan's musi-sion rental properties basically have only studio apartments and are built with sound isolation specifications for each apartment. At 2 of the properties, in Nogata and Musashi-Nakahara, the buildings each also have a small hall appropriate for salon-type concerts. Friends of both the landlord and the tenants gather in these common rooms to enjoy playing music together. I've had the pleasure of attending some of these private performances and always feel privileged to be one of the 20 to 30 people invited to hear professional musicians in such an intimate setting.

The musi-sion rental apartments attract primarily working adults-rather than college students-as tenants. The tenants rent musi-sion apartments because they want to be able to come home after work and play music in the evenings and other non-work days and hours. Also, some tenants have residences elsewhere and lease an apartment solely to use as a music studio where they teach their students.

<< Musi-Sion Sound Isolation Performance Characteristics and Matching a Unit to a Musician >>

In Livlan's TV and print media, the company claims that its properties aim for sound isolation performance goals of 65 dB (at 500 Hz) between units. The most recently completed project, at Nishidai, exceeded these goals and achieved effective sound isolation performance between units for sound as loud as 75 dB (at 500 Hz) , a sound isolation performance level of greater than Dr-70. ("D" and "Dr" are values defined in Japanese Industrial Standard A 1419-1 for sound isolation between rooms.) In addition, two thirds of Musi-sion Nishidai achieve the very strong sound isolation performance level of greater than Dr-75 between the units.

Even with such robust sound isolation, in order to avert any complaints or problems between neighbors, Livlan's earlier properties had house rules that limited late night music playing, with non-play hours specified by kind of instrument. The company now allows playing at any hour of the day or night if the unit achieves Dr-75, except for a handful of instruments and ensembles such as drums, contrabass and rock bands.

Instead of house rules with set hours, Livlan now uses an individualized, custom approach to setting rules with a prospective tenant who plays an instrument about which the potential loudness is not already known. Livlan asks the prospective tenant to bring the instrument to the apartment that will be leased and has the prospective tenant play the instrument in the space. Livlan employees measure the loudness and listen in an adjoining apartment. Depending on the results of this test, the applicant is granted or denied tenancy or specific rules are set in the lease restricting the hours when the tenant can play the instrument.

Another reason that the company asks prospective tenants to play their instruments on-site is that even though all of the units in a property are built to the same specifications, small variations in sound isolation performance can occur among the units. By measuring an instrument's sound in the available unit or units, Livlan can offer the tenant a unit that surely accomplishes the needed sound isolation so that the tenant can play music without disturbing neighbors in other units.

<< Sound Isolation Performance and Quality Control during Construction >>

The basic sound isolation design used for the Livlan properties combines a floating concrete floor with side walls and ceilings of drywall materials installed using support methods that provide sound isolation. The design takes into consideration Livlan's dual priorities of maximizing the interior living space of the units and keeping down the cost of construction. Livlan Company made a conscious business decision to build with this design which can be considered simple if compared to a typical music studio's sound isolation design.

Despite the simplicity of the sound isolation design and regardless of whether Livlan Company uses its own construction crew to build a project or contracts the work to another builder, Livlan's employees have excellent knowledge of the construction practices and on-site quality control requirements that result in successful sound isolation design implementations. The musi-sion projects completed during the past several years have been built with precise adherence to the sound isolation design specifications and achieved strong uniformity of sound isolation performance with minimal variations among different units and properties.

As I mentioned above, implementing our sound isolation design produces units with a greater than D-70 sound isolation performance rating. Based on our grasp of the factors that limit sound isolation performance and the creative aspects of our design, Livlan has been able to repeatedly achieve the desired excellent sound isolation performance levels at its properties. Now our work for this client has turned to a reconsideration of some of the current design's details and to exploring ways in which the design and construction can be improved to further reduce the cost of construction and minimize the amount of space that the sound isolation measures take away from the properties' interior living dimensions.

<< Community Events >>

Musi-sion's Jam Session Party
Musi-sion's Jam Session Party
(Courtesy of Livlan)

In condominiums that feature sound isolation between units the residents can play music even late at night without disturbing their neighbors. But this benefit also means that residents no longer need to think about the fact that they have neighbors. This situation can lead to overall lack of interaction with other people and a solitary lifestyle totally focused on the individual at the expense of community. Livlan Company proactively creates opportunities for condominum owners and rental tenants to mingle with each other and encourages a sense of community among the people who live in its properties.

Livlan Company promotes interaction among the residents of its properties in two ways. To encourage neighbor interaction at a property, Livlan uses one of the units in the building for parties where the residents can bring their instruments, mingle, play and get to know one another. To create a sense of community across its properties, Livlan Company brings tenants and condominium owners from multiple properties together at "Jam Session Parties" the company hosts at rented local live music spots in Tokyo. The musi-sion residents can bring their music and their instruments and jam together in an environment conducive to music making and mingling. I'm told that these events lead to musi-sion residents taking the initiative to play music together and to some residents relying on each other to help out when an ensemble member is not available and they need a substitute musician to fill in for a gig.

As the number of musi-sion properties increase, the community of residents will also grow, as will the likelihood that a resident musician will find other resident musicians with similar musical interests. It may even be not too long before we hear about an artist or ensemble rising to fame thanks to being nurtured by the Livlan musi-sion community.

The official website for the Musi-sion is available in Japanese.

Architect Satio Hasegawa of Hisao Kohyama Atelier Speaks at Nagata Acoustics

By Nobuhiko Hattori

Mr. Satio Hasegawa
Mr. Satio Hasegawa

In late October, Nagata Acoustics' employees enjoyed a talk at our main office by architect Satio Hasegawa of Hisao Kohyama Atelier. In the years since Mr. Hasegawa joined this architecture firm, he has been a key creative force on numerous theatre projects in Japan, including Saitama Arts Theater, Nagakute Cultural Center, Kani Public Arts Center, Patria Hita, Kanagawa Arts Theater, the renovation of Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre and the recently completed new Toyohashi Arts Theater. Even among Japan's most active and well-known architectural firms there are few architects who have amassed such an impressive number of theatre projects on their resumes. Nagata Acoustics has had the pleasure of collaborating with Mr. Hasegawa on the Patria Hita (February, 2008 newsletter), Kanagawa Arts Theater projects (March, 2011 newsletter) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre's renovation project (October, 2012 newsletter), and we are currently working together on two other new theatre projects.

During his talk, Mr. Hasegawa discussed each of the theatre projects designed by Hisao Kohyama Atelier, beginning with Saitama Arts Theater, which was their first major theatre project, and continuing through their most recently completed theatre project, Toyohashi Arts Theater, which opened this past spring. One consistent requirement across all of these projects has been the need for configurable stage areas that accommodate a variety of performance genres and performers' needs.

<< Theatre Stages and Interiors that Adapt to Performers' and Performances' Needs >>

Hisao Kohyama Atelier satisfies each project's requirement to provide an adaptable performance space by doing more than simply having a complete set of movable rigging above the stage. For example, the firm designed a theatre with a stage that has a fully configurable stage floor, a stage with a proscenium that can be moved forward and backward, and a theatre that has its loading area designed so that it can be used as the rear part of the stage. Mr. Hasegawa explained that the firm aims to increase the degree to which a theatre's stage can be the most suitable space for each performance by maximizing the architectural design approach of creating a configurable space.

Recently, Hisao Kohyama Atelier collaborated with Nagata Acoustics on the Kanagawa Arts Theater project where Mr. Hasegawa designed the audience seating area with an adjustable slope. From this example, we see that Mr. Hasegawa and Hisao Kohyama Atelier now include the audience seating area of a theatre among the building elements that can contribute to the theatre's overall flexible, configurable design. As with his other projects, the client's strong programming vision and Mr. Hasegawa's ideas combined to create an extraordinary result, that people can feel as if they are in a totally new interior space each time they visit the theatres. To achieve his design, Mr. Hasegawa says that he spent many hours working closely with the audience seating and stage machinery manufacturers to produce the theatre's design specifications.

<< Innovative, Customized Approaches to All the Spaces of a Theatre Project >>

As Mr. Hasegawa explained the features of his theatre projects, I also noted how the lobbies and other public spaces of each theatre have architectural designs uniquely suited to the characteristics of that theatre, its support rooms and exterior. Mr. Hasegawa's fundamental concept is that the theatre can provide enjoyment not only to the audiences that sit in the audience seats but also to every person who comes to the building and through the doors for whatever reason.

Mr. Hasegawa recounted that when he designed Saitama Arts Theater, he intentionally placed the rehearsal room for professional performers alongside a concourse that would be used by the general public when they entered or left this part of the building. The location of the rehearsal room and the concourse naturally results in passersby of all ages, including children, crossing paths with famous actors and actresses when these professionals step into the concourse to take a break from their rehearsals. When Mr. Hasegawa first proposed this design, many of the decision-makers on the client's side thought the design approach was a bad idea. Mr. Hasegawa persuaded them to approve it and today both professionals and the general public enjoy the serendipitous opportunities the theatre creates for the famous to rub shoulders with the general public and vice versa.

In his architectural design work for theatres, Mr. Hasegawa continually looks for ways to build more flexibility into his buildings so that performers, directors and other artists can make their own configuration decisions. When a space will be used both for drama and for classical music concerts, this approach can clash with the acoustical design's need for rigid and weighty building elements. Nevertheless, we always enjoy learning about the novel and creative architectural innovations that Mr. Hasegawa proposes on projects and we enjoy working through the details with him to achieve the best results for clients. I hope that we will continue to have many opportunities to collaborate with him in the future.

Nagata Acoustics Inc.

(Tokyo Office)
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672

(LA Office)
2130 Sawtelle Blvd., Suite 308
Los Angeles, CA 90025, U.S.A.
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816

(Paris Office)
75, avenue Parmentier
75011 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00

E-mail: info@nagata.co.jp

[ Japanese Version ]