Quietness, Comfortable Sound and Excellent Acoustics NAGATA ACOUSTICS

News 14-06 (No.318)

Issued : June 25, 2014

[ Japanese Version ]

Seinan Gakuin Baptist Church's New Sanctuary and Upcoming Pipe Organ Install

By Toshiko Fukuchi

Building Exterior
Building Exterior

In Fukouka City, a project for Seinan Gakuin Baptist Church completed in September, 2013. The installation of a pipe organ comes next and this is on schedule to complete by the end of 2014.

Seinan Baptist Church was established in 1922 by the American missionary and founder of Seinan Gakuin University, C. K. Dozier. The church building is located across the street from Seinan Gakuin University's chapel (completed in 2008). The chapel installed its pipe organ in 2010 and was featured in our March, 2010 newsletter.

The church sanctuary was originally constructed in 1955 and served the congregation for many years until its renovation just over a year ago. Beloved by the congregation, the original building aged over its more than 50 years of use and at the time of its renovation also needed significant seismic retrofitting.

The congregation hired the same architectural firm that designed the original church-W. M. Vories & Company Architects Ichiryusha-to design the renovation. Q-Shu Kensetsu served as the general contractor. In December, 2014, just over one year from the dedication ceremony of the new church sanctuary, the church will install a 10-stop pipe organ by organ maker Ryuji Tajiri of Takayama Organ Works. The pipe organ of the old sanctuary came from a church in the U.S. state of Virginia and was the oldest pipe organ on Kyushu Island until it was dismantled as part of the church's renovation.

Church Altar
Church Altar

At the request of the congregation, the width of the new sanctuary and its height are close in size. Overall, the renovation increased the size of the church interior to allow for the congregation to grow. The basic interior shape is 14 m (46 ft) wide × 20 m (66 ft) long x 9 m (30 ft) high. At the rear of the sanctuary, a balcony was added for the pipe organ.

The ceiling of the sanctuary follows the similar arch design as before the renovations. For acoustical reasons, we requested that accordion folds be added to the design of the ceiling and the architect incorporated these into the design.

The main floor of the sanctuary has some 50 pews where 4 to 5 people can sit, for a total possible occupancy of 246 congregants. Behind the church altar, the sanctuary has a baptistery.

<< Sanctuary Acoustics Prioritize Clarity of Speech and Pipe Organ Music >>

Rear View of the Sanctuary and Organ Balcony
Rear View of the Sanctuary and Organ Balcony

From the congregation's perspective, the most important aspect of the sanctuary's acoustics is the ability to hear the minister's sermon clearly. The next priority is the quality of the pipe organ music's sound. The congregation asked Nagata Acoustics to achieve excellent acoustics for both of these priorities.

The walls around the altar and along the lower portions of the sides of the sanctuary have shotcrete surfaces. Parallel wall surfaces have a tendency to generate flutter echoes. To mitigate this undesirable phenomenon in the sanctuary, we asked the shotcrete vendor to use the largest possible cement particles, creating a roughly textured surface on the parallel walls and thereby preventing flutter echoes.

Along the upper portions of the sanctuary's side walls, we installed narrow ribs to make the sound scattering effect, and in the back wall, ribs backed by glass wool to create sound absorbing surfaces. The sanctuary's reverberation time measures 1.3 seconds with the room unoccupied (at 500 Hz). The overall spatial room volume of the sanctuary is about 2,000 m³. (70,600 ft³).

Unfortunately, I have not yet had the opportunity to visit the new sanctuary and hear the acoustics with my own ears. The church's minister says that he finds the space easy to use when he gives sermons and the congregation tells us that the choir likes the acoustics. When the pipe organ has been installed, I surely want to visit the church and hear its acoustics.

The church's website is available in Japanese.
The photographs in this article credit to photographer Hiroshi Ito.

Chiba University Inohana Campus Memorial Auditorium Renovation

By Ayako Hakozaki

Building Exterior
Building Exterior

In addition to Chiba University's main Nishi-Chiba campus, the university has 3 other campuses. One of these is the Inohana campus, located about 10 minutes by bus from JR Chiba Station. Nearby recreation and cultural facilities include Inohana Park (former site of Chiba Castle) and Chiba Prefectural Cultural Center. The Inohana Campus buildings house the university's medical school and related departments.

Inohana Campus Memorial Auditorium originally completed construction and opened in 1964. Architect Fumihiko Maki designed the building after returning from study in the United States. It was his second project after returning home to Japan. His first project after returning home was Nagoya University's Toyoda Auditorium, which we renovated in 2008. (See our April 2008 newsletter for more about the Toyoda Auditorium renovation.) The topic of this article is our current project to renovate the Inohana Campus Memorial Auditorium, 50 years after it first opened and 20 years after its first renovation. Below, I summarize key aspects of the current project.

<< History and Architectural Features of the Memorial Auditorium >>

Auditorium (Before the Phase 1 Renovation) 1
Auditorium (Before the Phase 1 Renovation) 2
Auditorium (Before the Phase 1 Renovation)

The auditorium building's exterior has exposed concrete walls and a copper roof. The inspiration for the architectural design came from a Shinto shrine in a wooded area of Inohana. The auditorium's copper roof is a traditional Japanese architectural design element often seen on Shinto shrines.

The original interior design had the balcony at the rear of the auditorium open to the foyer behind it, without a separating wall. Also, the ceiling above the audience seating area had a modern, asymmetric geometric design. Twenty years ago, the university did a renovation that added a wall between the rear of the balcony and the foyer and changed the ceiling above the audience seating.

In addition to addressing needs of the auditorium interior, another consideration for the current renovation has been the 4 conference rooms on each side of the auditorium. Before Phase 1 of the current renovation project, the rooms were separated from the auditorium by glass walls. Renovating this non-sound-isolating element was one of the current project's objectives.

A notable interior design feature of the auditorium's original design is the stage rear wall, which has an abstract bas-relief by sculptor Masayuki Nagare. Outdoor areas around the building also feature Mr. Nagare's bas-reliefs. All of his works at this location are part of the same "3 Loves Series". Mr. Nagare's work will be familiar to readers who have visited Tokyo Bunkakaikan's Small Hall where his bas-reliefs decorate the walls. (For photos of the Inohana Memorial Auditorium's original building, its interior and Mr. Nagare's artwork, see an interview in Japanese with Mr. Akira Kuryu, Chiba University Professor Emeritus.)

<< The Current Renovation's First Phase >>

Auditorium (After the Phase 1 Renovation)
Auditorium (After the Phase 1 Renovation)

The current renovation project has 2 phases. Construction on Phase 1 began last fall and had a duration of 6 months, completing in the spring of this year. The Phase 1 and 2 work included seismic retrofitting, asbestos abatement, waterproofing the roof, repairing the exposed concrete on the building exterior and repairs and replacements of building equipment and machinery. In addition, these phases included upgrading the auditorium's functionalities and enhancing its acoustics as well as remodeling the conference rooms.

The upgrades and enhancements to the auditorium and conference rooms aimed to improve these spaces' appropriateness for the events and programs now held in them. Specifically, we replaced the interior treatments of the auditorium to reduce the liveliness of the acoustics. For this goal, we also changed the audience seating. In addition, we upgraded the loudspeaker system to a new system and we installed sound isolating walls between the conference rooms and the auditorium to improve the sound isolation between these adjacent spaces.

Before we implemented Phase 1 of the current renovation, the wall between the foyer and the rear of the auditorium's audience seating area performed poorly as a sound isolating element. In Phase 1 of the renovation, we replaced the wall between the foyer and the auditorium with a wall that has a high-performance sound isolation characteristic. We also revised the main level entry between the foyer and the auditorium. Before the Phase 1 renovation, the auditorium had a single set of doors. As part of the Phase 1 renovation, we added a second set of doors and several feet of space between the first and second set of doors. The doors from the balcony to the foyer will be similarly renovated in Phase 2 of the project.

The Stage's Rear Wall - An Abstract Bas-relief by Sculptor Masayuki Nagare
The Stage's Rear Wall - An Abstract Bas-relief
by Sculptor Masayuki Nagare

Phase 2 of the renovation will also add improvements to the auditorium's sound isolation from noise generated outside the building. Specifically, we plan to add sound isolating walls in front of the current side balcony walls faced directly outside.

Phase 1 completed this spring. Before the renovation, the portion of the auditorium stage directly in front of Mr. Nagare's sculpture was being used as storage space, and a drop curtain in front of the storage served as the stage's rear wall. As a result, Mr. Nagare's sculpture was entirely hidden from view. Now the artwork is again visible.

The completion of Phase 2 will further increase this auditorium's usefulness and appropriateness for the needs of today's students and Chiba University.

Don Giovanni - The 2014 Performance of Kyogen-style Opera

By Satoru Ikeda

Japan's traditional theatre genres-Noh, Kyogen, Kabuki and Bunraku-have a long history. Noh and Kyogen date to the Muromachi Era (1333-1573) and Kabuki and Bunraku began in the Edo Period (1603-1868). In the East and the West, both Kabuki and Opera, two genres with some similarities in their use of music, acting and sometimes larger-than-life theatrics, emerged as full-fledged genres about 400 years ago. In the case of Kabuki, the genre owes much to the two older genres of Noh and Kyogen (together known as Noh-gaku) that began 200 years earlier.

All 4 of the Japanese theatre genres use dance, poetic recitation or chanting and musical accompaniment. Each of the 4 genres achieved a kind of perfection as an art form hundreds of years ago, but a few genres has also continued to evolve over the centuries and contribute to the development more modern variations. Also, in recent times, artists have combined one or more of the traditional genres with Western performing art genres to achieve their desired artistic expression.

Flyer for the Performance in Osaka

In this article, I want to introduce readers to the "Kyogen-style" opera performance of Don Giovanni. This innovative undertaking transforms Mozart's operas into Kyogen performances. Since 2002, the same theatre group has performed one of Mozart's operas in this style. First they performed Don Giovanni, then The Marriage of Figaro, then The Magic Flute. This year, the performers revisited the first opera in their repertoire, performing Don Giovanni from April 25 through May 1 on a whirlwind tour of Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Tokyo, Sendai and Tono City (Iwate Pref.). The Sendai and Tono performance locations were added for the first time this year.

<< This Year's Librettist, Director and Performers >>

For the 2014 performances, Associate Professor Masayasu Komiya (whose academic specialty is German literature) adapted Lorenzo Da Ponte's libretto to Japanese-language Kyogen-style text. Akira Shigeyama of the Okura School of Kyogen directed the performance and assumed overall artistic direction for the production. Toho Gakuen's Prof. Toshimitsu Kimura (professor of Voice course) served as music director.

Most of the performances were held at concert halls. An octet of wind and string soloists from the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Japanese taiko drummer Jukei Nakamura performed the music. The actors included Mr. Shigeyama and other actors of the Okura School joined by Izumi School actor Matasaburo Nomura.

<< Transformation of the Plot from Seville to Kyoto >>

Instead of 17th century Seville, Kyoto was the setting for this Don Giovanni. In this Kyogen interpretation, the role of Don Giovanni is a young samurai accompanied by his valet, Leporello. Don Giovanni's abandoned lover becomes merely a woman (not necessarily with a past relationship with Don Giovanni) and the other characters include a bridegroom and a bride from Nagoya as a farmer and his wife, plus a ghost of the pivotal role in the form of a knight.

The Kyogen-style Opera begins with the ghost appearing in Kyoto from the underworld. The lascivious and seducing young samurai conducts himself as he wishes, even trying to smooth-talk and seduce the bride. Eventually, of course, the young samurai gets what he deserves. The performance includes a peppy overture and arias supported by the wind-and-string octet and the taiko drum.

<< Highlights of the Performance >>

Because most people in the audience already knew the basic storyline of Don Giovanni, the success of the production was not because of a suspenseful plot but rather because of the details of the production, such as the arias that punctuated the Kyogen acting, the use of comical, exaggerated Kyogen gestures, the actors' energetic activity both on stage and even coming into the audience area, the witty-sometimes racy-actors' lines and their use of distinctly Nagoya accent and phrases when appropriate, and the octet's accompaniment throughout the piece. The production successfully brought down the house with laughter multiple times and the audience's overall satisfaction reverberated in the strong applause at the end.

Opera and Noh often have tragic storylines and Mozart's Don Giovanni may be best described as tragicomedy. With the addition of Kyogen's unique, laughter-inducing elements, the comedy aspects of Don Giovanni pervaded the production. In addition, because the performances took place in concert halls rather than Noh theatre spaces, I felt that the production adeptly created a sense of Kyoto through the use of the tsuzumi drum and the beautiful acoustics had the appealing novelty of a new genre.

<< Kyogen-style Opera Performances in Germany >>

In 2011, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of friendship between Japan and Germany, the same performers brought their Kyogen-style opera production of The Magic Flute to Germany. That initiative aimed to spur interest in the time-honored performing arts traditions of both East and West. The tour also aimed to demonstrate the breadth of expression of Japan's performing arts to overseas audiences.

Through this kind of collaboration, new interest in old art forms can emerge and the old can inspire new creativity. The results will hopefully grow into creative works that are fun, energetic and entertaining to today's audiences.

Upcoming Pipe Organ Concert "Pipe Organ Entertainment 7"

By Toshiko Fukuchi

Since 2004, the Pipe Organ Entertainment concert has been a nearly annual treat for pipe organ music lovers. This year, the concert venue is the same Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall that was used for last year's concert.

Flyer for the Concert

According to organist Ryoki Yamaguchi, he is really "fired up" about the compositions he will perform this year, each chosen to give the audience an experience of both "Light and Shade". In the performance, Mr. Yamaguchi will augment the rich tone colors of the pipe organ with lighting and other visual media effects to express both audio and visual contrasts. This year, one of the new elements will be the use of anime character Chie Harada illustrations and a design based on the strong contrasts of red and black colors. Of course, as in previous years, video cameras will capture Mr. Yamaguchi's hands and footwork at the organ and transfer them to large screens for audience viewing during the performance.

Planned compositions for the concert program include Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor and selections from Bernstein's West Side Story.

Featured Artist: Ryoki Yokohama
Date: Wednesday, August 27 at 7:15 (Doors open at 6:30)
Location: Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall Large Hall
(Tickets can be purchased by calling +81-45-682-2000.)

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 ]