News 17-07 (No.355)
Issued : July 25, 2017
Kurashiki High School’s Multipurpose (Music) Hall Completes
--Now the School’s Symphonic Band Aims for the Gold!
By Toshiko Fukuchi
Kurashiki High School Main Building
The multipurpose (music) hall is on the second and third floors facing the front.
Kurashiki High School, located in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture, is a private, co-ed, secondary school with regular academic and commercial tracks. Japan’s reform of its college entrance examination system is a topic that generates vigorous debate and Kurashiki High School is one institution that is devising a system that allows students to select courses based on their academic or other aspirations, strengthens English language education and sets a new path for the high school to pursue.
Along with the reform of its educational content, the school has already completed several new school buildings. One of the new buildings is the campus’ main building, which completed in March, 2017. On the second and third floors of the main building is the multipurpose (music) hall I will discuss in this article. The multipurpose (music) hall will be used by the school’s symphonic band for practice and performances. In addition, the school intends to hold other events such as ceremonies and lectures in the space.
The campus' main building was a design-build project of Hachiya Construction Co., Ltd, headquartered in Okayama City. Two years ago, I received a phone call from the person in charge of the project’s architectural design. The person explained that a multipurpose hall intended for music performances was being planned for Kurashiki High School’s new main building. The hall would be used for symphonic band competitions and practice, so the acoustics of the hall were important to the success of the project. I was asked to join the project team. My work on the project began soon after receiving that one phone call.
<< Kurashiki High School’s Competitive Sports and Clubs Culture >>
The city of Kan-Onji faces west (towards Honshu Island) along the coast of Japan’s Inland Sea. It is the third largest town in Kagawa Prefecture, after Takamatsu City and Marugame City. The nearest train station to the new civic center is Kan-Onji Train Station, and from the train station to the banks of the Inland Sea is a mere 2 km. (about a 20-minute walk). Ibuki-Jima Island can be seen from the Inland Sea shore. Ferries take tourists and residents to small Ibuki-Jima Island at regular intervals throughout the day. In Japan, Ibuki-Jima is famous for its production of iriko, dried baby sardines that the people of Ibuki-Jima source from the Inland Sea waters and dry in the sun on nets. Iriko are an essential ingredient of the broth used for Sanuki Udon, a noodle dish featuring flat noodles that originated in Kagawa Prefecture.
At Kurashiki High School, participation in extracurricular clubs is very popular. In particular, the school’s Sports Department and clubs excel in several areas. Last December, the school’s athletics team had its first win in the annual All-Japan High School Ekiden Relay Running Race, and the school’s name is well-known for the strength of its Kendo and wrestling teams.
Additionally, the school’s Culture Department has been strengthening the school’s symphonic band. The school recruited a person famous for symphonic band leadership to be band director as part of the school’s strategy and plans to compete in national symphonic band competitions. During the main school building project’s design phase, when I visited the school to explain the acoustical design, the school’s president, symphonic band director and several other teachers all spoke passionately about how the hall would support their ambition to compete at the national level. I remember feeling considerable pressure from the connection made between the project and the school’s intention to compete successfully in symphonic band competitions.
<< Room Acoustic Design of the Multipurpose (Music) Hall >>
The Multipurpose (Music) Hall with Sound-Absorbing Curtain Retracted
The Multipurpose (Music) Hall with Sound-Absorbing Curtain Deployed
Side Wall of the Multipurpose (Music) Hall
The multipurpose (music) hall is located on the second and third floors of the school’s main building. The hall is a flat-floored room measuring 16 m. x 17 m. (52 ft x 56 ft), and has a maximum ceiling height of 6.2 m. (20 ft) at the center of the room. Because the wind instruments and drums played in symphonic bands produce large volume sound, maximizing the hall’s ceiling height was a goal of the room acoustic design. The project team achieved the 6.2 m. height after I requested that the room’s height be increased to the maximum possible.
On the upper portions of the 2 side walls and the rear wall of the hall I specified the installation of galleries. The protruding undersides of the galleries are used in the room’s acoustic design to add sound-reflecting surfaces in the hall. The wall at the front of the hall has alternating sound-reflecting and sound-absorbing surfaces and wood paneling that has an intentionally uneven surface. The design pairs acoustical needs with the appealing interior aesthetics of the room. On the side walls, the sound-reflecting sections of the walls have an upward tilt and also alternating sound-reflecting and sound-absorbing surfaces.
The walls’ sound-reflecting surfaces are constructed of drywall panels with a cloth facing affixed with adhesive and then painted with a white finishing product. The sound-absorbing surfaces are glass wool wrapped in black glass cloth. Sections of the sound-absorbing material are also installed on some parts of the ceiling and on the rear wall.
<< Listening to the Kurashiki High School symphonic Band in the Completed Hall >>
I visited Kurashiki High School at the April, 2017 start of the academic year and attended the school ceremonies for the beginning of the new school year. After the ceremonies ended, I was able to listen to the school’s symphonic band practice in its new hall. The band practiced the composition that has been selected for all contestant bands to play at this year’s All-Japan Band Competition.
The freshmen players in the school band had only enjoyed a few days of practice, but everyone’s performance showed discipline and skill. I was amazed at the advanced level of performance the band displayed. I listened to the band practice with both the curtains retracted and deployed and noted that even with the curtains retracted and the band at its full volume, the hall’s acoustics did not sound overloaded and the hall maintained a good balance of sound from among the band’s instruments.
The teacher who serves as the band’s advisor apparently was very pleased with my work and offered a high evaluation of the acoustics we achieved in the hall. For the students in the band, their work lies ahead of them and they will surely have a strict practice regimen as they prepare for the national competition. Of course, I’m rooting for them and hope to hear that Kurashiki High School has won an award at the All-Japan Band Competition.
For more information about Kurashiki High School, visit the school’s home page: https://kurashiki.ac.jp/
Musashino Civic Cultural Hall Re-Opens After Renovations
By Ayako Hakozaki
Musashino Civic Cultural Hall originally opened in November, 1984 in Tokyo’s Musashino City. Built as a multipurpose complex, the facility included a Main Hall, a pipe organ-equipped Small Hall designed for classical music and an exhibition hall. Takeo Sato Architect & Associates (now AXS Satow, Inc.) designed the original Musashino Civic Cultural Hall. This is the same firm that designed the Utsunomiya Cultural Hall highlighted in our last month’s newsletter
Musashino Cultural Foundation, which is a public interest foundation, manages the hall’s operations and has devoted much effort to developing hall-sponsored programs. The foundation has a distinguished track record of proactively producing and sponsoring a wide variety of performances in the building’s halls and even does its own, in-house preparation of promotional flyers and event advertising.
In 2014, the plans for the Musashino Civic Cultural Hall renovation project noted that the complex was entering its thirtieth year and that the objective of the renovations would be to ready the building for use during the coming thirty years. The major renovations included seismic retrofitting of the Main and Small hall ceilings, replacement and upgrading of portions of the building that had aged due to wear and tear and changes to improve barrier-free access throughout the facility.
For this renovation project, AXS Satow developed the architectural design and oversaw its implementation. Nagata Acoustics participated as the acoustical consultant. The renovation work included 6 separate packages of general construction, electrical, mechanical, stage machinery, stage lighting and sound systems. Of these, a joint venture of Nakano Corporation and Kiyomoto Construction Corp. was responsible for the general construction of the renovation.
The project’s on-site work began in April, 2016. The facility closed for one year during the renovations and, with the exception of the Small Hall, reopened in April, 2017. The Small Hall reopened one month later, in May, 2017, after the completion of the pipe organ’s tuning.
<< Acoustical Aspects of the Renovations >>
Nagata Acoustics’ attention focused primarily on aspects of the renovations that would affect the acoustics of the facility. The renovations we identified in this regard included the seismic retrofit of the Main and Small halls’ ceilings, the replacement of both halls’ audience seating (with new, wider seats), replacement of the heating and cooling system and the Main Hall’s stage machinery (including measures to reduce related noise), strategies to improve the sound isolation of practice rooms, replacement of the sound systems and measures to reduce and isolate noise and vibration from a new escalator being installed as part of the renovations.
Because the renovation scope of the Main and Small halls’ interiors specified seismic retrofit of the ceilings and replacing the audience seating, the renovations in these spaces aimed to limit work to the ceilings and the floor areas. The renovated ceiling of the Main Hall keeps the same stepped configuration as before the renovations. To increase the even distribution of early sound reflections to all audience seats we adjusted the width and angle of the ceiling’s surfaces to the extent possible within the scope constraints of the project.
In addition to improving the even distribution of early sound reflections, at the client’s request we also aimed to improve the sound reverberation characteristic of the Main Hall. While the pre-renovation Main Hall was often used for classical music concerts, its reverberation time was shorter than desired for this purpose. One way that we accomplished the client’s request of increasing the reverberation time, while staying within the project’s scope, was to eliminate the use of sound absorbing material that was installed on portions of the original Main Hall’s ceiling and on the underside of the balcony overhang.
The audience seats of the original Main Hall were consistent with typical seats installed in this kind of hall in the 1980s. The seats had upholstered, sound-absorbing surfaces on the rear of the chair backs, as well as on the seat cushions and the fronts of the chair backs. By contrast, the new seats installed as part of the renovations only use upholstered surfaces for the seat cushions and the fronts of the seat backs. Installing the new audience seats combined with reducing the use of sound absorbing material on the ceiling successfully increased the sound reverberation time of the Main Hall. The difference can be easily heard by the human ear.
The Small Hall’s acoustics already enjoyed a fine reputation before the renovation project. Accordingly, the project aimed to give the Small Hall a seismically retrofitted ceiling with the same shape as it had prior to the start of the project. The only aspect of the renovation that might have altered the Small Hall’s acoustics was the replacement of the audience seating. The new seating results in the Small Hall having a slightly longer reverberation time. Because the Small Hall has a mechanism that can be used to adjust the hall’s reverberation characteristic and the hall’s management proactively uses the mechanism to obtain the optimal reverberation characteristic for each performance, the longer reverberation time is a manageable outcome. For example, a long reverberation time can be appropriately used for a pipe organ recital and a shorter reverberation time when the performance will benefit from reducing the reverberation time. The Small Hall’s acoustics can be adapted to suit a wide variety of performances and events.
The layout of the building has practice rooms directly below the Main Hall’s foyer. As part of the renovation project, we improved the sound isolation performance between the practice rooms and the Main Hall, the Main Hall’s foyer, and we also improved the sound isolation performance between practice rooms. Specifically, within the constraint of the maximum possible load, we designed and adopted an anti-vibration, sound-isolating structural solution for the walls and ceilings of the practice rooms.
<< Pre-Opening Day Events >>
Pre-Opening Day Concert in the Entrance Hall
In advance of Musashino Civic Cultural Hall’s official reopening, the facility held an all-day, Pre-Opening Day event on April 16, 2017. The activities of the day began 9:00 a.m. on the steps of the entrance hall where Musashino City’s Asia University brass band played a spectacular performance of Olympic Fanfare for the large crowd of Musashino City residents who enthusiastically attended the start of the day’s activities.
Excitement built quickly with anticipation for the facility’s imminent opening. Performances by other musicians with strong connections to Musashino City followed the brass band’s performance on the steps of the entrance hall. The performers included an organist performing on a positive organ, a local community symphony orchestra and the Kuricorder Quartet.
Attendees of the Pre-Opening Day events also enjoyed backstage tours, a taiko drum workshop in the Main Hall, an introduction to the pipe organ of the Small Hall, a photo exhibition in the exhibition hall and an opportunity to experience the Japanese tea ceremony in the building’s Japanese-style tatami mat room. People thronged to all of the activities and the hall filled with Musashino City residents of all ages who were clearly delighted to be nearing the end of the facility’s closure during the renovations.
One of the Pre-Opening Day activities was a talk by a representative of Kotobuki Seating Co., Ltd, the vendor who manufactured the new audience seats of the Main and Small halls. I was also invited to talk, and I spoke about acoustical aspects of the halls’ renovations. To attend these two talks required advance registration. The people who signed up and attended impressed me with how intently they listened to the two presentations.
<< Opening Concert and the Upcoming Calendar >>
On April 20, 2017, the first of four consecutive days of official Musashino Civic Cultural Hall Renewal Opening Commemorative Concerts was held in the Main Hall. The concerts featured the Vienna Academy Orchestra performing the complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies. The four concerts on April 20 - 23 were a great success with tickets for all the performances mostly sold out in advance.
One month later, on May 21, a concert commemorating the opening of the Small Hall featured the Latvian Radio Choir. A member of Musashino Cultural Foundation later informed me that both the conductor and the members of the choir spoke highly of the Small Hall’s acoustics. As a team member of the renovation project, I was both pleased and relieved to learn of the favorable comments made by the visiting musicians.
In these early days after the facility’s reopening, the hall has an especially busy performance calendar lined up, including 12 concerts just in July. Also, after a one-year postponement due to the hall’s renovations, the International Organ Competition Musashino-Tokyo will hold a competition in the Small Hall in autumn, 2017. This will be the 8th International Organ Competition Musashino-Tokyo, which is held once every 4 years. According to the member of foundation, the pipe organ has now been tuned to suit the renovated Small Hall and delivers fine sound with appealing depth.
Tickets for concerts at Musashino City Civic Cultural Hall seem to be selling out quickly, especially for hall-sponsored performances. To check if tickets are available on a specific date, it’s best to consult the hall’s website at your earliest opportunity.
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672
1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 795
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
75, avenue Parmentier
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00