Title means "Quietness", "Comfortable Sound" and "Excellent Acoustics"

Nagata Acoustics News 05-04 (No.208)
Issued : April 25, 2005

Horibata Hall Opens at Akinada Kouryukan on a "Mikan"-famous Island

by Satoru Ikeda

Exterior of Akinada Kouryukan
On a small island in Japan's Inland Sea known as the home of a delicious brand of Satsuma Tangerines named Ocho Mikan, the town of Yutakamachi (Hiroshima Prefecture) celebrated the opening of its new Akinada Kouryukan in February 2005. Yutakamachi, with its population of about 3000, has a long history as an Inland Sea port on the Osakishimojima Island, which can be accessed via a 30-to-60-minute high-speed ferry ride from the ports of Kure, Takehara and Mihara on Japan's main Honshu Island.

<< Yutakamachi's Historical Significance >>

In the bygone times of the Edo Period, the southeast end of Osakishimojima Island served as a port of call for Japanese "kitamaebune" ships and the inns and other establishments of Yutakamachi's Mitarai Quarter enjoyed a steady clientele of feudal lords and their triennial "san-kin-kotai" processions who used the port to wait for the sea's tide and wind to take them to the main island road to the Edo capital. Today, Mitarai Quarter's historical flavor remains in tact and is protected by the Japanese government's designation of the quarter as an Important Traditional Building preservation zone. Yutakamachi's combination of calm port waters and terraced tangerine groves overflowing with ripe Satsuma tangerines creates a memorable visual image for visitors to this town.

<< Overview of the Facility >>

Akinada Kouryukan is located near the Ocho Port section of Yutakamachi, which is also the part of the city where the island's tangerine harvesting activity is centered. This community center stands midway between the northern and southern embankments of Ocho Port and will eventually connect directly to a planned, adjacent Tangerine Message-kan (Museum and Information Center).

This community center aims to provide a gathering place for the town's residents. It includes a 255-seat hall, a library, kitchen, a multipurpose room, a classroom and a Japanese-style tatami-mat room. Yutakamachi's leaders involved the entire community in the Akinada Kouryukan project's decision-making process by holding town-wide building workshops, dubbed "wharf-side (Horibata in Japanese) conferences," a name that, in the original Japanese, bears strong similarity to a phrase used to describe the friendly and casual get-togethers of neighbors around a town well or marketplace. The Yutakamachi citizenry influenced the architectural choice of a tile-roofed building that blends well with the surrounding structures, and the community's input and ideas are also reflected in the building's barrier-free access for the disabled, hall's configuration and interior details, and other aspects of both the facility and its day-to-day operations. This hall reached out to the local community to find its name. "Horibata" means "embankment," an appropriate name for an intimate hall in a port town. The Horibata Hall name was selected from among suggestions received from the general public.

Two companies created the architectural design for Akinada Kouryukan, Urban Design Institute Co., Ltd. and Atelier Ryu. (Both of these companies are headquartered in Tokyo.)

View from audience area
View from stage
Interior of Horibata Hall

<< Horibata Hall's Architectural and Interior Design >>

The portion of the cultural center that houses Horibata Hall models its exterior aesthetics on the unpretentious and utilitarian tangerine storage buildings that dot the nearby landscape. The exterior's roof design is basically a simple peak shape. Four roof stacks for ventilation and light add a distinguishing feature to the building's architectural design.

Horibata Hall has a stage, but no flytower and no proscenium arch. The audience seating area has a flat floor and is ringed on three sides by a two-level equipment gallery. The hall's design creates a sense of oneness between the stage and audience seating area and the hall interior's abundant use of wood, including roof trusses using Douglas fir laminate, wood framing, and cedar paneling on the ceiling, gives the hall a distinctively warm ambience. For audience seating, Horibata Hall is equipped with portable, connected rows of seating for 187 persons and 68 individual chairs.

<< Horibata Hall's Room Acoustics >>

Horibata Hall's room acoustics features include the following:

<< The New Hall's Opening Event and Instant Popularity >>

This year, Yutakamachi and Hiroshima Prefecture's Kure City have plans to consolidate into one municipality. In February, prior to that change in the local government, Yutakamachi opened Horibata Hall with a busy and lively calendar that included a sold-out Yutakamachi Industry and Culture Festival and many other events. The new community center will surely become a popular gathering spot for Yutakamachi's tourists as well as local residents, and with its robust beginning, I expect that the local community will take the lead in making frequent use of the new facility. I was unable to attend the hall's opening events, but now that spring is here, and the white Satsuma tangerine blossoms on Yutakamachi's trees, I think the reader will agree that the sweet perfume of this island town combines with its mix of historic architecture and new cultural activity to beckon us invitingly.

Nasunogahara Harmony Hall Celebrates 10 Years of Innovative Programming

by Akira Ono

Nasunogahara Harmony Hall
In 1994, young Japanese architects Mutsue Hayakusa and Jun-ichi Nakajo (of Cell Space Architects), then still in their twenties, saw their winning design became a reality when Nasunogahara Harmony Hall opened its doors and brought an entire region new opportunities to enjoy live music and theater. The facility was conceived as a pan-regional cultural facility in Tochigi Prefecture. The sponsoring government bodies, Otawara City and Nishi-nasuno Township, selected Cell Space Architects and its strikingly modern architectural proposal from among submissions to their design competition for the new structure.

<< Hall Director Masaaki Niwa's Dedication and Vision >>

During Nasunogahara Harmony Hall's 10 years of operations, Mr. Masaaki Niwa, a respected and well-known Japanese music critic, has served as hall director and programming visionary. Ten years ago, new culture centers and concert halls were being built throughout Japan, and it was not unusual for famous musicians and other cultural mavens were being invited to accept positions of leadership at these facilities as hall, music and artistic directors.

Since then, many of these relationships have ended, sometimes over disagreements between the director and the employing government or foundation, sometimes because of Japan's changed economic landscape and the resulting lack of funding.

In the midst of this changing environment, Mr. Niwa continues to realize new successes and achievements as Nasunogahara Harmony Hall's hall director. He has earned the trust of Otawara's and Nishi-nasuno's mayors and administrative officials. The local community also supports him avidly, and he consistently demonstrates leadership that lives up to and exceeds everyone's expectations.

<< The Hall's Performing Arts Training Programs >>

Concurrent with the hall's opening, Nasunogahara Harmony Hall began performing arts instruction programs for the general public as part of the hall's culture promotion activities. The orchestral and choral training classes that began 10 years ago continue uninterrupted to the present day. Building on the success of these two programs, the hall added a drama class and, in 2002, the hall began a choral training program for boys and girls.

The performing arts training classes all progress at the same pace of one class per month. The music classes use the large hall (which has a concert hall configuration) and the drama class meets in the small hall (which has a theater configuration). Class participants also work on their individual parts in the hall's practice rooms.

The hall's music director and separate coaches for string and wind instruments teach the orchestra class. A choral instructor and a voice trainer teach the chorus classes. These highly accomplished professionals lead each month's training class in person, and the class participants pay nothing for the instruction, as the hall runs all the classes free of charge. The boys and girls who attend the choral training for children receive an additional benefit of being able to attend concerts for free when a concert's advance ticket sales do not sell out the entire house.

In addition to the performing arts training classes, the hall holds skill development classes in stagecraft and stage operations taught by technical staff of the hall. These classes attract young people interested in pursuing a career in stagecraft, lighting and other technical professions essential to the performing arts.

<< Fine Tuning the Training Programs >>

Hall Director Niwa's ambitions for the instruction programs go beyond the typical goals of cultural center classes. He hopes that the people who attend the orchestral and choral training programs will develop professional level skills and form a orchestra and chorus.

During the training program's first three years, each class averaged about 100 participants, and for the past six years, the number of participants has remained stable at about 50 people in each class. Many of the participants are the original participants who began training at the hall 10 years ago when the programs began, and these participants' performance capabilities have improved considerably.

The dedication of the training programs' original participants and their improving skills is wonderful progress and gives Mr. Niwa good reason to believe that his dream of creating a professional level orchestra and chorus will be achieved, but as the skill level of the participants grows, the ability of newcomers to successfully join the training programs apparently decreases. Participants who join the programs now often have difficulty keeping up with the more-seasoned participants and drop out of the program. In the near future, the hall will need to consider expanding the orchestral and choral training programs to offer multiple classes targeting participants of different skill levels, according to Mr. Kobayashi of the hall's administrative office.

<< Hall-sponsored Performances >>

Some 50% of the concerts sponsored by Nasunogahara Harmony Hall each year are classical music concerts. Mr. Kobayashi, whose responsibilities include planning the hall-sponsored concerts, says that the hall approaches the economics of sponsoring concerts with a positive attitude, never assuming that a concert planned by the hall is destined to run a deficit. The hall advertises upcoming concerts in the print, TV and radio media that reach the entire population living within a one-hour travel radius of the hall. Currently, ticket sales are on the rise and the hall has generated a profit on concerts that feature performers who grew up in Tochigi Prefecture.

<< 10th Anniversary Celebration Includes a World Premiere >>

The 10th anniversary concert
As part of the hall's 10th anniversary celebration, the hall commissioned a new composition for the orchestral and choral training programs' participants to perform. Written by award-winning Japanese composer Shin Sato and the acclaimed Japanese essayist and songwriter Nozomu Hayashi , the new composition is a choral suite entitled "Utsukushii Hoshi Ni" ("To the Beautiful Stars"). This work's theme takes its inspiration from the natural beauty of the Nasunogahara landscape. An oeuvre on a majestic scale, it paints the four seasons of the region in a five-part composition of song and music.

Nasunogahara Harmony Hall held its 10th anniversary ceremony and concert in December 2004. The evening began with the ceremonial part of the program, followed by "Utsukushii Hoshi Ni" performed by the participants of the orchestral, choral and children's chorus training programs. The joy of the moment was surely in the air as the orchestra and chorus deftly performed the composition inspired by their surroundings and created specifically for them as musicians. Surely, both the performers and the audience fully experienced the blessings of living in this region of Japan.

Mr. Niwa envisions "Utsukushii Hoshi Ni" as a composition that will be performed by other orchestras and choruses, both in Japan and around the world. If his vision proves true, the December 2004 performance will be remembered not only as the Japan premiere, but also as the world premiere of the work.

<< Coming Next: A Symposium on The Future of Concert Halls >>

Until now, Hall Director Niwa's focus has been his work as a music critic and his efforts to help Nasunogahara Harmony Hall prosper. On May 19, 2005, he will share his valuable experience at a symposium entitled "Do Concert Halls Have a Future?" The symposium will be held at Nasunogahara Harmony Hall and Mr. Niwa will deliver the keynote address.

Nasunogahara Harmony Hall's Japanese language website address is http://www.nasu-hh.com//.

NSCA Systems Integration Expo 2005

by Motoo Komoda

Demo room
For the three days March 10 through March 12, 2005, I attended the NSCA (National Systems Contractors Association) Expo, held this year in Orlando, Florida. My interest focused on the sound system and A/V exhibits and seminars. This annual gathering marked its 25th anniversary this year. The size and scale of the expo grows each year and, in 2005, 600 exhibitors and large numbers of attendees filled the Orange County Convention Center where the expo was held.

The booths on the first floor of the expo displayed sound system equipment such as loudspeakers and microphones, and A/V presentation equipment such as projectors, monitors and screens, plus conferencing systems, surveillance cameras, and integrated systems hardware and software for sound system equipment. The exhibitors crammed an immense range of products into every available inch of space.

On the second floor, 22 exhibitors presented their newest products in 14 loudspeaker demo rooms, with each exhibitor giving both an explanation and a listening demonstration of their showcased products. Each presentation included visually displayed product specifications and other details projected from the speaker's laptop to a large screen. Additionally, when a presenter demonstrated the sound of a specific loudspeaker, he illuminated the unit with a spotlight to distinguish it from the large lineup of models in each demo room. This effective presentation approach made the presentations and loudspeaker demonstrations easy to comprehend and follow.

Loudspeakers form the nucleus of any sound system. At the 2005 NSCA Expo, the exhibitors highlighted their 2-way and 3-way box loudspeaker upgrade models and compact line arrays.

Some of the 20-or-more conference rooms on the convention center's third floor were abuzz with manufacturers' training seminars on equipment and software use and operation. Other conference rooms on this floor served as classrooms for the extensive education program run by the NSCA at each annual expo. The course offerings included instruction in emergency planning management, aspects of electronic systems installation and related technologies for experienced professionals, acoustical design and electronic equipment tuning, A/V equipment network installation, planning A/V installations for conference rooms and A/V systems design for houses of worship. A listing of all the courses at the 2005 expo can be found at the NSCA Expo website.

<< Making Efficient Use of Time at an Exhibit this Big >>

I find that the best way to attend an exhibition of this huge size and scale is to browse the program booklet in advance, select a short list of the booths, seminars and classes that interest you most, and chart a path to follow inside the convention center. Using this method, I quickly and effectively visited and attended the parts of the expo that will benefit my work.

The demos and seminars on the second and third floors of the convention center were on a scale unlike those offered at exhibitions in Japan. Attending several of these sessions proved very beneficial for me. Also, at the booths and in the loudspeaker demo rooms, the manufacturers' representatives set up desks and information corners where attendees could discuss products and converse with the manufacturers' experts. I took advantage of these opportunities and the live exchanges of communication provided me with valuable information that is not available by simply surfing the Internet.

Next year's NSCA Expo will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit the NSCA Expo website.

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Nagata Acoustics News 05-04 (No.208)
Issued : April 25, 2005

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