Photo: UC Berkeley Facilities
Okay, after two orchestral concerts at Zellerbach in the last few weeks, I'm convinced that it is the deadest, most acoustically dull space I have ever been in. The orchestras in question? Berkeley Symphony, sounding very, very good under Joana Carneiro, and the Philharmonia, under none other than Esa-Pekka Salonen.
It's as though the sound stops right at the edge of the proscenium. You can see the players moving, you can hear something, but the sound is flat; there's no reverberation, no feedback, nothing.
I don't love the sound at Davies, where a big orchestra sometimes makes the hall sound congested, but at least there's a physical sense of the sound coming at you and having impact. At Zellberbach? It's like the sound is hauling itself through a thick layer of cotton, or maybe mud.
I know that Zellerbach has a fancy Meyer sound system, and also that SFO is planning to use one in their planned 350-seat theater in the Veterans Building. I am extremely curious what Zellerbach sounds like without it.