The acoustician Rob Harris has published a paper arguing that the sound in new ‘vineyard’ halls like Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie is undermined by having too many spectators packed in behind the stage.
Jonas Kaufmann recently faced protests that he could not be heard in the hall.
Harris argues: ‘There is no fundamental need to locate a significant percentage of a surround hall audience behind the concert platform. What is needed is enough seats behind for the performers to feel at one with the audience, a shared artistic experience. Choir seating can often adequately provide this.
Notwithstanding this, several prominent new symphonic halls have a significant percentage of the
audience behind the performers.’