A selection of letters The Strad receives each month from its readers around the world: January 2023 issue
In his article ‘The home advantage’ (Opinion, October 2022), Edwin Barker states: ‘I am convinced that a major symphony orchestra’s sonic identity, its characteristic DNA, is determined by its association with its home acoustical environment.’ He mentions the Vienna Musikverein, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Boston’s Symphony Hall as examples of concert halls shaping the sound, especially the ‘elegant and rich’ string sound, of their respective resident orchestras.
I am a member of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London, which has always been (and still is) famous for its elegant and rich string sound (and for its overall sound too). Our main concert venue is the Royal Festival Hall in London, whose acoustics arguably, and unfortunately, don’t compare well with the world’s best concert halls. Despite this, my orchestra has retained its unique sound over the decades, and can produce it in almost every acoustical environment. In my opinion, therefore, the sound of an orchestra is not shaped by its home venue but by the traditions being passed down the generations.
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