The Philadelphia Orchestra Association has given supporters new reasons to move beyond dithering and naysaying and to dig into their pockets for the orchestra's new concert hall. By deciding to build a slightly smaller auditorium and to opt for first-class rehearsal and backstage facilities, rather than things like a ballroom, the orchestra association demonstrated that it is putting art first.
The size of the new hall is no minor concern. Architects and experts on acoustics are in wide agreement that a 3,000-seat capacity strains the limits of quality, and the orchestra had been talking of selling tickets for 3,100 seats. But artistic concerns prevailed and now the plan is for 2,700 to 2,900 seats. Providing quality rehearsal and back-stage facilities is also important, for giving short shrift to the performing artists could hurt the orchestra in the long run.