This month marks a significant moment in the history of the North Carolina Symphony and its state headquarters venue, Meymandi Concert Hall. With the installation of an acoustical canopy above the stage, Meymandi Concert Hall is now complete, meeting the original architectural design laid out more than 18 years ago.

The canopy, made up of four steel-framed hanging panels (each one weighing as much as five grand pianos!), improves the acoustical quality on stage and provides our musicians with the best possible work environment, allowing them to more effectively hear each other and create an even better sound as they rehearse and perform.

The project was completed with the expertise of Akustiks, the industry leader in acoustical consulting. Acoustician Paul Scarbrough explains that in addition to helping our musicians to hear themselves and each other better—which creates a stronger ensemble sound—the canopy will also affect our audience’s concert experience.

“The new acoustical canopy in Meymandi Concert Hall will enhance the sound of the North Carolina Symphony in several important ways. It will lend a greater sense of immediacy to the sound, it will foster a more articulate sound quality, and it will better blend and project the sound of the orchestra to the audience,” says Scarbrough. “That will create a stronger connection between the performers and the audience, and will allow audiences to hear the fine details of the music with greater clarity.”

“The purpose of the carefully positioned canopy is to reflect mid- and high-frequency sound back to the stage and out into the audience,” elaborates NCS cellist and recording engineer Nathaniel Yaffe. “The reflections on stage help the musicians hear each other much better, and the reflections into the audience add crispness and clarity to the sound.”

Plus, since our musicians’ working environment will be improved in rehearsals, the impact of the canopy will be felt in performances all across North Carolina.

After several years of research, planning, and fundraising, the canopy was installed over a two-week period in December and January. The time-lapsed video below shows the final stages of installation on January 4.

We have now begun “tuning” the canopy, which will take several weeks. During this period—a collaborative process between our musicians, conductors, and professional acousticians—each of the four panels are adjusted to different heights and angles in order to optimize the acoustic quality. Scarbrough likens this to a visit to the eye doctor where you are asked to identify the clearest view between several options.

At the first “tuning” rehearsal on Sunday, NCS musicians were ecstatic about the improvement the canopy has made. “I can hear myself so much more clearly and I can hear everyone else more clearly, even across the stage,” says Assistant Concertmaster Karen Strittmatter Galvin. Yaffe adds, “I am thrilled with the new acoustical canopy! The concert hall really is an instrument in its own right, and the canopy will help enhance the excitement and impact of our performances.” Music Director Grant Llewellyn will work with the acousticians and orchestra when he returns to North Carolina at the end of January, placing the final touches on this important project.

NCS is proud that the canopy is built using green design. The canopy’s lighting system provides a 66% reduction in energy usage—over the course of a season, the energy that will be saved is enough to power five homes for a year!

With the installation of the acoustical canopy and completion of Meymandi Concert Hall, our musicians now have an acoustical soundscape and performance space that matches their extraordinary talent. We are thrilled that the North Carolina Symphony is now positioned to deliver an even higher level of performance excellence for generations to come.

The acoustical canopy project has been made possible by the generosity of the following friends of the Symphony:

Anonymous (1)

Mr. and Mrs. Edward O. Woolner

Joseph C. and Diane E. Bastian

Anonymous (3)
Angelique and Jud Bowman
Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey A. Corbett
Jacobi and Jerry Daley
Mr. Don K. Davis and Ms. Peggy L. Wilks
Patrick and Brenda Donleycott
Bob and Connie Eby
Sally Franz
Don and Mary Haile
Dr. and Mrs. Wm. Charles Helton
John and CeCe Kennedy
Sandi M.A. Macdonald and Henry J. Grzes
Margaret Parker
Dr. Emily Mann Peck
Sandy Sully
Jennie H. Wallace

The acoustical canopy project is the result of a public-private partnership between the City of Raleigh and the North Carolina Symphony to invest in a capital improvement to Meymandi Concert Hall, and would not have been possible without the cooperation and support of the following:

Mayor Nancy McFarlane
Raleigh City Council
Ruffin L. Hall, City Manager
James S. Greene, Jr., Assistant City Manager
Kerry Painter, General Manager and Director, Raleigh Convention Center
James Lavery, General Manager, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts

With additional thanks to:
Dr. Assad Meymandi
Tim Clancy
Patty Briguglio
Nathaniel Yaffe

The North Carolina Symphony expresses our deep appreciation to Akustiks for their expert guidance and unwavering diligence and passion throughout this project.

You can be a part of forever changing the way the North Carolina Symphony is heard by supporting this project! With only $50,000 left to raise, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a permanent impact. Please consider a gift, above and beyond your annual giving.