Symphony adds acoustics to the Fox

The next time you head to the Tulare County symphony, your ears may notice one big difference. While the same lovely notes will jump off the pages as musicians perform on stage, an acoustic shell behind them will amplify the selections.

You may just ask for an encore.

After years of planning to improve the symphony experience, there was a suggestion made by the Tulare County Symphony board to make enhancements, such as installing an orchestra shell.

It’s taken more than six years from taking that idea, finding money to make it reality and finally installing the acoustic shell Wednesday. But for the board, it was well worth the wait.

“On a symphony level, it’s going to enhance the experience when watching the symphony at the Fox,” said Matthew Splinder, Visalia Fox Theatre co-executive director.

The symphony has always used a shell to help project the sound into the audience, but the old shells were heavy and not very effective.

The new shell serves multiple purposes. Other than aesthetics, it also helps both the audience and the orchestra members hear a better, more robust sound, on and off the stage.

“The orchestra can play quieter and be more subtle in our music making,” Director Bruce Keisling said.

The new structure is also much easier to convert, collapse and store. It is also equipped with better lights so the musicians can read their sheet music while they play.

Although the Fox Theatre and the Tulare County Symphony had been raising money for the new shell, the improvement was kept a secret from the symphony board until Wednesday night’s big reveal.

“It’s incredibly awe inspiring that the board was able to do this,” Kiesling said.

It took quite the collaboration, though, to ensure the shell was ready for the symphony season.

“It’s been a journey, but a lot of people wanted to make it happen and supported it,” said Tulare County Symphony Executive Director Juliet de Campos. “It is the result of people’s willingness to work together to get it done.”

The installation and shell required an upgrade to the theater’s electrical system. The Fox Theatre, with help from the Tulare county Symphony raised more than $40,000 for just the theater upgrades. The project was nearly $200,000 in total.

Spindler said the upgrades mean more than just better sound.

“For the Fox, it really makes it a home for the symphony, it connects the two of us together,” Spindler said. “If it is important to the symphony, it’s extremely important to us.”

The orchestra will try out the new shell for the first time on Oct. 10 with their first public performance on Oct. 15.

For tickets contact the Fox Theatre at 625-1369.

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