Fun With Acousticians

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending an open house celebration/20th anniversary for the Talaske acoustician firm. Along with many fine projects, Talaske is the firm responsible for the Grant Park’s Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion and ground-breaking sound reinforcement system. The crew at Talaske (along with building co-owners, The Sachem Company) threw a great party. It was fun touring the historically significant renovated building and cutting-edge acoustic testing facilities, not to mention chatting up the entire Talaske team. 

Among the growing number of subsets in this business, I have to say that acousticians are a fun bunch of people. There’s always something to learn from an acoustician but don’t think they are a stereotypical bunch of stoic engineers. I have fond (albeit slightly fuzzy) memories of staying up far too late at June’s NPAC convention with the crew from Akustiks, the firm which designed the Schermerhorn Symphony Center acoustics. As orchestra managers, it is in your best interest to get to know as many acousticians as possible and learn from them. Concert hall projects should always be tucked away in the back of a manager’s mind and one of the greatest challenges in those processes is educating board members and donors about the value of hiring the right acousticians for the project. Consequently, the more you learn from first-hand sources before the project begins the better equipped you’ll be to successfully carry out that task.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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