First vineyard-style music hall opens in Seoul

August 9, 2016
Korea's first classical music concert hall with vineyard style seating will open in Seoul at the Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil's Lotte World Mall in eastern Seoul.

The concert hall which is due to open on Aug. 18 is the first vineyard style concert hall in Korea and the first classic music hall opening since the one at Seoul Arts Center opened in 1988.

The "vineyard style" refers to a style where the audience seats surround the center stage so that the viewers can enjoy an intimate auditory experience. Such style is adopted by several distinguished concert halls around the world such as the Berliner Philharmonie in Germany, the Philharmonie de Paris in France, and Suntory Hall in Japan, whose acoustics were designed by Nagata Acoustics which also designed the acoustics for the Lotte Concert Hall.

The vineyard style originated from an architectural style adopted from the 1950s when German concert halls started renovating their auditoriums after the Second World War. The name comes from the shape which resembles a tiered grape vineyard commonly seen in the West.

The peculiar design of the 2,036-seat concert hall draws awe at first sight due to its beauty. The view seen from above reminds the viewers of a rose petal blooming, with the performers at the rose bud and the audience at the petals. The seats at the hall are tiered and exquisitely designed to minimize excess space. This gives much option to the, such as seats facing the orchestra, seats facing the conductor or seats at the sides which offer a 45 degree view facing the conductor. Differentiating greatly from the regular showbox style or fan-shaped concert halls, the vineyard style hall was designed for not only acoustics, but also aesthetics.

The pipe organ, featuring 5,000 pipes, is another notable feature of the music hall. Situated behind the center stage, the organ draws awe due to its grandeur as well as sound. It was designed and produced by Austria's Rieger and took three years to complete.

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra (SPO) conducted by Chung Myung-whun will perform at the opening concert in August, bringing down the barriers between the audience and the performers, allowing the audience to feel involved in the performance.

"Everything was considered for the sound. The arch shaped design, the reflector on the ceiling, the cloud shaped design and the bumps on the walls were all designed to deliver sound properly to the audience," said Park Se-hwan, director of DMP Construction which carried out the construction of the hall, explaining how the hall was built prior to the performance.

"We focused on eliminating noise. We blocked exterior noise and captured interior sound with the box-in-box structure. The low walls reflect the sound to come back to the audience and the overall structure allows performers to hear their own sounds."

Many journalists and music critics pointed out, however, that the sound differed much depending on the location of the seat. The general consensus was that the sound was a bit dull at the center seats in front of the stage, which was the most expensive seats, while the cheaper seats on the second floor and on the sides provided clearer sound.

Tickets are currently open for 22 concerts scheduled until the end of this year and the "package" tickets offering more than five performances will be discounted by 30 percent until July 15.

Korea Times
By Yun Suh-young
Photo: Lotte Concert Hall/Korea Times