Chicago’s Unfinished Business

When the Chicago Symphony spent $120 million to renovate its concert hall in the mid-1990s, critic John von Rhein was initially impressed with the results. But the passage of time has seen him (and many other observers) revise that opinion: “Musicians and veteran listeners came to realize the acoustics were and are worse for symphonic music in the 2,310-seat auditorium than before the renovation. The upper strings lack shimmer and warmth. Players on one side of the stage cannot properly hear their colleagues on the other side, uncertain about how they fit into the general sonic perspective.”