Cathedral acoustics praise hits high note

01:46, Aug 13 2013
Cardboard cathedral concert
LOOKING ON: Dame Malvina Major and the cathedral choir sang in the Transitional Cathedral on Saturday.

The acoustics of the new Anglican cardboard cathedral have so far pleased experts and audiences.

"I'm absolutely thrilled and amazed at how good it is," said Brian Law, cathedral director of music.

"I'm literally surprised."

"I've done three events there now," Law said last week, "and it's working extremely well. It's going to be a very good concert venue.

"It's a wonderful space for performance," said Philip Aldridge, chief executive of the Court Theatre.

The troupe performed Shakespeare and Friends in the cathedral on Thursday night as part of an opening slate of events to celebrate the Transitional Cathedral, as it's officially known.


"The acoustic is best for music and of course that will be its primary use," wrote Aldridge in an email.

"For spoken word it is a little too bright, too resonant, even with a full house like at (Thursday) night's poetry reading. This is easily addressed with amplification, which is what we did ... Overall, as I said at (Thursday) night's concert, I think it's a triumph."

Law said he was "terrified over the last six months" from not knowing how the building would perform acoustically. "But I'm very happy."

"It's a strange shape" for a musical building, he said.

"Triangular buildings are not normally known to be very good (acoustically)," said organist Martin Setchell.

He had not been in the new building when interviewed last week. But the new Rodgers organ can be fine tuned to suit a space because it is digital, he said. He will be experimenting with the organ's sound at a recital on Tuesday evening.

Acting dean of the cathedral Lynda Patterson said a concert-goer had told her: "The sound is wonderful. Much better than I expected from a large cardboard Toblerone (chocolate bar)."

The innovative building was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban with assistance from Christchurch firm Warren and Mahoney as a temporary cathedral for the Anglican diocese of Christchurch. The ceiling is partly built of cardboard tubes.

Upcoming events include a jazz performance tonight, Setchell's organ recital on Tuesday evening and a choir and organ performance on Wednesday that will feature a "repertoire of music composed for the cathedrals of Europe".

Tickets from Ticketek or at the door if available (box office opens 5pm, all concerts at 6pm).

The Press