Performing Arts Center ushers in a new era

    new performing arts center

    Palo Alto High School’s orchestra plays for the first time in the new Performing Arts Center to test and adjust the new acoustic audio system of the building. Instrumental Music teacher Jeff Willner experiments with the space, moving students while working with the sound technician to create the best settings for the band and orchestra. Photo: Zahra Muzaffar.

    Palo Alto High School’s new Performing Arts Center is opening this week for the first time after nearly two years of construction. The new PAC will replace the historic Haymarket Theatre that has been a trademark of Paly history since 1917, according to paly.net.

    As the final touches are made to the building, Paly’s various performing groups have begun rehearsing with the new sound system and work to manage the sound settings to calibrate it with each individual ensemble.

    Choir, band and orchestra have all been given the chance to perform in the new building and work alongside the sound technicians, though the center is only open for students during school practices, according to choir teacher Michael Najar.

    One new aspect of the center are the audio settings. The building has a Constellation sound system, which is a digitally acoustic environment that can change depending on the performer and what type of sound they want, according to Najar.

    “It changes the audience’s perspective of the sound,” Najar said. “The system doesn’t feel inauthentic and the bottom line is that it creates delay and strength without them even knowing it. You can feel like you’re in a 16th century chapel or an intimate jazz setting depending on which ensemble is on stage.”

    Paly’s student performers are also very excited about its opening and how it will contribute to their shows and productions in the future.

    “It’s just a beautiful space,” junior choir member Anisha Patwardhan said. “The acoustic panels allowed our acapella groups to have the perfect opportunity to sing and be able to hear each other.”  

    Although the building will not be officially opening until the fall of 2016, it will be used for the next choir concert and have soft openings for previewing the space, according to Najar.

    “As someone who has had many opportunities to stand on many different stages, it was a beautiful and unique experience,” Najar said. “I encourage everyone to experience the theater. For me this [process] has been a magical experience.”

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