Svendborg: a Golden room in more ways than one

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Borgerforeningen is one of those awkward compound nouns beloved of the Skandic/Germanic north European languages. A literal translation from the Danish approximates to Civil Association, but inevitably it’s much more than that. The board members of the Borgerforeningen in Svendborg have just completed a seven hundred thousand Danish Kronor refurbishment of the main assembly hall focussed entirely on its acoustics and sound. Such investment from a Civil Association gives some indication of its status and ambition; that Borgerforeningen has been at the heart of cultural life in the city since its founding in 1884 is without question.

“Borgerforeningen started as a citizens’ meeting place,” began Jan Aaskov, one of three permanent technical staff and head of sound. “In effect it was built with money from the merchants and businessmen of the city; more a sort of club, it staged many cultural events. But by 1960 it had become neglected and fallen into a bad state and it was eventually taken over by the City in 1993. They spent thirty eight million Kronor on restoration. But now the theatre is owned and run independently of the City by the Borgerforeningen, an organisation that raises funds as well as receiving an annual grant from the city to maintain the cultural role of the venue.” In essence the Borgerforeningen is a ‘not for profit’ organisation, one with a mandate to bring culture to its citizens.

Borgerforeningen is actually home to three separate auditoria, quite unusual for a venue of this vintage. The recent investment is split two ways; a comprehensive audio system, both installed and temporary depending on auditorium, from d&b audiotechnik; and the implementation of variable acoustic measures to address long standing issues of reverberation derived of 19th Century architecture, undertaken by Flex Acoustics of Copenhagen. “The three venues within the Theatre stage multiple events every day of the week; typically during the week there will be educational events, business conferences; then in the evenings and at weekends we stage comedy shows and concerts for every genre, classical, pop, rock and jazz.” Aaskov, under direction from the board called upon the expertise of Jakob Refer Thygesen of Odense based Dansk Lyd & Lys A/S for advice.

“The building is quite beautiful inside, the Guldsalen especially,” said Thygesen, “it means Golden Hall. The original stage is very small, but still perfect for their Steinway piano recitals, chamber music and light classical: it is also perfect for stand up comedy. When a band is playing there, the stage can be expanded to 5 x11 metres, so it will fit many purposes.” Thygesen designed a system for this room, installed by Lyd & Lys, based on d&b Q-Series loudspeakers with E12s for front and balcony fills. It is the largest of the three and licensed for six hundred standing or three hundred and twenty seated (including the balcony). The smaller Teatersal holds just two hundred and fifty standing and here a dedicated E-Series system of E12-D and E15X loudspeakers fulfils the reinforcement brief. “The E-Series is an entirely perfect system for such an environment; intimate in every way. For example, a youth theatre stages events here for local children regularly, the E-Series is visually unobtrusive, yet fidelity and power far exceeds its minimalist appearance.” The third hall, the Spejlsal (Playroom) holds one hundred and twenty standing with sixty seated and has no dedicated install system, but Aaskov has d&b MAX15, E12 and E15X-SUB loudspeakers available for temporary deployment.

“The room acoustic is regulated in many ways,” continued Aaskov, speaking of the Guldsalen. “Bass traps in walls and under the balcony; heavy wool drapes can automatically be drawn horizontally across the ceiling; and a similar system can be lowered down the windows.

It’s easy to see where the money has been spent, but does it work? “Since we re-opened in August I’ve been amazed,” said Aaskov. “For the modern amplified music the ability to variously attenuate mid-high as well as bass makes the best of all possible solutions. As for the d&b PA systems, they fill the needs absolutely; in the Guldsalen, Dansk Lyd & Lys A/S has made an excellent job so we can quickly re-rig the flown Q loudspeaker system for an afternoon chamber concert, then re-install for a pop concert that night. For me d&b is one of the best brands on the market.”

Der Rest des vorletzten Absatzes:

Niels Werner Adelman-Larsen, founder of Flex Acoustics, measured the existing RT at 3.2 seconds; the modelling he’s done with bass traps and drapes means it can be reduced to 1.4 seconds.”

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