Centennial Hall was fairly well packed for Juneau's "Summer Solstice" Symphony on Saturday night and opus connoisseurs, though slighted by the imperfect acoustics as a symphony venue, can be grateful this hall was available for such a popular event.
In its proper facilitation presenting merchandise and trade shows; seminars, meetings and banquets; public speakers and reunions, Centennial Hall is a facility on par with Chicago's McCormick Place or New York City's Madison Square Garden per capita. Though a venue roundly pertinent for business and social communities of this character, it seems not to be the proper auditorium for music lovers or, for that matter, patrons of any performing arts event.
Grateful as I was for this mid-year masterpiece conducted by Kyle Wiley Pickett and performed by the JSO, the Solstice Symphony's featured artists, Thunder Mountain Big Band, were more properly suited, it seems, to the hall's acoustic imperfections. The jazzy more visceral sound of this big band is more in tune with Juneau's dearth of artistic showrooms and reverberated resoundingly in Centennial.
All cultural performances, other than a lucky few presented at the Juneau-Douglas High School a venue commonly open to the JSO but closed next year for renovation or the intimate, yet amphitheater-style productions available in Perseverance Theater, have found it necessary to limit attendance and staging due to physical constraints. These shows have squeezed attendees into places like Northern Lights Church, McPherson Hall, the Backroom at the Silverbow, the Little Theater on Franklin or one of the other two or three "tiny" public meeting facilities in town. Cultural aficionados appreciate the JDHS auditorium but even here where seating reaches necessity and sight lines are adequate for entertainment, the timbre necessary of symphonic performances seems deficient.
Centennial Hall provided the necessary capacity for attendance at the "2002 Pops Concert" and is certainly proper for many conventions and shows that gather in our small, world renowned city. However, it seems as though our abundance of talented performers and I as a patron of the performing arts, would glean a world of benefits from a world-class theater!
John S. Sonin