WSDG elevates acoustic excellence at the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra

Photo: Gabrielius Jauniškis

Situated in the heart of Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, the newly reconstructed concert hall of the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra (LVSO), formerly known as the Vilnius Congress and Concert Hall VCCH, opened its doors to visitors in March this year.

Equipped to the latest standards and featuring exceptional acoustics, especially adapted to symphonic music, the venue is poised to become one of the most attractive concert spaces not only in Lithuania but across all the Baltic countries. The project, conceived in 2018, involved designer Marius Mateika and the services of Lithuanian architectural and building acoustic company Akustika Plius, collaborating with ADA Acoustics & Media Consultants GmbH (a WSDG Company), global leaders in architectural acoustic consulting and media system engineering, along with the construction company INFES. Their joint efforts were instrumental in bringing the old hall up to world-class acoustical standards suitable for a symphony orchestra.

In 2018, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Ahnert, founding director of ADA Acoustics & Media Consultants GmbH, had the opportunity to visit the old hall and meet with long-standing conductor of the LVSO, Gintaras Rinkevičius.

“It was evident to both of us that the hall required fundamental reconstruction to significantly improve its acoustics,” shares Ahnert. “Although the space was used for both speech and symphonic performances, it was definitely more adapted to speech purposes, with a very short reverberation time.”

Subsequently, Viktoras Mekas from Akustika Plius invited Ahnert to formally participate in the project, benefitting from Ahnert’s extensive knowledge in the field of room- and electro-acoustic designs, as well as noise control.

“Although the term ‘good acoustics’ sounds quite simple, during the project we had to consider a lot of different acoustic indicators and criteria. These included reverberation time, music and speech clarity, warmth of sound, as well as the mutual hearing of musicians and density of lateral reflections. Meeting all these parameters required the implementation of various measures,” explains Ahnert.

“In close cooperation with interior designer Marius Mateika, we worked together with Viktoras and the construction company to determine the primary and secondary requirements necessary to enhance the acoustics of the hall,” Ahnert continues, noting that the primary structure refers to the correlation between volume, space, and dimension. “The key takeaway from our visits was that the height of the ceiling of the hall didn’t offer enough volume to create optimum acoustics for every visitor, which included a two-second reverberation time needed for a perfect symphonic listening experience.”

After a hiatus caused by the global pandemic, the project resumed in 2022. Ahnert worked closely with colleague Tobias Behrens to create simulations using software program EASE at their office in Berlin. These were then passed to Viktoras Mekas and fellow acoustics consultant and architect at Akustika Plius, Gintare Privediene, who collaborated with Mateika and the construction company on what was necessary from an architectural viewpoint.

The first stage of the project involved fundamentally changing the design of the hall, raising the roof after convincing the client to add extra volume to the 984-seat concert hall. In line with amphitheatre principles, a stage with two movable raisers was installed, along with new lighting and ventilation systems.

The next stage was focused on the so-called secondary structure of the hall, by integrating three-dimensional acoustic patterns on the ceiling and walls combining rhombuses, triangles, rib panels, and smooth acoustic panels to create an optimum listening environment and aesthetically balanced concert hall. “By integrating these panels, it was possible to diffuse sound reflections and ensure even distribution across the entire hall,” says Behrens.

Behrens further notes that ADA’s experience comes from its work on similar projects, including the Elbphilharmonie and Kulturpalast Dresden in Germany, National Opera in Romania, Music Theater Linz in Austria, and many other notable venues.

Following extensive work carried out by all the team members involved in this remarkable project, the concert hall opened its doors on Saturday, 16th March, with an evening of performances by the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, the Kaunas State Choir, the Lithuanian National Opera Theater Choir, the Boys and Youth Choir “Ažuoliukas”, as well as several other Lithuanian soloists. Describing this Mahler concert during the opening as ‘historical’, Rinkevičius notes that it was a “very important event for Lithuanian musical culture as well as Lithuanian culture in general.”

“I remember my first conversation with Gintaras; he was doubtful it was possible to create outstanding acoustics in the hall,” concludes Ahnert. “Those doubts were dispelled during the first rehearsals in Autumn 2023 when Gintaras was amazed how good the acoustics were. Following the official opening concert in March, which saw the venue filled beyond capacity, yet still maintaining its exceptional sound quality, Gintaras was thrilled, and so was everyone else!