Case Study: Acoustical Panels Help Transform Auditorium

“The Forte™ ceiling panels made a stunning acoustical transformation to our auditorium — for both the audience and performers,” says Bill Davern, director of fine arts for the West Genesee Central School District in Camillus, N.Y.

The high school auditorium was built in the 1950s, and the acoustics generally were considered very good, with one exception: the center-middle area of the stage was acoustically dead.

As a solution, the district selected Forte ceiling panels from Wenger Corp. When installed above a stage, acoustical ceiling panels help blend and balance the sound produced onstage and improve its projection to the audience. They also help prevent sound from becoming lost in the fly loft.

Davern praised the Wenger installation crew and says the process went very smoothly. “I couldn't believe how incredibly easy it is to use,” comments Davern. “One person can literally set it up, take it down and fly it. That was very, very exciting to see.”

The ceiling panels fixed the acoustical problem, and Davern says they enable the players onstage to now play at the correct volume instead of overplaying to be heard. This is especially true for the saxophone section, which usually is seated in the center of the stage. The ceiling panels help reflect sound out into the audience. Adding the Forte ceiling panels enabled old Wenger shell sections to be placed on the sides of the stage, instead of along the back.

“Along with conducting, I sit in the audience a lot, providing feedback for groups preparing for festivals,” remarks Davern. “It's now very easy to hear everything clearly and accurately.”

Davern became director of fine arts three years ago; he's been teaching music in the district for 25 years. He says they've had Wenger equipment in all their buildings for many years, including choral risers and instrument storage cabinets.

“You really do get what you pay for,” explains Davern. “In a school setting, you are probably buying something only once in your career, something that needs to last a long time.” He concludes, “You want to make sure you get the best quality product.”

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