I attended Measure for Measure, a men’s choral society performance, at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium on Saturday, May 18. Having never even been inside the Hill, I had quite a memorable evening. First of all, a stranger gave me a free ticket as soon as I entered the lobby. Also, I must say, the maintenance and visual aesthetics of the interior far exceeded my expectations. What I found most incredible about the experience, though, was the sound in the auditorium in relation to the acoustics, which resonated with unsung (no pun intended!) clarity throughout the audience. I sat in multiple locations during the performance, and I could easily decipher every word as never anywhere else.
Back in 1894, members of the University of Michigan Musical Society agreed that the campus lacked an adequate venue for performances. About a decade later, Arthur Hill, a regent of the University, bequeathed $200,000 toward the development of such a venue. Hill Auditorium was designed by Albert Kahn and his associate, Ernest Wilby, and construction was completed in 1913 at a cost of approximately $347,000. The largest auditorium on campus, it is lauded worldwide for its impeccable sound, which is the result of Kahn’s collaboration with acoustical engineer Hugh Tallant. The parabolic shape and double sound-proof walls permit even a whisper from the stage to be heard anywhere in the audience.
For more information on Hill Auditorium and other architectural landmarks in downtown Ann Arbor, I encourage you to join my tour (The Ann Arbor Architectural Tour) this summer. The next tours are scheduled for Saturday, July 6 and Sunday, July 7. $12 (kids age 5 & under, free). Reservations requested. (517) 392-5113.