The New Sound of the Rapides Symphony

The New Sound of the Rapides Symphony
Joshua Zona

Even if you are a regular Symphony-goer, you have never heard it like this!  Why, you ask? Because of the brand new, custom made acoustic shell for the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center.  Though a generous private donation, the new shell will be installed when the Symphony performs its next two concerts on consecutive weekend at the end of October.

Since the Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center opened in 2004, we have talked about the need to improve the facility for acoustic music and spoken-word events.  Of course, the Symphony as well as many other groups perform free of electronic amplification, so the acoustics of the room are vital to the quality of our performance.  With the current set up, the orchestra is, in essence, playing in a separate room from the audience.  You hear us through a very large door called the proscenium arch, with much of the sound going into the wings and up into the fly space of the stage.   The new portable shell will completely enclose the ceiling and the sides of the stage so that the audience is “in the same room” as the orchestra making for a much more present, lively, rich acoustic. 

In October, you will have two chances to hear us with the new shell.  First, we will be performing with the Red River Chorale on Saturday, October 23rd, at 7:30pm and Sunday, October 24th at 2:30pm for a special concert commemorating the anniversaries of LSU-Alexandria, St. Frances Cabrini Hospital and the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria.  The concert entitled “A Celebration Mind, Body, and Faith” will be an hour-long performance will combine historical memories and music appropriate to the missions of these three institutions.  Tickets to this performance can be obtained by calling the Red River Chorale at (318) 484-4463. 

The New Sound of the Rapides SymphonyThe first concert of the Symphony’s subscription season is on Saturday night, October 30th at 7:30pm.  Inspired by the Halloween season, this concert will include Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and Debussy’s “Sacred and Profane Dances” with harp soloist Melinda Zak.   With the help of the new shell, we hope to blow the roof off of the Coughlin-Saunders Center, especially in the finale of the Tchaikovsky.  You can call (318) 442-9709 or visit for tickets to this concert.  Come hear us in a whole new way.  Hope to see you there!