Time for a waterfront concert hall in Halifax?

Halifax musicians are petitioning the city to create a new concert hall on the waterfront.

Petition says new venue would boost city

Bernhard Gueller says music lovers would get a fuller sound in a purpose-built concert hall. (CBC)

Halifax musicians are petitioning the city to create a new concert hall on the waterfront.

The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium is the city’s best venue for classical music, but it seats fewer than 1,000 people.

Musicians say its acoustics are better suited for lectures than for live music.

Rileigh Ellefsen, a 15-year-old girl who plays oboe with the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, started the online petition. It has almost 500 supporters.

“If Nova Scotia builds a larger concert hall, it is very likely that musicians, singers and dancers from Canada and elsewhere would move to Nova Scotia, giving Nova Scotia the opportunity to expand the repertoire for our ballet and opera companies," she says in the petition at Change.org.

"This, in turn, creates many more job options for young Nova Scotians.” 

The petition includes a video presentation of other top concert halls and an interview with Symphony Nova Scotia's music director. 

Rebecca Cohn acoustically 'dry'

Christopher Wilkinson, the CEO of Symphony Nova Scotia, said it was a great idea.

“We find it a little acoustically dry,” he said of the Cohn. 

Performers are happy to have the Cohn, but would prefer a more natural environment.

Bernhard Gueller, the symphony’s music director, said the acoustics don’t always work.

"Dry acoustics means there is no echo. If the orchestra stops playing a chord, the sound is immediately gone. There's no vibration, there's no echo,” he said.

The petition asks Mayor Mike Savage and the Halifax Regional Municipality council to find a space for a new venue on the Halifax waterfront.

"If Halifax wants to be a world-class city, this would be a component of that,” said Wilkinson. “Having a world-class concert hall and a world-class orchestra and a world-class performing arts — it's all part of being a great city."

The campaign for a new concert hall has been in process for a few years.