Bernard Holland in the New York Times:
Music lovers, critics and writers worry too much about acoustics. Truly bad acoustics – whether you hear too little or too much – cannot be ignored, but the imperfect world that lingers between the two extremes just has to be dealt with. The hall is too bright (Walt Disney in Los Angeles); the hall is dead (Royal Festival Hall in London). There are devils everywhere intent on spoiling your listening pleasure. Go to concerts, and hear people cough and cellphones ring. Stay at home, and your CD player skips or an ambulance goes by the door.
Relax. Rise above it. The ear and the mind connected to it have marvelous powers to adjust to less-than-perfect environments. Herbert von Karajan once told me that his early years of conducting truly awful orchestras in backwater opera houses did wonders for his powers of imagination. As the Tallis Scholars began to sing in the Church of St. Paul the Apostle near Lincoln Center recently, the loud hum of what sounded like a ventilation system made the heart sink. But oddly, after 10 minutes it was forgotten, as if the brain had isolated an intruder and removed it to a place out of earshot.
More here. [This post dedicated to Tony Cobitz.]