A suspended spherical concert hall will hang in The Shed at Hudson Yards

May 3, 2023

A rendering of Sonic Sphere in The Shed’s 115-foot-tall McCourt space, 2023. Courtesy The Shed.

A 65-foot-tall spherical concert hall will hang suspended inside The Shed in Hudson Yards. Created by avante-garde architects Ed Cooke, Merijn Royaards, and Nicholas Christie, the Sonic Sphere offers concertgoers a truly unique experience with immersive 3-D sound and light explorations of music that redefine the idea of a concert hall. Performances in the sphere will run from June 9 through July 7.

The Shed at Hudson Yards. Photo by Iwan Baan, courtesy of The Shed

Located within the art center’s iconic 115-foot-tall McCourt space, the sphere can hold up to 250 audience members who will be surrounded by more than 100 speakers that move sound “above, below, through, and around” the audience’s bodies, according to a press release. Dynamic lighting on the sphere’s surface adds to the multisensory, immersive musical journey.

The event includes 45-minute live and recorded performances held every day, including live performances by electronic music artist Madame Gandhi on June 9, singer-songwriter yunè pinku on June 14 and 16, and world-renowned pianist Igor Levit on June 30 and July 1.

The performers have been carefully selected by Alex Poots, the artistic director of The Shed.

“In a visually orientated age, Sonic Sphere centers the wonder of sound and music in an interdisciplinary experience,” Poots said in a statement. “The creative invention and sheer ambition of Sonic Sphere offers such a range of possibilities to explore for years to come.”

Additional performances include listening sessions of the xx’s self-titled debut album which was released in 2009 but remastered for the Sonic Sphere, and composer Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians.

Composer Karlheinz Stockhausen first conceived of an idea for a spherical concert hall, with the first rendition of the idea taking form as the Kugelauditorium at the 1970 World Expo in Japan, according to the New York Times. While hundreds of thousands of visitors experienced the sphere over the course of the exhibition, the concept never gained widespread support.

“As a teenager I had read in an obscure book of Stockhausen’s Kugelauditorium, which appeared at the 1970 World Expo Osaka fair, alongside the first mobile phone. It was obviously a ridiculously cool idea, far more interesting and important than the phone,” Ed Cooke, co-founder of Sonic Sphere, said. “In the decades that followed, I became increasingly confused that since 1970 our society had created 15 billion mobile phones but no further spherical concert halls.”

“The Sonic Sphere project aims to re-prioritize shared real-world experience and to make the outer horizons of consciousness accessible to all, in the name of new modes of perception and action for a world that requires them.”

The sphere, which will be installed at The Shed next month, is the 11th and largest iteration of the design yet. Previous versions of varying size and technological sophistication have appeared in London, Mexico, and Miami, Florida.

“We are excited to bring this architectural, experiential statement to the middle of the most vibrant city in the world. This spherical concert hall asks questions about the type of architecture that best serves our cities and communities. How can it adapt to our changing societal needs, bringing us together at a time when technology is driving us apart,” the team behind the Sonic Sphere said.

Tickets for the Sonic Sphere go on sale on May 5, with a presale beginning on May 3 for The Shed members.


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