San Diego Symphony’s new seaside venue, the Shell, readies for a summer time debut


The San Diego Symphony will begin a brand new chapter with the July 10 opening of its new, year-round $45 million outdoor concert and events venue, the Shell.

The brand new facility will exchange the symphony’s longtime seasonal Bayside Summer time Nights venue, which was positioned on the identical downtown Embarcadero Marina Park South web site however needed to be arrange from scratch every June after which disassembled in September.

The Shell is called each for its design and in honor of its waterfront location between Coronado and the San Diego Conference Middle. The brand new venue will function a 13,015-square-foot outside stage, ensconced by a 57-foot metal shell that measures 33,000 sq. toes, weighs 270,000 kilos and is roofed with two layers of a white, PVC-like cloth. Its look might remind some concertgoers of a extra intimate model of the Hollywood Bowl.

To have fun the debut of the Shell, the 111-year-old symphony will host the longest summer-and-beyond outside live performance season in its historical past. Confirmed artists embrace jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, New Zealand rock band Crowded Home, Motown legends Smokey Robinson and Gladys Knight, and Broadway singing stars Audra McDonald, Bernadette Peters and Jennifer Hudson.

Rafael Payare, who last fall debuted as the symphony’s new music director, will conduct at least two concerts this summer at the Shell, beginning with the July 10 season opener.

“The Shell will add vastly to the vibrancy of our metropolis,” mentioned symphony Chief Govt Martha Gilmer. “And there are performances we’re producing that you just received’t be capable to hear wherever else.”

The Shell

A building crew works on the San Diego Symphony’s new live performance venue, the Shell, positioned at Embarcadero Marina Park South behind the San Diego Conference Middle.

(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The 2020 lineup on the new venue additionally contains the Seashore Boys, Mexican ranchera music mainstay Aida Cueva, neo-R&B star Maxwell and vocalist Bobby McFerrin, one in every of three musicians to be named a 2020 Nationwide Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters honoree.

The Shell can have a versatile seating capability that can allow it to accommodate between 2,000 and 10,000 attendees per occasion, versus the two,900-to-Four,000 capability on the symphony’s 2019 summer time live shows.

A lot of the 2020 season live shows can have a seating capability of three,660, a quantity that can improve to round 5,000 for Jennifer Hudson’s July 12 live performance and 6,000 for the 1812 Tchaikovsky Spectacular live performance on Sept. 13.

Floor for the brand new venue was damaged final fall, after the Port of San Diego agreed to lease a three.68-acre web site on Embarcadero Marina Park to the symphony for as much as 50 years. Along with its everlasting new stage, the Shell will embrace backstage dressing rooms with showers, an on-site music library to deal with the musical scores carried out by the orchestra and a VIP lounge.

The rear of the stage space will embrace a 5,445-square-foot public viewing deck. The symphony can be constructing a 68-stall restroom, a part of which will probably be open year-round to the general public. The live performance web site may also be rented out, be it for personal features, teams assembly on the adjoining San Diego Conference Middle or different occasions.

If all goes in accordance with plan, the Shell may shortly develop into a significant asset for the town and the symphony, whose annual fall-through-spring live performance season is held indoors at downtown’s close by Joan and Irwin Jacobs Music Middle. The brand new outside venue has been funded largely by non-public donations, as Symphony CEO Gilmer famous.

“The Shell has been the dream and hope of lots of people for a very long time — 17 years — a coming collectively of nature and tradition,” she mentioned.

“I get very emotional about it, as a result of this web site has created unbelievable recollections for individuals who have attended live shows at it for a very long time. However that is additionally a chance for individuals who haven’t been right here but to find it.”

The place the symphony’s earlier summer time live performance seasons usually ran from late June to early September, the 2020 version will prolong from July 10 to Oct. 1. The expanded seating capability implies that, fairly than have among the identical live shows be repeated over two consecutive nights — as was the case not less than six instances in 2019 — a better number of particular person live shows may be held.

The stage will probably be outfitted with a Meyer Sound Constellation System, together with an expansive new lighting system. Apart from the VIP tables instantly in entrance of the stage, the seating areas will probably be on a gently sloping terrace to supply optimum views of the performers.

The utmost quantity degree for all live shows will probably be 98 decibels. Audio monitoring units will probably be put in throughout the bay in Coronado to make sure the amount degree there doesn’t exceed 45 decibels throughout live shows held on the Shell.

“We’re investing a big amount of cash to make this a premier venue,” Gilmer mentioned. “You will need to us that we do every little thing proper.”

For now, not less than, the venue will probably be merely generally known as the Shell, with out the identify of a company sponsor affixed to it, though that would change.

“It’s a definite risk,” Gilmer mentioned. “However a call may not be made to take action till a future yr.”

Underneath any identify, she mentioned, the Shell ought to thrive.

“There will probably be programming year-round on the Shell,“ Gilmer mentioned. “However the subsequent chapter is: ‘How can we activate the park at Shell Park?’ As a result of, 85% of the time, the park will stay open to the general public…. There are extra chapters and improvements to come back, as a result of it’s an incredible, welcoming venue.”

Varga writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune