Letter: South Bank: centre of a new arts quarter for London

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The Independent Online
Sir: Robert Maxwell's authoritative analysis of the South Bank development scheme may come in time to stop the Arts Council authorising expenditure of lottery funds on a project which is not justified on artistic grounds.

Since it was first constructed, the Royal Festival Hall has had acoustic problems which are insuperable. There is no way, short of a major remodelling, in which changes would allow the five London orchestras to give of their best. They cannot hear each other; they cannot produce singing tone which allows the music to "float"; the sound can never be dense, and therefore always lacks thrill.

Certain frequencies are absorbed by the air when they travel more than fifteen metres; we cannot build on our own sound unless we are surrounded by hard surfaces. The hall is too wide for top-quality sound.

There is no case to spend many millions on a building, when London will still be without a hall which allows its fine orchestras to perform as well as they can in Vienna, Boston or Amsterdam.

DENIS VAUGHAN

Denis Vaughan Acoustical Consultancy

London WC2

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