MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This weekend the Ordway Center in St. Paul will debut its newly-expanded and renovated concert hall.

Not only is it bigger, the quality of the sound is better. The Ordway spent $42 million on the project and hired an elite team of acoustic experts to create a state-of-the-art facility.

With 200 more square feet, the new concert hall can hold more than three times the number of people it used to – 1,100 to be exact.

Project manager Andy Luft said that the seats have a soft front and a hard back for a reason.

“So when the sound bounces off the walls, it actually helps reflect a little more towards you,” he said.

Luft also pointed out that the sweeping ceiling is made out of cylinder-shaped oak rods.

“As you get further out, that horn expands so it gets higher and higher, and that’s what helps with some of the amplification,” he said.

Even the walls are lined with acoustic panels.

“The shape of the cylinder on the walls, where they are in relationship to the room, even the rods themselves, help create the reverb,” he said.

Acoustics expert Paul Scarbrough, of Connecticut, designed the new features.

“I think the average listener will notice a huge difference in the sense of intimacy and impact, and connection with the performers,” he said.

Musicians in the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra said they’re thrilled about their new home.

“If it is a great hall, it makes you sound even better, makes you feel better,” said flutist Julia Bogorad-Kogan.”You feel you can express yourself, it’s what everyone dreams of having as a musician.”

The first step in the renovation was to create silence. They added a thick wall to surround the hall and a double slab roof to block out noise.

This Sunday, the Ordway kicks off a series of performances to showcase the new space. They run from March 1-March 22.

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