Location1616 Bush Street
San Francisco, CA 94109-5308
Audium is the only theatre of its kind in the world, pioneering the exploration of space in music. The theatre's 169 speakers bathe listeners in sounds that move past, over, and under them. "Sound sculptures" are performed in darkness in the 49-seat theatre.
When the concept of AUDIUM began taking shape in the late 1950's, space was a largely unexplored dimension in music composition. The composer who suspected space capable of revealing a new musical vocabulary found his pursuit blocked by the inadequacy of audio technology and performance spaces.
Because of an unusual combination of art and technology -- AUDIUM's creators, composer Stan Shaff and equipment designer Doug McEachern, were both professional musicians -- AUDIUM's conception and realization were able to evolve jointly. AUDIUM is the only theatre anywhere constructed specifically for sound movement, utilizing the entire environment as a compositional tool.
The theatre consists of a foyer, sound labyrinth and main performance space. It is a building within a building, conceived directly for this art form, and built in part with a grant from the National Endowment For The Arts. Listeners sit in concentric circles and are enveloped by speakers in sloping walls, floating floor and a suspended ceiling. Compositions are performed live at each program by a tape performer who directs the sounds through a custom designed console to any combination of the 169 speakers. Sounds are "sculpted" through their movement, direction, speed and intensity on multiple planes in space. Live performance of taped works gives a human, interactive element to AUDIUM's spatial electronic orchestra.
"I have always been possessed by the evocative qualities all sounds seem to have, whether natural or electronic. Sounds touch deeper levels of our inner life, layers that lie just beneath the visual world. All sounds are communicative - sound as birth, life and death; sound as time and space; sound as object, environment or event. Audiences should feel sound as it bumps up against them, caresses, travels through, covers and enfolds them.
"I ask listeners to see with their ears and feel with their bodies sounds as images, dreams and memories. As people walk into a work, they become part of its realization. From entrance to exit, AUDIUM is a sound-space continuum."
-- Stan Shaff, Composer