Did You Know?

Sculpture on West Patio

The sculpture on the West Patio, against the exterior wall of the Byron Theatre, was created by local Denver stone carvers Madeleine Weiner and Kathy Caricof. It portrays several figures from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, the quasi-improvisational theater of the Italian Renaissance and later. The character Arlecchino gestures to the throne-like seat, inviting you to come take your seat in the theater. Behind him is Colombina, the demure but often fickle love interest in the improvised stories. On the right is Pantalone, a greedy character. Note that he’s got a bag of coins in his hand, but there’s a hole in it. The hat with coins on the ground reflects that these were often street performers, playing for whatever the public would offer. Also note the bunnies under the feet of the characters on the left—they’re even wearing their own theatrical masks!

William K. Coors Tracker Action Organ

The William K. Coors Tracker Action Organ, located in the Hamilton Family Recital Hall, was designed and built by the Karl Schuke Berliner Orgelbauwerkstatt in Berlin, Germany and was installed here in 2003. The organ was assembled in two parts, since the factory in Germany isn’t tall for it to have been completely put together there. Over the course of about three weeks, the case was completely assembled and the largest pipes were installed. The remaining 2,800 pipes were installed and tuned over the entire 2003 summer. There are a total of 2,850 pipes, most made of lead-tin alloys of varying amounts, with the largest pipes being of wood. The two pipes which fly out into the Hall are called “Spanish Trumpets” because that was the most common type of pipe in the designed in Spanish organs at the time; however, these are only for show and symmetrical purposes. The organ has 41 stops, 56 ranks, three manuals (58 keys) and 32 pedal keys. The case is German oak and was designed by Ernst Bittcher. The “pipe shades” are the pieces which appear to be three-dimensional but are in fact flat.

The Coors Organ is the second installed organ outside of a church in the Denver Metropolitan area—the other being the twin Wurlitzer Organ in the Paramount Theatre.

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Acoustical Excellence

Everything about June Swaner Gates Concert Hall was designed for acoustical excellence. The walls are hand-applied plaster, and each wall section between the pilasters is convex. The irregular surface of plaster, enhanced by the curved shape, causes sound to be reflected and distributed evenly throughout the Hall. Plaster does an exceptional job of distributing low frequency sounds. It’s also porous enough to break up short, high frequency sound waves, eliminating the sharp “digital” sound of so much modern construction.

Even the heating and air conditioning system was designed in consideration of sound. Air is supplied to the Hall through hundreds of vents in the floor. Very large volumes of air are moved very slowly, thus eliminating the “white noise” of traditional air handling systems. The reverberation time in the Hall can be controlled through the use of acoustical banners which are raised and lowered via a motorized system lodged in the attic of the Hall.

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The Flemish tapestry

The Flemish tapestry hanging at the landing of the grand staircase in the Plaza was created in the late 16th or early 17th century. It is probably from a studio in Audenarde. The scene is “The Story of Moses,” or “Exodus.” Moses is the bearded figure to the left of center as you look at the tapestry and he holds a staff in his right hand. His brother Aaron is to the right of Moses and wears the miter. Their sister Miriam is the largest, and central, figure in the piece. She and other ladies to her left are musicians and are leading the people in celebration after having escaped the bondage of the Pharaoh. The tapestry is approximately 10’ x 14’.

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