New band shell brings music to parkAn elegant new band shell, designed to meet the technological needs of today's entertainers, opened with music and ceremony on the Fourth of July and attracted crowds - and entertainers - to Central Park all summer long.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
An elegant new band shell, designed to meet the technological needs of today's entertainers, opened with music and ceremony on the Fourth of July and attracted crowds - and entertainers - to Central Park all summer long.
The band shell, financed by the Jones Family Foundation, sits a block from the Sheldon Theater on the public square between East and West avenues, Fourth and Fifth streets.
Central Park has been a gathering spot for community presentations since the city acquired it in 1871. The balustrade on the south end was built around 1900, and the original band shell was constructed in 1932.
Needs have changed since the City Band used to present concerts there. Performers will be able to bring their own light and sound equipment for use during concerts and stage shows. The band shell has general lighting, plus conduit runs into the park for sound equipment.
According to foundation spokesman Scott Jones, the band shell lived up to the group's vision - "that it become the community's living room, a place to come together, relax, enjoy entertainment and get to know one another better."
The band shell stands about 22 feet high at its tallest point, and is about 50 feet across. The stage is 30 to 40 feet deep - big enough to accommodate the Sheldon Theatre Brass Band and other local groups. The facility is completely accessible.
On each side is a semi-circular tower that can be used for storage, costume races and egress. People can enter the band shell from the sides during a show.
The back wall is glass, and the stage is concrete. The roof, which will full cover the artists if it rains, is a ribbed synthetic material, slate gray in color. The structure is made of steel. Interior walls are wood with baffled boards to improve acoustics.
Limestone is used on the back and side structures.
The band shell was designed by Bentz, Thompson and Reitow, the firm that also designed the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis. The design was chosen to be compatible with the surrounding architecture in the historic mall district.
During July and August, the Red Wing Arts Association presents free concerts in the park at 7 p.m. Wednesdays. The band shell also is available for use by the public; for information, contact City Hall.
The city augmented the project by spending $150,000 on park improvements such as water, sewer and electrical service, along with new sidewalks and irrigation.