In July, Sarasota Orchestra announced the selection of Stages Consultants as key partners in the creation of the region’s first purpose-built concert hall for acoustic music. Led by acoustician Damian Doria and theater planner Alec Stoll, Stages Consultants is a highly distinguished, New Jersey-based firm that has participated in several major projects, from the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando to Harpa Concert Hall in Iceland.
In this Q&A originally published in the Fall 2023 issue of Sarasota Orchestra's newsletter, SCORE, Damian and Alec shed light on the critical parts the acoustician and theater planner play in realizing a home for Sarasota Orchestra.
Q: Tell us more about how Stages Consultants collaborates with performing arts organizations in designing their ideal venues.
Damian: We design performance environments that help artists connect to each other and their audiences. From the acoustics standpoint, the design must help performers hear what they’re playing, singing, and saying. We want audiences to feel connected to what is happening onstage, hearing every nuance intended by the performers while having a natural sense of the space around them.
Alec: We help design the halls, working to create a sense of intimacy between the performers and the audiences. We make sure the seating is comfortable and that the views to the stage are excellent from every seat. We help the architects lay out the public and backstage spaces to ensure logical flow throughout the buildings. We also design the theatrical systems, such as the stage lighting and overhead rigging, and work with engineers to make sure their systems are designed properly.
Q: What are some of the big projects you have tackled?
Damian: Alec and I met while working on the Arsht Center in Miami, which has a purpose-built concert hall. I’ve been the lead acoustics designer on the Segerstrom Concert Hall in California, The Palladium in Indiana, and Eldborg Hall at Harpa in Iceland, to name just a few.
Alec: At Stages, we have worked on more than 200 theaters since launching the firm in 2012, including music spaces at the University of Miami and the University of Dayton. Along the West Coast of Florida, we’re designing The Stage at Payne Park for the Players Centre for Performing Arts, doing a renovation of the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, and rebuilding the fly tower at the Venice Theatre.
Q: What excites you about Sarasota Orchestra’s Music Center?
Damian: The mission is terrific, combining the highest artistic goals with a program of education and community engagement. We get to bring our A-game to the project, with ideas of how to do it better and open minds to develop a custom solution for Sarasota Orchestra and the community. I am confident residents can look forward to seeing and hearing the Orchestra as they’ve never heard it before in the other venues in this area.
Alec: We really do believe in the altruistic goals of our projects. This building has the opportunity to change the cultural landscape of Sarasota. We are eager to dig into this project and provide input that will help the future architect design a Music Center that best serves this unique community.
For more information and the latest updates on the Music Center project, visit our Music Center webpage.