More than 75 years after moving into Frazier Hall, the Theatre and Dance Department of Idaho State University is now enjoying its new home at the recently completed, 110,000-sq-ft. LE and Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center.


In addition to featuring a wide range of classrooms, offices, and other auxiliary spaces, the $34M new building is equipped with three versatile performance venues: the 250-capacity James E. and Beverly Rogers Black Box Theatre, 450-seat thrust-style Beverly B. Bistline Theatre, and 1,126-seat Joseph C. and Cheryl Jensen Grand Concert Hall, the last of which benefits from a Soundcraft Series Five mixing console specified by consulting firm McKay Conant Brook, Inc.


Installed by Salt Lake City-based systems integrator General Communications, the 32-mono-/4-stereo-channel console typically resides in what is referred to by Stephens Center engineers as the perch, a raised mix position located at the center rear of the main floor seating area. Depending on the event, however, the desk can also either be moved back into an enclosed control room located just behind the perch or deployed halfway down the room in more of a traditional touring concert sound position.


According to Stephens Center event technical coordinator Bill Stanton, who is in charge of sound reinforcement throughout the complex, the Soundcraft console was a welcome addition. "I've really been pleased with the Series Five; its generous feature set and capabilities allow it to very nicely meet the needs of both our music, theatre, and dance departments and visiting productions alike," he says. "Aside from being quite intuitive to use, the console sounds extremely nice and I find that I rarely have to touch the EQs. Lesser boards always seem to require so much correction to make things sound good, but the Soundcraft has such a nice, smooth, flat response that I almost always hear what I want from the start."


Since going in, Jensen Hall's Series Five has already been used to mix an incredibly diverse calendar of shows, including Moscow's Kremlin Chamber Orchestra, the Vienna Boys Choir and China's Golden Dragon Acrobats as well as musical artists like John Pizzarelli, Blessid Union Of Souls and Better Than Ezra. "The console has been performed very well. Most engineers have been very familiar with it and their comments have been overwhelmingly positive," adds Stanton.


Already being heralded as one of the finest university concert halls in the US, Jensen Hall boasts a remote-controllable system of moveable walls, ceilings, canopies, and clouds that can optimize the hall's natural acoustics for any musical genre by effectively adjusting the volume and sound absorption of the space to best accommodate various ensembles and performances. According to Stanton, the hall's reverberance time can be varied by as much as two seconds thanks to this unique setup.