A fully refurnished Avalon: The perfect home for a symphony

With a musical legacy that ranges from Al Jolson to Lyle Lovett, it’s clear a revitalized Avalon Theatre could benefit from having a world-class anchor tenant.

Good thing one’s waiting in the wings, in the form of the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra.

The quality of musicianship nearly always overshadows the symphony’s surroundings, as most of its performances happen at Grand Junction High School.

“We’ve done pretty much everything that we can do, regarding acoustics, at the high school,” said Kirk Gustafson, director of the symphony for the last 25 years. He added that in a survey of its audience members, acoustics rated as the symphony’s number-one issue.

“The good news is that the first phase of the Avalon project will include acoustical improvements — for whoever is performing there,” Gustafson said.

The improvements planned, acoustics-wise, include the ability to vary the theater’s characteristics for all different types of performances. For example, a rock band could create a “dead room” feel for its style of show, or a classical guitarist could potentially be able to play unamplified.

But the prospect of the symphony being an anchor tenant for the new Avalon is appealing to Gustafson.

“We’ve been involved in researching the best option for an improved facility for the last 10 years,” he said. “What we’ve come around to, after a very methodical process, is that the Avalon has the greatest potential to be a fine home for the symphony in the future.”

“The advantage of a hall like the Avalon is, it is a little bit more of an intimate experience,” he said.

But, for the symphony to have all it needs to become that anchor tenant, the full potential of the Cornerstone Project would have to be funded and realized. As it stands, the expansion of the stage and stage area — called the “bustle” addition to the theater — is included only in the final, as-yet unfunded stage of the project.

“We recognize that this is going to be a phased project, and time will tell whether a phase will involve the bustle,” Gustafson said.

That would not only be good for the symphony, but good for touring production companies.

“If the fundraising happens as expected, we’re going to have a venue that will be first class, and we’ll have a stage large enough to accommodate not only the Grand Junction Symphony, but road shows too,” Gustafson said.

“We are in a great spot — halfway between Denver and Salt Lake City. It’s a great overnight spot.”


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