The Chicago Symphony Orchestra wanted to create a public space where children, families and the general public could develop an appreciation for classical music through fun, hands-on exploration.
Visitors began their journey through ECHO at the Welcome Center, where ESI designed giant ears that emanated music and set a whimsical tone for the experience. Visitors then proceeded to the A-Musing Room, where they could explore five themes of music through an array of engaging activities: the nature of sound; teamwork in musical performance; music’s role in cultural events; music’s association with people, places and stories; and the process of passing music down to younger generations.
ESI invented a portable instrument box – a tool that plugged into computer-based activities that used unexpected metaphors to help people understand musical concepts and create their own musical compositions. For example, to expose visitors to the importance of musical interpretation, ESI developed a program that played a poem read in three very different styles and music performed by three different pianists, showing visitors how a piece of music can be conveyed with multiple meanings and emotions.
Visitors concluded their visit by adding their instrument box to the Orchestra Wall, where the music they composed is highlighted individually and played in combination with the music of other visitors, creating a unique ensemble performance.
Classical music "teaches about the importance of teamwork, of emotion and perception, of ritual and celebration, of sound in our lives and of notation and mapping," ESI founder Edwin Schlossberg told the Chicago Tribune. "That became the strategy of the project."
Visit the Chicago Symphony Orchestra website at www.cso.org
"The ultimate aim of ECHO is to provide listeners of all ages and cultural backgrounds with a greater variety of techniques to connect with different kinds of music."
4,400 square feet
1998 Exhibit Designer World Symposium’s E-Cubed Awards – Honorable Mention, Exhibit Design