Classical Music The Old Fashioned Way...Unamplified!

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This week, I attended the third Naumburg Orchestral Concert of the summer season in Central Park. And, it made me start to wonder...

When the bandshell was built in 1923 the design was considered to be quite innovative through its use of a double shell construction technique. The outer half-domed shell is the weather shield. The smaller inner half-dome throws the sound out towards the audience. In its day the shell distributed the music so that an audience of from 50,000 to 70,000 persons could enjoy it.

Today sophisticated sound systems are used for performances in the bandshell. And yet the audiences are much smaller. The orchestral concerts, for instance, attract about 1,000 people per performances. 

I’m not sure I understand why amplification is used so often today. Is it habit at this point or is it really necessary? I feel the same way about the old--wonderfully intimate--Broadway houses here in New York. Those stages were built long before the days of amplification. And for the most part I would rather not see a show that has enhanced sound.

So, tell me--am I being unrealistic? Am I old fashioned? Is it impossible to perform effectively today without a microphone?