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Kleinhans 'right-sizing' with installation of new seats

Mike Desmond/WBFO News

For 75 years, music lovers for all kind of performers have packed the seats in Kleinhans Music Hall, with the current chairs there for 46 years. The hall will soon have new seats but there will be fewer of them.Kleinhans has 2,800 seats and the current array is much past the expected lifetime. When customers return after the summer break, there will be 2,400 seats at a cost of $1 million.

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Executive Director Daniel Hart says times have changed.

"One of the big differences from maybe the glory days of the Fifties and Sixties is that there's other venues in Buffalo that the concerts that draw bigger numbers go to. So, there wasn't an arena in 1940. There weren't rock musicians doing big concerts for five, six, ten, 20,000 people. A lot of that business has gone other places," said Hart.

Most of the new seats will be wider than those being torn out and shifting the seats will allow small railings to be put in along the aisles.

Management Corporation Chairman Christopher Brown says the hall is being "right-sized." Brown says it will be a much better experience with seats which aren't worn by time.

Architect Ted Lownie says the new seats will be the blue shade specified by architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen, who designed Kleinhans.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.