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Here comes the inflatable concert hall

Posting in Design

Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon. Spirits should soar when the music rises under the polyester in Matsushima.

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Pump up your spirits with Beethoven, but don't forget first to pump up the polyvinyl chloride polyester tarpaulin.

That's what's happening in northeastern Japan this weekend, when the Lucerne Festival from Switzerland launches a musical tour through the area still recovering from the 2011 tsunami, in one plum of an inflatable concert hall.

The structure, called Ark Nova, was designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and British sculptor Anish Kapoor. It's a mere 0.63 millimeters (0.02 inches) thin, but when fully inflated it will house 500 music lovers on seats carved from cedar trees damaged in the floods.

If you insist on knowing the dimensions: the 2,000 square meters of "PVC-coated polyester" material rises to 18 meters high by 29 meters wide by 36 meters long, according to the organizers.

The performances start with a workshop in Matsushima by the Tohoku Youth Orchestra, and on Saturday night the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra strikes up Beethoven's Symphony No. 6.

The ensuing weeks will include traditional Japanese Kabuki theater, the Jozenji Jazz Street Festival, and the Lucerne Festival Orchestra - all in Matsushima for the time being, but the idea is to eventually deflate, move and then soar all over again elsewhere.

On Saturday, Gustavo Gimeno will conduct. I'm not sure what he's planning for an encore. How about the old rap tune Pump it Up?

Pretty in pink. The benches carved from cedar trees damaged in the tsunami aren't bad either.

Photos are from Lucerne Festival. More here.

— By on September 26, 2013, 8:56 PM PST

Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure