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Johan de Sousa Mestre

Opera singer and acoustician

Johan de Sousa Mestre can call on 25 years of experience as a specialist in acoustics, in particular room acoustics – how sound is experienced within the confines of a room.

- “For 15 years, I was an opera singer and performer. It was fantastic to both touch an audience with song, and at the same time understand how the sound waves rebounded around the room in an acoustically pleasing manner. The tangible physical interaction of my voice and the room. I have always loved and understood music and I enjoy the technical aspects of the engineer’s profession. Acoustics therefore came naturally to me,” he says.

At ÅF, Johan primarily develops concert halls, theatres, arenas, conference facilities and music practice rooms – although he remains open to most aspects of sound design. One current project deals with how to optimise sound at a football stadium, with consultants designing sound files that allow the client to listen and judge how proposed solutions will work in reality.

- “Arriving at a concert hall is like Christmas morning for me. It’s as if a present is waiting for me inside the door. When I listen and sing, it’s as if the packet opens up. Beautiful sound also gives me energy. I am quite particular in my own tastes, but I take pleasure in seeing people enjoy different musical genres,” says Johan.

“My work has become that much easier and more fun as the sound in our concert hall has become so much better.”  Member of a symphony orchestra in a concert hall project.

Johan has always loved and understood music and enjoys the technical aspects of the engineer’s profession. Acoustics therefore came naturally to him. Early in his career, Johan met an experienced room acoustician who helped him to develop his knowledge at a comfortable pace. Johan’s mentor was grounded and easy going by nature, while Johan is more artistic and flexible. This proved to be an excellent combination for Johan’s continued development.

Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming an increasingly common tool in the design of new acoustic environments.
- “The visual is as important and decisive in how an environment is perceived as the aural. Sometimes accord can be reached between the visual and acoustic elements. That is what we strive for. When new techniques are combined with experience gained from real environments, we can come a lot further than previously. In the process, we are also able to generate greater engagement on the part of the client, making the final result that much better,” he says.

Love of music is also reflected in Johan’s dream project – to construct an opera house in the middle of the forest.
- “It’s probably due to the stress and hassle of modern life, but to build an opera house in the middle of the forest would really be something else. To develop the sense of place and bring that experience into the building. That would be amazing. It feels as if our cultural life could only benefit from coming closer to that which is the foundation of all of us. Nature itself.”