Western University Be Extraordinary The Campaign For Western

Music conducts the first notes for its revived home

Improvements to Music's facilities will energize the rhythm of students, teachers and musicians

May 7, 2014

Music conducts the first notes for its revived home
The expansion and renovation of Music’s space on campus will enrich the artistic learning experience for young musicians and teachers. (Image is an architectural rendering.)

Ask music aficionados where memorable music was created or performed in the past century, and they might mention Central Park, La Scala, Abbey Road Studios or Carnegie Hall.

Though widely different in their musical legacies, these places are remembered for the Simon & Garfunkel reunion in 1981, the Puccini premiere of Madama Butterfly in 1904, the Beatles studio recording of Abbey Road in 1969, and the legendary Benny Goodman jazz concert in 1938.

For musicians, place – whether grand or intimate – is key to bringing music alive.

Soon, students at the Don Wright Faculty of Music will learn within an improved place, one that’s renovated and expanded to enrich their artistic training.

“The ultimate success of a potential artist is the ability to grow and be mentored in an excellent space where they can expand their horizons,” says Theodore Baerg, professor of voice and coordinator of operatic studies at Western.

“A space of sufficient size, acoustic quality and proper ambience is essential to giving students the capacity for true musical progress.”

Confined artistic space
The current facilities in Talbot College and the Music Building are constraining that very capacity. More than 700 students use a teaching space meant for 400. Rehearsal rooms are limited, performance stages are booked solid, learning studios are cramped.

As well, the behind-the-wall building mechanics are affecting air quality and sound control. In fact, the humidity levels in rooms fluctuate wildly, which results in damaged instruments that need costly, regular repairs.

The solution? A $25-million construction project that blends two existing buildings into a harmonic place.

The renewed “building [will be] a silent participant in the learning and making of music,” says architect John Nicholson, whose firm designed the renovation and expansion.

Expanded musical expression
When complete, the building will house more practice rooms with better soundproofing, improved studios for one-on-one instruction, an acoustically enhanced von Kuster Hall, additional rehearsal spaces for large ensembles, an intimate recital hall for small ensemble performances, and gathering areas with natural light – all within a space with proper ventilation and temperature control.
“It’s not simply a building, but an acoustic, aesthetic and physical environment that enhances, encourages and accommodates a shared, powerful experience of music,” says Jill Ball, assistant professor of percussion.

The University is covering 80 per cent of the project cost, and the faculty is committed to raising the remaining 20 per cent ($5 million) as part of the Be Extraordinary campaign.

“With support from our alumni and friends, we will create a first-class learning and performance facility that matches the calibre of our students, programs and faculty,” says Dean of Music Betty Anne Younker, “and becomes a musical place that welcomes and reaches into our community.”

To learn about the fundraising priorities for Music, contact Kim Malcolm, Alumni and Development Officer (519.661.2111, ext. 85695) or visit the Music web page. Find further information about the building project here.

A place for musical progress
The renovated building for Music will nearly double its space to include:

  •  A five-storey tower for practice rooms and teaching studios
  •  A renovation for a renewed recital hall and classrooms
  •  A three-storey addition for more performance space

This article appeared in the Spring 2014 edition of Impact Western
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