BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (Jan. 19, 2012) – The sounds of construction equipment and furniture moving have been music to Dr. Mitzi Groom’s ears as Western Kentucky University’s new Music Hall is nearing completion.
“The nine-year dream is becoming a reality,” said Groom, head of WKU’s Department of Music.
The three-story, 26,000 sq. ft. facility, which will open this weekend, is designed and built to house band, orchestra and choral groups. WKU’s Board of Regents is scheduled to tour the facility Friday (Jan. 20), while the first events scheduled in Music Hall are a collegiate honor choir rehearsal on Saturday (Jan. 21) and the annual Honors Band Clinic Jan. 26-28.
Music Hall includes instrumental rehearsal and choral rehearsal spaces, five faculty offices, three graduate assistant offices, three performance music libraries (orchestra, band and choir), storage areas for the Big Red Marching Band’s instruments and uniforms, and a commons area.
While the Music Department has 220 undergraduate and graduate music majors and 75 minors, the facility will be used by students from all disciplines on campus since Music Hall will be the home for ensembles that are comprised of 45-55 percent non-music majors, Dr. Groom said.
“The biggest thing we’re so excited about is we have the facilities that will help us recruit students and help our students be the best musicians they can be,” she said.
After an accreditation review in 2001 by the National Association of Schools of Music identified a need for improved facilities for the choral program, the department began working on the project, she said. Construction, funded as part of a student fee for campus rebuilding, began in July 2010.
“Finally here we are,” Groom said. “It’s very gratifying that it’s coming to fruition.”
A formal dedication of Music Hall will be held in late spring and will feature performances by large and small student ensembles.
The building is designed to meet LEED Silver Certification and features stormwater management, reduction of urban heat island effect, water efficient plumbing fixtures, energy efficient mechanical systems, regional and recycled building materials and a clean comfortable indoor environment.
Dr. Paul Hondorp, director of Choral Activities, will be one of the five faculty members moving into the new facility. “This is a really special thing for the choral program,” he said. “They finally get to have a home.”
The new home will benefit current students and will assist in student recruitment, he said. “It makes a huge difference to talk students into a room that is dedicated to choral music and vocal music and give them the chance to see the attention the department gives to vocal music,” Hondorp said.
Other faculty moving into Music Hall are Jennifer Adam, director of women’s chorus; Jeff Bright, associate director of bands; Gary Schallert, director of bands; and Bill Scott, Symphony director and Baker Professor Music.
The music department offices, practice rooms, other faculty offices and classrooms will remain in the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center. As part of the project, the old rehearsal room in the Fine Arts Center will be renovated into a percussion suite.
Music Hall is located behind the Ivan Wilson Fine Arts Center between the Helm-Cravens Library and Grise Hall. The site is near the original Music Hall (also known as Webb Hall), which stood from 1937 to 1975.
“We feel like we’ve come home,” Groom said.