Sunday, November 3, 2013

Framing the Performing Arts

By Glenn Cashman
Associate Professor of Music

I opened the updated “Strategic Framing Document” today with positive thoughts and bountiful good will. My heart began to flutter upon reading that there is a “pressing need to improve and expand our existing facilities in music, theater, and dance.” Hope was quickly replaced by frustration as I read that President Herbst is “being called upon to convene a working group” to determine how our facilities stack up against peers (see below, 2hrs work), to put together statistics regarding “the impact of the performing arts on recruitment, retention, campus culture, and the academic quality of liberal arts institutions.” 
It would be monumentally embarrassing for Colgate if we need a working group to justify the importance of the performing arts in the liberal arts and if we yet again have to make a case for new facilities, especially considering that a performing arts center (PAC) was an unfulfilled part of the previous strategic plan. If this is deemed to be necessary, we might want to consider if in fact we are actually still a liberal arts institution. As one of the original liberal arts in academia going back to medieval times, Music is not a newbie, nor is Theater or Dance. We need first to commit to building a PAC, then form a committee to work out the details. The currently recommended strategy will only sweep the issue under the proverbial carpet for another decade or so. It is not a satisfactory response to a “pressing need.”
While there are many positive aspects exhibited in the current Master Plan, it seems to be fatally unbalanced when one considers the larger picture and the exclusion of a PAC in the facilities plan. A new PAC has been discussed at Colgate for around 25 years. It has been on and off various strategic plans during the various administrations, and there exists a multitude of documents written and compiled over the years on behalf of a new facility. In the meantime, most of our peer institutions have upgraded and/or built new arts facilities.

Connections between experiences in the performing arts and success in other fields are well known and documented. We will have increasing difficulty in attracting the best and brightest students who often are also strongly oriented toward the performing arts, whether or not they major or minor in music, theater or perhaps eventually in dance.

It seems to me that non-academic pursuits/areas have too much influence at our institution and on our campus culture. What better way to restore some balance than by providing useful, attractive performing arts facilities that are a prerequisite for greater integration and expansion of existing programs, a sense of community for the arts, and that will lead to more rewarding activities for the growing number of students who are slated to be relocated “on campus.” 

 [Info below cut & pasted from the various college web pages and lightly edited.]

BOWDOIN: STUDZINSKI RECITAL HALL (2007), with nine practice rooms and a rehearsal room. The 275-seat hall features adjustable acoustics to suit the many different ensembles and soloists that will perform there. GIBSON HALL (1954) houses the main business of the Department of Music and includes rehearsal rooms and practice rooms/teaching studios, the Beckwith Music Library, Electronic Music Labs, faculty offices, a 68-seat classroom/recital hall, and a more intimate seminar room. The Choral Rehearsal room was updated in 1977.

EDWARDS CENTER FOR ART & DANCE (opened August 2013)
The 48,000-square-foot facility on Longfellow Avenue, which borders the campus, will provide a state-of-the-art venue for Bowdoin College students to study dance, painting, photography, sculpture, printmaking, digital media and other arts under the same roof for the first time. 

VISUAL ARTS CENTER (1975) contains offices, classrooms, studios, and exhibition space for the Department of Art, as well as Kresge Auditorium, which seats 300 for lectures, films, and performances.

SWARTHMORE: LANG MUSIC BUILDING (1973) (Music & Dance) contains offices, classrooms, practice rooms, reception area, the Underhill Music & Dance Library, and 420-seat LANG CONCERT HALL. 

THE PEARSON-HALL THEATRE (1991) is the largest performing stage on campus and has a maximum seating capacity of 762. The theater can be divided in two and both parts used simultaneously, with a cinema (285 seats) on one side of a 75-ton movable soundproof wall and full stage area (425 seats) on the other. It also has two configurations, a standard proscenium, as well as a full thrust. Movies, plays, dance recitals, and lectures are typically offered in these spaces.

WELLESLEY: THE JEWETT CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (1991). The JAY W. LEES COURAGE THEATER replaced the small theater on the 3rd floor of Converse Hall which was dedicated in 1983 . 

The EMMA ECCLES JONES CONSERVATORY (north addition) opened Fall of 2004. THE CONSERVATORY triples the volume of performance space available on the Westminster Campus. 

The heart of the facility is the 285-seat VIEVE GORE CONCERT HALL which serves as an intimate environment for musical performances. 

In addition, the DUMKE STUDENT THEATRE is a 150-seat, black-box theatre with stage and seating that can be arranged in any configuration. 

THE CONSERVATORY also contains a rehearsal and recording studio, a technology lab, and multiple practice rooms. Together, the JEWETT CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS and EMMA ECCLES JONES CONSERVATORY house all campus music and theater classes. 

HAMILTON: SCHAMBACH CENTER (1988) containing the 700-seat WELLIN PERFORMANCE HALL, plus two large rehearsal halls, 15 practice rooms, faculty offices and classrooms. Facilities for music also include a well-equipped studio for electronic music; a music library that contains more than 25,000 records and compact discs; and state-of-the-art listening and video equipment.

THE CAROL WOODHOUSE WELLIN PERFORMANCE HALL is the center of concert life at Hamilton. About twenty student, faculty and professional concerts take place in this 700-seat auditorium every semester (including the Performing Arts at Hamilton series). These concerts draw audiences from the college and surrounding communities. Also, the Masterworks Chorale, the Orchestra, and the Jazz Ensemble rehearse weekly on Wellin's stage.

NEW MUSEUM, THEATER & STUDIO ARTS FACILITY to be completed by July 2014.

BUCKNELL: SIGMUND AND CLAIRE WEIS CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (1988) is one of the most highly-regarded concert halls in the region. It’s 1,200-seat hall provides a beautiful venue to hear Bucknell ensembles such as the Bands, Choirs, Opera Company, and Orchestra. Professional ensembles of all types, from around the globe, are frequent guests, providing a first-rate cultural component to a Bucknell education while enriching the entire community with their performances. The Weis Center also boasts outstanding rehearsal facilities for many of the Department of Music's student ensembles.

SIGFRIED WEIS MUSIC BUILDING (2000). It houses the department's recital hall, classrooms, music library, practice rooms, student lounges, music faculty studios - in short it provides great facilities for a dedicated group of musicians, allowing students exceptional opportunities to pursue their musical interests.

THE NATALIE DAVIS ROOKE RECITAL HALL is one of the most active spaces on campus. On any given day, one might hear a student recital, a faculty recital, a guest soloist, or a chamber-music recital. The 160-seat hall boasts excellent acoustics — tunable with the touch of a button — as well as recording capabilities, a harpsichord, and a 9' Steinway concert grand piano. In addition, a generous backstage area includes a green room where students, faculty, and guest artists relax and prepare for performances. Students can reserve the recital hall for rehearsals and recitals.

DARTMOUTH: THE HOPKINS CENTER (1962) a venerable complex (that was right from the beginning-GC), designed by the architect who would later design Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Within the Hopkins Center are Faulkner Recital Hall, Spaulding Auditorium, Warner Bentley Theater, The Moore Theater, and Alumni Hall. These are used for student performances, concerts and plays by visiting artists, and alumni and faculty meetings. Various student groups perform regularly at the Hop, including the Dartmouth College Gospel Choir, Dartmouth Dance Ensemble, the Glee Club, the Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble, the Wind Symphony, and the Symphony Orchestra, among others.

WILLIAMS: THE BERNHARD MUSIC CENTER (1979) contains 2 classrooms equipped with multimedia technology and Steinway grand pianos, 23 practice rooms, 10 faculty offices, as well as concert and rehearsal spaces.

Numerous concerts take place year round in the 250-seat BROOKS-ROGERS RECITAL HALL, along with all-college lectures, classes, and other events. The lower level holds faculty offices, an Artist Studio, departmental administrative offices, and classrooms. 

PRESSER CHORAL HALL, Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, and SHAINMAN REHEARSAL HALL, are located on the upper level. Thompson Memorial Chapel and other buildings on campus are also occasionally used for concerts. The $60 million '62 CENTER FOR THEATRE AND DANCE was completed in the spring of 2005.

AMHERST: ARMS MUSIC CENTER (1968) including the Buckley Recital Hall (1968). In 2000 it received a major rejuvenation that replaced the seating, acoustical draperies, and carpet. Acoustical draperies were added at the stage, enhancing acoustical performance of the hall for musicians. Lighting was updated, and a new removable performance floor surface was added. Amherst is also part of the Five College Music Program that includes Mount Holyoke, Smith, Hampshire & UMASS Amherst, allowing for access to a wealth of classes, venues and so forth.

KIRBY MEMORIAL THEATER was designed in 1938 by James Kellum Smith of McKim, Mead & White, with the help of S.R. McCandless, a theater designer.  Kirby has since been upgraded to a state-of-the-art 384-seat modified proscenium house, with computerized lighting and sound equipment, a stretch-wire lighting grid, and a refurbished fly system.

HAVERFORD: CENTENNIAL HALL (1984) 650-seat theater (new seats installed in summer, 2010) Orchestra pit and shell, 30' deep stage, Scenery and wardrobe shop, Stage crew etc.) for Theater.  MUSIC: The UNION MUSIC BUILDING houses classrooms, practice rooms, the music library and listening room, as well as the MACCRATE RECITAL HALL for rehearsals and small concerts. The 11 practice rooms in Union Building and Roberts Hall house over 20 pianos, the majority of which are grands. Large concerts take place in THE MARSHALL AUDITORIUM of Roberts Hall. The MUSIC facilities appear to be older and it is not clear what sort of updating has been done.

COLGATE: DANA ARTS CENTER (1966) Music & Theater Department offices, classrooms, some faculty offices and BREHMER THEATER. A building that was only about half-built according to the original plans where a famous architect didn’t see fit to soundproof classrooms, offices, and practice rooms. Music groups rehearse not in Dana but in the CHAPEL, RYAN STUDIO, and JC COLGATE while faculty have offices in DANA, RYAN, & J.C. COLGATE. There is a small classroom in JC COLGATE. Theater uses BREHMER and RYAN to rehearse with offices located in both buildings.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

NOTE from Glenn C:
For newer faculty, it should be stated that Music Dept. concerts are held in the CHAPEL, not a performance space by design, not for the 21st Century or even the 20th Century. Issues include acoustics, seating, storage, lack of backstage, no modern lighting, no built in sound system for performance, dangerous steps onto stage for those carrying instruments, low frequency resonance stage issues, parking challenges, many instruments & related equipment must be transported from lower campus in all weather… the positive additions in modern times are the cameras and associated ability to live stream events worldwide.