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New Building the Perfect
Setting for Making Music
August 30, 1999

tanding on the bridge that overlooks the atrium lobby of the new music building, Bob Miller contemplates the first day of classes. There's a lot more to do in the week before classes start, he says.

"But we'll manage," he promises.

Miller, interim head of the music department, has been actively involved in the $15.1 million fine arts project that included the construction of a new music library building, an addition to the music building, and renovations to the music and drama/music buildings. Construction on the project, which includes 57,300 square feet of new space and 63,100 square feet of renovated space, began in the fall of 1997.

"For the last 20 years, we've had an absolutely first-class faculty. They will now have a place to work that matches their quality and the quality of our students," Miller says.

Faculty and students will enjoy the new state-of-the-art music library, new and renovated faculty studio-offices, new, large practice rooms, remodeled classrooms and practice rooms, and state-of-the-art digital recording facilities.

Miller says the new facilities and an expanded stock of fine instruments will contribute to increased student learning.

"We are able for the first time to have adequate instruments and practice rooms for our students," he says. "We've never had enough pianos of sufficient quality to meet student needs." In addition to buying new pianos, Miller chose to restore some of the fine older instruments that needed repair and were in storage. These include several Steinway grand pianos that have now been placed in practice rooms for students. Access to these instruments "is going to make a tremendous difference in the way students feel about getting their job done," Miller says.

Large rehearsal spaces, including rooms suitable for chamber music and opera rehearsal, will be a boost to the program, Miller says. The new addition to the music building includes a rehearsal room where the 220 University Marching Band members can practice under one roof without being cramped.

"It's going to be fantastic," says David Mills, director of bands. "If you can imagine jamming 200 people in a space for 80 people - that's what it's been like." Now, he says, "the whole band can sit in one place, play music and not be uncomfortable."

The new air-conditioned facilities will let the department expand its summer programs. The summer graduate program in music education is already the premier program in the country and will continue to grow, Miller says.

The new music library, a three-story circular building of green glass, opened its doors June 28, welcoming students in the summer graduate program in music education. Patrons have given the library rave reviews. "It has been wonderful," Miller says. Students who came back from previous summers couldn't believe their good fortune. The old library was so crowded, they couldn't find anything."

Tracey Rudnick, librarian for music and dramatic arts, agrees. "Those who knew the old library are thrilled," she says. Patrons "are awed by the space and architecture. The old music library - that included two converted classrooms - was jammed from shelf to shelf." Rudnick says many materials were stored in other buildings and were not accessible to patrons. The new library can house the entire library collection with room to grow for 15 to 20 years.

The library holds more than 32,000 sound recordings including a collection of 20,000 LPs that, over the years, were donated to the library. Previously in storage, they now have a new home.

The old library, in its cramped quarters, had virtually no study space for students, Rudnick says. Now, there are many private carrels, including 15 for graduate students, and four group-study rooms, where small groups of students can gather to share music and conversation. Study and listening areas have data jacks, so patrons can use their laptop computers to connect to the Internet.

"These new facilities," says Miller, "are going to allow us to have the reputation we've always deserved."

Sherry Fisher