Construction of Music Pavilion becomes a reality

Celebration event signals start of long-awaited addition and renovations.

Dozens of donors and Music Pavilion supporters gathered to celebrate the announcement that construction will commence, including (from left) Selma Hollander, Ken Bloomquist, Interim President John Engler, Ann Bloomquist, and Dean James Forger.
Alumna and lead donor Selma Hollander, who recently celebrated her 101st birthday, is acknowledged by the crowd, including Byron Cook (left) and James Billman whose lead gift allowed the project to get started.
Along with MSU Interim President John Engler, event speakers included (from right) MSU Trustee Dianne Byrum, Dean James Forger, National Leadership Council member Dee Cook, student Nicole Sanford and University Distinguished Professor Rodney Whitaker.
Former MSU Board of Trustees members Barbara Sawyer-Koch (right) and Dee Cook (center) enjoyed the reception after the announcement. Dee and Byron Cook (left) are among the lead donors to the Music Pavilion.
Music Education major, french horn player, and former drum major for the Spartan Marching Band Nicole Sanford addressed the gathering as a representative of the students who will benefit from the new Music Pavilion.
University Distinguished Professor of Jazz Bass and Director of Jazz Studies Rodney Whitaker spoke to the crowd, explaining what a difference the new Music Pavilion will make to the faculty and their ability to teach music students even more effectively.

Michigan State University will begin construction this week on a 37,000-square-foot Music Pavilion that will expand the Music Building on the university’s north campus.

The project, which includes 8,500 square feet of renovated space, will increase the total facility space by more than 40 percent.

A celebration featuring music and light refreshments took place on Wednesday, June 27 in Cook Recital Hall. Media and the public attended, and an official groundbreaking will take place in the fall involving donors, students and faculty.

 “As a tier one, Big Ten research institution, we attract the best and brightest across the globe, but it’s not only our science and research that attract top students and faculty,” MSU Interim President John Engler said. “The College of Music has a national and international reach that competes with peers on the highest level. This is the excellence that is Michigan State University. The new Music Pavilion further elevates our reputation in the arts with a particular focus on student learning and well-being.”

The Music Building, home of the College of Music, opened in 1940 and the last major addition was built in 1956. Recent renovations to Cook Recital Hall and Fairchild Theatre have established premier college performance venues, and the new pavilion is the next logical step in creating high-quality teaching, practice, rehearsal and research spaces that meet the needs of 21st century musicians.

“This state-of-the-art facility will incorporate highly specialized and advanced acoustical engineering,” said University Distinguished Professor of Jazz Bass Rodney Whitaker, director of MSU’s Jazz Studies program. “It will provide excellent sound isolation, creating an environment in which our students and faculty rehearse and perform while protecting their hearing.”

The project was set in motion last summer thanks to lead gifts from donors that totaled more than $7 million. In just 14 months, more than $11 million in private support has been secured toward a $17.5 million fundraising goal. The balance of the cost for the $35 million facility will be matched by the university. The Music Pavilion project is part of the Empower Extraordinary Campaign, which continues through December.

“University investment in recruitment of nationally and internationally prominent faculty artist/scholars has moved this college forward in dramatic ways,” College of Music Dean James Forger said. “New and renovated spaces facilitate student learning in leading-edge programs, attract and retain talent, and further strengthen the college’s position on national and world stages.”

The construction process will begin with the demolition of Hart Recital Hall on the west end of the current Music Building to make way for large ensemble rehearsal rooms. The new facility will extend west and south toward West Circle Drive and attach to the façade of the current Music Building.

With prominent programs in instrumental and vocal performance, jazz, conducting, music education, composition, music history and music theory, as well as studies in entrepreneurship and career readiness, the college enrolls more than 610 music majors. Approximately 50 percent of these majors come from Michigan, 30 percent from 36 states and 20 percent from 26 countries. An important part of the college’s mission is to share the power of music with more than 2,000 non-majors in course offerings and ensemble experiences, including the Spartan Marching Band.

Multiple communities across Michigan participate in the College of Music’s extensive outreach and engagement activities, including more than 5,000 Michigan residents who enroll in the college’s Community Music Schools in East Lansing and Detroit.

To learn more, visit the Music Pavilion campaign website or contact Rebecca Surian, senior director of development for the College of Music, at

A post-announcement reception was held in Music Building Room 120 which is slated for major renovations.

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