College of Music introduces the 2013-2014 season of exceptional music

Reinvention of performance spaces are an added bonus!

Mid-Michigan is in for a treat this fall as the MSU College of Music gears up to present an extraordinary season with the added bonus of hosting the events in reinvented performance spaces. In addition to the recently revamped Cook Recital Hall in the Music Building, the much-anticipated renovation of MSU Auditorium’s Fairchild Theatre is nearing completion and will provide state-of-the-art performance space for students, faculty artists, and guest performers.
The extensive $20 million renovation of Fairchild Theatre, with improved acoustics, and attention to comfort and accessibility, will introduce a fresh musical life to the historic hall after a 16-month renovation. It promises to offer audiences a one-of-a-kind, theatre-going experience with its intimate connection to the performers. Improvements include ceiling clouds, an adjustable acoustic shell and sound absorbing banners, a 47-seat orchestra pit, audio and visual sound reinforcement, air conditioning, and a recording/visual control room.
A team of architects and acousticians, from Kirkegaard Associates from Chicago, and Boora Architects from Portland, Ore., worked closely together to renovate the 75-year old theatre. Kirkegaard, the acoustic design firm on the project, is a leading international company that has completed award-winning work on several well-known concert halls, including Boston Symphony’s Tanglewood Music Center and Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium. Boora Architects, a national leader in creation of cultural and educational facilities, has designed several performing and integrated arts centers, including those at University of Texas, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, University of Oregon, University of Texas-Austin, University of California-Davis.
Besides the new rich look of the venue with the obvious visual upgrades, the acoustical improvement is most notable. “Every surface of Fairchild has been carefully considered and shaped for excellent acoustics,” says Anthony Shou, principal consultant Kirkegaard Associates.
According to Stephen Weeks, who was on the architect team from Boora Architects, the teams were faced with significant sound challenges from the old venue, and acoustic quality became their number one goal of the project. Visual intimacy was also a significant aspect to create a memorable experience for the audience, he says.
“The 462-seat Fairchild Theatre, which will be used primarily by the College of Music, will be the new home for choral music, opera, jazz, Musique 21, and our popular chamber and recital series,” says James Forger, College of Music dean. “This new venue will better allow our students and faculty to engage with the audience and it will give our patrons a comfortable and accessible hall where they can truly enjoy the music.”
In addition, the renovation is answering the community’s need for convenient, free parking, which is located directly across the street in Lot #9. Further improvements for guests include more restrooms and improved accessibility for persons with disabilities.
Forger says he is very appreciative for the support from MSU and its leaders. “The university has made a sizeable investment in this renovation,” he says, “which serves as a stellar example of the endorsement that MSU has given the College of Music and the arts.” The venue will also be used by the Department of Theatre.

2013-2014 season offers something for everyone

MSU Federal Credit Union Showcase Series

Featuring four musical events that emphasize the talent of faculty and students, this series shows an assortment of invigorating ensembles. Fairchild Theatre will play host to two of the Showcase Series performances this season; two others will be presented at Wharton Center.
Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series

The sold-out Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series, now in its fourth year, celebrates the work of Gershwin, Debussy, Mozart, and Chopin. The series also includes the 14th annual chamber music festival Cello Plus.
MSU Opera Theatre

The MSU Opera Theatre, directed by Melanie Helton, awes audiences with two fully staged and costumed productions each season. The renovated theatre offers a larger ensemble in the orchestra pit and will allow the singers to use their natural voices without amplification.
Symphony Orchestra

The 110-member Symphony Orchestra, which is comprised of string, wind, brass, and percussion musicians, will present eight orchestral performances during 2013-14 season. According to its director Kevin Noe, the ensemble is made up of an incredibly talented group of musicians whose passion for music shines through in their performances.

Jazz Ensembles

The MSU Jazz Orchestras perform a collection of pieces from the best jazz masters, in addition to a variety of soul, swing, blues, and gospel. The groups, led by the MSU Professors of Jazz who are all practicing jazz musicians, are encouraged to convey themselves with their own artistic expression to become the next generation of jazz musicians, says Rodney Whitaker, director of jazz studies. Jazz Orchestra I is slated to hold two performances in the new Fairchild Theatre.
Wind Symphony

The full 55-member Wind Symphony ensemble is comprised of graduate and upper-division undergraduate students, conducted by Kevin Sedatole. The ensemble will present six concerts in addition to a performance in Carnegie Hall in February to celebrate the 10th anniversary of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 3 “Circus Maximus.”
Choral Ensembles

Consisting of the best graduate and upper-level undergraduate singers, the University Chorale, directed by David Rayl, performs secular and sacred music of all genres, eras, and cultures. Fairchild Theatre will host one Chorale concert, and will be home to a number of other choral ensembles.
Specific information about the College of Music season can be found online at

Photos of Fairchild Theatre under construction can be viewed at

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