Surrounded by hues of plum, copper and gold as I entered the lobby of the Hamel Music Center, I felt overcome by a sense of serenity almost instantly.
Once the front doors to the new performance space for the Mead Witter School of Music closed behind me — this peaceful feeling was grasped entirely.
Located at 740 University Ave. on the corner of a bustling intersection, the well-designed structure is built with the intention of separating noise produced on the outside from those on the inside.
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“When you get into the other spaces you’re going to forget where you are,” Facilities Director Brian Heller said during a first-look tour.
Not only is the input of outside noise efficiently reduced, but each performance space is also acoustically isolated from one another. The center includes three main chambers: the Sing Man & Florence Lee/Annette Kaufman Rehearsal Hall, Collins Recital Hall and Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall which seats up to 660 people.
Since the center was funded completely by private donors, much of the venue is named in honor of these groups and individuals. Some of these donors are alumni of the School of Music — however, many offered their support thanks to their love of music as well as the University of Wisconsin.
Though no state dollars were used to propel the project, numerous Wisconsin-based businesses contributed their products and artistry towards the venue’s completion as well.
“It goes to show, when you invest in UW-Madison, you invest in the State of Wisconsin,” Board of Advisors Director Susan C. Cook said.
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The School of Music presents over 300 music events on a yearly basis, so the possibility of all three spaces being utilized at the same time — on multiple occasions — is likely.
Though the Hamel Music Center will be isolated audibly, the entrance facing University Avenue is lined with a border of glass panels that already provide passerby a sneak peek of what lies inside.
Keenly focused on acoustic absorption and reflection, the new and improved venue for the UW music community is ready to provide greater space, accessibility and intimacy for all.
Final preparations for the center are coming together throughout the next month, and those of you reading along may be able to help in the meantime. Student volunteers are being recruited to sit in the performance halls for acoustic tunings taking place Sept. 19 and 20.
Students can refer to the schedule and decide times to attend. You can also bring homework and a few friends along to check out the space before the center’s grand opening to the general public.
The Hamel Music Center’s opening celebrations are set to take place Oct. 25-27, 2019 with a variety of events and musical performances.
This is only the beginning for the new and improved performance venue as the School of Music continues to serve the campus and community for years to come.