Welcoming guests and the campus community with a brass ensemble, Belmont University celebrated today the official grand opening of the new McAfee Concert Hall. Originally built in the 1950s, the building located at 2100 Belmont Blvd. served in recent years as a rehearsal, classroom and practice space for many Belmont music groups as well as the main sanctuary for Belmont Heights Baptist Church. The University purchased the property from the church in 2003, but Belmont Heights continues to meet in the complex. In summer 2011, Belmont began a $9 million renovation of the space in order to provide the campus a new, large concert venue suitable for acoustic performances. The building is now named in honor of the McAfee family, who has supported Belmont University for years and provided the lead gift for the project.
Belmont President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “We are incredibly grateful to the McAfee family for their generous gift to make this venue possible. Their commitment to the university has enabled us to build a concert space that matches the high quality of our music programs, and one that will appropriately showcase the amazing talent of our performing arts students. My hope is that the entire Nashville community will be able to enjoy the inspired concerts that will occur in this beautiful new hall.”
Lead donor Carolyn McAfee has served on Belmont’s Board of Trustees since 2006, and her late husband Jim, president and CEO of Hallmark Systems Inc., served on the board from 2002 until his untimely death in 2004. In addition to their time on the board, the McAfees also support Belmont through an endowed scholarship in their name for School of Music students with a major in organ or classical music.
The design concept for the McAfee Concert Hall was developed in consultation with the architects and acousticians involved with the construction of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Acousticians conducted extensive, carefully documented scientific studies and developed a plan for the building that eliminates ambient noise, expands the volume of space to optimal acoustic proportions for a large orchestra and chorus and creates optimal sound diffusion.
The new 857-seat McAfee Concert Hall, which houses a 55-rank Aeolian Skinner organ, will host performances of the University’s classical choral and instrumental ensembles, including the Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, Chorale, the 200-voice Oratorio Chorus and the Nashville Children’s Choir.
College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Dr. Cynthia Curtis said, “Concert goers will experience Belmont’s new performance hall as intimate, inviting and visually and aurally engaging. There is a real sense of intimacy in this space and not a seat that feels distant from the performers or the music making. The real treasure of this hall, though, is its wonderful natural acoustics which allow for a remarkable clarity of hearing, both for the performer and the audience. The space is a real pleasure for the eyes and the ears!”
A series of six events has been created to celebrate the McAfee Concert Hall’s inaugural season:
Saturday, October 6: A Celebration of Beginnings
Concert Hall Gala Celebration concert
This gala celebration concert is the formal opening of the new hall. The program will feature well-known classical selections performed by combined choral and instrumental ensembles in the School of Music. Click here to reserve tickets.
Tuesday, October 23 A Celebration of Community
Concert Hall Nashville Symphony Orchestra performance
This performance by the Grammy-award winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra will welcome both the music community and the Nashville community into the new hall. Under the direction of Associate Conductor Kelly Corcoran, the Nashville Symphony will present a program sure to showcase the hall’s excellent acoustics. Click here to reserve tickets.
**Saturday and Sunday, December 1-2: Christmas Celebration
Christmas at Belmont
**As seating is extremely limited, tickets will not be available for the general public.
Friday, February 15: A Celebration of Unity
Concert Hall concert with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves
Internationally acclaimed Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves and various School of Music ensembles will present a concert celebrating the world’s diversity and bring an awareness of tolerance, peace and unity. Free tickets will be available at a date TBA.
Monday, March 25: A Celebration of Learning
Concert Hall visit from Dr. Richard Taruskin, history of Russian music
Dr. Richard Taruskin, internationally-renowned musicologist, music critic, and author of the multi-volume Oxford History of Western Music, will visit Belmont to talk about a lifetime spent studying and writing about the history of Russian music. This event is free and open to the public—tickets are not required.
Saturday, April 20 A Celebration of Achievement
24th Annual President’s Concert
The 24th Annual President’s Concert will honor the 2013 Applause Award recipient and feature a variety of musical styles performed by student ensembles. Tickets for this event will be sold through the Belmont Box Office in spring 2013. The Applause Award recipient will be announced at a later date.