Construction for Frost music studios continues

Construction continues at UM's Frost School of Music. Nick Gangemi // Assistant Photo Editor
Construction continues at UM's Frost School of Music. Nick Gangemi // Assistant Photo Editor
Construction continues at UM’s Frost School of Music.
Nick Gangemi // Assistant Photo Editor

The newest part of the Frost School of Music is expected to be finished by the Fall 2014 semester, and then the school plans to build two more in the coming years, all aimed at enhancing the new experiential curriculum.

“There is one construction project underway now – the Patricia Louise Frost Music Studios, North Wing and South Wing,” said Julia Berg, director of marketing and communications.

The new building will feature 74 studios for private lessons, chamber music rehearsals and interactive Experiential Music Curriculum classes. EMC, developed by Frost’s faculty, is a hands-on, interactive approach to music-making that replaces the traditional, performance-only rote-teaching style and large lecture classes.

Junior Jess Nolan, a songwriter in the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music Program, will be one of many music students who is looking forward to using the new building.

“I’m extremely excited for the new additions to the music school,” she said.  “Right now it’s very hard to find an open practice room in Foster during the school days, and it sounds like the new buildings would eliminate this problem. We have so many talented and budding musicians in our school, and I think it’s great that there will be more space for creating music and spending time on campus.”

And Frost isn’t stopping there.

“Two other building projects are still in the planning [and] fundraising stage,” Berg said. “One is a new 200-seat recital hall, and the other is tentatively named the Center for Experiential Music.’”

Work on the music studios began in the summer of 2012. The project, which cuts into part of the intramural field, coincided with the building of the nearby Student Activities Center, making that part of campus a bit congested.

“There has been a lot of activity in that entire area all summer [and now], but it has been all of the unglamorous underground utility work such as rerouting electricity, sewer lines, and so on that you can’t readily see,” Berg said. “You will start seeing the above ground work very soon.”

Frost is accepting donations for the recital hall and the Center for Experiential Music.  Berg said the money will also go toward new scholarships and support of programs. The two buildings also provide Frost with lucrative naming opportunities.

“We have already received a contribution of $1.5 million toward the auditorium inside the new recital hall building from David R. Weaver and Dorothy Collins Weaver,” she said.

Though Frost is expanding its facilities, there are no plans to increase the  enrollment of the school.

“It is not a goal to expand the student enrollment of the Frost School of Music after the buildings are completed,” Berg said. “The goal will remain the same: to average around 700 total students – undergrad and grad, combined.”

The EMC, which started in the fall of 2010 with the incoming freshman class, is the primary motivation behind the construction of the buildings.

“The new recital hall will be designed primarily for the performance of acoustic music,” Berg said.  “The new Center for Experiential Music will have a flexible ‘black box’ space that can be configured for many different kinds of performance, recording, and so on.”

But for now it’s the music studios that has the attention of students like junior Ben Morris, a composition major.

“I think the new practice facilities, based on their design, will add a lot to the communal nature of the Frost school,” he said.  “It would provide a new social center for the musical community here. The addition of the new breezeway can help expand that aspect of the school and encourage collaboration in the facility itself.”