Theater renovations help MSU music students
The Fairchild Theatre, once home to music concerts and choral performances, now is filled with a very different production that involves the pounding of hammers, the shrill whir of buzz saws and the low-pitched yells of construction workers.
Since the project began in summer 2013, the renovations to the Fairchild Theatre in the Auditorium have proven extensive and ever-growing, and they are expected to finish Oct. 28.
The renovations first began to update the theater’s acoustics, project representative for the Fairchild Theatre construction Todd Wilson said, but it soon was apparent that other improvements were needed to make the theater an acceptable performance space.
7:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 28
A French Master: Claude Debussy
7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 25
Happy Birthday Mozart
7:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27
8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28
Byron and Dolores Cook Recital Hall:
“A Great Wall of Song” — MSU-China VIII faculty concert
8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25
“Two Platters – One Plate” — MSU-China VIII student concert
8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26
“The Fairchild was built in the 1930’s and because of that, this became a much larger project,” Wilson said. “It needed to be electronically updated as well have the full-building alarm updated.”
An elevator and ramps for handicap access now are installed. Before the planned renovations, about three-fourths of the building was not accessible by handicapped visitors, Wilson said.
The black box theater, an all-black room for rehearsals and performances, will have new technical equipment, bathrooms, production office with a kitchen and more backstage space, Wilson said.
“Overall it will be a much more usable space for our academic mission,” Wilson said.
The budget for the theater renovations was $20 million, Wilson said.
Daily, there are between 40 and 60 people on-site working to complete the project. After it opens, the theater’s walls will be covered in wooden curved acoustic tiles that will project sound and fix any acoustic issues the theater had before.
Besides the black box and the theater itself, the building’s bathrooms, which were built in 1939, also were replaced.
The first event scheduled in the Fairchild is ‘S Wonderful on Oct. 28, which will feature the music of the American composer and pianist George Gershwin, director of choral programs in the College of Music David Rayl said in an email.
While the Fairchild Theatre renovations still are underway, changes to the Byron and Dolores Cook Recital Hall, formerly the Music Building Auditorium, have been completed for nearly a year.
Facing many of the same acoustic issues as Fairchild Theatre, the hall was given a makeover including new lighting controls and wood paneling. The updated hall blocks out street noise and chatter from outside, which was an issue before the renovation.
“I’ve performed a solo recital in Cook and I’m awaiting the chance to perform in Fairchild as well,” said Hannah Reilly, a graduate student studying bassoon performance. “In Cook, there is so much more backstage space and the lighting is so much easier to use now. The acoustics are great.”
The Fairchild Theatre will be used by the College of Music, including performances such as the Joanne and Bill Church West Circle Series, various choral groups and jazz ensembles, Musique 21 and MSU Opera Theatre productions.
“The domino effect that has taken over the Fairchild has given us a wonderful new space,” said Kirk Domer, chair of the Department of Theatre. “The new theater will be 1,000 percent better.”
Although the Byron and Dolores Cook Recital Hall already has housed many performances during the last year, its first scheduled concert for this school year is the faculty concert, A Great Wall of Song, on Oct. 25.
“What we have seen with Cook we hope to see with Fairchild,” Rayl said. “When students have a world-class space in which to perform, they demonstrate an enormous sense of pride and ownership. They are proud to perform in a facility that is beautiful visually and acoustically.”