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Muskingum has new hub for musical talent

John Lowe / The New Concord Leader Published: April 18, 2011 4:53 AM


NEW CONCORD — Music students of Muskingum University have a new hub for honing their musical knowledge and talent.

Opened to students in January and slated for formal dedication later this week, the Otto and Fran Walter Hall, with its plated glass sides, glistens atop the campus hill.

It’s a bit of an illusion: The building, of course, is not all glass. But step inside and it’s difficult to remain uninspired by the soaring windows and the views of the campus they afford.

Construction of Walter Hall enabled the Muskingum administration to place the entire music department within a single  building.

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(Previously, classrooms, recital halls and faculty offices were scattered among three buildings.)

Now, the entire department is housed in Walter Hall’s upper two floors.

The basement floor houses classrooms for the French, Spanish and German language programs as well as the Center for the Advancement of Learning.

Featured within the top two floors are:

• Two recital halls,

• A composing and arranging laboratory in which keyboards are linked to computers (play a chord, for example, and the computer records the musical notations),

• Numerous acoustically-designed classrooms,

• Piano, percussion and ensemble studios,

• Faculty and student studios and practice rooms (there are, for example, 10 piano practice rooms, each equipped, of course, with a piano), and

• A music library.

The three floors of Walter Hall encompass about 25,000 square feet, said Carson Walburn, Muskingum’s vice president for university advancement.

The building was constructed at a cost of $10.5 million.

Everyone on campus seems pleased with the results.

The recital halls have perfect acoustics, said Joyce L. Alesandrini, professor of music and chairperson of the music department.

To preclude a cacophonous clash of music from simultaneous practice sessions, the practice rooms are sound-resistant.

“There is a grid system under the floor and in the walls,” Walburn said. “You can hear it outside more easily than if you were standing here in the hall. The glass [windows] transmits the sound more than the walls do.”

The music department staff and students are understandably excited about Walter Hall. But they are not the only ones.

Eileen Henry praised the beauty of the building and the effect that beauty has on the staff and students.

Henry is executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Learning. The center administers the PLUS program that helps students who have learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder.

The program is well suited for the building, Henry said.

“In music, there is a lot of creativity, a lot of thinking outside of the box,” she said. “Our students do a lot of thinking outside of the box.”

Walter Hall was designed by Robert J. Miklos, principal of designLAB Architects, Boston, and by Gary G. Balog, principal of balog steines hendrick & manchester architects inc., Columbus.

Jaffe Holden of Norwalk, Conn., sound consultants to the New York Philharmonic, provided acoustical design.

The project to construct the building began with a ground-breaking ceremony on April 18, 2008. Work was completed in October and students began classes in the building in January.

On Friday, the building will be dedicated to the memory of the late Fran and Dr. Otto Walter.

Patrons of the arts, they established the Otto and Fran Walter Foundation which works to uphold human rights around the world.



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