Concert-goers were able to revel in the brand new Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre last fall. With construction finishing up on the further additions to Eastman, students and community members alike will be able to finally see the culmination of the Eastman School of Music’s most dramatic reinvention in its history.
Starting on Dec. 6, the new building addition will open to the public, kicking off with a week-long celebration of special events and concerts highlighting the new spaces for the first time.
The addition creates new teaching, rehearsal and performance spaces and an improved recording and media control room, among other improvements meant to further expand the role of Eastman in serving both students and the greater Rochester musical community.
The new 222-seat Hatch Recital Hall joins Kilbourn Hall as a main venue for recitals and more intimate performances. The addition of a second recital hall is set to help alleviate having to try to schedule only one space for such shows, as Eastman is no stranger to having numerous concerts and performances on the same day.
The addition also allowed Eastman to create a large ensemble rehearsal hall, allowing performance groups the adequate space required to warm up before shows.
Also of note is the new Wolk Atrium, a six-story space that will greet patrons to the theatre, spectacled by a glistening 19 foot Dale Chihuly chandelier, helping to redefine a person’s first impression upon entering Eastman.
For Dean of the Eastman School Douglas Lowry, the renovations were all about bringing Eastman up to tempo with other music schools.
“These improved spaces are of a quality that matches the superb students, faculty artists and professional ensembles like the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra that perform in our halls here at Eastman,” Lowry said. “And given that the Eastman School is situated in downtown [Rochester], we are viewed as a community asset. These improvements are a significant part of the downtown revitalization effort. Our long-term dream is for downtown Rochester to be a burgeoning place of cultural and civic activity, and what better move to make than to take the lead?”
Construction for the addition began in 2008. The massive undertaking proceeded without a hitch, except when costs started coming in higher than the estimates that the University was expecting.
“At one point in the project, actual costs were coming in higher than previous estimates,” Executive Associate Dean of the Eastman School of Music Jamal Rossi said. “The University essentially took three weeks to analyze all of the costs [and] our available options and made decisions about how to proceed forward. The total project cost for the renovation and the addition is $46.9 million.”
With the addition completed, Eastman will have finished one of the most major construction projects since the school was founded and built in 1922. The theatre saw restorations in 1971, including the addition of air conditioning, and the controversial acoustic enhancing shell that was fitted to the stage in 2004. No project, however, is of the magnitude of the current construction project.
As for Kodak Hall, which now has had a year’s worth of performances under its belt, Lowry is pleased with the changes to the theatre, which was originally built for movies not orchestras.
“I am extraordinarily happy with the changes, both aesthetic and acoustical,” Lowry said. “While there are always critics — discriminating musicians and patrons are always picky — the overwhelming verdict is that the acoustics are markedly improved. For me, the mother of all acoustical goals in the new Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre was to gain that particular sonic ‘presence,’ and I am proud to say we accomplished that.”
The week-long event surrounding the public unveiling of the new addition starts on Dec. 6 and runs through Dec. 12, including performances by the Eastman Wind Ensemble, Eastman Wind Orchestra and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.