A large crate currently sits between Lattimore and Morey Halls on the River Campus. Inside it, a statue of George Eastman waits to be unveiled this Friday. The man it’s modeled after died 77 years ago, and yet he will be figuring in this weekend’s celebrations arguably as much as both the U.S. Secretary of Energy and the star of ‘Religulous.”

But while the River Campus observes an addition to its landscape, the Eastman School of Music will see an advancement of its namesake’s ambitions.

‘Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre has been enhanced and refurbished to serve the people of Rochester and Western New York with a beautiful, state-of-the-art concert hall,” UR President Joel Seligman said at yesterday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the renovated hall.

Covered in the dusts of construction for several months, the newly designated Kodak Hall opened to the public for the first time yesterday as Dean of the Eastman School of Music Douglas Lowry joined Seligman to show off the renovated theater before public music performances commence.

‘The grand plan is to bring our school into the 21st century and [make] it on par with every other hall in the country,” Eastman School Students’ Association Vice President and junior Kathy Crabtree said.

Kodak Hall will be christened in a two-part ceremony. The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra will give the first public performance tonight, featuring Lowry’s original composition, ‘Geo,” as well as Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony.”

On Friday, the Eastman Philharmonia will ordain Kodak Hall with a rendition of Beethoven’s ‘Consecration of the House,” which is only played when a music hall opens for the first time. That song will precede Tchaikovsky’s ‘Variations on a Rococo Theme” and Shostakovich’s ‘Fifth Symphony.”

Eastman students expressed excitement.

‘I think it’s beautiful,” freshman violinist Rebekah Carpio said. ‘I only saw it once before when I visited for my audition last year, and I thought it was amazing then. But when I walked in for the first time since it was redone, I thought it was breathtaking.”

Upperclassmen agreed with the sentiment.

‘I really love that this is going on while I’m a student here… how cool will it be to get to play there! I can’t wait for our first concert in there,” sophomore percussionist Hannah Christine said.

‘The acoustics are better than ever,” junior violist Kayla Woodworth said.

The sound treatments are only step one, however.

‘The students will be more affected by Hatch Recital Hall, but everybody else will be more affected by Kodak,” Crabtree said, referring to the new annex being built next to Kodak Hall.

Kilbourn Hall serves as the main recital hall for most students, but it does not have enough room for every student to perform their respective degree recitals.

Eastman School SA President and Take Five Scholar Ashlee Bickley noted that, due to Kilbourn Hall’s limited space, she had to do her senior recital in a nearby church.

‘I feel like I shouldn’t have had to do my degree recital in a church. The school should have had a good place to do a degree recital, because I pay the same tuition as everyone else, and there are a lot of people who end up in that boat.”

Bickley also hopes to upgrade the current practice rooms, which she says suffer from poor ventilation and soundproofing. The chairs also tend to go missing from a lack of security.

Then there’s the matter of pride. At a school where students are inextricably identified by their instruments instead of their class year, this year’s SA administration hopes to instill a sense of class pride in its constituents as well.

‘At Eastman, you don’t really have class pride and class identification so much as you have studio identification,” Crabtree stated. ‘I think we just want to move toward that so we have more people involved in the SA.”

Experience Eastman, the brainchild of River Campus SA President and senior Eric Weissmann and Vice President and senior Brittany Crowley, is another planned step forward, forging a stronger connection between the two campuses. Both administrations met last week with UR Vice President and General Secretary Paul Burgett to discuss how that connection could be strengthened, and both Bickley and Crabtree seem pleased with the progress.

‘We’re looking at not just events, but really connecting our campuses and having this really great connection between the two that’s flowing,” Crabtree said.

Burgett warned that it wouldn’t necessarily be easy.

‘We have this three-and-a-half mile distance between us and very different cultures, and trying to overcome that requires working at it in little bits and pieces,” he said.

First thing’s first, though: A new home needs to be consecrated this weekend. But once the celebration is over, the real work begins.

Brenneman is a Take Five Scholar.
Additional reporting by Lauren Haley.

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