A new music and performance addition will unite music with theater, dance, and cinema and media studies at the Weitz Center for Creativity
Campus is singing this spring with the sounds of bulldozers, jackhammers, and forklifts as construction crews begin to break ground for a new music and performance addition to the Weitz Center. When complete, the expansion will bring the entire music department together—and not only will they be together, they’ll also now share a roof with other artistic disciplines.
“Due to proximity and technology, our music students and faculty alike will be more collaborative with our artistic partners,” says Ron Rodman, Dye Family Professor of Music and director of the Carleton symphony band. Rodman envisions theater productions featuring live music, dance productions using electro-acoustic accompaniment, or student filmmakers relying on student composers to score original soundtracks. Rodman, who came to Carleton in 1991, is on the planning committee for the new addition.
“Music has changed—it really has porous boundaries,” says Steve Richardson, Carleton’s director of the arts. At the heart of the new addition will be a new performance hall, large enough to seat 400 and flexible enough to host full orchestras, lectures with audio and visual projections, and dance troupes, as well as soloists and small chamber ensembles.
The move to the Weitz Center will not only enrich musical partnerships and explorations but also improve music technology on campus. Current facilities were designed for state-of-the-art sound in 1915 and the 1960s—now woefully outdated in today’s musical era.
“We’ve created a culture where students expect technology to be a part of things,” Richardson says. “This includes music.”
Rodman agrees. “The arts industry has been incorporating technology into music for the past 50 years or so,” he says. “So we have to, too—and we’re very excited about that.”
Moving the music department to the Weitz Center, Rodman says, will place its faculty closer to the IT department and to Presentation, Events, and Production Support (PEPS), which will both help infuse music curricula with technology. Rodman, who already occupies a rotating office in the Weitz Center, began teaching technology in music last fall with his new course, Sound and Music in TV and New Media.
Students, too, are weaving technology and music together—none more so than computer science majors Andrew Yang ’16 (Placentia, Calif.), Marielle Foster ’16 (Minneapolis), Ben Wedin ’16 (Plymouth, Minn.), Justin Lim ’16 (Seattle), and Sef van Kan ’16 (Madison, Wis.). For their comps project, the five seniors have hardwired a section of the Weitz Center to track movement through the building; as people walk past different sensors, a sound will play.
“The idea was that if you closed your eyes and listened, you would hear this pleasing music as people walked around the Weitz,” Yang says, “and if you were familiar enough with the tones, you’d be able to parse out where people were.”
Yang says he and his colleagues don’t see their computer science major and the arts as mutually exclusive. “Why not put science and music together? Having that creative expression is important in all fields,” Yang says.
“You can’t have a liberal arts college without music,” Rodman says. “It’s absolutely vital not only from a philosophic standpoint but a competitive one, too. If we’re going to be viable, we have to encourage and enable students to explore musically.”
The music department’s move-in date is tentatively set for fall 2017. Follow the construction progress at go.carleton.edu/performance.
Barb & Wally Weitz
Funding the music performance addition to the Weitz Center has been sparked by an initial gift of $20 million from Barbara ’70 and Wally ’70 Weitz and family—including children Katie ’96, Roger ’99 and his wife, Kate, and Drew ’02 and his wife, Meredith ’02.
“I’m thrilled that Carleton’s music department will have new facilities that match the excellence of the curriculum and faculty, as well as the music-making and music- appreciating opportunities on campus,” Roger Weitz said. “Music is an integral part of the lives of so many Carleton students, both music majors and non-music majors alike.”
The Weitz family gave an initial $15 million gift in 2007 to help make possible the Weitz Center in its current form. The Weitz family is the largest single donor in Carleton history after giving $25 million during the Breaking Barriers campaign.
The music and performance addition will seamlessly integrate with the existing Weitz Center and better fit music education and technology in the 21st century.
The new addition will feature:
- A 400-seat performance hall with a larger stage, more flexible design, and enhanced technology. The sides of the stage will be able to swing out, creating a smaller space for more intimate performances and providing access points for theater and dance productions.
- A large rehearsal hall of 2,600 square feet that doubles as flexible backstage space for the performance hall. All rehearsal and practice spaces in the addition will be sound-isolated, allowing for rehearsals even when performances are occurring.
- A medium recital and rehearsal hall with 1,600 square feet and 75 seats, and a smaller rehearsal hall of 900 square feet for use as a master classroom or as an intimate performance space for small ensembles
- Faculty offices and studios uniting the entire music faculty, including applied music instructors, in the same space
- A prominent collaborative white space conducive to multimedia installation
- Adequate back-of-stage storage with a green room and space for instruments and equipment
- Two gathering lounges
- Thirteen individual practice rooms of 100 square feet
- Six practice or teaching studios, each 500–600 square feet
- Eleven teaching studios, 200 to 220 square feet
- Approximately 5,600 square feet of storage, located in proximity to use
Total fundraising goal: $25 million. Lend your support at go.carleton.edu/giving.