Renovated concert hall wows crowd

Belmont celebrated the grand opening of a “pleasure for the eyes and ears,” the newly renovated 857-seat McAfee Concert Hall,  on Friday, Oct. 5.

“It [the concert hall] now stands as a place of learning and music making that will not only enhance the cultural life of Belmont’s campus but will genuinely transform the experience of Belmont music students,” said Dr. Cynthia Curtis, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

The renovated building was named after lead donor and longtime Board of Trustees member Carolyn McAfee and her late husband Jim, who served on Belmont’s board from 2002 to 2004.

“We are incredibly grateful to the McAfee family for their generous gift to make this venue possible,” said President Dr. Bob Fisher in a statement. “Their commitment to the university has enabled us to build a concert space that matches the high quality of our music programs, and one that will appropriately showcase the amazing talent of our performing art students.”

Renovations on the hall started summer 2011. The space, formally known as Belmont Heights, had served as a rehearsal, classroom and practice space for several on-campus music groups as well as the main sanctuary for Belmont Heights Baptist Church prior to the $9 million renovation that created the concert venue.

Design concepts for the concert hall were developed through consultation with architects and acousticians that were involved with the construction of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Extensive studies were conducted by acousticians to develop a plan for the building that “eliminates ambient noise, expands the volume of space to optimal acoustic proportions for a large orchestra and chorus and creates optimal sound diffusion,” according to a university statement.

“This is not just a good concert hall. This is not just a good concert hall in Tennessee,” said Fisher. “This is a world-class facility.”

Belmont Height Baptist Church will continue to use the space as part of the agreement between the church and the university.

A series of six concerts are scheduled this fall to celebrate the inaugural season of the concert hall. The first of the series, the Concert Hall Gala Celebration concert, is tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. and features combined choral and instrumental ensemble performances of well-known classical selections.

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