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Penn State School of Music’s new recital hall is almost ready to open

‘New space was designed for acoustic excellence’ on Penn State campus

Professor of music at Penn State Sue Haug talks about the design and construction of the new acoustically recital hall.
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Professor of music at Penn State Sue Haug talks about the design and construction of the new acoustically recital hall.

After more than a year of construction, Penn State School of Music’s new recital hall is almost ready to open.

The new “vineyard”-style space, which will hold more than 400 seats that surround the musicians, will hold its first event Oct. 19. It’s been built as an addition to Music Building I.

“It’s aesthetically beautiful, and it was designed to simply be a front door for the School of Music and the College of Arts and Architecture,” said Sue Haug, professor of music and former director of the School of Music.

The project broke ground in June 2017, and Music Building I — which received some renovations — has been occupied the whole time.

“Kudos to the staff and all the faculty and students who have soldiered on despite the fact that sometimes it was very noisy, sometimes dusty,” Haug said.

Esber Recital Hall had previously been located in Music Building I, where it was sort of hidden. That space has been transformed into Esber Rehearsal Hall. Other renovations to Music Building I included the creation of prep areas for performers, a new ticket and lobby space and replacement of the building’s HVAC systems.

The old recital hall had a lot of limitations, Haug said. Among them: They had to turn off the air handling system in order to be able to hear the concerts.

“Every angle, every decision, every material, every shape in the new space was designed for acoustic excellence,” she said.

Outside of the new recital hall is a landscaped area with an outdoor gathering space.

The project in total cost about $26 million, Haug said, with $19 million of that funding provided by the state.

Being without a home to perform in since June 2017 has led to the School of Music having concerts wherever it could: classrooms, churches, The State Theatre, Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Haug said.

She continued: “To have our own space again, we just can hardly wait.”

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