UW-Madison's music school celebrates its new building, which encompasses two concert halls and a rehearsal space. Info
UW-Madison's new Hamel Music Center has been in the works for well over a decade and the project kicked into gear in 2009, when the university announced plans to knock down a college bar called Brothers and build much-needed practice and performance spaces for music students and faculty. The result, at the corner of University Avenue and Lake Street, comprises a 660-seat concert hall, a smaller 300-seat recital hall, and a rehearsal space specifically designed for large ensembles. It's a big, glitzy undertaking completed entirely with private funds, but something had to give—performance spaces in the Humanities Building, like Morphy Hall and Mills Concert Hall, are well past their prime in terms of acoustics and creature comforts. That said, music students have criticized UW for not including more rehearsal space in the new building, The Badger Herald reported in September.
Whatever its shortcomings, I do hope that Hamel entices more Madison residents to check out the wealth of jazz and classical performances on campus. This weekend's grand-opening festivities are free and open to the public, though some of the events require a ticket, so double-check the schedule if you're planning on attending one. Highlights include Friday night's "Student Collage Concert" in the larger Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall, and Saturday's presumably informal "Emeritus Faculty Unbuttoned" performance in the building's lobby. The UW-Madison Symphony will close out Saturday with a performance in Mead Witter Hall, and a musically diverse group of alums will perform Sunday afternoon in the smaller Collins Recital Hall. —Scott Gordon