Summers at the College of Music—while remaining busy with classes, the summer music camps, and the summer MME program nevertheless—provide an ideal time for completion of select renovation projects. During late July-early August 2017 and the summer of 2018, Opperman Music Hall received some much needed attention.
This past summer, College of Music facilities saw two major structural projects completed. Fully funded by the University Department of Facilities Construction, the first project addressed the integrity of the concrete in the ground floor of the Kuersteiner building. Through generous private donations and a financial partnership between the College of Music and the Office of the Provost, the second project was designed to improve access to and the concert attendance experience at Opperman Music Hall. On the exterior of the Opperman lobby, a new terrace with a wheelchair accessible ramp will allow patrons quick access to the lobby from the parking lot/drop-off area. The beautifully renovated walkway between the Housewright and Kuersteiner buildings will soon be paved with bricks that will be available for alumni and friends to have their name, or the name of someone they are honoring, inscribed on upon them.
During the 1988-1990 renovation of the Kuersteiner building, approximately half of the original stage decking in Opperman Music Hall was replaced. At that time, a stage lift was added that extended the stage further into the house and allowed for a movable orchestra pit and the ability to lower heavy equipment, including the hall’s pianos, from the stage down into the basement level. By 2017 two-thirds of the stage decking (installed in 1989) was worn, cracked, and patched, and the edges of the stage deck (where it met the pit and along the front apron) were chipped and misaligned. Thus it was decided to replace all of the decking—including the remaining original 1948 flooring—during the second half of the summer.
The result is a safer, more even stage surface and a more homogeneous appearance across the entire expanse of the stage deck. The work had the added benefit, unseen by audiences, of a much-improved and smoother surface transition between the wooden stage deck and the concrete floor of the loading dock, which makes it easier to roll large equipment from the dock onto the stage deck. Nick Smith, Performance Hall Coordinator, noted that the meeting between the main stage and the additional stage section for the orchestra pit is now level again, which had not been true for some years. “Soloists no longer have to worry about the stage being uneven where they would normally want to place a stand or be seated for a performance,” Smith said. He also reported that dancers who have used the space since the decking was replaced have been very pleased with the improved surface.