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Performing Arts Center expands music facilities

When walking the halls of the Performing Arts Center, you may hear footsteps and conversation of music students. Step inside any office, practice room or classroom and you could hear a pin drop; and that's the way the students like it. Each room in the PAC's music expansion is soundproofed. It's just one of the many well-thought-out features of the new facilities built for the School of Performing Arts. 

It's one that junior music education student MaryEllen Kennedy appreciates.

“It was really distracting if someone was out in the hallway singing for no reason, and we were all sitting in class trying to hear intervals and octaves … in this building, we don’t have that problem," Kennedy said.

There are approximately 20 practice rooms for students. State-of-the-art technology allows students to simulate what it is like to perform in different spaces like cathedrals or arenas. Pianos are placed in every room to ensure students can play or tune their instruments when they need to. 

“Just having the freedom and ability to practice whenever I want to has already made me a better musician," Kennedy said.

Music students also have their own performance space now, Founders Recital Hall. The space reflects South Dakota with green seats for the prairie. The ceiling is made with Black Hills timber and the acoustic panels are colored rose quartz. A 3,000-pipe organ was purchased for the facility and was brought from Colorado. The hall also has a balcony with seating and stained glass. Michael Walsh, professor of clarinet at SDSU, said it already feels like home.

“There’s no honeymoon; it’s already very much home and I can tell they’re [the students] very comfortable to play in it," he said.

School of Performing Arts students had to split their time among three facilities before the expansion was built. Traveling between Pugsley, Lincoln Music Hall and the PAC became time consuming. Now, students only have to come to one building to complete their music courses.

“You don’t have to plan so much. It’s nice to have everyone under one roof, you get to see people a lot more,” Kennedy said.

Music students and faculty aren’t the only ones who get the opportunity to use the new spaces. Boston Brass dedicated the space in February. Walsh said that the expansion is essential to the program and has given students a little more drive.

“We’re playing great music, we have great people; we’ve always had great people. Great faculty, great staff, great students and the importance is we needed a place to play. If we’re going to play such music and have these great people support them, we need to have a great facility. And that support is definitely going to seen by our students we are recruiting and those already here. I think it’s going to make the students work a little harder, too.”

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