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November 15, 2010

Celebrations to mark completion of Eastman expansion, renovation

Dean Lowry in Eastman foyer

Learn more about 'The New Eastman Evolution' Festival

Almost 90 years ago, industrialist George Eastman envisioned a world-famous music school for a world-famous university. The Eastman School of Music opened in 1921 and became internationally renowned. But Eastman’s original plan for the space it would occupy was never completely fulfilled—until now.

From Dec. 6 to 12, the Eastman School celebrates the culmination of its multiyear construction project, and the realization of Eastman’s original dream for the school, when it opens the new Eastman East Wing at East Main and Swan streets.
The $46.9 million project—which included renovations to the school’s Eastman Theatre performance hall, now named Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, as well as the addition of a building for teaching, rehearsal, and performance space—received support from across the community to preserve and enhance a centerpiece of Rochester’s cultural history.

“The University and the Eastman School are deeply grateful for the generous support from New York State, Kodak, and our many donors,” says University President Joel Seligman. “The leadership of Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblymembers David Gantt and Joseph Morelle, the support of Assemblymembers Susan John and David Koon, and the vision and generosity of Kodak and its chairman, Antonio Perez, have made it possible to make improvements that not only benefit Eastman students, but also strengthen one of Rochester’s cultural assets for the 21st century.”

The University received $13 million from New York State and $10 million from Kodak in support of the project. Additional leadership support was provided by the Davenport-Hatch Foundation, the Louis S. and Molly B. Wolk Foundation, Eastman School class of 1952 alumna Betty Strasenburgh, the Wegman Family Charitable Foundation, Catherine B. Carlson, and Mary and George Hamlin.

The opening of the new Eastman East Wing completes George Eastman’s original vision of an integrated facility for the Eastman School and Eastman Theatre. The land on which the wing was built was part of the original blueprint for the school in 1921. But when the owner of the land demanded too high a price, George Eastman refused. The original buildings on the property were demolished in the 1950s, and the fan-shaped piece of land was used as a faculty parking lot for many years.

Now the campus includes an addition to the Eastman School, which features teaching and rehearsal space; the intimate, state-of-the-art Hatch Recital Hall; and the soaring Wolk Atrium with a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture titled Blue and Gold Chandelier, a new box office, and a theater gift shop. Hatch Recital Hall joins Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, which underwent substantial renovations in 2004 and 2009, in offering a new home for music in downtown Rochester. Project designs were done by Chaintreuil, Jensen, Stark Architects of Rochester. The Pike Company of Rochester was the construction manager of the theater renovation and new addition since 2007.

“This new facility enhances opportunities for the Eastman School, under Dean Douglas Lowry, to continue to move forward and build on its renowned reputation,” says Seligman.

“A world-class facility”
For Lowry, the addition represents a huge step forward in the school’s evolution as a leader in preparing students for a changing musical environment.

“We’ve made a bold statement that has one foot in the great legacy of the past, and the other ambitiously heading into the future,” says Lowry. “George Eastman was one of the 20th century’s greatest entrepreneurs, innovative and adventuresome. The Eastman School has long been regarded in the same way. The project is our gift to students, faculty, artists, and the community, a grand symbol of that progressive vision so exemplified by our founder.”

He adds, “These spaces enhance Eastman School’s leadership in presenting new ideas and ventures in music teaching and performance. They are of a quality that matches the artistry of Eastman students, faculty artists, and professional ensembles, including the Rochester Philharmonic, that perform in our halls.”

Jamal Rossi, Eastman School’s executive associate dean who was deeply involved in the expansion project, said, “Truly, this is a world-class facility. From the grandest spaces to the smallest details, there was an unyielding commitment to quality. The real jewel of the addition, the Hatch Recital Hall, is simply stunning aesthetically and acoustically. I am so excited for the future generations of students who will be able to perform their capstone recitals in this amazing space.”

“It has been a longtime dream of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra to have a concert venue that offers our patrons the amenities that modern-day audiences have come to expect,” says Charles Owens, president and CEO of the orchestra. Kodak Hall is the performance home for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. “With the completion of the final phase of the Eastman Theatre project, that dream is now a reality. Our patrons quickly will come to appreciate the wonderful new additions—from the convenient new entrance adjacent to the East End Garage, to the new box office, restrooms, gift shop, and elevators, and the spectacular new Dale Chihuly chandelier. The visually stunning and architecturally superb Hatch Recital Hall will become a renowned destination for fans of chamber music, and all of us at the RPO look forward to showcasing our musicians in this magnificent new setting.”

The renovation and expansion project
Renovations to the Eastman Theatre began in 2004 with a $5 million investment to replace the stage and improve acoustics for performances. Funding secured by the New York State Legislature in 2007, a commitment from Eastman Kodak Company, and contributions from private donors enabled the next stages of work on the project to continue.

In the summers of 2008 and 2009, the theater underwent extensive internal improvements, including a new sound system, the removal of back rows of seats, and the addition of a back wall on the orchestra level and of orchestra- and mezzanine-level boxes, all giving the hall improved acoustics and a more intimate feel. With its performance venue rededicated as Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, the theater reopened in October 2009 as the principal venue for Eastman School ensembles and for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

The completion of the new Eastman East Wing in the fall of 2010 now brings the expansion project to its conclusion.


The New Eastman Evolution: Festival Week

From Dec. 6 through 12, the Eastman School will mark the opening of the wing and completion of the project with a Festival Week celebrating “The New Eastman Evolution.”

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