Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

The West Chester University Symphonic Band and audience members alike braved cold and windy conditions to witness the official groundbreaking of the new Swope School of Music Building and the Performing Arts Center. The ceremony, held on April 13, included speakers such as President Madeleine Wing Adler, students, faculty and alumni.

Dr. Timothy Blair, dean of the School of Music, opened the event by welcoming those in attendance and sharing his view for the future. He began, “in our minds we can already see ourselves together two years from now in better weather,” as he pointed out the gold and purple cones outlining where the new building will stand once complete.

Blair outlined some of the highlights of the project, which will include brand new Stienway pianos. “When we say excellence at West Chester University, we mean it,” stated Blair.

Adler, who shared Blair’s sentiments, about the weather, said, “This dismal weather does not reflect the wonderful occassion we mark today.”

Adler named the building as “our cultural gift to the region” as she explained that “the cultural arts are integral to West Chester University” and “will set us apart.”

Adler also thanked the donors who made this project possible, as well as former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. “With sheer joy in my heart, I thank you,” closed Adler.

WCU student Maria Maloney, musical theater major, spoke of the students’ excitement about the new facilty. “I’m especially eager to see the new state of the art concert hall. The students will have the facilities we need to reach our greatest dreams and full potential,” reflected Maloney.

John Baker, chairperson for the art department, echoed Maloney’s excitement for the oppurtunities to come. “I’m thrilled for the opportunities for teaching and learning that lie ahead,” Baker explained.

Alumni Keith and Nancy Beale, both from the class of 1977, reflected on their years in Swope Hall. Keith Beale explained that he and Nancy met on their first day at WCU in Swope Hall. The couple’s son, Scott Beale, also attends WCU and is a junior. While both husband and wife reminsced about their experience, they also expressed their excitement for the next stage. “Although the present building has a lot of memories for us, how exciting to watch West Chester take a step foward,” said Keith Beale. Nancy Beale expounded upon this when she said, “The tradition of Swope Hall continues as well its impact.”

Also in attendance at the ceremony were West Chester Mayor Dick Yoder, Charles Swope, grandson of the late Charles E. Swope for which the building is named, alumni donors, and the 2004-2005 Student Government Association Executive Board.

The new facility, located on High Street, adjacent to the E. O. Bull Center, is scheduled to open in 2007. The 80,000 square foot building will be in the shape of a grand piano and house not only the newly named College of Visual and Performing Arts, but also the Brandywine Ballet Company, Kennett Symphony and the Gillbert & Sullivan Society.

This new facility will help West Chester University in its attempt to reach out to the community and increase community collaboration.

The building’s performance hall will seat 375 and have a 2,200 square foot proscenium stage. A smaller recital hall will hold 120. A 3,000 square foot music library will be at least double the size of the existing music library in Swope Hall.

An art gallery will provide 700 square feet of display space and a sculpture garden will fea-ture donated works.

As Blair stated, “This is just the beginning of wonderful things to come.”

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