In front of a packed house in the beautifully redesigned recital hall in Fine Arts Center, Augusta University President Brooks Keel said the recently completed renovation is a vast improvement from the past.
“Many of you know that I graduated from this fine institution,” Brooks said, adding he took a music history class in the Fine Arts Center at Augusta College back in the mid-1970s. “It was adequate at that time. Here we are, some many years later, and it had gotten completely inadequate.”
A few years ago, when the music department’s accrediting agency, the National Association of Schools of Music, visited Augusta University and measured the high decibel levels in the former recital hall in the Fine Arts Center, it was clear the building desperately needed to be renovated.
In fact, Dr. Angela Morgan, chair of the music department and professor of violin, said the ceilings in the Fine Arts Center’s former rehearsal hall were so low that, acoustically, the volume levels were “just deafening.”
“When I became president in 2015, I got a chance to tour this facility and the first thing that struck me was that it had not changed a whole lot since I was here, and that’s not a compliment by any means,” Keel said, chuckling. “The thing that really shocked me, to be honest with you, was when I was told that when our students performed in the recital space, they had to wear earplugs because the acoustics were so bad.”
As a result, Dickinson Architects of Augusta was hired to renovate the Fine Arts Center by swapping the locations of the former recital space and the classrooms to improve function and capacity of the building, while also enhancing the faculty studios for practice and instruction.
A specific emphasis was placed on improving the acoustics in the instructional and performance areas, which will be a tremendous benefit for students and faculty in the performing arts.
The much needed renovations to the Fine Arts Center were made, in part, thanks to very generous donations made by the Toole family.
Ms. Eugenia “Genie” Toole Glover left an estate gift for the specific purpose of creating a Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Center building on the Summerville Campus.
This donation allowed for the drastic improvements in sound quality within the space as well as other upgrades.
Ms. Glover’s brother, Mr. William Francis Toole, generously donated the Steinway Model B grand piano which sits in a place of honor in the recital hall and was used in today’s performances.
There to celebrate these generous gifts were the stepdaughters of Mr. William Toole, Mrs. Caroline Brady, Mrs. Therese Evans, and Mrs. Lee Nordman.
During the ceremony, freshman violin major Anenechi Akumadu and senior vocal major Michenzie Reese thrilled the audience by clearly demonstrating the beautiful acoustics inside the newly renovated Fine Arts Center.
“It’s a huge change and the new recital hall is absolutely amazing,” Morgan said. “Now, we have an incredible space with great acoustics where we can actually record our students’ performances.