"I am extremely proud of Weber Hall. It will prove to be the finest small concert hall in America. The experience of the space is as exhilarating as the music being played in it."
Cesar Pelli, September 2002
A series of gala public events are set for the grand opening of the stunning new UMD Weber Music Hall October 25-27. The $9.2 million copper-domed building was designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli, and completes the "arts triangle" in the UMD Ordean Court along with the Tweed Museum of Art and the Marshall Performing Arts Center.
Opening concert events feature clarinet concert artist and soloist, Richard Stoltzman along with performances by UMD music faculty and students.
A special commissioned work by UMD Professor Justin Rubin titled "Dedication and Fanfare" will also be presented.
"This is indeed a defining moment for UMD," said Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin. "We believe this extraordinary Weber Music Hall will become a campus and a community destination providing enrichment and enjoyment, and further defining UMD as an exciting regional arts center."
The 22,500 square foot hall is named for Mary Ann and Ron Weber in honor of major gifts by the Webers toward the design and completion of the building. The couple, now Twin Cities residents, met while both were students at UMD. A gift from the estate of Brenda Singer has allowed naming of the rehearsal room. The Brenda and Samuel Singer Rehearsal Room is named in their honor by their children.
A dramatic skylight (two feet wide by 114 feet long) stretches across the copper dome illuminating the night sky from within. The dome rises 80 feet above the 350 seat concert hall which is designed and "tuned" to be acoustically perfect. The lobby grand staircase provides a commanding view of Lake Superior from the landing, and boasts a graceful, custom light fixture, concept-designed by Cesar Pelli.
The performance area includes a stage able to accommodate 70 musicians and instruments. A chorus loft behind the stage will allow expansion of audience seating to over 400. The facility will provide state-of-the-art acoustics for both live performances and high-quality audio-video recording of events. Accent lighting is designed to accommodate a large variety of performance and artistic needs. The building is fully handicapped accessible. Local architectural firm is Stanius Johnson Architects, Inc.
In its inaugural year, Weber Hall will host over 50 additional concerts and recitals performed by UMD music ensembles, faculty and guest artists, as well as the annual Head of the Lakes Jazz Festival and the Scandinavian Song Festival. While providing quality learning, rehearsal and performance space for UMD students, the Weber Music Hall will ensure that UMD also provides a "best practices" facility for K-12 performance training. The facility will accommodate the delivery of cultural and educational outreach to the entire area while attracting internationally recognized performance artists to the campus.
The UMD Music Department has more than tripled in size in the last ten years. Enrollment is just over 150 graduate and undergraduate music majors, with 500 performing ensemble participants. Each year UMD music groups perform over 100 concerts, with a total attendance of 12,000 people. Approximately 5,300 undergraduate students from every college at UMD enroll in academic music department courses each year. UMD annually hosts 600 area high school students at high school jazz band, honor band, honor choir and honor orchestra festivities.
"The UMD School of Fine Arts is the only administrative unit in Minnesota which houses the programs of music, theatre, and art in one college. Despite the quality of these programs, it is also the only Minnesota school that has been without a performance space for music," said School of Fine Arts Dean, Jack Bowman. "With the opening of the Weber Music Hall, that situation has become history, and UMD is engaged in a wonderful new era of educational and cultural growth."