This new Washburn University recital hall will be more intimate space for concerts, camps

5 months ago
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A new concert hall will soon be a part of the Washburn University campus.

Dr. James Hurd Recital Hall, north of White Concert Hall at 1700 S.W. Jewell Ave., will be a new concert venue arriving on Washburn University’s campus.

The Washburn Board of Regents voted Feb. 1 to name the building Dr. James Hurd Recital Hall in honor of the lead donor. Hurd graduated from Washburn with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1967 and went on to perform worldwide while also serving as a professor in California for more than 50 years, a news release said.

Craig Treinen, chair of the Washburn University music and theater department, said knowing Hurd was special for him because of the impact he had on students.

“I can’t imagine the number of students that he’s affected and produced,” Treinen told The Capital-Journal. “And I mean, you teach that long, my God, there’s got to be so many kids out there that you’ve affected and changed.”

Why does Washburn University need a new recital hall?

Treinen, who has advocated for the recital hall on behalf of his students, said the recital hall is needed to serve the smaller crowds that students perform for sometimes in comparison the campus’ larger hall, White Concert Hall.

“It’s a huge hall, (White Concert Hall) seats 1,200 people and it just never gave a personal experience for our students, that intimacy of performing and having the audience be right there for you, being able to play,” Treinen said.

“So we wanted a smaller venue that we could host more chamber stuff and student recitals and things like that. The hall is just too big when you put 40 people in a 1,200-seat … musically, it’s just not well.”

Washburn University President JuliAnn Mazachek said the new building will fundamentally change academic life at the university.

“White Concert Hall will continue to serve Washburn’s needs for larger concerts and community events,” Mazachek said. “While the new recital hall will serve as a space for student and chamber performances, providing even more space for community events and for our students to work alongside musicians.”

The new hall will be a 175-seat space with new technology to livestream performances and for artists to record their music and a flat surface to allow for continuous transformation of the room based on the performance.

Treinen said the hall will also be used for summer camps that include percussion, jazz, orchestral and piano classes.

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How was the new concert hall funded?

In October 2020, The Capital-Journal reported the Washburn Board of Regents approved a plan to build the new $6.4 million recital hall. It was reported that the project costs would be split between $5 million in private gifts and $1.4 million in university reserves.

More than $5 million was given by donors to build the new space on campus, the news release said.

Marshall Meek, president of the Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation, said the basic funding formula is $5 million from private funding and the remainder from the university.

“The campaign saw more than 80 donors including several who made six and seven figure gifts,” Meek said. “Like so many of the successful projects on Washburn’s campus, this space would not have been possible without our alumni and donors contributing the majority of the funding.”

Mazachek said Hurd Recital Hall is a major investment in the musical and cultural space for Washburn and the community.

“This past year, we have had the opportunity to make many investments in Shawnee County, and while this new space will be supported with existing Washburn talent and positions,” she said. “This space supports the future of all who will study and perform here, enhancing our region’s future music teachers, directors and performers.”

New recital hall will be ‘more than you could ask for’

The hall is anticipated to be completed by fall 2025.

Treinen said he is beyond excited because not a lot of institutions have this opportunity.

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“But for us to have that here for the community and for Topeka, for our students and for our future students, the recruitments that we have coming in, it’s more than you can ask for,” Treinen said, “because it just opens so many different venues and ideas and avenues and possibilities and things that we can be able to do with our students that we haven’t been able to do in the past.”

Keishera Lately is the business reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. She can be reached at klately@cjonline.com. Follow her on Twitter @Lately_KT.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Washburn University expects to open James Hurd Recital Hall in 2025…Read more by Keishera Lately, Topeka Capital-Journal

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