Welcome back! I trust that all those who were able to take one enjoyed a restful and reinvigorating break. For those of us who stayed behind for some or all of the break, we were privy to another busy and high-energy audition season. Congratulations to the MSM Admissions Office, to all those highly visible red-shirted students who volunteered, and to the wonderful MSM faculty for facilitating seamlessly what is always a complex week of logistics as MSM opens its arms to an influx of excellent and hopeful young musicians.
It is my pleasure to once again “check in” with you as we head into winter’s home stretch and the promise of longer and warmer days ahead (he said, hopefully!). I’m especially pleased because in the midst of what continues to be a triumphant semester of music and learning, there are several very exciting plans afoot for MSM, namely for the School’s physical plant itself.
All of these plans underscore the central importance of MSM as facility; it is a place of learning and a performing arts center; it houses our work, our play, our performances, our socializing; we make MSM home for however many years we are fortunate enough to inhabit it. A belief in the importance of our physical surroundings has pervaded my time here as President, and it will continue to do so. From new elevators to improvements to the School’s main entrance to simple changes like the installation of new bathroom sinks and new window shades in classrooms, the School environment continues to improve. And, as you will see, those developments are only the beginning.
First and perhaps most exciting, plans are underway to fully restore our centerpiece, our jewel: John C. Borden Auditorium. Borden, apart from being central to life at MSM, is a true classic, having been built in 1931 during the height of the Art Deco style (it was designed by the same architectural firm responsible for the Empire State Building). Our plan is to fully restore the auditorium to its original glory, and this past year, that plan got a big boost when we received the wonderful news that the City has pledged $2.05 million towards the project, bringing the total funds raised from the City to $2.8 million.
MSM’s Administration and Board of Trustees have made this restoration a major priority, with a leadership committee made up of select Board and President’s Council members having been recently named (see list of committee members below). This committee will oversee the process and participate at every level: making recommendations to the Board regarding choice of architect; consulting with specialized organizations regarding the hall’s acoustical considerations and other specific needs; and consulting with our faculty and staff.
Borden Restoration Committee
Ed Lowenthal, Trustee (Committee Chair)
Ed Annunziato, Trustee
Andrea Sanseverino Galan, VP for Advancement
James Gandre, President
David Geber, Vice Provost and Dean of Artistic Affairs
Linda Mercuro, Trustee
Marjorie Merryman, Provost and Dean of the College
Noémi Neidorff, Trustee
David Rahm, Trustee
And it’s not just Borden that is getting a new look. As part of MSM’s new contract with Chartwells, our longtime partner which runs the cafeteria, the company will provide $1 million in upgrades to the eatery and the servery. Plans for the former include the installation of a gleaming new set of tables and chairs, installed during the break, with new flooring coming for fall. The servery itself will be totally refurbished, brightened up with brand new serving areas that will improve the efficiency of the space and allow for better traffic patterns. In recent weeks, you’ll have probably seen renderings for the planned renovations on display at the cafeteria entrance; if you haven’t, come by and have a look at what’s in store. And while you’re at it, try out the new tables and chairs!
MSM will be considerably brighter this spring (and not just because of the warm, sunny days ahead), thanks to a full LED upgrade to the facility’s lighting system, a process which has just begun. As a result, the halls, rehearsal spaces, classrooms, and meeting spaces will be transformed, brightening up every nook and cranny, making the MSM facility even more inviting.
New air-conditioning system
1968 in New York: the “new” Madison Square Garden opens; 2001: A Space Odyssey premieres; Hair opens on Broadway; and the current MSM AC system is installed. Oldies but goodies all, and yet at least one of those things is in need of an upgrade. Yes, MSM’s AC system is set to be overhauled, allowing for thermostat controls and temperature adjustments in individual rooms. Additionally, the choice of heating or cooling can be made throughout the year, so different spaces in the MSM facility can be heated or cooled based on specific year-round, moment-to-moment needs.
And more to come...
Finally, even as all of these projects are put into play, ongoing plans for other site improvements continue, including discussions regarding strategic re-purposing of campus space to allow for increased studio and practice facilities. Watch this space for future announcements!
Meantime, a hearty welcome back to all. I am so pleased that you are all a part of this vibrant community. Congratulations in advance on what I know will continue to be a grand (well-lit) completion of a semester of achievement, learning, and music.