Plans for new music building in the works

When Richard Gipson accepted the position of director of the School of Music seven years ago, he was charged with taking the music program to the next level.

A new music building is a step toward that vision becoming a reality.

“We think that this is the next evolutionary step to becoming a world-class institution that we envision ourselves becoming,” Gipson said.

Chancellor Victor Boschini said the university is conducting a preliminary study for a proposed music building that would expand facilities and enhance the music program. He said the feasibility study will show the university whether the building is financially possible.

“Part of our idea is to try and make all of our programs world-class and give them the showcase they deserve,” Boschini said. “Music is already there as far as the program is concerned; it just needs a better physical environment.”

Boschini said the feasibility study will determine how much money the university can raise toward a new music building.

Gipson said the study should be ready to present to the university administration toward the end of the semester.

The new building is intended to centrally locate the School of Music, currently spread across buildings, Gipson said. A potential site for the new building is in the southeast corner of campus, currently a commuter lot, he said.

Little of the current music building, Ed Landreth Hall, was designed for its current use, Gipson said. The building, which was built in 1949, has been expanded in the past, but the current facility has created severe limitations because of the growth of the program, he said.

“We build a band room that’s too big for the band,” Gipson said. “We have a symphony orchestra that has emerged in the last decade that doesn’t have a facility to rehearse in.”

Gipson said the School of Music plans to expand enrollment from 265 to 375 students and increase the number of faculty from 37 to 55 full-time positions.

John Giordano, a TCU distinguished fellow in music and TCU graduate, said the school’s concept will be similar to the Juilliard School, a world-renowned school for the performing arts in New York City. Giordano said the number of openings for a particular instrument would depend on the number the program needed to support its various ensembles.

In addition to helping students, the new building would attract world-renowned performers and events, Giordano said. He said the response from the community and potential donors about the proposed building has been favorable.

Gipson said the School of Music is already talking to officials for the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition about hosting some of its events.

The competition takes place every four years and is dedicated to finding the world’s finest pianist, according to the Van Cliburn Foundation Web site.

Ed Landreth Auditorium , where the competition originally took place, will host a portion of the auditions this spring, Gipson said.

“We also think there might by an opportunity for the Fort Worth Symphony to present some special events, like chamber concerts,” Gipson said.

Gipson said his experience in helping to build the music facility at the University of Oklahoma has proved invaluable in designing the new building.

“I didn’t come here to build a building,” Gipson said. “I came to build a program. But having gone through that, I do know what works for a music school and a facility.”

Gipson said his experience as an evaluator for the National Association of Schools of Music has helped because he has seen a lot of music programs and facilities.

He said the most important thing he’s learned is to have an architect who has constructed music buildings before.

Giordano said one of the reasons why Bass Hall downtown has been so successful is because everyone using the facility was consulted. Involving the faculty in the layout and design process of the new music building will make a big difference, Giordano said.