UAF music department moves for renovations

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2002

FAIRBANKS -- Fifty pianos, several vanloads of musical instruments, and a lot of sensitive sound equipment have been hauled and squeezed into temporary quarters as the music department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks gets a face-lift.

''It's huge,'' said Linda Harriger, an adminstrative assistant with the department.

Construction started June 3 on an $8 million renovation of the university's music department and the Davis Concert Hall.

The hall is expected to be ready for use by Nov. 1. The music department will move back next May if all goes well.

Meanwhile, the musicians are tuning and working amid boxes of files and other materials in an apartment complex that used to house families and graduate students.

The 36 apartments hold offices for the department and Fairbanks Symphony, as well as faculty and graduate student offices, practice rooms, a computer lab, a classroom and the music library.

The move was accomplished with the help of music students, department workers and professional movers.

Now in their new homes are four grand pianos, eight baby grands, two dozen uprights, an organ, and 12 electric keyboards. The baby grands and the uprights had to go to the second and third floors of the complex. Windows were popped out of two ground-level apartments so one grand piano and an organ could be relocated.

Course offerings won't not be affected by the move, said John Hopkins, the music department chairman.

Maegan Ley, a graduate student from Aberdeen, S.D., welcomes the change.

''I actually see this as a good thing,'' she said. Practicing around campus is a good thing because other students will become more aware of the music department, she said.

Ley, who is working on a master's degree in trumpet performance, had pitched in to pack up sound equipment, instruments and sheet music.

Most of the changes in the concert hall and in the music department won't be obvious, said Mike Ruckhaus, the project manager.

The hall will gain handicapped seating in the back, better stage lighting and a new recording booth.

The large white ''acoustic cloud'' that extends high above the stage, and focuses the sound will be sealed to prevent airborne asbestos from its current covering. Ventilation will be improved and more soundproofing will be added.

The music department will get better computer connections, new windows, flooring, ceiling and a paint job, as well as asbestos removal.

The fourth floor, which has housed the communications and philosophy departments, will become the site of a new interdisciplinary computer lab.

The renovation is the first part of what the university hopes will be a three-year refurbishing of the arts complex, though the Legislature hasn't approved money the theater and art departments.

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