Last Thursday, the first day of classes in the new building, we had a music major convocation right after lunch in the new Armerding Recital Hall, with faculty and staff present as well as all the students. Our dean, Michael Wilder, gave us some instructions on how to make the most of the new space, and then we sang some hymns. In between, the stage managers adjusted the acoustical curtains, from fully extended (i.e., fully absorbent) to fully retracted (i.e., fully reflective). The difference was astounding as the room resonated with 150 voices singing "When In Our Music God is Glorified." I wish it had been recorded, or maybe actually I don't, because no recording could accurately capture that moment. Students, faculty, and staff alike had tears in their eyes (in mine, too) as we sang "There Is A Redeemer" to close our convocation and listened to voices resound in that space.
Our dedication event is Friday, November 3, at 3pm on the Quad, and is open to the public. But what is even more exciting is that this project is only half finished! Fundraising is well underway for Phase II, the construction of a new 650-seat concert hall with adjacent choral rehearsal hall, joined to Phase I (the new facility I've just described) by a two-story glass atrium. Phase II as also has a price tag of about $30 million, and thanks to an extremely generous anonymous gift earlier this month, we are now almost halfway to that second $30 million. Equally significantly, many of the current music students are contributing of their means to the project. I witness more students every day bringing their contribution envelopes to the administrative suite where I have my office. The dean said at convocation that at this moment "we are at halftime, and we think we're winning!"
I couldn't agree more. It was a little less than 9 years ago, during my sophomore year as a music major, when the $9 million addition to Edman Chapel opened. That project included a new instrumental rehearsal hall, which I was able to enjoy immediately as a member of the Wheaton College Symphonic Band. The first few days in Armerding brought back some of the feelings I had sophomore year - only greatly magnified by the greater scope of the Armerding project and by witnessing the enjoyment of the next generation of music students. These are the young men and women who are training for service in churches, concert halls, and schools around the world, and it is most satisfying to see them settle into their new and improved place of study and training. Come visit and see it for yourself!