As yesterday’s photograph of the work on the new Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance shows, the fourth wall is now in place, outlined by the steel girders. This gives a clear delineation of the eventual space the hall will occupy.
The skies may be grey overhead, but the outlook is bright.
To the heraldic sound of a brass fanfare from some of the University’s musicians, the first hole was symbolically dug for the new Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance on May 27th, and last week work began on this exciting new venture.
After the process of planning, things are finally (if you’ll pardon the pun) taking concrete form, and the wheels are turning to bring the dedicated performance and rehearsal space from off the page and into reality. The ceremonial digging of the first hole marked the first real moment where the project begins to develop a tangible reality: from here onwards, there will be visible signs of the new building’s ascent as it becomes a landmark on the University campus.
Present at the ceremony were the Honourable Jonathan Monckton, Chairman of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, seen here wielding the spade, as well as supporters of the project including members of R Durtnell and Son, the construction company, fresh from their recent success in building the new Turner Contemporary Gallery at Margate.
The building will be completed in the summer of 2012, and will house the ever-growing range of music-making opportunities for students, staff and the local community and beyond.
The last photo here (taken earlier this week), captures the very first excavations: for all those who have wallowed in the soupy acoustics of Eliot College Hall, or traversed the Stygian depths of the main colleges to find the College practice rooms, this is a sign of better things to come!
After a lull of nearly a year whilst all the project details and infrastructure were put in place, finally there’s some exciting news about the new Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance from over the past two weeks: keep an eye on this column early next week for news about the start of the project, and pictures of various people wielding a silver spade and some brass players performing (those two details are not directly connected, you understand…!).
With less than thirty-six hours to go before the Chorus and Orchestra storm the Cathedral (musically, that is) for the annual Colyer-Fergusson Concert, all systems are powering ahead.
Final rehearsals this week, including tonight, before rehearsing in situ tomorrow, when the Chorus are reminded of the literal heights to which they can ascend on the tiered choral seating, and the Orchestra remember just how close they will be sitting to the audience. With a battery of percussion required for the Stravinsky ‘Firebird Suite,’ there’ll be an even bigger orchestra than usual.
Combined with the mighty Meistersingers Overture by Wagner and Mozart’s sublime Requiem, it promises to be a titanic occasion: see you there!
Last Friday, we heard the interior of the proposed Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance.
Not literally, alas: but virtually. Rising with the lark (actually, before the lark: I had to shoo him out of bed), and then up to London to meet with project members from the University and representatives of Tim Ronalds Architects and Carr and Angier Theatre Consultants at the London offices of Arup Acoustics, where acousticians were modelling the sonic interior of the building.
Sitting in the centre of a small sound-booth, we were presented with various ensembles – orchestra, choir, string quartet, brass ensemble, solo singer and continuo – recorded anechoically, and then heard their performances realised in a virtual sonic model of the new building’s interior.
The great strength of the proposed building is that it is a flexible performance space. It will be able to change in order to accommodate a diverse range of performing ensembles, from full symphony orchestra and chorus to chamber choirs, big bands, string and brass ensembles., We explored the various permutations of the variable acoustics – fully reverberant, then with varying degrees of the acoustic drapes being set to render the acoustic gradually less reverberant – with different ensemble set-ups, and assessed the differening impacts of the acoustic settings on each.
Potentially, the sonic space created by the hall, and the varying acoustic properties offered by the variable acoustics, are fantastic, and afford a wide array of opportunities for ensemble music-making, ranging from the large scale to the intimate, each with a suitable (almost bespoke) acoustic environment. The nature of the reverberation within the hall will be able to be altered to suit the different types of rehearsing and performing, tailored to meet the demands of the varying ensembles using the space.
It is unquestionably a fantastic space for music-making, and we are highly excited. We’ll keep you posted as further developments unfold: keep your ear to the ground.