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Sounding a New Note

To date, $8.5 million has been raised toward the $17.5 million in private funding needed.

College of Music Pavilion

Sounding a New Note

MSU’s College of Music is home to internationally recognized degree programs, world-class faculty, talented student musicians, and award-winning ensembles. And soon, the college’s 1940s-era building will take a giant step toward being equally in tune.

On June 21, the MSU Board of Trustees passed “an approval to plan” resolution for major expansion and renovation of the Music Building and its neighboring Music Practice Building. Preliminary plans detail a $35 million project that includes the addition of 35,000 square feet of new space, and total renovation of 8,500 square feet of existing space.

Thanks to a lead gift from alumnus Dr. James K. Billman Jr., as well as major support from fellow alumni the late Ruth Charles, Byron and Dolores Cook, and Selma Hollander, this exciting and much-needed project is well in motion. To date, $8.5 million has been raised toward the $17.5 million in private funding needed. Michigan State will provide the remaining 50 percent of the funding.

Improving the music facilities, which haven’t changed much since the dedication of the classic 1939 WPA Music Building and the dedication of the Music Practice Building in 1968, has long been on the university’s list of needs. With 575 students working toward music degrees and more than 2,000 additional students participating in ensembles and classes, the college has outgrown current rehearsal, practice, studio, and research space, according to College of Music Dean James Forger.

“This will facilitate the work of faculty and students in extraordinary ways,” Dean Forger says. “It is gratifying that alumni, faculty, and friends have stepped forward with cornerstone gifts that will transform the capabilities of the college.”

The expansion and renovation will provide exciting and much-needed, state-of-the-art rehearsal spaces for orchestras, bands, choirs, opera theater, jazz ensembles, and percussion; a high-tech classroom for large academic classes; a multimedia/audio technology studio; flexible practice spaces to serve the needs of individual students and chamber ensembles; applied studio teaching space; and performance spaces for student recitals. The project reflects MSU’s commitment to improving facilities, and the ever-expanding reach of the College of Music on campus and beyond.

In recent years, two extensive renovation projects have provided the college with exceptional performance spaces. The Music Building’s auditorium underwent a major renovation in 2012, creating Cook Recital Hall, named after lead donors Byron and Dolores Cook, and Fairchild Theatre was completely re-engineered and is now home to College of Music artist faculty and guest artist performances, featuring an orchestra pit, improved 21st Century acoustics, and professional lighting.

To learn more about supporting the College of Music Pavilion, contact Senior Director of Development Rebecca Surian at or call (517) 353-9872.

Author: Lois Furry