Clarksville, TN – Last spring, the Austin Peay State University (APSU) Department of Music and the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts (CECA) had another busy semester of events featuring nationally and internationally renowned artists.
Or at least, that’s what they’d planned. But then March arrived, along with the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, causing Austin Peay State University to suspend all official University events.
Once the dust settled from that decision, Dr. Eric Branscome, chair of the music department, wondered how they might use CECA money that would have gone to guest artists.
“We communicated with CECA about what would be the best use of those funds,” Branscome said.
He had a suggestion. His department had talented faculty and a top-notch large concert venue – the 600-seat Mabry Concert Hall – but it didn’t have a smaller concert hall for more intimate performances.
“This is part of our department’s hopeful model of turning lemons into lemonade,” Branscome said. “We needed a smaller space for student recitals, chamber music – historically performed in smaller settings – and guest lectures. Places that don’t need a 600-seat concert hall.”
Dr. Janice Crews, CECA director, agreed with Branscome, and earlier this summer, the CECA paid for Room 147 – a choir rehearsal space – in the Music/Mass Communication Building to be transformed into a 60-seat recital hall. The space features new curtains, new lighting and a brand new sound system that has the same capacity as the Mabry Concert Hall system.
“With a budget surplus due to canceled events, we had an opportunity to do something that would benefit not only the music department, but the entire community,” Crews said. “I am thrilled with the renovations and can’t wait to attend a public performance in this fantastic space. Having a smaller performance venue puts our Music Department on par with other institutions across the state, but the room is still totally flexible, so we can also host events like dinners and receptions there, as well.”
The new recital hall also fits perfectly with the department’s current Steinway Piano initiative. The department plans to purchase a total of 65 new Steinway & Sons pianos, enabling Austin Peay State University to earn an All-Steinway School designation and to establish an endowment for the future care, tuning and maintenance of the instruments.
Steinway & Sons pianos are known for their rich, unrivaled sound, incomparable tone and pristine touch. Students can use the instruments for practice as well as performance. New pianos will include a range of types from upright to grand.
“When we recruit students, they want to see the type of equipment they will perform on and the spaces they’ll perform in,” Branscome said. “There’s been a lot of positive energy around these new initiatives.”
For information, contact the Austin Peay State University Department of Music at 931.221.7818 or the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at 931.221.7876.