October groundbreaking for Hamel Music Center

Longtime L&S donors provide lead gifts.

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Concept art for the exterior of the new Hamel Music Center. The building is designed by Holzman Moss Bottino Architects of New York City, in partnership with Strang Architects of Madison. Acoustic design is by Richard Talaske/Sound Thinking of Oak Park, Ill., with theatrical design by Fisher Dachs Associates of New York City.

On October 28 from 4 to 5:30 PM, at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue in Madison, the Mead Witter School of Music will break ground on the long-anticipated Hamel Music Center.

The Hamel Music Center will feature a 662-seat Mead Witter Concert Hall, a 325-seat Collins Recital Hall, a large rehearsal space, ample lobby, and state-of-the-art technologies.

The new facility will be named for School of Music Board of Advisors member Pamela Hamel and her husband George Hamel (B.A.’80, Communication Arts), who made a lead contribution to the $56 million project and will anchor a highly-visible corner of campus in the university’s East Campus Gateway that includes the now-completed Chazen Museum of Art expansion.

“Music has always had an important place in our family,” says Pamela Hamel. “We feel privileged to be able to provide the university’s music students and fellow lovers of music a world-class facility in which to learn, practice, perform and enjoy music. It’s exciting for George and me to imagine just how many students will be able to benefit from and delight in the Music Center for years to come.”

Features such as a glass-walled lobby, clerestory windows in the recital hall and a dramatic glassed-in corner of the rehearsal hall will usher in light and allow passersby to see the ongoing rehearsals.

Within the Hamel Music Center, the Collins Recital Hall is named for Paul J. Collins, (BBA’58) another UW-Madison alumnus whose support was critical to the new space. Collins has also endowed fellowships and professorships within the School of Music.

“I believe that music is essential for the human spirit, which is why I have supported the School of Music for nearly two decades,” says Collins.

In addition to Collins Recital Hall, the 662-seat concert hall and back-of-house support spaces are possible thanks to a generous $25 million gift from The Mead Witter Foundation. The Collins Recital Hall and the concert hall will allow for live-stream concerts and high- quality recordings, and both will be in near-constant use, according to Susan C. Cook, director of the School of Music.

“These are spaces where our undergraduates will perform their capstone projects, where our graduate students will do their final doctoral recitals, and where we’ll hold chamber recitals, lecture recitals, and public events,” she says. “This music center is an incredible gift to our students.”

L&S Dean Karl Scholz, who has long felt that UW-Madison music students and faculty deserve a space worthy of their talents, agrees.

“The performance center not only will change the entire performing experience for UW-Madison students and faculty—it will transform the public’s expectations and ideas about a musical education at UW-Madison,” says Scholz.