Regents approve request to spend Vilas Trust funds for music building construction

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The UW System Board of Regents has approved a request from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to set aside $5 million from the William F. Vilas Trust Estate to begin construction of the new School of Music Performance Building.

The new facility, to be located at the northwest corner of University Avenue and Lake Street, will include a 662-seat concert hall, a 325-seat recital hall, a large rehearsal room and state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities.

The project is being funded entirely through the generosity of donors. Lead donors include the Mead Witter Foundation, which made a gift of $25 million. The School of Music will be named the Mead Witter School of Music and the concert hall in the music performance building will be named the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall.

Pamela and George Hamel gave $15 million and the facility will be named the Hamel Music Center. In addition, Paul Collins made a gift of $5 million for the recital hall, which will be named the Collins Recital Hall.

"It's very exciting to see this project moving forward and it would not be a reality without the outstanding contributions of donors," UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank says. "I am grateful for the support of the Vilas Trust, which has such a long relationship with UW. The new performance space will be a jewel of our campus, not only for the students but also for the community at large."

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

The facility will provide spaces for undergraduates to perform capstone projects and graduate students to perform final doctoral recitals. It will also serve as the host site for chamber recitals, lecture recitals and public events.

The performance center will be a major component of the East Campus Gateway project, which includes the expanded Chazen Museum of Art, Memorial Union renovation, Library Mall reconstruction and Alumni Park on Lake Mendota.

Story by Greg Bump, University Communications