For immediate release:
July 10, 2018

Dr. Benjamin Schultz-Burkel
Assistant Director, Mead Witter School of Music
(608) 263-4018



Alumni champion new music center now offering unique seat naming campaign

At the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue in Madison, on the UW-Madison campus next to the Chazen Museum of Art, a snazzy new music hall is under construction.

Named the Hamel Music Center, it contains a concert hall, a recital hall, a rehearsal room and several support spaces, connected by a grand two-story lobby with a central staircase and chandelier donated by the Class of 1965. The hall, now being built by Madison-based contractor J.P. Cullen, is a prominent downtown addition to the Madison art scene and its construction is the talk of the town.

All of the Center’s funding has come from private donors, often with multiple generations of family connections to UW-Madison. These include the Mead Witter Foundation of Wisconsin Rapids, the Hamel family of California, and Paul Collins, a 1958 business school graduate who previously endowed student scholarships and professorships in music. All care deeply about music and the students in the school.

Now, the School of Music has invited music lovers from Duluth to Dallas and all places east and west to participate. With each gift of $1,500 or more, a newly upholstered, cushioned chair in the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall will sport a copper plaque on the back engraved with the message of the donor.

Over its century of existence, the UW-Madison (now Mead Witter) School of Music has graduated thousands of alumni who perform and teach in all corners of the globe, in fields ranging from classical violin to Brazilian percussion, to contemporary composition and middle-school education. In addition, many students have chosen to combine music with other majors, such as sports medicine or biotechnology.

The sustained excellence and dedication of our faculty and students has shaped the lives of thousands; their concerts have offered solace and joy to those who hear them.

Mike George, Class of 1963 and retired executive director of the Wisconsin School Music Association, lives in Madison and drives past the construction site almost every day. “There are some opportunities that only present themselves once in a lifetime. Sponsoring a seat in the new concert hall is one of those opportunities!”

Megan Mitchell, a 2018 graduate in vocal performance and interior architecture, agrees. “Music students of this generation have watched other schools and colleges at UW-Madison upgrade their facilities,” she said. “We are excited to study and perform in this highly visible, beautiful building. The Hamel Music Center will give today’s students and faculty, as well as future generations of musical Badgers, a front seat on campus.”

“It is the best opportunity our friends have to show their affection,” said Susan C. Cook, director of the music school. “All who enter the new concert hall will read the inscriptions on those plaques.” Formal opening festivities are set to begin in the fall of 2019; special “sneak peek” events are being planned for next April.

We invite the public to explore our new website, “Set Your Name to Music,” to view drawings of the new halls and consider how to become involved. Regardless of your level of contribution, we hope you will join us as we celebrate our beautiful new home and increased visibility in our state capitol.

Plaque details:

• Plaques will be affixed to the back of seats in the Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall.
• Each plaque is 1 3/8 in. tall by 2 7/8 in. wide, copper, and engraved with black infilled type.
• Each plaque may have up to four lines of text with 20 characters (including spaces) per line.
• Inscriptions will be in UPPER-CASE LETTERS only. Font size is 16 pt.
• All inscriptions are subject to approval by the Mead Witter School of Music.
• To ensure your plaque is installed before the opening, inscriptions and donations must be received by December 31, 2018.