CONTACT: Masarah Van Eyck,, (608) 335-6277


MADISON – There has been a lot of talk about the new Hamel Music Center over the years. But at long last, it’s time for some music.

The Hamel Music Center celebrates its opening this weekend. Events are currently at capacity but if tickets do become available, they will be offered first-come, first-served at the Hamel Music Center Box Office starting one hour prior to every performance.

Be prepared for limited parking and heavy traffic due to multiple events in the area, including Badger Men’s Hockey Friday and Saturday night, which some lots are reserved for, and Freakfest Saturday night, which will close several streets.

If you can’t make it opening weekend, not to worry. There are plenty of future events to attend.

For more information, go to


The dust had not yet settled inside the new Hamel Music Center when Jessica Johnson, professor of piano and pedagogy, stepped into the almost-completed rehearsal hall: lofty ceilings, interlocking bands of light, walls softened by acoustic panels. She clapped her hands sharply: one-two.

“Every performance space has its own personality and sound,” she explained. “When musicians walk into a space, they test the sound.”

The claps landed crisply and vanished. Afterward there was complete silence, though cars hurtled through the rain on University Avenue just outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. More than a foot of concrete wraps the rehearsal hall’s interior walls. Three feet of air space separates the corner wall’s two layers of glass. Sounds are not meant to enter, or escape, this room.

This is incredibly good news for faculty and students of UW-Madison’s Mead Witter School of Music. After decades of rehearsing in the basement of the Mosse Humanities Building, UW’s musicians will now have a state-of-the-art acoustic environment in which to prepare for performances. And the Sing Man & Florence Lee/Annette Kaufman Rehearsal Hall is just the prelude, if you will: The new Hamel Music Center, designed by Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture in part¬nership with local firm Strang, also features a 660-seat Mead Witter Foundation Concert Hall and a 300-seat Collins Recital Hall. Acoustics were designed by Talaske/Sound Thinking of Oak Park, Illinois.

With a new name, a new performance center, a new director of the UW Marching Band (Corey Pompey), a new orchestra director (Oriol Sans), new professor of trumpet (Jean Laurenz) and programs like opera and jazz studies pulsing with new energy, the Mead Witter School of Music opens the door on a dazzling new decade.

Since its official opening in 1895, the School of Music has offered a rigorous, student-centered musical education. Collaborative, creative instructors enjoy teaching as much as they enjoy performing in ensembles. In fact, UW-Madison was the first public institution in the country to welcome artists-in-residence, with the creation of the Pro Arte faculty ensemble in 1938. And while the UW Marching Band (a key part of the School of Music) plays to thousands at Camp Randall Stadium and other venues during football season, there are more than 300 student and faculty recitals and concerts happening throughout the year-not to mention dozens of outreach initiatives that take UW musicians out into the community and around the state.

“We are the Wisconsin Idea at its most audible,” says Mead Witter School of Music director Susan Cook.

-Mary Ellen Gabriel,