Albion College continues to draw closer to breaking ground for the Richard and Marilyn Vitek Center for Musical Arts.
The center will be located on the corner of Ingham and Cass Streets, next to Goodrich Chapel. It will feature a performance hall that can sit roughly 200 people, a spacious lobby and two ensemble rooms dedicated to band, orchestra and choir.
“I pushed for the lobby to not be too small so we can use it as an opportunity for Honors groups to get together or for [Institutional Advancement] functions,” said piano and music history professor David Abbott. “We don’t have a lot of nice spaces on campus right now for that.”
Albion’s music department is currently located in the basement of Goodrich Chapel. It has private practice rooms, lesson rooms and music labs. Concerts are usually played in the chapel one floor above.
Abbott has played a key role in the project as a member of its building committee. His first priority has been ensuring the acoustics of the new center are the best they can be. When New York City-based acoustics consulting firm Acoustics Distinction signed onto the project, Abbott was ecstatic.
He said Acoustics Distinction is renowned for creating acoustic designs in all sorts of buildings, from museums and churches to campus buildings big and small. David Kahn, its owner, has been in the industry for a few decades and is a trained musician, playing trumpet regularly with an orchestra in NYC.
“Kahn issued something like a 30-page report, and it was very detailed,” Abbott said. “He said he worked with all the engineers at the architect firm, and they all worked completely in sync and agreed and supported all his recommendations.”
Abbott said the project is projected break ground by the fall of 2019. He hopes the Vitek Center will draw in more prospective students and make Albion more competitive among other liberal arts colleges in the MIAA.
“It’s a really important thing to me because recruiting is one of my big concerns,” Abbott said. “Kids come here and their high schools have better performing centers. I have great instruments, great pianos, but we need a performance hall.”
Kody Smith, a junior from Dundee, Michigan, believes a new performance hall will help the music program. Albion music students already receive recognition, he said. The center will help bring Albion the attention it deserves.
“The department has been literally and metaphorically underground for far too long,” said Smith, a baritone saxophone player for the jazz band. “Coming up into the light and bringing its amazing musicians with it is something I’m so proud to see and to have been a part of.”
Before the project can begin, however, Albion’s finance department wants at least 80 percent of the money to be accounted for.
“We’re trying to stay in the black,” Abbott said. “We need roughly $6 million but the project could go over $7 million. Everybody in the administration agreed that we didn’t want to compromise on anything.”
Richard (‘56) and Marilyn (‘56) Vitek have a long history of giving to the college. Neither of the Viteks studied music while at Albion College, but both have a love of classical music and opera. They have been following the process closely and are very happy to be involved with the project’s development.
The Viteks’ gift is the second-largest by individuals in Albion’s history and is expected to cover about half of the anticipated costs of the project. Further gifts have been pledged by donors to support the cost, but the college is still looking for more donors to support the project.