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New UMBC arts center is built for show

Concert Hall, Dance Cube coexist with English, archaeology classes

August 30, 2014|By Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

"The stage can be used in reverse orientation," Willt says. "There is a custom acoustical shell that unfolds and provides smaller side walls, which direct sound to the choral terrace behind the stage."

In addition to all the flexibility, the Concert Hall achieves considerable aesthetic appeal from such features as the rear windows that allow for natural lighting and the thin metal mesh curtains along the curving walls. "They're designed to be visually present but acoustically invisible," Gayley says.

UMBC musical groups and guest artists will be the primary users of the hall. Opportunities for Baltimore-area musical organizations to rent the venue may develop in the future.

Other music-related amenities in the new building include a fully equipped recording studio connected to multiple performance sites, and a space dubbed the Music Box, which can be set up in any number of ways and accommodate an audience of about 100.

"This building takes us to another level of performance, teaching and music technology," Casper says.

The completion of the facility also gives the dance department a big lift, with new studio spaces and, especially, the Dance Cube, which can be used for rehearsals and performances. Seating, concealed in the wall, can be deployed at the push of a button to accommodate about 100 people in the Cube.

Dance events can also be held in the Proscenium Theatre, which opened two years ago. It has what Gayley describes as "a tech-y look," with exposed lighting and wiring. It's a professional-level venue, onstage and backstage. There is seating, including a cozy balcony, for 275.

Other theater resources include a 100-seat black box theater, costume and scenery shops, and rehearsal studios.

Now that the whole building is fully functional, the performing arts activities will be going on alongside English classes, philosophy lectures and investigations in the archaeology lab of the ancient studies department.

"We're already talking about activities that can bring people from the different departments together, " Casper says. "We want to look at all kinds of ways to connect the dots in this building. Cross-pollination will only intensify as students and faculty are working together in these spaces. I can't wait."


If you go

UMBC's annual Livewire Festival of contemporary music will take place Oct. 16-18 in the Concert Hall, featuring the ensemble Ruckus, trombonist Patrick Crossland, and the Ensemble Laboratorium.

In the Black Box Theatre, the UMBC Department of Theatre presents "Nora," an adaptation of Ibsen's "A Doll's House" by Ingmar Bergman, Oct. 23-26.

For more information, call 410-455-2787, or go to artscalendar.umbc.edu.

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