The musical tone of the Performing Arts Center is evolving to something bigger and better. The PAC is right on schedule in its construction and the newly-formed Performing Arts School is preparing for all the changes an improved PAC will bring.
“For the first time in the history of the university, we [theatre, dance and music] will all be under the same roof,” said David Reynolds, Director of the School of Performing Arts.
The music, dance and theatre faculty and classrooms are currently housed across campus in Doner Auditorium, Pugsley, Lincoln and the PAC. Reynolds said the creation of the Performing Arts School, and being under the same roof, will improve the programs.
“You will see more collaboration,” Reynolds said. “You may see a flautist performing with dancers on a stage. A concert may have advanced lighting. You could see costumes during an orchestra performance. We will see the synergy coming together with people from different backgrounds.”
One of the most exciting changes is the addition of a $1.2 million pipe organ to be installed in the new recital hall. The organ’s blower that supplies and pushes the air through the pipes weighs 1,100 pounds. Some of the organ’s 3,500 pipes are more than 20 feet long.
“Repertoire we haven’t been able to touch before will now be available to our faculty and students,” Reynolds said.
The pipe organ was gifted to the State of South Dakota from the State of Colorado. The instrument is already on the SDSU campus, waiting to be installed this summer.
“[The building] is a game-changer for us,” Reynolds said. “There will be no other place like it in many miles.”
The PAC will boast a new 225-seat recital hall and 850-seat proscenium theater in addition to the 1,000-seat concert hall and black box theater already present.
Corey Shelsta, designer and professor of theatre, said the nature of the building created specialty needs to be met. Both he and Reynolds were on the planning committee.
“My role was to make sure the technical, design and artistic needs were being met,” Shelsta said.
Special focus was given to the rigging and lighting systems in place, as well as the type of floor on the various stages and which rooms are located near each other. The dressing rooms should be located adjacent to the theatre, for example.
Other early planning included what could be done in each space and how the lights, acoustics and placement of vents and sprinklers would affect everything.
“The last thing you want is a new building with problems,” Shelsta said. “I had to do a lot of reading and researching.”
Another new addition is LED lights for students to use a wider variety of colors in the proscenium theatre. Traditionally, conventional lighting has been used, where each light has a single unit of color that has to be switched out manually. Both types of lights will be placed in the theatre for students to use.
Shelsta said although the committee has planned and prepared for a lot, there is “always going to be surprises.”
One surprise discovered in the original PAC building was the heavy use of the lobby.
“The lobby has had a lot more use than we ever expected,” Shelsta said. “Receptions, banquets, performances and career fairs have all happened there. We don’t have the proper lighting or sound installed there and we wish we did. Those kinds of lessons we are now taking into the new building phase.”
Shelsta is excited to see what the new facilities will be able to accomplish since the PAC is being renovated with the lighting, acoustics and room layout already in mind.
Both he and Reynolds said the new addition would attract more talented faculty and students.
Seth Golden, a junior pharmacy major who has played in The Pride, concert band and community orchestra, is ready for the new building. He plays an instrument that’s a cross between a French horn and a trumpet called a mellophone.
“(The new PAC addition) creates a logistical benefit,” Golden said. “It’s just awful having to transport everything from the storage and practice rooms all the way across campus to the performing spot.”
Golden said most rehearsals are now done in Pugsley, whereas most of the storage for The Pride instruments are located. There is also storage for instruments in a few small sheds sitting outside the PAC, but the cold weather isn’t good for instrument sound quality.
Golden is excited for the specialized rooms in the new addition, since they will improve the quality of performances and will be tailored to what students are studying.
“The professors are all excited to get out of an ancient building,” Golden said. “[Lincoln] is a cool building, but it is old.”
The Performing Arts School will begin moving to the PAC next fall, with the official public opening set for spring 2019. Until then, students and faculty will prepare for the changes that come with having a new facility.