Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Honors Concert Regalia, Part Primo

Last Saturday Minnesota piano students performed at Northrop Auditorium on the University of Minnesota campus. I love the look and feel of this auditorium, not only because it holds so many memories of my performances there, but it just feels like a musical auditorium should. Tall ceilings, detailed chandelier and wall reliefs, the seats are covered in crushed burgundy velvet. I always think that the following information should be in our recital program; alas I've been told there's no room.

Northrop Memorial Auditorium, completed in 1929, was built to hold the entire student body of the 1920's. Since then, this 4800 seat auditorium continues to fulfill its original purpose as a center for the arts and student life. From music and theatre performances to graduation ceremonies, Northrop has played a vital role in the history of the University. The inscription on the facade of Northrop was written by former Graduate School dean and University of Minnesota president Guy Stanton Ford. Capturing the mission of the University, the inscription reads: "Founded in faith that men are ennobled by understanding, Dedicated to the advancement of learning and the search for truth, Devoted to the instruction of youth and the welfare of the state."
Could there be a better worded statement at the beginning of our annual event? I don't think so. We're still striving for just these lofty and virtuous goals.

If it were up to me, I would also include a blurb about the incredible organ housed here. One student per year wins the Young Artist in Organ and performs on it in the middle of the concert. As the organ rises from the floor of the orchestra pit, there is always a collective OOOH.

The Northrop Organ
Built in 1932-1935, the Northrop Auditorium Organ, Aeolian-Skinner Op. 892, is located above the auditorium's stage and behind the proscenium, and is played from a four-manual console located in the orchestra pit. Containing 80 independent stops and 108 ranks of pipes, the Northrop Organ is one of the finest extant examples of a late-romantic concert organ by the premier manufacturer of its era.
In 1999, the Northrop Organ received a Special Citation from the Organ Historical society. The Society's citations program has been likened to the National Register of Historic Places. The citation of the organ reflects the increased awareness of the importance of orggans of this vintage that have remained intact and tonally and technologically unaltered.

Organizing an event like this, (660 students age 7-18, separated from their parents, and they are nervous) takes a tremendous amount of patience and skill. The auditorium is divided into pink and green signs, students wear pink and green bracelets, and rows of seats are labeled by pink and green labels with each duet listed. Each child is assigned an exact seat. The rule sheets are very specific to keep track of the most minute details. There are 20 grand pianos on stage. Lifting the lids always lifts my energy level!

Here is also a picture of some of our volunteers in the green room. The gala event is staffed with teacher volunteers from around the state. This in itself is a testament to the care and importance we teachers see in this honored concert.

If you'd like pictures of this amazing building, I recommend here and here. My favorite is this one, the view from the stage! I also took a few "special" photos where only performers get to go-enjoy!

Part Secondo - a personal look, coming soon...

1 comment:

  1. I think your additions to the program would be grand. As is your favorite photo of the building.


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