The lights went low and nearly 200 people quieted as the stage filled with instrumentalists and music soon flowed through the air for York Performance Hall’s first-ever concert.
It’s the inaugural year for Anderson University’s $5 million York Performance Hall and Galleries, and Sunday kicked off the Bengtson Celebration Concert Series with a gala concert featuring AU faculty, staff and alumni.
[Photo: The Appassionati Ensemble, from left, Rebecca Edie, Gert Kumi, Kyung-Nam Oh and Li Li perform during the Gala Concert to mark the dedication of the York Performance Hall and Galleries at Anderson University on Sunday.]
Dean of the College of the Arts Jeff Wright said it was a time to “celebrate the final step in a dream long lived in the Anderson community.”
He added that he was overjoyed with the new facility and grateful for those who donated to make it possible.
Dr. James York and his wife, Elizabeth, “really set the wheels in motion,” Wright said, but added that many in the crowd had underwritten seats or given energy or money in other ways to the project.
“All of your work is important because all of you brought us to today,” he said.
Mary Jo Hales, whose son was performing, said it was great to see current students and alumni performing together.
The alumni’s return, she said, shows a commitment to the AU community and provides good mentorship to younger students.
She added that her son, in his third year at AU, was glad to still be at the university to experience the new performance hall. It’s a beautiful building, she said.
“It’ll be a home for years to come to future generations,” she said.
Judy Dobbins and her husband, Jan, enjoy attending many performances in Anderson, like those at Mainstage Theatre. Judy said York Performance Hall just adds to AU and the community, noting the building passed expectations.
“The acoustics are wonderful,” she said. “The show itself was very good.”
She enjoyed the variety of music and said it “displayed what the theater’s about.” The couple bought series tickets and said they’re looking forward to the rest of the concert season.
Adam McDaniel graduated from AU in 2008, but was glad to have the opportunity to come back and play for York’s opening gala, especially since the facility is a “long time coming,” he said.
He said it was neat to see it all come together, the work everyone’s put in, and that the end result is beautiful.
When he was a student at AU, he said he could hear everything going on outside as he was backstage. In York, it’s a totally different story.
“There’s a lot of issues they’ve fixed in the new facility,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to be here.”
While he said he wouldn’t trade his AU experience for anything, he did add that he and fellow alumni have joked many times about coming back when a new and improved facility was up and running.
McDaniel said he’d be willing to come back anytime, and that York puts AU right up there with other top music schools in Indiana.
AU freshman Josh Maldonado said practicing in the hall has been “awesome” and that there’s no awkward silences with the acoustics.
He added that getting to perform in front of a crowd for the first time at York was a “fantastic” experience.
Two identical performances were held Sunday, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. AU’s next Bengtson Celebration Concert Series performance is Oct. 7 with Jon Nakamatsu, concert pianist.
The Bengtson Celebration Concert Series, hosted by the Anderson University School of Music, Theatre, and Dance, includes these scheduled concerts in York Performance Hall:
- Jon Nakamatsu, concert pianist, 4 p.m. Oct. 7
- Lawrence Brownlee, operatic bel canto tenor, with Shelby Rhoades, pianist and member of the vocal arts coaching faculty at Juilliard School of Music, 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14
- Time for Three, string trio, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 20
- J.S. Bach, Saint John Passion, 2:30 p.m. March 10
- Canadian Brass, 7:30 p.m. April 11
— Dani Palmer is a reporter from The Herald Bulletin. Photo credit: Don Knight. Story republished with permission.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology.