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Ribbon cut for new music wing

April 19, 2004|By DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - The Marvin Hamlisch concert at Shepherd College was just part of the excitement Sunday afternoon at the college.

Just before the show, school officials, along with Hamlisch, cut the ribbon on a $3.1 million expansion of the school's music department in the Frank Center.

The new wing was constructed because of steady growth in Shepherd College's music program, said Barbara Spicher, music operations manager.

The number of students attending the school's music program has tripled in the last six years and the school now has 120 music majors, Spicher said.

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"We've totally outgrown our building," Spicher said Sunday before the Hamlisch concert.

The expansion includes a new entrance foyer, rehearsal hall and practice rooms, which offer students the latest in music technology.

The five practice rooms are lined up in a hallway of the new wing.

Inside each room, students can go to a keypad and punch in the type of venue they would like the practice room to simulate in terms of sound.

Different venues, whether they are football stadiums or smaller concert halls, offer different sounds to musicians.

Music education major Danny Carter took some time out Sunday to demonstrate to a reporter how the practice rooms work.

Carter punched in selections on the keypad in the room, which had a sleek, new-age look. There are no visible speakers, but the room produces an echo effect as if the performer is doing a sound check in a huge stadium.

"Most kids don't get a chance to sing in a football arena," Carter said.

"We're still working out the bugs, but wow. That's what I say about it. This is just phenomenal," said Mark McCoy, chairperson of Shepherd's music department.

There are drawbacks, Carter said, joking.

"It's not very forgiving. It echoes your mistakes," Carter said.

The space in the new addition is equivalent to about half the music department's current space, McCoy said.

Besides Hamlisch, those participating in Sunday afternoon's ribbon-cutting ceremony included Shepherd College President David L. Dunlop and Guy Frank, founder of the department.

Construction on the wing began last year and was completed in January, McCoy said.

It was paid for through a bond, McCoy said.

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