Chapin Hall reopens after renovations

The most recent renovations to Chapin include an extended stage, a stage lift, a repainted interior hall and new seats.
The most recent renovations to Chapin include an extended stage, a stage lift, a repainted interior hall and new seats. Tim Nagle-McNaughton/Photo Editor

On Friday, the Berkshire Symphony and renowned American Pianist Simone Dinnerstein inaugurated the newly renovated Chapin Hall in a standing-room only concert.

In its first performance since May 18, the symphony, conducted by Ronald Feldman, performed with pianist Simone Dinnerstein as the featured soloist. “The music department invited the highly acclaimed pianist Simone Dinnerstein to perform a concerto with the Berkshire Symphony, and we were delighted when she accepted,” Professor of Music Marjorie Hirsch said, in a statement. Dinnerstein also gave a master class to some of the student pianists at the College.

The Berkshire Symphony is composed of students as well as professionals. In this unique setting, talented musicians are able to perform next to their instructors and other accomplished professional musicians.

The symphony performed Gabrieli’s Canzon XVI, which is divided into three choirs and is written for 12 brass instruments. The symphony followed with Brahm’s Piano Concerto No.1 in D Minor, featuring Dinnerstein. The concert came to a close with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7.

The Chapin Hall renovation project has been ongoing since the late 1970s. In the past few years, the College has worked on bringing the building back up to code. Donations from parents and alumni made possible the most recent phase that came to a close last week. This project included building an extended stage, installing a stage lift, enhancing the light and sound systems, repainting the interior hall and replacing all the seats.

Before the renovations, the hall sat 496 people on the first floor. However, seats were removed for accessibility needs and the installation of the stage extension that can be raised and lowered to accommodate larger musical groups. Now the first floor can seat 485 people when the stage is up and 636 people when the stage is lowered. The balcony still seats 203 people.

“These improvements will greatly improve the acoustics in the hall and the comfort and the overall experience of the listener,” Rita Coppola-Wallace, executive director of design and construction, said.

The music department hopes to host many events throughout the year in the newly renovated hall. Department groups such as the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Zambezi Marimba Band, College Choir, Percussion Ensemble and Williams Opera Workshop expect to make use of the hall. Chapin will host visiting artists, MIDWEEKMUSIC (a concert series that occurs at 12:15 p.m. on selected Wednesdays), rehearsals and individual lessons.

“The process is actually not quite over. Next summer, a canopy of clear acrylic panels will be hung from the ceiling to improve the acoustics within this magnificent building,” Hirsch said.

More information about upcoming performances in Chapin Hall can be found online at the music department’s website.

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