With a music program of high caliber, a concert hall would enhance the opportunities for all of St. Olaf's musical groups, including the orchestras, bands and choirs, to practice and perform in a venue specifically tailored to their needs. While venues like Urness Recital Hall and Boe Chapel suffice for smaller concerts, none of these solutions provide an ideal location. Skoglund Auditorium was not designed exclusively as a concert venue, and we think a concert hall would address three significant issues: acoustics, seating and reputation.
The acoustics of Skoglund are less than ideal for musical events. During the Ben Folds Concert last fall, the artist had to stop multiple times to adjust his equalization because of the way that sound was reflected off of the basketball hoops. Additionally, the wooden floor causes a great deal of reverberation and makes it difficult to control the sound that is produced. The acoustics show that the facility is foremost a basketball gym, not a concert venue.
Second, there is insufficient seating in Skoglund Auditorium, which can house approximately 3,000 spectators. Students are each limited to one ticket for Christmas Festival, and parents can obtain a maximum of two tickets. A 5,000-seat venue would more accurately serve the high demand for this event.
Third, a concert hall would raise St. Olaf's profile among national liberal arts colleges. Prospective students would see that our top-notch music program has a concert facility befitting its stature. It seems almost ridiculous that a school with the musical tradition of St. Olaf lacks a concert hall in which to present performances.
Furthermore, a concert hall has the potential to benefit non-music students as well. Building a concert hall on campus would provide a fantastic venue for larger musical events such as the fall concert. Imagine listening to visiting artists like George Clinton in a venue that was truly made to house a live concert.
We would like to ask the generous alumni of the College, who have been instrumental in St. Olaf's development, to consider donating funds to build a concert hall. Given that music is an integral part of St. Olaf's history and traditions, it seems fitting to establish a concert venue on campus. We encourage students, alumni and friends of the College to make their voices heard on this issue. In the past decade, we have seen the establishment of Buntrock Commons, the Tostrud Center and the redesigned Dittmann Center. These buildings each demonstrate the College's drive to cultivate the mind, body and spirit of its students. A concert hall would follow in this rich tradition, and serve to fortify the College's commitment to providing students with a broad-based liberal arts education.
When we come together for the Christmas Festival this year, take time not only to enjoy the experience, but to think about the future as well. We hope that we will soon be able to enjoy Christmas Festival and other musical events in a state-of-the-art concert hall.