By Lee Bash, Special Consultant to Graceland
When potentially-new students first enter the instantly- impressive Carol Hall in the new Shaw Center, they will only need to squint their eyes a bit to imagine performing their own senior recital on this stage in just a few short years. That image is going to burn an impression in their minds that will often be their last thoughts before they go to sleep – seeing themselves in a setting that, at many larger schools and programs, is restricted to only a few graduate students or elite performers. At Graceland, however, the dream has always been to provide all students with unique experiences that help form strong foundations for the remainder of their lives. So, awake or asleep, many high school and transfer students are going to dream about the wonderful opportunities that the Graceland University Music Department is offering them via this amazing, unique new facility. This is, indeed, “the stuff that dreams are made of!”
But what, exactly, is it that makes Carol Hall so appealing to both our current students, and future students, seeking degrees in Music from Graceland? Well, first of all, of course, the room is magnificent! It is warm, appealing, and intimate. What this means to performers is having immediate and direct connections with their audience. You can make eye contact and interact more when an audience is limited to approximately 120 persons. This also means that the audience feels directly connected with the performer. If you’re sitting in the audience, you will be able to observe the eye contact among the small group of performers or soloist and his or her accompanist that you miss in larger performance halls because you have to sit so far away. You’ll be able to hear the performer breathe. So you’ll be able to experience the performance in a way that provides insights and greater appreciation. And finally, there’s the way the room looks: We’ve all recently watched the Olympics where it’s easy to see how an athlete – or in this case, artist – in a special environment is likely to maximize his or her performance. Likewise, Carol Hall is the sort of small performing space that most artists dream of performing in – though few ever actually get to. This wonderful room is going to inspire many amazing performances capable of surpassing the artists’ dreams.