Just 12-and-a-half weeks after launching the Take Your Seat campaign, the Heifetz International Music Institute and Mary Baldwin College are seeing a positive response to the restoration of James D. Francis Auditorium, both in terms of the new look and continued financial support toward the project.
This spring, workers installed new seats, modern lighting, and carpet and painted the auditorium — site of dozens of lectures, concerts, convocations, and classes each year. The lobby has also been refurbished, and features a new ceiling, a fresh coat of paint and attractive new furniture.
The initiative comes during a milestone year for both Mary Baldwin and Heifetz, as the music institute celebrates its 20th anniversary this summer and the college will kick off its 175th anniversary in August and officially become Mary Baldwin University.
The Take Your Seat campaign allows donors to choose a seat that will bear a plaque with the donor’s name or honoree or memorial of their choice. According to Heifetz Institute Executive Director Benjamin K. Roe, more than half of the auditorium’s 250 seats have been “sold,” and the campaign has now raised more than two-thirds of its $200,000 goal.
Brent Douglass, Mary Baldwin’s director of facilities management and Heifetz fan himself said that the seats are much more comfortable and the new, energy-efficient LED lighting immediately resulted in a 95 percent electrical energy savings as well significantly reducing the heat load on the air conditioning system.
“From both an aesthetic and sustainability standpoint, the renovation has been a resounding success,” Douglass said. When feasible, both institutions hope to add a second phase of renovations to include replacing the stage lighting and acoustical improvements to the auditorium.
The Heifetz Institute faculty and staff work with some of the top string musicians from around the world to unlock the expressive potential of every performer through a series of cross-disciplinary modules in voice, public speaking, drama, movement, freedom of expression, and wellness.
Throughout the six-week summer institute, the campus of Mary Baldwin is transformed, with the sights and sounds of music emanating from all corners of the campus. With the many performance opportunities available, both the Heifetz students and the Mary Baldwin-Staunton community benefit: students hone their skills on stage and build confidence while concertgoers enjoy world-class musical performances by students as well as by faculty and special guests. For performance schedule, ticket information, and more, visit heifetzinstitute.org.