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Community of Music

MacPhail Center for Music welcomes people with open house

On a cold and cloudy evening the mood was joyful and optimistic.

A good sized group of visitors eagerly awaited and then got the chance to finally see the inside of the MacPhail Center for Music during a special celebration and ribbon cutting.

The event capped the $14.5 million project that brings together the MacPhail Center and Austin Public Schools in a unique combination of resources. It is the only example in the United States of an independent music group joining forces with a school district.

“It’s absolutely fantastic,” said site director Cheryl Berglund. “It’s definitely state of the art.”

The Austin site is also the only satellite of MacPhail’s outside of the Twin Cities.

The structure, which added an additional 17,850 square feet and offers a futuristic design to those passing by, was funded by an $8.7 million contribution from The Hormel Foundation with APS paying the remaining balance.

“We’re here at a unique moment,” said MacPhail CEO Kyle Carpenter. “It’s a great day to stop and think of what this building means. It’s looking to the future.”

The completed renovation of the APS Annex, that sits just across the street from the school, brings the music programs of MacPhail and APS under one roof, continuing the strong music traditions each have cultivated over the years.

“I had the privilege of being part of an inspiring music program,” School Board Chair Carolyn Dube said, relating back to her time at AHS. “It’s an ongoing legacy coming to a new site. It’s exciting to see what they can come up with next.”

For MacPhail teachers and students, the new center means a move from it’s rather confined space at Riverland Community College and marks just how far the program has come since it began so long ago. Staff alone at the center has grown from two instructors at the very beginning to 20 now.

For Austin High School students, it expands the capabilities of what the orchestra, band and choir programs can achieve with state-of-the-art rehearsal areas and sound systems.

On the bottom floor are classrooms devoted to electronic music as well as a performance space complete with seating space.

“It’s very unique,” Berglund said, hyping the skies-the-limit feel for the new facility. “It’s one of a kind and it’s yet to be determined what it’s going to allow for.”

It’s hoped by many that the building itself can be looked at as a model or inspiration.

“I think it even does more,” said APS Superintendent David Krenz. “It provides space for students. It’s an inspirational symbol of people coming together. Students and families appreciate that support.”

“We’re looking to the future,” Krenz continued. “We’re not just staying put on what we currently accomplished. It’s looking to the future.