The John and Dede Howard Music Building, which houses the John and Dede Howard Music Department, opened at the beginning of the fall semester in 2003. The building reflects the spirit of the Music Department and the students who participate in the music making process on the campus Hillsdale College. With it’s traditional Italianate architecture the building compliments other campus buildings while the interior reflects a modern approach to function.
The building is a two story, 32,809 square foot, $8.7 million facility that was designed and built to accommodate the expansion that the Music Department experienced over the previous several years with focus placed on teaching and rehearsal space.
The building houses the McNamara Rehearsal Hall which is the primary large rehearsal space encompassing 3,863 square feet, wood floors, a top ceiling height of 45 feet, and a 1922 33-rank Aeolian Organ that has been completely rebuilt. The Conrad Recital Hall sits across from the large rehearsal space and is an intimate performing space with a warm acoustic as a result of the high ceilings and wood floored stage. The building also contains 9 faculty studio offices, 25 practice rooms of various sizes, a jazz studio, a percussion studio, and a music classroom. The McNamara Rehearsal Hall, Conrad Recital Hall, and Music Classroom are all equipped with state of the art recording, playback, and video electronics.
The donation for the building was provided by John and Dede Howard, of St. Joseph, Michigan. John and Dede Howard’s lives have been dedicated to service. John retired in 1987 after four decades of teaching music and conducting the St. Joseph Municipal Band. The band shell in St. Joseph’s Lake Bluff Park now bears his name. Dede has spent her life bettering her community through door-to-door cancer awareness campaigns, teaching Sunday School, working with the Campfire Girls, the PTA and the Women’s Service League. In recent years, she has focused her efforts on aiding battered women and children through the Berrien Community Foundation.
The John and Dede Howard Music Hall offers many detailed features that further enhance its primary role as a music instruction building. In keeping with Hillsdale's liberal arts philosophy, however, the building complements the entire spectrum of the fine arts. For example, the large central rotunda and expansive hallways provide room to display works of art and sculpture. An outdoor terrace and patio, behind the choral and orchestral rehearsal room and lower floor lounge, provide pleasant gathering places for students, and allow for musical enjoyment outdoors. The rehearsal room can be used for hosting film nights and swing dancing, as well as for choir and orchestra practices.
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