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Food for love – A new multi-genre music hall brings the balm to our time

This music hall is the only space of any size in the city exclusively designed to optimize live musical sound with modern acoustic design. (Provided by Wits University)

  • The University of the Witwatersrand recently opened the doors to a new music hall.
  • According to the dean of the faculty of humanities of Wits, the music hall brings Wits closer to the rebirth of Braamfontein.
  • The public can enjoy free concerts at lunchtime in the music hall.

Wits University’s new music hall – the Chris Seabrooke Music Hall – is a form of architectural music. The wall panels, existing to create clear acoustics, reflect the waves, movement and spectrum of emotions inherent in music. The relationship between the building and its destination is a feat and will attract many students and visitors. The music hall offers the highest quality acoustic treatment and is suitable for different musical genres – from acoustic music and electrified performances to chamber music and even minimal orchestra.

Once an ivy-tangled patch of sidewalk where Joburg’s first gold miners resided, the music hall reflects an innovative transformation into a contemporary, sophisticated space. His home is a converted heritage building.

While several venues in Johannesburg can accommodate both stage and musical performances, this music hall is the only space of any size in the city exclusively designed to optimize live musical sound with modern acoustic design. According to Professor Garth Stevens, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at Wits, the music hall “brings Wits closer to the [cultural] rebirth of Braamfontein.”

The 100th anniversary of Wits University began with the opening of the concert hall, filled with performances in all genres – jazz, black opera and classical music.

With soprano Sizukiwe Vimbani and pianist Peter Cartwright, one such performance was powerful enough to stir up the layers of grief and loss induced by Covid-19 for this writer. The play, Sweet Little Jesus Boy, composed by MacGimsey and based on the experiences of black Christians during the American Civil War, revealed the importance of art in penetrating deeply into human experience and framing its complexity. One hundred and sixty years later, baby jesus boy can open hearts and shape contemporary joy and pain.

Other live performances by students and staff were the first in two years. Dr Rene Smith, director of the Wits School of Arts, said such an opportunity was a welcome balm for the arts industry, which is recovering from pandemic restrictions.

In Wits’ centenary year and beyond, audiences can enjoy the return of free lunchtime concerts, now at the Music Hall, where Wits Music students practice playing. Postgraduate recitals in jazz and classical music and a series of evening public concerts are also planned.

“During the day, the music hall serves as a teaching venue for performance students and will also be used for composition recitals and ensemble lessons. We even welcome some of our theater colleagues to our rehearsal rooms. this year,” explains Dr. Donato Somma. , Head of Wits Music.

“We are now raising funds for the next phase, which is to build venues for performance, practice and teaching so that Wits Music students can continue to benefit from an African and world-class music education.”