Colton Recital Hall

This architect's drawing shows how the University of South Dakota's Colton Recital Hall may appear once its renovation is complete. Work on the 50-year-old music hall began last week and should be complete by the time classes at USD begin this fall.

Fifty years after it was constructed, Colton Recital Hall on USD’s campus is getting a facelift. Renovation on the music hall, located in the Warren M. Lee Center for the Performing Arts, began last week and should be completed by the time classes begin in August.

“To the best of my knowledge, the recital hall has never undergone a major renovation since its construction in 1971,” said Bruce Kelley, Dean of Fine Arts at USD. “The seats, sound abatement system, and stage were all original. … The new hall will offer superior acoustics, brand new seats, a far better lighting and recording system, a new entrance to the stage, and a new stage itself.”

The Colton Recital Hall makeover is part of President Gestring’s two-year renovation and update plan for the Fine Arts.

“President Gestring has shown incredible support for the Fine Arts at USD since she took office. We are so appreciative of her efforts,” said David Holdhusen, chair of the USD Music Department. “Last summer as part of President Gestring’s two-year project, Knutson Theatre underwent a significant upgrade and this year it is Colton’s turn.

“The renovation is quite dramatic. They have basically gutted the inside and are updating everything. We are replacing the stage, creating a more acoustically and visually appealing space, updating the lights and sound, getting new seating, and adding a stage right exit from the stage,” he said. “Basically, we are creating a wonderful new environment for both the performer and the audience.”

The new Colton Recital Hall will offer more flexibility and options for musicians and attendees.

“This will give us a recital hall that better equates to the quality of performance of our students, faculty, and ensembles,” said Holdhusen. “It will also allow us to be able to provide better multimedia presentation, more advanced technical capabilities, and will enhance our ability to record and stream concerts held in this location.”

The renovation of Colton Recital Hall will enhance USD’s Department of Music, said Holdhusen. The department offers three undergraduate degrees, a Master of Music Degree in six specializations, a music minor, and two certificate programs. The department has about 100 majors, but many other students participate in the department from across campus through ensembles, taking lessons and classes, and attending events and music activities.

In addition to the Colton Recital Hall update, other projects are underway in the Fine Arts building as part of President Gestring’s initiative.

“A sculpture yard is being added north of the Fine Arts building,” said Kelley. “This area will allow large scale metal pours and safer spaces to create large wood and stone sculptures. In addition, hallways and bathrooms continue to undergo renovation. It is an exciting time for the Fine Arts!”

“I am grateful to President Gestring for her continued support of the Fine Arts, and her willingness to provide such major upgrades to the Fine Arts building. This continues a process that started with the renovation of the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre, and enables us to offer our students modern, effective and beautiful performance and creative spaces,” Kelley said. “The College of Fine Arts hosts more than 100 events each year, and these upgrades will significantly improve the experience of our students, our faculty, and the many guests who visit our galleries, see our shows, and attend our concerts.”

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