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January 18, 1999

Music program settles into new digs

By Barbara McKenna

UCSC music students will be logging less miles from here on in. With the completion of the $21 million Music Center this month, the days are over when a student has to jet from a practice room in Performing Arts to a meeting or class with a music professor at Porter College or to an electronic music class in the Communications Building.

Peter Elsea looks over some equipment in one of the new Music Center studios (more photos).

The first step in centralizing the music program came in January 1997 when the Music Center's classrooms, practice studios, and performance venues opened. Now, with the completion of two wings to the center, the entire program has one home. One of the two new wings houses music faculty and staff offices while the other is home to the electronic music program, housed previously in the Communications Building. Construction has been nearly completed on a separate gamelan building.

"For the first time in my 18 years here, we have everyone in the same spot," says music operations manager Tom Listmann. "It makes a huge difference as far as enabling faculty, staff, and student interaction. There's a kind of creative dynamic that comes with this proximity that's hard to quantify but is incredibly important," he adds.

Listmann noted that, in addition to having better access to each other, students, faculty and staff also have convenient access to studios, instruments, and performance venues.

According to electronic music's lecturer Peter Elsea, the new electronic music studios not only offer expanded facilities (with five studios, the new center adds two additional studios to the program), but offers students state-of-the art equipment and ideal working conditions as well.

"In the old building we had to contend with noise from the air conditioner, vending machines in the hall, buzzing lights. Each year it seemed to get noisier in those studios. Here, someone could play Frank Zappa at 100 decibels and it wouldn't be heard in the adjacent rooms," Elsea said.

At the moment, there are still boxes scattered here and there in the hallways and equipment waiting to be installed. That work should be completed later this quarter and then faculty, staff, and students can really get down to the serious business of making music.

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