Feb. 1, 2020
Julia Gaines knows creating music can be a lifelong passion — she fell in love with percussion in junior high school.
Today, Gaines directs the University of Missouri’s School of Music as it opens a new space for music at Mizzou — the Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center. She envisions the music center will elevate the stature of music and the performing arts throughout the state and nation.
“The music center is not solely for students and faculty of the School of Music,” Gaines said. “It’s a place where our whole community can come together, from Missouri and beyond, to experience the magic of music.”
A space of their own
The School of Music is considered a comprehensive music school — educating performers, teachers, composers and music scholars. Since its inception, the School of Music’s primary building on campus was the Fine Arts Building, constructed in 1960. However, the building did not include any ensemble rehearsal spaces — only offices, practice rooms and classrooms.
Therefore, the school had to use four other facilities on campus for ensembles that were not originally designed for music-making, including a converted women’s gymnasium and an old student dining hall. Being spread out between five buildings across campus limited the collaborative environment the school desired to create because faculty and students would sometimes have to involve people located in different buildings, not just down the hallway.
Now, the School of Music is housed in only two facilities — the Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center and the Fine Arts Building — increasing the opportunities for musical collaborations.
“It’s much better for students and faculty to be able to easily interact with each other,” Gaines said. “That interaction leads to new, collaborative musical discoveries.”
See related story: MU celebrates grand opening of Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center
Dreams made into reality
The groundbreaking for the Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center was in April 2018. At that event, Gaines presented three former directors of the school with their respective detailed architectural plans of a new building — two thick books and a thumb drive. Gaines had ideas for the construction of a new building as well. These four directors weren’t the only ones who dreamt of a new building for the School of Music.
Their collective dream was made into reality with the help of a $10 million donation to the College of Arts and Science from the Sinquefield Charitable Foundation.
“We couldn’t have done this without the support from the Sinquefield family,” Gaines said. “They provided the initial step we needed to get the ball rolling on this project.”
A creative laboratory
In total, the new music center cost $24 million to complete. Much of that investment, Gaines said, was put into making acoustical design decisions specifically to create a state-of-the-art musical production laboratory environment.
“This gives our music students a creative ‘lab’ space that we’ve needed for a long time on this campus,” Gaines said. “Music education truly needs a specialized, creative ‘lab’ space, just like a chemistry department needs science labs. This space will help inspire future music directors to encourage their students to pursue a degree in music at Mizzou.”
Not an average building
One key benefit of the music center, Gaines explains, is the specifically designed walls.
“We purposely designed the space so that none of the walls inside the ensemble and practice rooms make a straight four-sided box,” Gaines said. “This is especially important for musicians to balance the acoustics and sound inside the room. Anywhere you sit inside one of these rooms has a full sound with no ‘hot spots’ as so often is found with straight walls.”
In addition to ensemble and practice spaces, the music center also features a professional-level recording studio. This space makes it possible for students to learn how to record, edit and master musical recordings. They can even produce their own original compositions.
“Our students now have the benefit of learning both sides of the microphone — production and performance,” Gaines said.
Gaines enjoys spending time with students, teaching the steel pan ensemble in addition to her role as director of the school. She uses her dual roles to get students excited about creating music every day.
“The Jeanne and Rex Sinquefield Music Center is not just a building,” Gaines said. “It creates a comprehensive music center here at Mizzou that will transform our School of Music, our college, our university and our community.”
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