BY: Caroline Poole
The School of Fine Arts recently renovated McBeth Recital Hall, one of the primary performance venues for students, professors and others in the community. After closing to complete the renovations over the summer, the hall will reopen with the McBeth Recital Hall Gala on September 10 at 7:30 pm.
The recital hall, named after the late Dr. Francis McBeth, a faculty member and well known composer, was built in 1975. The renovations began in May with a sanding and refinishing of the stage. Renovations stopped as various summer camps were using Ouachita facilities, but picked up again in July. Renovations include not only the stage floor, but also a full LED lighting system with a control panel. Dr. Gary Gerber, dean of the School of Fine Arts, said that the updated lighting system will make the performances a more modern production. Other renovations include new flooring. New carpet was installed on the stairs and the aisles and new tile was installed under the seats. There is also new seating, which includes wider seats as well as handicap accessible seating. The hall now follows ADA standards with five handicap spaces with companion seating.
“The hall already had great acoustics,” Gerber said. “These renovations will give our performances a freshness. It really gives it a professional quality.”
The hall is primarily used for student recitals, but it has many other functions on campus. In the performing arts class, students perform on stage in the hall on a weekly basis. Special concerts such as Lessons and Carols are also held in the hall. Ensembles use the hall for rehearsals. Guest performers and lecturers and other events for the Ouachita community are often held in the hall. The Arkadelphia community also utilizes the space for special events.
“When we have special events in the hall and guest artists come in the renovations will really give the hall a nice impression,” Gerber said. “It gives a good sense that we are keeping up with the times and keeping everything looking as good as possible.”
Francis McBeth was a professor at Ouachita and world-renowned composer. McBeth taught theory and composition. He composed symphonic music and bands across the nation, including the top military bands, performed his music. Ouachita carries on his legacy through the recital hall. The renovations were funded through the Sturgis Foundation and through other private donors. Although the recital hall has not been opened for all students and other visitors to see, student reaction has been positive.
“I think it’s really encouraging that we have something new,” Abby Root said. Root is a junior speech communication and theater education major from Arkadelphia. “McBeth is used by hundreds of students every week so I think that it is just nice that Ouachita has redone it and that it’s a really nice space for performances.”
Students and faculty will continue to use the hall for similar purposes as before. Gerber hopes that the hall will promote the department in new ways.
“It will be an impressive space to show prospective students and parents,” Gerber said. “It might be used more often for special events now that it is new and updated.”
Junior musical theater major Aaden Jones agrees with Gerber. “I think it’s really pushing us forward,” Jones said. “The school already has a good music program but now when people come to visit they will see the nice recital hall that reflects the level of the program.”
The McBeth Recital Hall Gala reopening event will be held on September 10 at 7:30