The School of Music, Theatre & Dance hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking Thursday to officially launch construction on a $24.32 million renovation and expansion of the Earl V. Moore Building on North Campus, home to a majority of the school’s core music programs.

The event at Britton Recital Hall in Moore was attended by President Mary Sue Coleman, Provost Martha E. Pollack, major donors to the project, representatives from Integrated Design Solutions (the architect of record), Ennead Architects (design architect), Kirkegaard Associates (acoustics design firm) and SMTD administration, faculty, students, staff, and other invited guests. 

In addition to a ceremonial “first dig,” the event featured the premiere of a choral work composed for the occasion by U-M alumnus William K. Brehm. It was performed by the University Chamber Choir under the direction of Jerry Blackstone, chair of the Department of Conducting and director of choral activities.

William Brehm and his wife, Delores S. Brehm, are the lead donors to the project, having made a gift of $8 million, announced in 2012, which was a catalyst and crucial contribution toward the total cost, with $14 million allocated from the university.

Turning a ceremonial first shovelful of dirt are, from left: Regent Julia Donovan Darlow, SMTD Dean Christopher Kendall, donors Delores and William Brehm, Professor Emeritus Glenn Watkins, President Mary Sue Coleman and Provost Martha Pollack. (Photo by Peter Smith Photography)

The Brehms are longtime supporters to U-M, having donated $62 million to support a range of projects and programs. They have provided major funding for the Health System, including support for the eight-story 230,000-square foot addition to the Kellogg Eye Center for clinical and research activities, named the Brehm Tower, and the funding to create the visionary Brehm Center for Diabetes Research & Analysis, housed in Brehm Tower.

Their Brehm Scholars Program provides four years of undergraduate support for graduates of Fordson High School in Dearborn, Brehm’s alma mater, with the possibility of an additional four years of full support for the Medical School. The Brehms, who recently moved to Ann Arbor after living in Virginia for much of their 62-year-long marriage, also attended the groundbreaking.

In honor of the Brehms’ support, the school’s new wing will be named the William K. and Delores S. Brehm Pavilion. It will feature a number of new spaces, including a welcoming entrance and lobby and a rehearsal hall for large ensembles, to be named Hankinson Rehearsal Hall, in honor of William Brehm’s maternal family name.

The Brehm Pavilion also will include the Glenn E. Watkins Lecture Hall, named for the SMTD emeritus professor of musicology who suggested and funded the state-of-the-art hall, suitable for both academic studies and for hosting a distinguished lecture series. Watkins also took part in the groundbreaking.

Since the project was announced, other significant donor gifts have also been made, including:

• A $1.4 million gift from the estate of the late Milton and Carolyn Kevreson, made by their family, including $800,000 allocated for the Moore renovation and expansion. (The additional $600,000 supports music education scholarships and the Men’s and Women’s Glee Clubs.) The gift names the Carolyn and Milton Kevreson Rehearsal Hall and the Bobbie and Hal Allen Practice Room.

• A gift of $1 million from the Steven Schwartzberg Foundation, directed by alumnus Harris Schwartzberg and his family, to name the Steven M. Schwartzberg Practice Hall in memory of Harris’s brother. The space, one of the busiest in the building, will house 110 renovated practice rooms, many reclaimed from other uses.

• A $50,000 gift from the Cohen Family Fund of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan to name an ensemble practice room in honor of Linda G. and Maurice S. Binkow. This gift launches a “practice room naming campaign” to provide support for essential practice spaces and the pianos and technologies they require.

This project and gifts are part of the $4 billion Victors for Michigan campaign launched in November 2013. The School of Music, Theatre & Dance has a fundraising goal of $90 million as part of that universitywide campaign.

Completed in 1964, the Earl V. Moore Building was one of the last projects designed by the world-renowned architect and designer Eero Saarinen. Though the building was heralded as one of the finest for the teaching of music at its opening, enrollment and faculty at SMTD have nearly doubled since then. Musical theatre, jazz, and performing arts technology were all added to the music program over the years, further expanding the school’s top-ranked music program.

The renovation and expansion will provide significant improvements in the building’s size and acoustical properties, including a 25 percent increase in the number of practice rooms and in their size. It will also add a student commons and spacious public lobby; new faculty and staff offices, teaching studios, and classrooms; a state-of-the art lecture hall; a suite of percussion practice rooms; and a new, expansive, and high-volume rehearsal hall, while the current rehearsal hall and McIntosh Theatre will receive significant improvements in acoustics, aesthetics, and functionality.