Archive for Saturday, August 17, 1991

KU EDITION

August 17, 1991

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For years, Kansas University held December holiday Vespers in Hoch Auditorium.

Beginning in 1993, however, the Vespers are to move into the new $14.3 million Lied Center for the Performing Arts, a brand-new concert hall being constructed on the West Campus of the university.

For 1992, Stephen Anderson, chair of the department of music and dance, was planning festivities to commemorate the last Vespers held in Hoch. As luck would have it, the last Vespers in Hoch were held in 1990. Hoch was gutted by a fire June 15 of this year, and now Vespers will be moved to Allen Fieldhouse.

But the knowledge that the Lied Center is waiting in the wings has mitigated the enormous challenge of rescheduling performances posed to those who used Hoch.

According to Peter Thompson, dean of the School of Fine Arts, construction is continuing apace at the Lied, which eventually will seat 2,020 people for concerts and other events. The center is being built with the help of a $10 million donation from the Ernst Lied Foundation. Last spring, the fund-raising drive for the center had exceeded $12 million.

THE CONCERT hall will be used for events in the KU Concert Series, the department of music and dance and other university and community functions, said Jacqueline Davis, the director of the center, who is now planning how to use the structure.

Thompson said construction should be finished by the spring of 1993, at which time the faculty and staff can go in and figure out what needs to be done before its opening. Plans also are under way to schedule a gala opening.

The Lied will join the 2,600 seat Topeka Performing Arts Center, which reopened in March of this year, and the multitheater Johnson County Cultural Education Center, which opened in January of this year.

The hall now being built is the first phase of a grand scheme for the performing arts. A blueprint in Thompson's office shows a plan that would add a 600-seat theater, a recital hall with an organ, scene shops and offices.

ESSENTIALLY, KU's Department of Theatre and Film would move in, leaving Murphy Hall to the music and dance department. Crafton-Preyer would revert to use as a concert hall.

"It would be a nice scenario if the Phase II drive would be built around the needs of theater," Thompson said. "The dance faculty, who are now in the Robinson gymnasium, would then use that space.''

Right now, however, no plans have been announced to launch such a campaign, as the KU Endowment Association completes its Campaign Kansas fund-raising drive as well as the drive for the Lied construction.

Obviously, people like Jack Wright, director of University Theatre, would welcome such a campaign. The Lied will not house University Theatre productions, because the facility will have no scene shops for set construction.

SOME THEATER alumni, such as Kip Niven, a member of the theatre and film department's advisory board, already are beginning to talk about the need for Phase II.

"I think the alumni recognize the need for a new theater," Niven said in an April interview prior to Alums Come Home II, a program that brought alumni theater and film professionals back to work with students and each other.

When the Lied Center does open in 1993, the music and dance program will move several programs now in the Crafton-Preyer to the new facility, freeing University Theatre from previous scheduling restrictions.

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