The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD), ranked among the top performing arts schools in the nation, has received an $8-million gift from William K. and Delores S. Brehm to renovate and expand one of the school's principal North Campus buildings, the Earl V. Moore Building, pending regental approval at the Nov. 15 meeting.
President Mary Sue Coleman announced the gift to the university community today at the President's Leadership Breakfast where she shared her plans for the upcoming year.
"We do art and science very well at this university; what binds the two is the university's capacity for creativity," Coleman said. "With their generosity, the Brehms are expanding the U-M environment for creative work and creative approaches. This transformation of SMTD is genuinely exciting, and complements new performance spaces such as the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre."
Construction for the project, pending regental approval, will commence in early 2014 and is expected to be completed in about two years.
"This commitment demonstrates Bill and Dee Brehm's longstanding enthusiasm and care for the experiences of U-M students," said Christopher Kendall, dean of SMTD and Paul Boylan Collegiate Professor of Music. "This project will ensure that SMTD remains among the preeminent performing arts schools. The Brehms have a deep personal involvement in and appreciation for the performing arts, and with this gift they have become visionary champions for future generations of our music students. Bill, a 1950 graduate of U-M, is himself an accomplished musician."
The Brehm's gift is a catalyst and crucial contribution toward the total $23 million cost of renovating and expanding the Earl V. Moore Building, the original North Campus home to SMTD. Of the total cost, $14 million is allocated from the university with the balance to come from additional fundraising, including a gift from Glenn E. Watkins, emeritus professor of musicology, that will provide for a state-of-the-art lecture hall as part of the expansion.
During the past several years, U-M has opened the Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller Theatre, expanded and renovated the University of Michigan Museum of Art and supported a nationwide initiative to explore ways to integrate the arts into the work of research universities. In September, the university received the largest-ever donation to an art-and-design program in the U.S., with the Regents renaming the school in honor of the donor, the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design.
SMTD is distinguished by its world-renowned faculty and by its ability to offer the highest level of conservatory training coupled with equally rigorous academic studies. The school's core performing arts curricula in traditional areas of music, theatre and dance are complemented by concentrations in musical theatre, jazz, interarts performance, performing arts management and performing arts technology. With its unique position as a performing arts school within a major research university, the school features numerous multi-unit faculty appointments and many dual-degree majors.
U-M graduates contribute to the rich diversity of American performing arts. They work in many of the world's great orchestras, regularly appear on Broadway in plays and musicals, are members of internationally recognized theatre and dance companies and perform on the great stages of the world. The university has cultivated generation after generation of artists that have influenced our national artistic landscape.
Alumni include legends and rising stars such as soprano Jessye Norman, actor James Earl Jones, jazz composer Bob James, musical theatre artist Gavin Creel, television star Darren Criss, violinist and Sphinx Organization founder Aaron Dworkin and international pop star Madonna, among many others. Graduates teach at institutions throughout the country including Eastman School of Music, the Juilliard School, Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music and the Curtis Institute of Music, among others, and comprise a veritable roster of leadership among U.S. performing arts schools.
SMTD is also in the vanguard of schools encouraging greater diversity; about 11 percent of its student population comes from underrepresented groups.