Music is an integral and vibrant part of Geneva College and it is about to gain a higher profile on the Beaver Falls campus.
By fall 2014, the music department is scheduled to have a new building that will house a recital hall with 100-140 seats, which will be used for smaller concerts and guest speakers. The building also will contain practice rooms, studios, classrooms and a piano lab.
"The new facility will greatly improve the practice and performance space for our music majors," Geneva president Ken Smith said.
"And because many other students are involved in groups like The Genevans student choir, marching and concert bands, and various other ensembles, this building will benefit many in the Geneva community."
Construction is set to start in July on the 8,000- to 11,000-square-foot building next to the music department's present facility, Alumni Hall. The projected budget is $2.6 million.
Although the college has 50 to 60 music majors each year out of a total enrollment of 1,300 to 1,400, Don Kephart, chairman of the music department, said 15 to 20 percent of the student body is involved in music.
The marching band has more than 120 members. "They come from all the majors on campus," Mr. Kephart said. Another 200 to 250 students take private lessons in vocal or instrumental music and/or participate in small ensembles, including chamber or jazz.
For decades, The Genevans choir has been a popular presence in the community. It currently has 65 members, and half are not music majors, Mr. Kephart said.
Music programs are currently offered in five buildings, including the science and engineering building, where the choir practices.
Most of the music courses, programs and practice rooms will be moved into the new building, though the 375-seat John White Chapel in Old Main still will be used for concerts.
Mr. Kephart has been at Geneva for 30 years. He teaches a variety of music courses, including method, conducting, brass and woodwind.
In October, he was recognized during a football game halftime show for his 30 years as conductor of the marching band.
He sees part of the music department's role as supporting all students and "giving them a love of music."
Students who aren't majoring in music have access to many concerts and recitals on campus, he said, and they seize the opportunity.
Just last week, he said, a senior music major gave his voice recital and the audience far exceeded his family, with many students attending, Mr. Kephart said.
Geneva will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new music building before students leave for summer vacation.
The architect for the project is Perfido, Weiskopf, Wagstaff and Goettel.
The firm has done a number of academic projects, including the information sciences and technology building on Penn State's main campus and Uhler Hall at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
A portion of the $2.6 million cost has been obtained through bequests and a campaign called Keeping Faith with the Future. Fundraising continues by Geneva's Office of Institutional Advancement.
The annual jazz band concert attracts a sellout audience of students and local residents, Mr. Kephart said. This year's concert is at 8 p.m. Saturday in Old Main.
Titled "In the Mood XVIII: Big Band Music Returns," the concert will feature music from the '30s and '40s, including songs such as "Georgia On My Mind," "In The Mood" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me."
Tickets are $8 for adults, $4 for students.
To reserve tickets, email Ruth Vos at email@example.com or call the music department at 724-847-6660.
Calls can be made any time; callers can leave a message and pick up the tickets at the concert.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-722-0087.