The Davenport-Hatch Foundation has made a $2.5 million commitment—the largest gift in its 56-year history—to benefit the University of Rochester and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra for the renovation and expansion of Eastman Theatre. The pledge, when combined with the Foundation’s previous gift of $400,000 for Eastman Theatre stage renovations in 2004, represents a $2.9 million commitment to the project, which is a high priority both for the University of Rochester and its Eastman School of Music and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
In recognition of the Foundation’s support and in honor of its founder, Augustus T. Hatch, the recital hall in the new addition to be built next to the theater will be named Hatch Recital Hall.
“We are extremely proud to make this landmark gift to the Eastman Theatre Renovation and Expansion Project, committing ourselves as never before in our 56-year history,” said A. Thomas Hildebrandt, chair of the Foundation’s grants committee. “We believe this project adds to the legacy of excellence of two of our community’s jewels—the Eastman School of Music and Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra—and also will have a significant impact on downtown development.”
The Davenport-Hatch Foundation is a private foundation whose purpose is to make gifts and grants to aid and support charitable organizations in and around the Rochester, N.Y., area. In 2000, the Foundation received the Business Foundation Award from the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester for its support of the arts.
“The University is thankful to the Davenport-Hatch Foundation for its continued commitment toward the Eastman Theatre renovation,” said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. “The Foundation is investing in important initiatives that will preserve the historic legacy of the theater and expand it as a cultural and artistic center for the community.”
The new 230-seat Hatch Recital Hall will be a world-class facility for solo recitals and chamber music. It will be located in a new facility which will help address the performance and teaching needs of students and faculty; the new building will be constructed next to and connected to Eastman Theatre.
The 86-year-old landmark Eastman Theatre was built by Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman. Its performance hall is the primary concert hall for the Eastman School’s larger ensembles and the principal hall for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to the new building, the renovation project includes enhancements inside the theater to enrich the concert experience for the audience and performers.
“The role of a state-of-the-art recital hall in the Eastman Theatre Renovation and Expansion Project cannot be understated,” said Eastman Dean Douglas Lowry. “This will be an elegant performance space, sonically spectacular and aesthetically brilliant, framing the art of chamber music at Eastman in a way that ennobles the very highest ideals of this storied art form. We are deeply grateful to the Davenport-Hatch Foundation for their cornerstone gift that will bring this hall to reality.”
“The RPO is extremely proud of our more than three decade-long relationship with the Davenport-Hatch Foundation,” said RPO President & CEO Charles Owens. “This generous investment—and the extraordinary project that it supports—is a major step toward our goal of developing Rochester’s international reputation as a center for music performance and education.” The Davenport-Hatch Foundation’s support of the RPO includes an endowed chair for the principal trombone in the name of Austin E. Hildebrandt, president of the Foundation.
In addition to Hatch Recital Hall, the new building will hold a rehearsal hall large enough to accommodate large Eastman ensembles and the RPO, teaching studios for Eastman faculty, and a new recording control room. The façade of Eastman Theatre will be extended along East Main Street to include the new building, which will be constructed at the corner of East Main and Swan Streets. A new entrance on East Main Street will draw patrons into a soaring atrium lobby; the existing entrance doors to the theater will remain.
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Renovations inside Eastman Theatre include a reduction in the number of seats inside the main performance hall. The removal of some 800 seats at the back and sides of the orchestra level will allow for wider aisles, the addition of box seats and expansion of the lobby, and will improve acoustics. The hall will have 2,250 seats when completed. The lobbies of the theater and the new building will be linked.
The estimated total cost for the renovation and expansion project will be greater than $35 million. Construction is scheduled to occur between July 2008 and early 2010. While the construction of the new building will occur throughout the 18-month period, the renovation of the main hall in Eastman Theatre will occur during the summers of 2008 and 2009.
Note to Editors: High-resolution downloadable images of the Eastman Theatre Renovation and Expansion Project can be found at http://esm.rochester.edu/news/et_renovation_gallery.php .