Tag: mason hall

JSU music department begins transition back into Mason Hall

Scott Young, News Editor

The Jacksonville State University Department of Music has begun transitioning back into their home Mason Hall, nearly two years after the facility was heavily damaged by an EF-3 tornado.

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Petition to ‘fix the old buildings first’ receives over 1,600 signatures in four days

Ashleigh Crouch, News Correspondent

A petition for Jacksonville State University to ‘fix the old buildings first’ has gained over 1,600 signatures in just four days.

Continue reading “Petition to ‘fix the old buildings first’ receives over 1,600 signatures in four days”

JSU officials target spring reopening for Mason Hall

Scott Young, News Editor

Officials at Jacksonville State University’s Capital Planning and Facilities office said they are targeting for Mason Hall construction to be completed by the end of the year and for the building to be ready by spring 2020.

David Thompson, director of capital planning and facilities, said they hope for the building to be completed by that date but that he couldn’t “guarantee that date.”

Mason Hall, home to the music department and the Marching Southerners, was heavily damaged on March 19, 2018 by an EF-3 tornado that affected the city of Jacksonville and the campus of Jacksonville State University.

Since then, classes at the JSU music program have been dispersed across nine different buildings on campus, including Meehan Hall, the School of Business and Industry, Ayers Hall, Houston Cole Library, the RMC JSU complex and others.

“Not having Mason Hall as a home base for the band program has been extremely challenging,” said Ken Bodiford, director of university bands and a JSU assistant professor of music. “We are completely at the mercy of other departments around campus.”

Membership in the Marching Southerners has grown to 551 for the 2019 school year, which is a 39 percent increase since the year 2008. Of those 551 members, 191 of them are freshmen. 

Bodiford illustrated the importance of having a music building with record band membership.

He added that the kinesiology department, athletic department, housing and events department, the Jacksonville Community Center and the Baptist Campus Ministries have all provided space for band rehearsals to take place.

“At a minimum, the band needs 12 large rooms for the individual sections to hold sectional rehearsals,” said Bodiford. “In addition, we have to have one large room (at least the size of a gym) to hold all of the wind players for full band music rehearsals.”

Bodiford said that the department has been promised a building with soundproof practice rooms and studios, a soundproof band room and a recital hall.

“For over four decades, the music faculty and music majors have been fed broken promises of a new building,” said Bodiford. “I remember being told back in 1983 as a freshman music major that the next building to be built on campus will be a music building and performance hall. Well, 36 years later I am still waiting to see this happen. Needless to say, I am very excited to see the broken promises of the past come to an end.”

The JSU David L. Walters Department of Music is selling seats in Mason Hall’s new recital hall which includes an engraved plaque that the donor may personalize.

A premium seat goes for $300 for a seat in the middle section of the recital hall or a standard seat for $250. The proceeds are used to pay directly for the seat.

Thompson says that furniture has not yet been ordered for Mason Hall, and that the university is working to reopen Mason Hall as soon as possible.

“They want to get back in the building sooner rather than later, but they want to make sure things are done right,” said Thompson.

Story photo provided by Ashley Stephens/Chanticleer.

Watch out, Juilliard, Mason’s coming

You may have taken a nice stroll through the beautiful, immaculate campus of Jacksonville State University and came across one of the top attractions on campus, Mason Hall.

The facade of the building offers a tranquil-like ambience for anyone who visits this prestigious academic institution.

If you have never taken a small detour into Mason, then you are missing out on a life-changing experience.

Open to anyone who needs to practice, day or night, this building contains state-of-the-art technology and updated instruments.

Most of the practice rooms contain their own piano. A musician using one of these pianos is quite similar to a gambler playing poker — he never knows what kind of result he’ll receive.

Some of the frequent piano players who visit Mason love practicing on the pianos’ missing keys. The missing keys are not a problem, it just presents a special challenge.

Jarrett Irish, a star jazz saxophone player, says, “Tuning to these pianos actually helps train my ear to hear my tuning note in varying degrees. I’ll hit a middle C and instead receive a B-flat an octave down. You just never know.”

Some of the frequent inhabitants of Mason Hall attest that the building makes its own music. Falling ceiling tiles create a special ornamentation unmatched by any sound produced from another instrument or voice.

If one listens closely, you can hear a ceiling tile provide the necessary crescendo to create the tension and beauty of a particular phrase in a musical selection.

Duets and trios with other instruments are a thing of the past — Mason Hall is providing an innovative alternative into the future.

One of Mason Hall’s most prominent features are the one-hundred percent sound-proof practice rooms located throughout the building.

According to jazz musician, Jessica Creel, the sound-proof practice rooms provide a comfortable and stress-free zone for practicing. “I love glancing up from a piece of music I’m working on to find a group of critics telling me I sound like Kenny G in his prime,” said Jessica, “Sometimes the practice rooms make me feel like I’m in an entertainment box.”

Unbeknownst to the student population, Mason features its own animal habitat composed of bats in the building’s performance center.

The unveiling of this special attraction took place last March when world-class jazz musicians performed at Mason Hall. During a concert, the bats began to fly above the musicians as if they were in a special rehearsed dance.

Irish explained the bats have a rather charming personality, “I really miss having the bats around. I would frequently visit the performance center to feed the creatures after a long practice session. A calming sensation would come over me when the bats would swoop right above my head.”

Mason Hall is the leading figure for music buildings. To the eye of a non-music student, Mason may seem like just another ordinary academic building, but to frequent visitors, Mason is much more than that.

Matthew Hill
Staff Writer

Grammy nominee opens Foothills Piano Festival

On January 8, 2015, multiple Grammy nominated pianist, Dr. Allison Brewster Franzetti, opened JSU’s eighth annual Foothills Piano Festival in the Mason Hall Performance Center. Organized by Dr. Wendy Freeland of the music department, the Foothills Piano Festival is an annual event consisting of three to four piano recitals over the course of the year.

“I like to feature the piano in several ways,” said Freeland, “sometimes a traditional recital, sometimes avant-garde, sometimes jazz piano, and I like to bring in featured pianists from outside as well as some of the great pianists from Alabama.”

Dr. Brewster Franzetti is a native of New York City. She is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, the Julliard School, and Rutgers University and has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards over her career. She has graced prestigious stages around the world, such as the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Wigmore Hall in London, and Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York City both as a soloist and as a member of various orchestras. Dr. Brewster Franzetti currently serves as the Artistic Director of the Young Artists Program and the Coordinator of Adult Chamber Music at Rutgers University and serves on the Arts High advisory board in Newark, New Jersey.

“[I’ve been playing piano] since I was two,” Franzetti said. “My parents got a piano, and I sat down and learned how to play it. I never did the baby thing. I have perfect pitch. I could play things by ear, in any key—major, minor, it didn’t matter. And my grandmother taught piano. She and my mother took me for a consultation at Julliard when I was six, but I didn’t make the decision that this was what I wanted to do until I was sixteen.”

Brewster Franzetti’s program for the night included “Four Impromptus” by Franz Schubert and “Images” by Claude Debussy as well as a duet with Dr. Jeremy Benson, Professor of Flute and Music History Studies at JSU, whom she befriended while attending the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers.

“When you’re actually performing, there’s an energy flow; you’re giving energy to the audience, but they’re giving energy to you,” said Franzetti. “It’s kind of symbiotic. It’s an amazing feeling doing something you’ve worked so hard on but at the same time feels like you’re doing it for the first time.”

Dr. Freeland believes that events such as this are instrumental in grooming young musicians and the community as a whole.

“I do it to expose people to classical piano music. I think the ‘ew’ factor fades away after you’re exposed. And I do it because I believe in performance. I’m a regular performer, and I want college pianists to hear and experience other performers.”

The next performance of the Foothills Piano Festival is scheduled for April 2, 2015, at 7:30 p.m. in the Mason Hall Performance Center.

Katie Cline
Staff Writer