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New Music Center at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., Set for Completion This Fall

Mon February 26, 2024 - Northeast Edition
Daily News of Newburyport & Phillips Academy


The facility will be the Academy’s first purpose-built for music education and performance. Located on Phillips Street, adjacent to the Peabody Institute, the 30,000 sq. ft. center will become the western icon of a new “cultural corridor” on campus.
Rendering courtesy of Andover
The facility will be the Academy’s first purpose-built for music education and performance. Located on Phillips Street, adjacent to the Peabody Institute, the 30,000 sq. ft. center will become the western icon of a new “cultural corridor” on campus.
The facility will be the Academy’s first purpose-built for music education and performance. Located on Phillips Street, adjacent to the Peabody Institute, the 30,000 sq. ft. center will become the western icon of a new “cultural corridor” on campus.   (Rendering courtesy of Andover) Performance space view from the stage.   (Rendering courtesy of Andover)

Music will soon have a new home at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., north of Boston.

Construction on the 30,000-sq.-ft. Falls Music Center is set to be complete by the fall, according to Abbey Siegfried, chair of the prep school's Billings Music Department.

The new venue will include three different performance spaces, including a 250-seat hall, flexible ensemble spaces, three classrooms, 19 practice rooms and an expansive music library. In addition, plans call for the facility to have an electronic music studio, technology labs and a "rock room" with recording and broadcast capabilities.

It will be Phillips Academy's first purpose-built structure for music education and performance. Located on Phillips Street, adjacent to the Peabody Institute of Archaeology, the Falls Music Center will become the western anchor of a new "cultural corridor" on campus, the school noted in a news release.

In speaking with the Daily News, Siegfried added that once the building is finished, it will need to be "tuned" before any concerts can be performed. That will be accomplished with adjustments to its acoustic panels, such as changing their length and angle within the building.

The new facility will replace Graves Hall, which was originally the academy's science building before transitioning into the music hall. The Newburyport news source reported Feb. 26 that it is unclear what is planned for Graves Hall in the wake of the new construction.

"Graves Hall, which was built for science in 1882, simply cannot offer what we need," Siegfried explained. "We have students composing their own music, recording soundtracks and performing at the very highest levels. We also have students just beginning to learn an instrument and exploring what music means to them. This new building will be for everyone."

The Falls Music Center project is being funded in part with $24 million from the school's "Knowledge & Goodness" campaign, which ran from 2017 to 2022 and raised more than $400 million.

While a specific cost estimate was not available from school officials, the Daily News Learned from town of Andover building permits that the total cost of the project is at least $60 million.

Music Center's Name Is ‘A Big Deal'

The Falls Music Center is being named in honor of Phillips Academy Board of Trustees President and donor Amy Falls and her husband, Hartley Rogers. Siegfried praised Falls and her family, including her three daughters, one of whom was heavily involved in the school's choral program.

"They just care so deeply about the school," she said. "[Amy] is just an amazing woman."

Falls herself said in a 2023 Phillips Academy newsletter, "Music has played a significant role in our family's life. With this new building, we have a tremendous opportunity to promote music as essential to the performing arts and cultural diversity of our community — both are vital to the Andover experience."

Naming the building after Falls — or any woman — is a rare honor at Phillips Academy, according to the Daily News.

"It's a big deal," Siegfried said in speaking to the newspaper. "It's not the norm on the P.A. campus."

Falls also has been a woman of firsts, including the first female to be named the school's chief investment officer, its treasurer of the board and president of its board of trustees.

New Facility to Mix Tradition With Modern

The effort to build the Falls Music Center has been in the works for a decade, but its fundraising took off during and after the pandemic, according to Siegfried, who became chair of the music department in 2020.

"There just seems to be this renewed appreciation for music," she said.

Siegfried added that her department has been "hampered" by a lack of new technology and that students are very excited about the new recording studio.

The finished building also will include an atrium, which she explained was part of an effort to make the building "more than a classroom."

"We are always looking for spaces to gather," she told the Daily News.

The music center's exterior design blends the traditional red brick look of the campus with a more modern look. Siegfried said there was also an attempt to bring as much natural light into the center as possible.

"Being in those spaces with these big windows, being able to see the bell tower and see across campus, it's amazing how much the beautiful natural surroundings are coming in," she noted.

Rendering courtesy of Andover

Performance space view from the stage.




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