From the early days of Macky Auditorium to the dawning of a new era in the expanded Imig Music Building, the history of music at the University of Colorado Boulder has been rich and interwoven with that of the surrounding community. Professor Emeritus Thomas Riis and College of Music students reflect on the first 100 years of music at CU Boulder and what the next century could hold as the college celebrates its Centennial.


New Imig venues lift and inspire

chamber hall
rehearsal room

By Jessie Bauters

As the College of Music gets settled in to its new, expanded home, audience members, prospective students and visiting alumni will be greeted not only by a breathtaking new facade but also but a number of improvements to their concert-going experience. In all, there are now four performance spaces in Imig Music Building: the 500-seat Grusin Music Hall, the 270-seat Music Theatre, the new 115-seat Chamber Hall and the new 150-seat convertible rehearsal-performance room for large ensembles.

Senior Associate Dean John Davis, who worked closely with Pfeiffer Partners Architects Inc., Adolfson and Peterson Construction and Acoustic Distinctions to map out the 64,000-square-foot expansion, says that while the convertible space—which is located in the southwest corner of the building—will be used sparingly for concerts, guest lectures and public talks will now be easier to schedule due to the new space. “It’s a great size for that kind of presentation, and you can do it at the same time as a performance in one of the other nearby halls.”

It’ll also add space for more rehearsals. “And that’s a big win,” Davis says. “It’ll make scheduling rehearsal time much easier.”

The gorgeous new Chamber Hall will also make a statement for visitors to the college. “It has sizeable windows looking toward the south and a ceiling height almost twice what it was before,” Davis explains. “We now have the capacity to adjust internal acoustics depending on the presentation, using movable curtains to absorb sound.”

Finally, Davis says the Chamber Hall and new ensemble rehearsal space have designated spaces for audio engineering, which will hook up to the second-floor recording studio that was added during the expansion. “We’ll be able to do all of that from upstairs. The new recording studio is a big bonus and a very worthwhile improvement to our current situation.”

Davis says the overall enhancement of the College of Music’s performance spaces will have a ripple effect across the college community. “Audiences and the general college population will feel lifted and inspired by the new space, by how it looks and feels. It’s something for us and them to be even more proud of.”

dance studioIn the same house, new collaboration can be born

By Becca Vaclavik

When the College of Music community walks the new-and-improved halls of Imig, they’ll be joined in two spaces by a new set of collaborators: artists from the Department of Theatre & Dance. 

Imig will now include small rehearsal spaces for both the theatre and dance disciplines on the first floor. And on the third floor, just across the hall from several faculty studios, the expansion will feature a large dance hall, complete with tall ceilings designed especially for hanging and rehearsing with aerial points.

“It's extraordinary to have that space. It will absolutely facilitate the work that we do,” says Department of Theatre & Dance Chair Erika Randall. “Through both of these spaces, theatre and dance students and musicians will interact—we’re all opening our doors to be good neighbors.”

The cohabited spaces will help to dissolve the silos that sometimes exist across the performing arts, instead creating a central location that can serve as a hub for collaboration.

“Dance is so interested in decolonizing space and bodies,” says Randall.

“How can we be agents for that in the new Imig building and foster a decentering and recentering of space? Things happen in conversations that pass when you're actually in community. It's just such a beautiful way for us to all start to experience the arts.”