UT added another Haslam to the family as a ribbon was cut in commemoration of the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center on Friday, Sept. 13.
The Natalie L. Haslam Music Center is a project worth more than $40 million, Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said at the ceremony. Natalie Haslam and husband Jim Haslam donated over $32.5 million to the school, $10 million of which specifically to the School, which is now the third piece of UT property to hold the Haslam name following the James A. Haslam II Business Building and Haslam Field.
More than 200 people watched as Cheek, Gov. Bill Haslam, School of Music director Jeffrey Pappas, Sen. Lamar Alexander, Natalie Haslam and others cut the dedication ribbon.
Cheek opened the ceremony followed by words from guests including Gov. Haslam, Pappas, Alexander and Mrs. Haslam.
"We are all amazed by this building," Natalie Haslam said in a speech before the ribbon-cutting. "It is truly incredible. It is the answer to a long dream."
The building features the 400-seat Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall, the George F. DeVine music library, 45 practice rooms, eight technology-enhanced classrooms, three computer labs, a recording and mixing lab, 40 performance studios, rehearsal rooms and offices.
"It is the most advanced state of the art music education building in the nation," Cheek said.
In addition, the School of Music is now an all-Steinway school – meaning over 90 percent of its pianos were made by the world-renowned company – Theresa Lee, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said.
These pianos vary from upright pianos to multiple sizes of grand pianos.
Students of UT were represented by Megan Brooker, a School of Music 2013 Presser Scholar. Brooker expressed the gratitude the students feel towards those involved.
"It's been such a long wait for so many of us, the faculty definitely more than the students," Brooker said. "Mr. Sperl (now retired associate professor of clarinet in the School of Music) ... said that on his first day on the job at UT one of the other faculty members said 'can you believe it? We're getting a new building.'
"His first day at UT was in 1977."
Music performance majors Benjamin Rogers and Inna Karsheva attended the ceremony and said while the music building solved many problems, space is still a challenge with UT's growth.
"I think space is definitely the biggest issue," Rogers, sophomore cello player said. "We're blessed to have all of this given to us, but at the same time there are still things that could have been that weren't. It still functions really well. It's great."
Karsheva agreed with Rogers saying the recital hall and music library could have been bigger, but ultimately, the building is the music students' home.
"We're proud; It brings pride to everybody, because I can say, 'We have our music building. We're not around campus all over in different buildings. We have our place,'" Karsheva, junior violin player, said. "If you're a music major student you spend 12 hours a day in the music building.
"We have a home now."