Call it hitting the high note.
The Old Town School of Folk Music is nearing the end of its journey to open a new $18 million facility with a grand-opening celebration kicking off Jan. 9.
Executive Director Bau Graves certainly sees the Old Town School East Building as the completion of a masterpiece, even as it marks the beginning of a new chapter of expanded services to Chicago's artistic community.
"This is a really, really exciting time," Graves says. "I think the new building is a physical embodiment of our attitude at Old Town School-honor the past, look to the future."
Old Town started in 1957 on West Armitage and has offered a wide variety of classes for those with interest in music, art, dance, theater and the visual arts ever since. In 1998, the school opened its Lincoln Square location inside a former library building. The two locations boast concert halls, nearly four dozen classrooms, music stores and more to performers and working artists of all ages. Graves says the school-through classes, concerts and other activities-has about 500,000 visits a year.
Inevitably, expansion became a must for Old Town officials who cited, among other things in the capital campaign, poorly configured dance rooms, the need for class space with better sound engineering design and an overall capacity issue during peak hours.
"It will improve everybody's experience everywhere," Graves says.
The new building-located across Lincoln Avenue from the current Lincoln Square location-features a 150-seat flex-use space convertible to classroom, community area, performance or dance hall, as well as three large dance studios and 17 acoustically engineered classrooms for music instruction.
Additionally, the building has been recognized and certified for its green construction and technology.
Old Town's new era begins with a 55-day anniversary celebration at all three locations, featuring a wide variety of music, workshop and class offerings, some of which are free to attend.