UM Frost opens two new recital venues with celebratory concert

By Lawrence Budmen

The Robert and Judy Prokop Newman Recital Hall was inaugurated with a concert Wednesday night at the University of Miami. Photo: UM

The Frost School of Music opened the new Robert and Judi Prokop Newman Recital Hall at the Knight Center for Music Innovation on the University of Miami campus Wednesday night. The new concert venue was inaugurated with a nearly three- hour program featured the work of Frost faculty and students in classical, jazz and pop genres.

Designed by Ariel Fausto of the New York-based architectural firm H3, the Newman Recital Hall’s can accommodate 203 concertgoers in 13 rows of red-cushioned seats, with mezzanine seating on both sides. Cream-tinged walls are surrounded by beige-wooded panels that span the length of the space. Movable curtain-like panels surround the stage. A window at the stage’s rear looks out at Lake Osceola and the campus area, embellished at nights by lights.

The Knight Center also encompasses the Thomas D. Hormel Innovation Stage, a flexible black box space; a long marble-columned lobby connects the two performance venues.

From the highly varied program of solo and small ensemble scores, the venue’s acoustics appear to be exceptionally clear and immediate while allowing defined gradations in volume and texture. 

Flutist Jennifer Grim and marimbist Svet Stoyanov performed music of Piazzolla Wednesday night. Photo: Shawn Clark

The concert’s most notable performance came from flutist Jennifer Grim and percussionist Svet Stoyanov (on marimba) for agile and imaginative accounts of two contrasting pieces from Piazzolla’s Historie du Tango (“Café 1930” and “Nightclub 1960”). The Frost Opera Theater presented a preview of its February production of Kurt Weil’s Street Scene with the famous “Ice Cream Sextet.”

Directed by Frost choral director Amanda Quist, the Seraphic Fire Scholars (a group of choral students who study and perform with the chamber choir) sang Lansing McLoskey’s ethereal “Dear World” and a mellow iteration of Mozart’s motet Ave Verum Corpus. The hall’s organ made a mighty sound in Vojtěch Trubač’s rousing rendition of the finale from Louis Vierne’s Symphony No. 6. Saxophonist Melvin Butler’s rich vibrato reinvented Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow,” imaginatively accompanied by David Ake’s pianism.

The evening concluded with Symphony Basquiat by Frost alum Kevin Day which was commissioned for the opening of the Knight Center. The work’s four short movements each correspond to Basquiat paintings which were projected on a screen behind 15 members of the Frost Wind Ensemble. In the vein of Ibert’s Divertissement, the score is an exuberant romp. Day’s light-hearted musical vaudeville was led with verve and energy by Robert Carnochan.

Newman Hall offers an intimate and inviting space that should prove ideal for recitals and chamber music, a worthy addition to the growing music department facilities.

Posted in News

Leave a Comment

Thu Nov 2, 2023
at 1:51 pm
No Comments