PSU celebrates completion of rehearsal hall at the Bicknell Center 

  Thursday, April 25, 2019 10:00 AM
  News, Alumni, Arts & Entertainment, People and Society, Milestones, Academics

Pittsburg, KS

Rehearsal Hall

Now, students in the PSU Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, University Choirs, and the SEK Symphony Orchestra will sound just as good rehearsing as they do performing on stage. 

Private donors contributed $1 million to complete a rehearsal hall in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts that will be used daily by instrumental and vocal music groups. It was designed to mimic the acoustics of Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall and can be adjusted to the needs of the group using it. 

“The Bicknell Center is a selling point when we have prospective students here on a visit or auditioning, and this room takes it to the next level,” said Susan Marchant, chair of the Department of Music and director of University Choirs. 

Previously, musicians rehearsed in a converted space in the Kelce College of Business. 

“I’m a music performance major, and wherever I’m rehearsing and playing is a second home to me, if not a first home,” said Bryan Amor, a senior from Parsons who is a member of multiple music ensembles at PSU and performs in concert at the Bicknell Center several times a semester. “This new space is it. It’s meant for what we’re doing. This is our home now.” 

A celebration on Wednesday afternoon officially marked the move to the new rehearsal hall, and was attended by students, staff, faculty, and the public. 

One word was used often by those in attendance: “Wow.” 

The celebration included remarks by President Steve Scott, Vice President of University Advancement Kathleen Flannery, who also is president of the PSU Foundation, and a short performance by the PSU Jazz Combo, featuring Amor on the Steinway, to demonstrate the room’s outstanding acoustics.  

Scott noted that since the Bicknell Center opened in December 2014, it has hosted 200,000 visitors to performances — not just Broadway shows and touring acts, but by student performers, as well, which was the intent of the facility. 

In introducing the public to the new space, he pointed out the absence of distracting mechanical noises like air conditioning and heating, which can interfere with rehearsals and recordings. 

Doug Whitten, director of the PSU Marching Band, said his students will use the space for indoor music rehearsals and recording at least two times a week during the fall semester. 

Raul Munguia, director of the SEK Symphony Orchestra, said his musicians will use it three times a week. 

“We played here yesterday for the first time and there is a noticeable difference,” he said.  

Robert Kehle, director of the PSU Jazz Ensemble, said his group and the PSU Jazz Combo, directed by Todd Hastings, will use it three times a week. 

“We can easily close the curtains for the jazz band, and then they can be opened for the choir,” Kehle explained. “Doing that is how we ‘tune’ the room depending on whether it’s being used for instrumental rehearsal or vocal rehearsal.”

That’s necessary, the directors said, so that rehearsals sound as close to the actual performance as possible. 

“Otherwise, we can’t tell if it sounds muddy because of the room, or because of the musicians,” Munguia said.  

Marchant said the rehearsal hall will allow students to rehearse in a space that is very comparable to how they sound on stage. 

“It will give us all a more authentic rehearsal,” she said. 

The hall also will be used by the Bells of the Balkans, a community group that performs in the Bicknell Center, and by visiting ensembles as they warm up before concerts. 

Learn more about the Bicknell Center:

Learn more about the PSU Department of Music: