A series of recitals at Hope College on Friday and Saturday, April 24-25, by current and former music faculty and select alumni will provide a farewell to Nykerk Hall of Music, which is in its last year as home to the college’s music program.
The “Curtain Call Concerts” will take place in Wichers Auditorium on Friday, April 24, every half hour beginning at 5 p.m. with the last concluding at 10 p.m.; and on Saturday, April 25, every half hour beginning at 2 p.m. with the last concluding at 6 p.m. Retired members of the faculty scheduled to perform include pianist Charles Aschbrenner, pianist Joan Conway and cellist Robert Ritsema.
The public is invited. Admission is free.
Nykerk Hall of Music will be replaced in the fall by the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, which will provide state-of-the-art performance, rehearsal, classroom and office space for a program that has grown significantly in size and scope in the nearly 60 years since Nykerk was built. While the Department of Music is thrilled to be moving to the new venue, the excitement and anticipation still leave room to recognize the role played by its predecessor.
“More than in most other departments, music students spend most of their time in the building—going to classes and rehearsals, doing homework, hanging out with friends, and of course practicing, sometimes far into the night,” said Dr. Julia Randel, associate professor of music and chairperson of the department.
“Wichers especially is the space where we tend to gather as a department, and where most students give their recitals,” she said. “These are such important milestones in a young musician's education; it will be a special experience for alumni to have this one more opportunity to perform on that stage.”
The timing of the event is appropriate beyond its placement near the end of the school year, between the conclusion of spring-semester classes and the start of final exams. The performances have been scheduled in conjunction with the college’s Alumni Weekend, which will bring hundreds of alumni back to campus for events including reunions for several graduating classes, recognition of the 50-year graduating class, the annual Alumni Banquet and the presentation of Distinguished Alumni Awards by the Hope College Alumni Association.
Nykerk Hall of Music was completed in 1956, with the addition that houses Wichers Auditorium dedicated in 1970. At first known simply as “Music Hall,” Nykerk was given its present name in 1962 in honor of the late John B. Nykerk, who had established the college’s Department of Music in 1904. The original building also includes Snow Auditorium, named in honor of the late Wilfred Curtis Snow of the music faculty in 1963. The Wynand Wichers addition is named for the college’s sixth president, who served from 1931 to 1945. Nykerk Hall also includes an organ studio completed in 2000.
The Nykerk building will be demolished, with the site to be used for the college’s James and Martie Bultman Student Center. Dates for the demolition and start of construction have not yet been set.
Nykerk Hall of Music is located in the central Hope campus at the former 127 E. 12th St. between College and Columbia avenues.