Jazz Institute of Chicago

Wentz Concert Hall

Phone: 
(630) 677-3650

Principal features of the $29.2 million building include the spectacular 605-seat Wentz Concert Hall named for Dr. Myron Wentz ’63,
the visionary scientist, entrepreneur and lover of music, who has made
the lead gift for the project. Plans also include an exciting 150-seat
"black box" experimental theatre named the Bartley and Maricela Madden Theatre on the lower level, ample academic and support space, and the Gus ’48 and Connie ’50 Schoenherr Art Gallery
to display student work and that of guest artists. The Schoenherrs made
a generous gift in the ’90s that allowed the College to purchase the
building site.

Form follows function
The
architecturally compelling structure, located at a gateway to both
campus and downtown at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Ellsworth
Street, is perfectly suited to the functions it supports.

A
20-foot difference in the elevation of the building site between
Ellsworth Street and the City’s parking garage to the west actually
proved an advantage. Combined with a height variance from the City, the
slope permitted the architects to give the Concert Hall the cubic feet
necessary to produce top quality sound. See the progession in real time.

Ramona
Wis, Mimi Rolland Professor in the Fine Arts, is almost speechless
about what’s coming. “The acoustics in this hall! We can accommodate
all different kinds of music — choral, instrumental and jazz — and the acoustics can be pre-set for each.”

A
room-within-a-room, the hall can be “tuned” by the motorized extension
and retraction of sound-absorbing curtains. All the acoustics have been
designed by the Talaske Group, acoustical consultants for Chicago’s
critically acclaimed Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park. Two massive
sound chambers on either side of the stage (invisible to the audience)
will enhance the audio characteristics and allow the sound to bounce
off multiple planes and be sent back to the audience.

The "black
box" theatre, with its own entrance off Chicago Avenue but connected
visually and actually to the rest of the building, will seat patrons in
just about any configuration needed. It will also double as a dance
studio. Not only can comfortable seating be moved around in a matter of
hours, there will be a lighting grid that can be re-arranged in a
manner of minutes.

“Actors have to be honest in an intimate
setting like this,” Lynch pointed out, a part of their craft they’ve
not had a chance to hone in the 1,050-seat Pfeiffer Hall
Auditorium, where even front-row patrons are separated from the players
by yards, not feet.

For Naperville too
“No
facility built to meet the College’s programming needs can be
constructed without reference to the wider context of Naperville and
the array of musical and theatre talent in the Chicago area,” said President Wilde.
“Fine arts centers are very expensive, and they need the support of
both alumni and the community. Facilities like this should be used
year-round, by off-campus as well as campus groups, and be of a quality
that makes them attractive venues for outside artists.”

As
more College productions are relocated to the new Center, opportunities
will open up for community and regional arts organizations to make even
greater use of Pfeiffer Auditorium, a magnet for the arts in the
western suburbs ever since it was built in 1926.

A survey by AMS
Planning & Research of New York, management consultants devoted
exclusively to arts facilities, confirmed widespread interest in using
the Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center, from community orchestras to
cutting-edge contemporary dance companies. The College anticipates use
of its arts venues by elite Chicago arts organizations like Chicago
Symphony, the Goodman Theatre and the Lyric Opera. The DuPage Symphony
Orchestra, which already conducts most of its season in Pfeiffer
Auditorium, is enthusiastic about the possibilities the Fine Arts
Center affords.

“From everything I’ve seen and heard, the seating
and acoustics are stellar,” said Diana Newby, former chair of the
Symphony Board. “There’s no reason Naperville shouldn’t be the arts
powerhouse in the western suburbs. It’s already that in so many ways.
In the arts we’re playing catch-up.”

The rebirth of music
Fine
arts faculty rejoice at the College’s recommitment to all the arts over
the last 15 years — hiring accomplished art, music and theatre
professors and practitioners who are helping inspire record numbers of
fine arts enrollments (majors and non-majors alike), bringing back
music education and instrumental music, beginning a jazz studies
program, enriching the art program and launching an award-winning
musical theatre tradition.   

Unparalleled occasion
All
of this adds up to a window of opportunity to elevate the College’s
standing in the fine arts and to create in Naperville an arts scene
worthy of the City’s stature. “The time is now,” Wilde said. “This
Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center will transform Naperville’s and the
College’s cultural landscape.”

Upcoming events @ Wentz Concert Hall

ArtistDate
Hot Jazz – 6 Cool NitesFriday, July 17, 2009 - 9:00pm
Hot Jazz – 6 Cool NitesSaturday, July 18, 2009 - 9:00pm
Hot Jazz – 6 Cool NitesSunday, July 19, 2009 - 9:00pm
Hot Jazz – 6 Cool NitesMonday, July 20, 2009 - 9:00pm
Hot Jazz – 6 Cool NitesTuesday, July 21, 2009 - 9:00pm
Hot Jazz – 6 Cool NitesWednesday, July 22, 2009 - 9:00pm
Hot Jazz – 6 Cool NitesThursday, July 23, 2009 - 9:00pm

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