Over one-third of Cobbers are involved in a music ensemble on campus. That means that over one- third of Cobbers aren’t getting the experience they deserve at Concor-dia College. If you’ve ever seen the illustrious Memorial Auditorium, you probably know that it is nothing short of an acoustic masterpiece made by the angels above. Just kidding. It’s a gym. But, don’t you worry—we get to put up sound shells for concerts! With several renowned music ensembles at Concordia, you’d think the school would be more dedicated to having a high quality performance venue. But, seeing as how we perform in a gym, this is clearly not the case.
I play trumpet in the Concordia Band, so I’m no stranger to the awful experience that is Memorial Auditorium. The fact that Concordia even refers to the space as an “auditorium” is a joke. Every year, the Concordia Band goes on a domestic tour around the Midwest, during which we get the opportunity to perform in several different venues. All the high schools we travel to have far superior performance facilities than we do here. The home concert that follows the tour is always a disheartening reality check. After a week of performing in spaces designed for just that, we must culminate all of our hard work in a gymnasium.
The acoustics in Memorial Auditorium are horrendous, which makes sense, considering it was designed for sporting events, not music performances. For the performers, it feels a lot like playing or singing in a cave. For the audience members, a lot of the sounds they should be hearing are lost in the pipes overhead. We used to have shells that not only surrounded us on the sides, but also went overhead, somewhat minimizing the problem. Concordia has stopped using these overhead shells in the past several years.
I know this probably seems like a minor issue at most, especially to an outsider. But, rehearsing for hours and having something we are so dedicated to not sound its best simply because of the venue we are forced to perform in is frustrating and upsetting. The catharsis that normally comes from performing is lost in Memorial Auditorium. It’s incredibly difficult to lose myself in the music when I’m focusing all my efforts on hearing the people across the band in a space that isn’t designed to let me do that. I’m sure that to many of you, complaining about this may seem petty. But, for one-third of us here, it is quite the opposite.
Obviously, I don’t know the specifics of Concordia’s budget, and while trying to get some information about revenue from our music programs versus athletics programs, I was not met with much help. So, I cannot claim to understand why we have the facilities we do. But, I can’t help but think that with music being such a high priority at this school, things should be different. The sciences are getting a new building; the Business Center is objectively the nicest part of campus and offers incredible resources; and the Jake is considered to be one of the best football facilities in the Upper Midwest and was updated in 2014. Is it our turn yet?
I love music, and I love performing. But, having to share this love in a space like Memorial Auditorium is really a shame. Not only is the experience less for the performer, but also for the audience members. There’s no doubt that we cannot offer the same experience in a proper auditorium and in a gym. Our sound is lost to the rafters above, and we cannot deliver the performance that both the audience and the performers deserve.
We should do something about this. We need to do something about this. We need to repurpose our budget to prioritize the construction of a better performance facility for students. What can students do? We can stop whining to each other on the couches in Hvidsten and start talking to administration. Tell them why you want something better than Memorial, and hopefully they’ll listen.
And with that, I leave your corn buttered.
Emma Garton (’19) is a senior studying Communications and Spanish. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian this year. In addition to working for the paper, Emma works in Concordia’s IT department, interns at Absolute Marketing Group in Fargo, ND, and plays trumpet in the Concordia Band.