Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music announced the Grand Opening plans for its new Old Town School East Building, located at 4545 N. Lincoln Avenue directly across the street from its current Lincoln Square home. The school invites the community to celebrate the Grand Opening and first day of classes in the new East Building with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and ritual blessing of the bricks on Monday, January 9, 2012, followed by building tours and an all-day community sing-along.
The Grand Opening will kick off a celebration of the School’s 55th anniversary, starting January 9 and continuing for 55 days. All three locations in the Old Town School campus (the pair on Lincoln Avenue, and the original site at 909 W. Armitage Avenue) will participate in the 55-day celebration, which features specially priced concerts and free classes and workshops, all demonstrating the wide range of the School’s offerings. Both on-going weekly series as well as one-day-only special events are highlighted, including the launch of the Global Dance Party series, which, similar to the City’s popular Summerdance program, will offer live music for instruction followed by open dance, in styles ranging from Samba and Tango to Flamenco and Line Dancing – every Friday night; the World Premieres of works commissioned by the Old Town School by Paseos Jarochos, Anne-Marie Akin, Jennifer Guglielmi, Nomi Epstein and Tom Stevens; Concerts headlined by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joe Henry, the Pine Leaf Boys, David Bromberg, Beppe Gambetta and Peter Ostrushko, George Kahumoku, Jr. and Keoki Kahumoku; Special themed concerts including a “Beatles Complete” marathon concert series featuring every single Beatles song; “Pueblo Latino” with music and dance from throughout Latin America; and a “Forever 27 Club” tribute to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Robert Johnson, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, who all passed away at the age of 27; An MLK Day Celebration with Chicago favorite Ella Jenkins; “Fear of Commitment” series offering single session courses in vocal performance, Celtic music, bluegrass, and West African dance, for all ages and abilities; Free “WiggleArts” art-making classes for children under 2; dance for kids under 5; teen open mic; singing for the whole family; Master Classes and “Drop-In” classes featuring blues, jazz, middle eastern music, ukulele, samba, hip hop dancing, guitar and songwriting; and a campus-wide “Come For To Sing Homecoming” extravaganza featuring the very first teacher of the Old Town School, Frank Hamilton, joined by other former teachers, all co-hosted by Ed Holstein and Jimmy Tomasello with a special set by The Pickin’ Bubs
The new East Building is the Old Town School’s fourth facility in Chicago and its first-ever new construction, creating a Lincoln Square “campus” as the Old Town School West Building remains open and active. The East Building greatly increases the School’s ability to meet growing class size needs and community demand for expanded programming in the vein of its current offerings, which serve a broad range of ages, styles and talent levels in multi-cultural music and dance. The new East Building offers a variety of improved amenities, including three large dance studios equipped with sprung floors and skylight windows; sixteen new classrooms acoustically engineered to minimize sound bleed; and Szold Hall, a flex-use 2,100-square-foot, 150-seat convertible space that will act as a classroom, community area, dance hall or performance venue, complete with theatrical lighting.
Throughout the Old Town School East Building, new artistic design features celebrate music in functional as well as aesthetic ways, including transparent panels decorating the main staircase featuring renowned comic illustrator R. Crumb’s iconic images of musicians based on his “Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country” project; a history of American folk and popular music through 100 posters donated from the collections of the Peace Museum and Ronald Cohen; A “Shape Wall” of staggered, recessed rectangles in the main lobby, designed as a way to absorb sound in the building’s large community gathering area, and visually invoking a cityscape, shape notes, or a piano roll; and the cast concrete building façade showcasing decorative panels by artist Margaret Ketcham with the word “music” depicted in 28 languages, including Braille, hieroglyphics, semaphore and Iroquois.
For more information about Old Town School of Folk Music visit <http://www.oldtownschool.org/>