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A New Home Created for Chetham's School of Music

Today, Chetham’s School of Music, the largest specialist music school in the UK unveiled for the first time its new state-of-the-art home alongside its current site, which dates back to medieval times.

Spanning seven floors, the new School Building houses two performance spaces, four ensemble rooms, an Outreach Centre, as well as all of the music teaching rooms and academic classrooms. This £31 million development project means that Chetham’s, the UK’s leading specialist Music School, has produced facilities which will ensure that future generations of aspiring young musicians will have the resources that they need and deserve to thrive andexcel.

Cutting-edge construction techniques have been employed to ensure acoustic protection at the highest level. The 100-seat Recital Hall, called The Carole Nash Hall, is a flexible performance space and will showcase solo and ensemble performances. It will be used for the School’s daily lunchtime concerts in conjunction with the medieval Baronial Hall on the pre-existing site. The future Concert Hall (completion date tbc) is a 400-seat performance venue that will accommodate a symphony orchestra, choral and chamber music performances. Both performance areas are accessible to the public from the stunning light-filled Atrium, called The Oglesby Atrium, which will be the centre-point of the new School Building.

In addition, the new building boasts 50 Music teaching rooms, 62 Practice rooms and a Music Technology Centre. An Outreach Centre will also allow Chetham’s to continue to advance its connections with community groups, young musicians and people who use music as a form of therapy.

The iconic building is linked to the original Chetham’s site by a student footbridge. Made of Corten Steel, the footbridge crosses the culverted River Irk and will be used daily by students as they move from their boarding accommodation to their learning facilities. The new School Building has also been designed to be entirely complementary and sensitive to its surrounding environment, with some 400,000 hand-made bricks being used for its exterior.

Stephen Threlfall, Director of Music at Chetham’s said: “Having existed for over 30 years in what was considered “temporary” accommodation, this longawaited purpose-built facility presents new opportunities for how we deliver
our Music programme for our students and it will greatly enhance our creative and community activities in the future.”

Chetham’s has an international reputation for excellence in music education, attracting students from all over the world as well as across the UK. Students feature in music competitions across the globe and enjoy a high profile in the
BBC Young Musician competition. The 290 students are selected solely for their musical potential, regardless of background or financial circumstances and this is made possible through the government’s Music and Dance Scheme.

Claire Moreland, Head at Chetham’s said “Our aim here is to educate musically gifted children between the ages of 8 and 18, and the School has grown into a centre of musical excellence with a worldwide reputation. We seized a oncein-
a-lifetime opportunity to acquire the land adjacent to our current site in order to build a facility that will enable us to become known as the best music school in the world.”

The unique position of the Chetham’s extension allows the School to retain its cultural links within the thriving and cosmopolitan city centre and to increase public access to Chetham’s, both to the new and old site. The new School
Building is the first phase in a wider capital development scheme which Chetham’s is undertaking to enhance the cultural and heritage offering of the city. Chetham’s will now embark on a series of refurbishment works and will subsequently open a Visitor Attraction based around its medieval buildings.

Michael Oglesby, Executive Project Leader and Feoffee of Chetham’s said “600 years ago Humphrey Chetham endowed this School, which proudly bears his name. We have, today, built a new school of the highest quality and standards that the 21st century can provide, which is only appropriate for our truly outstanding students to allow them to grow and develop. I feel certain that in 600 years’ time everyone involved will look back and be proud of the values and the building that they have inherited.”

The Building has been designed by Manchester-based Roger Stephenson Architects and project managed by Drivers Jonas Deloitte. Chetham’s has been advised throughout the development programme by Michael Oglesby from the leading commercial property developer, Bruntwood. The Project has been funded by the Department for Education and the NorthWest Regional Development Agency as well as private sources of income.

Related links:
Chetham's School of Music Gets A Handsome New Home - Telegraph - 19 March 2012