The musical talent is undeniable at St Andrews. From private practices to carol concerts, music is a core activity enjoyed by hundreds of pupils at the University. While music is undoubtedly an important part of any institution, or culture at that, proposed plans for a new 8-million-pound music centre leave some in St Andrews wondering just how much attention one discipline needs.
The new music centre plans, designed by architect Flanagan Lawrence, were initially released at a public exhibition event in late January. Since, bulletin boards and a feedback box have been provided at Younger Hall for public scrutiny.
While the proposed proxy images for the centre will give a new, modern appeal, there has been some contention over the issue.
On one hand, we have keen musicians and teachers looking forward to a state of the art centre which will expand their musical abilities, and attract young talent at open days. Musical student Katie Hastings thinks that the centre will be a “great asset to the university,” while Mamie Kirk, a member of the Opera Society, mentioned that they often have to practice in alternate locations as “Younger [Hall] is not big enough to accommodate the interest in music [within St Andrews]”. With teaching and practice spaces, a rehearsal studio, recording suite, and library, the facility should do more than “meet the needs of the Music Centre in the context of students, staff and wider community interests.” (St Andrews University bulletin boards)
There are also those more interested in the price tag on such projects and the environmental logistics of the location. According to current plans, the centre is to be located in Queens Terrace next to St Mary’s Quad in replacement of a parking lot, temporary buildings, and a number of mature trees in the surrounding area.
In regards to the environmental aspect of potentially disrupting ecological cycles in the area, the University says that it will strive to “protect as many trees as possible and proactively manage the position of those going forward” and has already begun a “phase 1 habitat survey” to “understand the baseline ecology position” of the area.
While any big project like this will have some backlash in one form or another, the University has tried to make the project as amicable as possible by addressing any issues that may be presented prematurely: the environmental issue explained above for example. As for those who have qualms about their tuition money going to a new music building: It isn’t. The University has stated that they plan on paying for the centre entirely through philanthropy, backed with the help of several lead donors, who have already raised £5 million for the project.
While this mode of funding is preferable, some students still wonder why the money and space is not being put towards additional accommodation, considering the well-known housing shortage within St Andrews. Similarly, according to Matilda Sample, a member of the rowing team, many sports teams who receive very limited funding from the university are not very happy about 8 million pounds being set aside for a new project.
Although it is impossible to please everyone, the Universities’ public exhibition and feedback box will hopefully clear up any real contentions about the project. If all goes to plan, building will commence in early 2018 and by 2019 our musicians will have a brand new facility to play in.