The School of Music at the University of Leeds is located in purpose-built premises which were opened in 2003. The £4m development was devised to complement an existing Victorian concert hall which has been a venue for the department’s performance activities for many years. Together, the new building and the existing historic, former Victorian church, create a striking blend of the contemporary and the traditional, the present and the past.
The School, which is home to one of the UK’s largest University Music departments, accommodates over 500 students, undergraduate and postgraduate, and a staff of around 30 – academic, technical and administrative.
The basement of the building is home to an impressive range of rehearsal facilities – a room big enough to accommodate orchestral ensembles, spaces available to smaller bands, fully equipped with backline and vocal PA equipment, and a room set aside for percussionists.
Basement facilities also include a dedicated Music Psychology Lab, Yamaha Disklavier piano, and 15 further rooms for solo instrumental practice, each equipped with at least one piano. Two of the practice rooms have recently overhauled Yamaha C baby grand pianos, which are prioritised for use by first study pianists.
On the same level, students studying one of the technology modules on offer have access to three dedicated studio spaces, including a 24-track ProTools HD recording studio with 5.1 surround monitoring, and a software development / electroacoustic composition studio with multi-channel surround sound monitoring.
We also have a further ProTools editing and mixdown studio available. All recording studio facilities were designed with the help of acoustic consultants to ensure the highest standards of sound isolation and acoustic performance.
On the first floor of the main building, students will find two computer clusters. The 15 workstations that make up the Music General Cluster are available for students to check email, use the internet and complete project work. The Music Multimedia Cluster contains a further 15 high-specification workstations, complete with specialist audio recording, editing and score writing software and associated audio interfaces and MIDI keyboard hardware.
Conveniently situated between the two computer clusters is the Music Helpdesk. One of the key hubs in the operation, the Helpdesk is home to some 350 items of bookable equipment, including microphones, portable recording kits, headphones, mixing desks, keyboards, amplifiers, digital cameras and more. Managed by knowledgeable technical staff, the Helpdesk is also the place where students can book rooms, seek technical help and borrow CDs, books and other materials related to their studies.
The School has a number of dedicated teaching spaces – a 100-seater lecture theatre and a series of smaller classrooms where teaching occurs. There are also two rooms in which seminars and other sizeable meetings can be held – the Conference and Seminar Rooms.
All of these spaces provide for multimedia presentation with data projection, networked PC and AV playback facilities. All public areas of the building, as well as the Concert Hall, Lecture Theatres, Conference and Seminar Rooms are covered by the University high-speed wireless network.
The department is also home to a sizeable research community and the dedicated facilities available reflect this. The Postgraduate Study Room includes workstations, digital microfilm scanning and thesis archive.
The centre-piece of the School is the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall. Beautifully restored as part of the wider re-development, the hall provides a backdrop for a hugely varied programme of concerts – orchestral, chamber and solo, art music and popular performance – in term-time, during the week and at weekends. With flexible, raked seating arrangements catering for an audience of up to 250, the hall is in use daily for teaching. Out of term time, the hall and adjoining spaces host conference activity.
The Concert Hall Foyer connects the main performance venue with the more recent extension. This is an attractive area in which students and staff can socialise informally and where other events – such as Open Days and graduation celebrations – are staged and concert refreshments are offered.