Silver Lake College dedicates music education center

Franciscan Center for Music Education and Performance includes classrooms, performance arts center

MANITOWOC — Music wasn’t the only thing echoing through the halls of the Franciscan Center for Music Education and Performance on Oct. 4.

So were the “oohs” and “aahs” of the more than 300 invited guests who took part in the facility’s dedication ceremony at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family.

Bishop David Ricken addresses the audience during a dedication ceremony for the new Franciscan Center for Music Education and Performance Oct. 4 at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family in Manitowoc. (Benjamin Wideman | For The Compass)

Among the attendees who toured the facility was Bishop David Ricken, who addressed the crowd before blessing both the 35,000-square-foot building and a decorative time capsule.

“We dedicate this building to the education of youth and to learning and progress in music and performance arts,” Bishop Ricken said during the ceremony, which coincided with the feast of St. Francis. “Make it become a center where students and teachers imbued with the words of truth will search for the wisdom that guides the Christian life and strive wholeheartedly to stand by Christ as their teacher.”

The dedication ceremony also featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony with distinguished guests, a reception and a concert.

A public open house, with tours and refreshments, is scheduled Oct. 26, 1 to 4 p.m.

The wood and stone exterior building, which had its groundbreaking in June 2012, boasts more than 25 rooms, including classrooms, a piano lab, a rehearsal hall, social gathering spaces and practice rooms for Holy Family Conservatory of Music and Silver Lake College students.

The facility’s centerpiece is Bob & Pat Endries Hall, a 464-seat performance hall.

Immediately outside the hall is Ariens Atrium, which provides a gathering space and seating for up to 200 people.

Overall, it’s a tremendous improvement from the previous space, said Damon Carlson, Silver Lake College’s director of choral activities and chair of the fine arts department.

“Literally, there was no room to grow where the department was housed before,” Carlson said. “This will allow us to grow into the future. So we’re very excited about that.

“This is now a proper facility for a really fantastic music program, which we’ve had for decades here.”

Silver Lake College president Dr. Chris Domes echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s a wonderful community space where we’ll be able to host recitals, concerts and events so that folks from all over the region can come and hear wonderful music being performed,” said Domes, who joined the college three months ago. “It’s a great venue, and we’re very excited that Silver Lake College has been able to develop and build this wonderful facility.”

In addition to performance areas, the building also features various forms of artwork. Most notable among them is “The Canticle of the Creatures,” which is prominently displayed above the main entrance to Endries Hall.

The oil-on-canvas painting was created by Sr. Mariella Erdmann, whose Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity sponsor Silver Lake College. The painting was commissioned by the Lee and Eileen Kummer family in honor of Sr. Cecilia Byrnes, a 47-year faculty member (she’s retired now) of Holy Family Conservatory of Music.

Silver Lake College had another reason to celebrate when Domes announced that it completed its capital campaign fund drive for the building, surpassing its $10 million goal.

“It’s my responsibility now to take this wonderful facility and begin to grow the college,” Domes said. “My job as a president is to lead us through that experience.”

Added Carlson: “We’re very fortunate and blessed to have this facility on our campus.”