Press Release

New OTSFM Building Grand Opening Set For January 9

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, November 17, 2011



Old Town School East Building Opens Doors at 4545 N. Lincoln Avenue,

January 9, 2012

New facilities include 3 dance studios, 16 acoustically engineered classrooms, a flex-use performance hall, environmentally advanced construction, and artwork by R. Crumb

CHICAGO – November 17, 2011 – Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music announces 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 community is invited 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 kicks 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
  • 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
  • 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 

About the New Facility

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
  • 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

New Artistic Features

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
  • 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

About the “Green” Design Features

From site choice to energy-saving heating and cooling systems, the new facility was designed by Chicago-based VOA Associates, Inc. to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification standards.  The new facility is located within walking distance of public bus and train lines and designed to include bicycle storage, all to promote alternative means of transportation.  Water efficiency through plumbing technology is utilized to reduce water usage throughout the interior and a green roof is located atop the building with plants native to the region.  And recycled products, regional materials and renewable resources were used throughout the construction, with a majority of construction waste being diverted to recycling and reuse.

About the Old Town School

The Old Town School of Folk Music, considered the largest community school of the arts in the United States, teaches and celebrates music and cultural expressions rooted in the traditions of diverse American and global communities.  Founded in 1957, the School offers 700 accredited classes in music, dance, theater and visual arts that span a wide range of artistic genres.  The School’s critically acclaimed concerts showcase some of the finest and most diverse local and touring artists in our intimate and acoustically superb hall.  Ticket prices remain among the most affordable in the city and special events like the Chicago Folk & Roots Festival and World Music Wednesdays make music accessible to all with free and reduced-priced programs.

The Old Town School also supports artist-in-residence programs in twenty underserved Chicago Public Schools, provides early childhood music education in two subsidized child-care facilities, and engages in exchange programs with cognate institutions in six foreign countries.  The Old Town School now owns and operates three facilities – two situated in Lincoln Square and one in Lincoln Park – that include 425-seat and 150-seat concert halls, 51 classrooms, two music stores, a cafe and a resource center.  The School also offers its popular Wiggleworms® program at four suburban satellite locations.

For more information on the Old Town School of Folk Music please visit www.oldtownschool.org.

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