Zimmermann Symphony Center Changes the Face of McKinley High

Zimmermann Symphony Center Changes the Face of McKinley High

The new home of the Canton Symphony Orchestra - the Zimmermann Symphony Center - is now visibly changing the shape of the McKinley High School campus. Today the last piece of structural steel was put in place.

"The project manager indicated that despite the amount of rain we've had this summer, the progress is about where they expected," stated Michelle Mullaly, the orchestra's Executive Director. "The first major milestone of having the lower level walls poured was accomplished on time. They anticipate being under roof no later than December 1, depending on how the Fall weather goes. We're very happy with the progress and the regular communication we're receiving regarding the build."

The addition to McKinley High School and Umstattd Performing Arts Hall is named after the orchestra's director of 33 years, Gerhardt Zimmermann. The new symphony center is scheduled to be ready for move-in June 2014. The center will act as the consolidated home of the orchestra, which currently maintains administration and education offices at the Cultural Center for the Arts but performs almost of its concerts in Umstattd Perfroming Arts Hall (at McKinley High School across from C.T. Branin Natatorium).

The concert center will also house updated dressing rooms, several lecture/conference rooms, a large reception hall, the orchestral library, and a bigger backstage. Umstattd Hall's backstage is almost non-existent in its present state.

"In the late 1960s, the original plan for the Cultural Center was to have a restaurant and a very nice performance hall similar to Umstattd Hall. Unfortunately the total cost of the project prevented those things from being built.," stated Chuck Hoover, Symphony Board President. "A few years later, Canton City Schools began construction on Umstattd Hall. The leadership of the orchestra at that time decided to join forces with them to make it a truly exceptional hall. Trying to build a performance hall like that today would cost approximately $50 million dollars, so it was decided by the Canton Symphony Board of Trustees that adding onto the hall (at a cost of around $4.2 million) would be the more responsible approach. Last year, Umstattd Hall received upgraded seating, carpeting, lighting, and a cutting-edge sound system that allows those with hearing disabilities to 'plug into' what's known as a hearing loop. Along with a phase 3 plan to pave the current gravel parking lot, the total capital cost will approach $6.2 million."

The community is beginning to inquire about booking the various spaces that will be made available for rental. "We plan to rent the reception hall for corporate events, weddings, and parties. There are several meeting rooms that will be available as well. With all the growth in our area, rental space for large groups is at a premium, so we've been fielding calls about our grand opening," noted Mullaly. "Musicians from the orchestra will be available for booking, which makes our rentals intriguing to many."

For regular project photos and updates, visit www.flickr.com/photos/cantonsymphony/.

Founded in 1937, the Canton Symphony Orchestra is a fully professional ensemble and organization dedicated to performing concerts that enrich, educate and entertain. Under the direction of Gerhardt Zimmermann, the orchestra performs classical, pops, holiday, and educational programs. Most performances are in Umstattd Performing Arts Hall, 2323 17th Street NW, Canton, Ohio (at McKinley High School across from C.T. Branin Natatorium). Parking at McKinley High School is free. For more information, visit www.CantonSymphony.org.