Magazine article Strings

The Sky's the Limit

Magazine article Strings

The Sky's the Limit

Article excerpt

Overture Center sets the stage for a new start for the arts in Madison, Wisconsin

FOLLOWING 160 WEEKS OF CONSTRUCTION, the much-anticipated Overljure Hall in Madison, Wisconsin-the 2,253-seat crown jewel of the 'Sprawling Overture Center arts complex and the new home of the Madison Symphony Orchestra-opened last September and already it's having a dramatic effect on MSO's ticket sales.

Located in the shadow of the impressive state-capitol dome in the heart of the downtown, the Overture Center faces on pedestrian-friendly State Street, a six-block link of specialty shops and restaurants at the arts-abundant East End of the teeming 40,000-student University of Wisconsin at Madison campus. When it is completed in 2006, Overture Center will encompass 400,000 square feet. It is designed around three levels of performance, rehearsal, exhibit, and gathering spaces, ranging from the intimate to the very large. Equally exciting is how these spectacular facilities represent the longtime development of an unusually rich arts environment in a mid-American city of over 215,000 and a county of about 450,000.

Eight years ago, fourth-generation Madison businessman W. Jerome Frautschi, 72, led the way in creating the new home for the MSO by starting the Overture Foundation, which first explored the feasibility of a new performing arts center and then constructed it. In 1998, Frautschi gave $50 million to the foundation. He later doubled that gift. After ensuring input of world-class expertise and craftsmanship (including architect Cesar Pelli and acoustic consulting firm Kirkegaard Associates of Chicago), at the end of 2003 he increased his funding to a staggering $205 million, the project's total cost.

Frautschi's donation is believed to be the largest individual gift to a performing arts center in the United States. "I love Madison and want the downtown to again be a vibrant place, full of life and cultural arts opportunities," he noted in a published statement. …

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