In an amazing year for arts at Duke, the biggest single difference was a building. The opening of the renovated Baldwin Auditorium turned an historic but poor venue for music into a celebrated performance hall, one that will attract great musicians for years to come.
Gone were the familiar black and white tiles, described by President Richard Brodhead as coming "from the basement playrooms of the 1950s." All was replaced by an auditorium that dazzled the eyes and ears. The year began with an opening gala and ended with a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony by the Duke Symphony.
The renovation also restored Baldwin as a community treasure for all of the region to use. The Duke String School Orchestra, which was founded 48 years ago by Dorothy Kitchen and has taught thousands of local children to play music, returned to the auditorium and concluded its year in April with a farewell concert for Kitchen, who was retiring as director and conductor.
Appreciation came on several fronts. Musicians praised the new acoustics. Music fans enjoyed the better sightlines and more comfortable seats. And Duke and the project contractor received a national Excellence in Construction Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors trade group, the first national award of its kind given for a Duke building.
The coming year is expected to be even better. Duke Performances will return with several performances in Baldwin Auditorium starting with the Ciompi Quartet on Sept. 20. The Duke Department of Music will announce its calendar shortly.