Performances Spaces and Resources
Performance Spaces and Resources
“One of the things that sets us apart as a school is the quality and uniqueness of our arts venues. The vibrancy of our programs exudes from every corner of our campus, from traditional and informal practice spaces to spectacular and historic halls with extraordinary instruments.”—Bruce Fifer, head of the Arts Department
Taft’s Arts wing includes a host of resources for vocalists, including our voice studio, individual and small group practice rooms, and rehearsal spaces. Other resources include:
Main stage theatrical performances at Taft often take place in Bingham Auditorium. Vocalists may also schedule performances of their own, to familiarize students with their work or celebrate a new music release. Bingham has advanced technical facilities, memory console lighting equipment, and professional sound systems. One of the school’s earliest gathering spaces, it was opened in 1930, along with Charles Phelps Taft (CPT) Hall. The auditorium was refurbished in 2015, with new seats, refreshed lighting, and rejuvenated woodwork. Bingham has a seating capacity of 592.
The Choral Room
An intimate venue with an air of history, Collegium Musicum often rehearses and performs in the Choral Room; Taft’s chorus also practices in the room once each week. On Parents' Day, you may find our instrumental music groups in concert here, or even a theatrical performance. When alumni visit, they fondly remember the Choral Room as an upper school common room.
Digital Recording Studio in the Bristol Music Room
The studio is a high-tech space overlooking one of the most beautiful spots on campus, Potter’s Pond. Students can record, edit, and mix vocal and instrumental tracks in the hi-def studio using Pro Tools, software used across the professional music industry.
The school’s main vestibule is also one of the acoustic sweet spots on campus. Lincoln Lobby is a welcoming hub at the top of Main Circle, through the main doors of Charles Phelps Taft (CPT) Hall; it is a central access point to the heart of the original campus. Among its arts uses: a cappella groups serenade alumni in this space on Alumni Weekend, and choral groups welcome prospective students here in the spring.
Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) technology has been a music industry standard since the 1980s. It allows electronic musical instruments, computers and other high-tech devices to connect and communicate with one. In our MIDI lab, Taft students use Finale and LogicPro software to compose and arrange music. Our Electronic Music and AP Music Theory classes use the MIDI lab for ear-training, sequencing, and composition. They may also use Pro Tools in the Digital Recording Studio in the Bristol Music Room to convert their compositions to a RealAudio format.
With room for an audience of 100, Walker Hall is one of the more intimate performance venues on campus. It is also home to a Hamburg Steinway B, which features prominently in many of our concerts.
Built in 1883 and acquired by Taft in 2001, Walker Hall is older than any other structure on campus, with the exception of a few faculty homes. Fireplace tiles depicting scenes from Shakespearean plays hint at Walker Hall's beginnings as Watertown’s library; many alumni remember the building, which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, as a Lutheran church.
Woodward Chapel is home to many Music for a While performances, concerts by Collegium Musicum, and our annual Service of Lessons and Carols in December, and Service of Remembrance in May. It is also home to two exceptional instruments that feature prominently in our concerts, a Gress-Miles organ and a Steinway piano.
Installed in Woodward Chapel in 1968, Taft’s pipe organ is one of the premier instruments designed and built by the Gress-Miles Organ Company. Recent restoration work updated the organ’s console, refurbished its ivory keys and surrounding woodwork, and the added new digital stops. The introduction of fiber optics also makes the console mobile, allowing for greater versatility in performances.
In 2016, John H. Kilbourne '58 donated an exemplary 1997 Hamburg/New York Steinway B to Taft. A classic grand, the Model B is often referred to by pianists as “the perfect piano.”
Known familiarly as “The Black Box,” Woodward Theater seats 200 people, and hosts smaller-scale productions, workshops, and experimental theater. Like most black box theaters, Woodward’s size and relative simplicity allow for flexible staging, a focus on process, and a more intimate relationship between actor and audience. The theater was donated by the David, Helen, and Marian Woodward Fund.