Gift of Music

The New Music Building at Marist

Music Building at Marist


  • 23,000 square-foot building

  • Hudson Valley modern gothic style in red brick and greystone.

  • Robert A.M. Stern Architects, New York City

  • Part of $30-million project that also includes high-end renovation of dining hall and activity space in Student Center.

 This summer, the College will break ground on a 23,000-square-foot building to house Marist’s robust Music Department and the 18 vocal and instrumental ensembles active on campus. The facility will also provide smaller-venue, multipurpose arts space. Marist has more than 400 student musicians and as many as 600 students enrolled in music courses each semester. Music is not a major at Marist, but minors are offered in instrumental and vocal tracks.

The new building is part of a $30 million project that includes a major renovation of Marist’s dining hall, the Nelly Goletti Theatre, student activities space, and public areas of the Student Center that are part of what was the College’s original Campus Center.Symphony

"Our music program provides and emphasizes worthwhile music activities and academic offerings for students who don’t wish to make a living at music,” says Arthur Himmelberger, director of the Music Program. “These nurtured skills contribute to the musical vitality of the College and remain with students, to be used and enjoyed throughout their lives.”

The new music building is, in fact, a dream come true for Himmelberger and those at Marist who love music, including current students and several thousand alumni musicians who are part of what Himmelberger calls “a family” who love music and challenge themselves to achieve higher levels of musical excellence. Leading the vision for music at Marist is Dr. Dennis J. Murray. “When he became president in 1979, there was no band or choir,” says Himmelberger. “Dr. Murray has been very, very helpful and instrumental in our development. He has been our greatest advocate.”

"We outgrew our current facilities several years ago," Himmelberger says. "But the desire of our student musicians to succeed, excel in their crafts, and provide audiences with quality performances superseded the facility obstacles they have faced preparing their concert literature." The building will feature major rehearsal spaces for various bands, choirs, and orchestras. It will also offer eight practice rooms, three classrooms, music faculty offices, a piano lab, a computer lab, music library space, and instrument/large equipment storage.

The SirensAdjoining the east side of the College’s original Campus Center, the building will architecturally transform that part of campus with a Hudson Valley modern gothic style in red brick and grey stone. Robert A. M. Stern Architects, led by its founder and Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, designed Marist’s Hancock Center and is leading this latest project.  

The Music Department has grown significantly over the past few years and in addition to supporting the ensembles offers students from all majors classes in jazz, opera, music theory, piano instruction, voice instruction, medieval and renaissance music, history of motion picture music, and music of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, among other subjects in the music discipline.

Marist musical ensembles are seen throughout the school year performing on and off campus, in the surrounding community, across the country, and around the globe. In April 1999 the Marist Singers sang at the canonization of Saint Marcellin Champagnat for the Pope in Rome. Marist musical ensembles have also performed in Montreal, Boston, Hawaii, Florida, New Jersey, Arizona, California, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

The more than 200-member Marist Singers, with its seven Music at Marist ensembles, has roots in the College’s earliest days. Throughout the years, student Brothers were involved in the preparation of both Gregorian chants and harmony-singing several times a week, singing at masses and in campus concerts. Special choirs sang the more difficult pieces and also performed in the community. The choral tradition was revived and expanded upon with the arrival of President Murray in 1979.

 Marist’s band was formed in 1986 by Himmelberger, who was a U.S. Army percussionist and member of the senior leadership team of the United States Military Academy Band at West Point. In 2001, he retired from the Army and joined Marist full- time as director of the Music Program.

Music at Marist The 135-member symphonic band performs in concert halls, befitting its primary mission to master symphonic band repertoire that provides higher levels of technical and aesthetic difficulty so student members can grow as musicians and perform acclaimed concert literature. These same musicians perform at football games as the 150-member Marist Marching Band. Additionally, these same students—separated into two squads— perform as members of the Marist Basketball Pep Band.

 The Marist String Orchestra was formed in 1997 and continues to grow. Currently, it has 35 members who play string and orchestral literature from the classical, romantic, and 20th-century music periods. The orchestra, along with the symphonic band and choral group, annually fills the 933-seat historic Bardavon 1869 Opera House in downtown Poughkeepsie for two spring concerts.

The new building is expected to open in fall 2013, and the line of dedicated student musicians eager for a new home is already forming.