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Music building rendering

Making Space for Music

Capital campaign hits the right note with planned renovation and expansion of Waterloo campus Faculty of Music building

Story by Charlotte Clarke

Imagine a modern, inspiring and functional space for teaching, practicing, rehearsing, performing and connecting. Laurier is aiming to transform its Faculty of Music as part of a renovation and expansion that will create a state-of-the-art facility and a dramatic new gateway to the university's Waterloo campus.

“In these complex times, music is a social and cultural catalyst for communities worldwide,” says Glen Carruthers, dean of the Faculty of Music. “Laurier is a vital partner in the local, national and international musical community.

Faculty of Music rendering

Laurier's renovated Faculty of Music will include a brightly lit lobby gathering place and serve as a dramatic new gateway to the university's Waterloo campus.

"We urgently need to re-design our facility so that it truly reflects and supports the tremendous musical talent at Laurier.”

Laurier's internationally recognized Faculty of Music offers an unparalleled learning experience designed to support personal and musical excellence, artistic confidence and a spirit of collaboration. But an aging Faculty of Music building does not reflect that reality. Students and instructors describe practice rooms as falling short of their needs and have expressed a desire for a space that allows them to more easily share music with each other, the Laurier community and the wider world.

Faculty of Music rendering

The Making Space for Music capital campaign will allow them to do just that.

Launched last spring, Making Space for Music aims to raise $14 million to renovate and expand Laurier's Faculty of Music building. Enhancements planned as part of the wide-ranging project include:

  • Adding two floors of practice rooms to the current Faculty of Music building and renovating existing facilities to create 43 rooms for solo practice and 11 rooms for ensemble practice. Each room in the new practice wing will have floor-to-ceiling windows with a view onto University Avenue.

Lisette Pineau, a fourth-year community music student, says that bright, artistic spaces inspire students in the art of music.

“Making use of our space to provide more rooms and different options for rehearsal types would certainly help to keep us practicing,” says Pineau. “Often, there isn't enough space and we have to venture into hallways and stairwells to rehearse. For me, practicing can be very personal and it's nice to have a private, comfortable space to access.”

Launching the campaign

Laurier officially launched Making Space for Music last spring during a gala event featuring four-time Juno Award-winning opera singer Isabel Bayrakdarian and Laurier’s quartet-in-residence, the Penderecki String Quartet. Attendees were provided details about the campaign, as well as a sneak peek at renderings of plans for the renovated Faculty of Music.

Music gala

Juno Award-winning opera singer Isabel Bayrakdarian, pictured with Faculty of Music Dean Glen Carruthers, helped kick off the Making Space for Music campaign.

"It is deeply meaningful to see so many in our community invested in the success of our music programs and it is incredibly exciting that there is such a groundswell of support," Laurier President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy said during remarks at the event. "Our faculty members are recognized worldwide and our class sizes are small, ensuring students have access to exceptional, personalized instruction from some of the greatest musical talent in the country.

"This campaign’s goal is to create a space that celebrates this history and reflects the exceptional strength and talents of our faculty and students."

Laurier’s Faculty of Music is dedicated to fostering high-calibre artistic and scholarly development, as well as providing a creative environment that helps students succeed. Students, faculty members and artists associated with the faculty present up to 100 public concerts and events each year and the faculty is well known for innovation and a pioneering spirit.

Laurier offers ground-breaking programs in Community Music, including the first Master of Arts and first Bachelor of Music in Community Music in Canada. The faculty's Music Therapy program is unique in Ontario and one of only a few music therapy programs in North America. Laurier also offered Canada's first Bachelor of Music Therapy and Master of Music Therapy programs.

The faculty is also home to two research institutes: The Manfred and Penny Conrad Institute of Music Therapy Research and the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community.

"We are incredibly fortunate to have such an exceptional Faculty of Music," says MacLatchy. "Through Making Space for Music, Laurier’s Faculty of Music will continue to leave its mark on the university, our community and beyond."

A day for giving

Laurier's Making Space for Music campaign received a significant boost as part of International Music Day, which is marked on Oct. 1. An anonymous donor matched all donations made to the Making Space for Music campaign on International Music Day, helping raise more than $175,000. In addition to fundraising, the day featured pop-up musical performances by Laurier students across the Waterloo campus.

“This ‘giving day’ saw music lovers unite to show unprecedented support for our Faculty of Music and their response was truly remarkable,” says Carruthers. “These donations show people’s faith in young musicians and the belief that they can and will make a difference in this world.”

Find out more about how you can become involved in the Making Space for Music campaign. Visit the Making Space for Music campaign website at or email

Music giving day

International Music Day, marked on Oct. 1, featured pop-up musical performances by Faculty of Music students in support of the Making Space for Music campaign.

To read more articles from the 2019 Fall-Winter print edition of Laurier Campus magazine and new alumni stories between print editions, visit

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