Press Room

Curtis Institute of Music opens Lenfest Hall on Sept 6

The Curtis Institute of Music opens Lenfest Hall, the first major expansion of its campus in more than 20 years. To relieve scheduling pressures on the school’s historic buildings, which remain in active use, Curtis charged Philadelphia architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates to design a living and learning space that perpetuated the school’s 87-year-old educational mission while preparing students for the challenges of musical careers in the 21st century.
“This is transformational for Curtis,” said Curtis Board Chairman H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest. “Our goals go beyond achieving musical virtuosity. We hope the hall will become an incubator for new ideas. Students will learn to collaborate in new ways as they think about attracting and engaging new audiences. They will have the benefit of 21st-century technology as they develop the skills essential for success in an evolving musical environment.”
Lenfest Hall adds 105,000 square feet of space, doubling the size of a campus serving 165 students. Key features of the building include:
– a 3,200-square-foot rehearsal hall that can accommodate a full orchestra for the largest-scale core repertoire, enhancing Curtis’s ability to attract world-renowned visiting conductors and guest artists. Large teaching studios for double bass, percussion, and harp surround the hall, making it easy for students to transport their instruments to rehearsals.
– residences for more than 80 students, or nearly half the student body. Previously students lived in nearby apartments; now they have access to safe, secure housing with 24/7 access to practice rooms.
– dining facilities to serve Curtis students, faculty, and staff. The Curtis community will have access to healthy meals prepared from scratch and to spaces for socializing, allowing students of different instruments, languages, and backgrounds to mingle. Curtis students come from 26 states and 19 countries.
– 32 additional rooms for practicing, teaching, and chamber music rehearsal, which provide breathing space for the school’s historic buildings on the 1700 block of Locust Street.
 – state-of-the-art technology, including full-building Wi-Fi, video and audio recording studios, and recording capabilities in all teaching studios. Students can record lessons or make high-quality recordings to apply for festivals and competitions; faculty members can expand their curriculum with multimedia components in the classroom. Lenfest Hall is fully equipped for Internet2 presentations, allowing guest artists to give master classes from anywhere in the world.
“This is much more than a new building – it is a place for students to develop exceptional careers,” said Curtis President Roberto Díaz. “Curtis owes so much to the vision and leadership of Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, who motivated over 60 donors to support the Lenfest Hall challenge grant. We are deeply grateful to everyone who made Lenfest Hall a reality.”
Lenfest Hall maintains the streetscape of an historic block, preserving and restoring two 19th-century townhouse facades. The four-story facade between them features window groupings and horizontal accents that provide continuity with the neighboring townhouses. High quality materials are used inside and out, including a sandstone facade, cherry paneling, and porcelain tile flooring on the first and second floors.
Generous natural light reaches all floors, particularly the soaring 30-foot-high rehearsal hall, and box-in-box construction techniques create soundproof rehearsal, teaching, and practice spaces. The building’s design incorporates sustainable principles and features, including two green rooftops, one of which borders an outdoor terrace for students. Lenfest Hall targets LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) at the gold level.
“Lenfest Hall bridges Curtis’s past and future. It links the school’s rich history with its 21st-century evolution, offering new space for teaching, practicing, and living,” said the project’s principal and lead designer, Dan McCoubrey of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates.
Curtis marks the official opening of Lenfest Hall with a ribbon cutting on September 6. The event also launches the school’s season-long Appassionato celebration, which offers bold programming, enriched curriculum, and exceptional special events all year. Explore Appassionato at
The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians for careers as performing artists at the highest professional level. One of the world’s leading conservatories, Curtis is highly selective and provides full-tuition scholarships to all of its 165 students. In this intimate environment, students receive personalized attention from a celebrated faculty. A busy schedule of performances is at the heart of Curtis’s distinctive “learn by doing” approach. This philosophy has produced an impressive number of notable artists since the school’s founding in 1924, from such legends as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber to current stars Jonathan Biss, Juan Diego Flórez, Alan Gilbert, Hilary Hahn, Jennifer Higdon, and Lang Lang.
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