Willey Lee ’17 is on track to earn his degree in May as a piano performance major, so he will never get to enjoy the new $63 million Armerding Center for Music and the Arts as a Wheaton student. And it doesn’t bother him a bit.
“The Conservatory of Music is such a tight-knit family,” Willey says. “We study, celebrate, and struggle together. I’ve seen three years of students, and there will be others coming after me. I feel very much a part of the Conservatory family. It’s great that my brothers and sisters will have this amazing hall, where great music can be made.”
The New Armerding Center for Music and the Arts
Currently the Conservatory of Music is scattered across six buildings with a combined 48,400 square feet. The planned Armerding Center for Music and the Arts, with 78,770 square feet, will include a Concert Hall that seats 550 people. A Recital Hall will accommodate 100. By renovating the existing Armerding Hall and building an additional space, the PAC will provide larger teaching studios as well as practice rooms, rehearsal spaces for opera and theater music, recording studios, chamber music rooms, a choral rehearsal hall, an expansive lobby, and classrooms. The Armerding Center, unlike the current cramped facilities, will also make professional acoustics possible.
Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Willey is especially pleased by the location of the PAC in the center of campus. He envisions opportunities for Conservatory of Music students and liberal arts students alike —sharing music in the quad, allowing it to resonate like a heartbeat into the wider College community.
Music, he says, is not just for the church, but for the world.
“Our job is to go into the field and do God’s work among everyone,” Willey says. “We can bring people toward Jesus through music and other experiences. And as we’re looking forward to the kingdom of heaven, we can spread beauty everywhere.”
Planning to continue his studies in graduate school, Willey hopes one day to become a professor of music—perhaps even at Wheaton. If he does, he will have a first-class facility in which to help Conservatory of Music students spread beauty through their own music. Such work, the Wheaton senior believes, will produce echoes that resound forever.
“We’re going to be singing for the rest of eternity, so we might as well start now,” Willey says with joyful conviction. “Whenever we participate in a rehearsal or a concert, we’re contributing to a body of beauty that is to come in the kingdom. That makes what we’re doing here a worthwhile endeavor.”