Why Giving Matters

Pushing the Right Buttons

March 3, 2015

McGill’s symphonic-size Music Multimedia Room (MMR) is one of the finest spaces in the world for research and production in music. It is the musical equivalent of a particle accelerator for physics, to quote a former Dean. More than just a concert space, it is a technological wonder, influencing how music will be captured, stored and disseminated in the future. But its adjoining Control Room, the heart of the MMR, hasn’t been brought to its full potential.
The room, based at the Schulich School of Music, has been in use since 2004, but was never finished due to lack of funding. As a result, plywood panels separate the room from the MMR instead of soundproof windows, while speakers and other equipment are propped up using cinder blocks and other means. At the moment, the Control Room is not a welcoming environment for artists, engineers or researchers. It needs better acoustic treatment and sound transmission technologies, so that students and researchers can properly refine their musical activities.

Elizabeth Wirth, BA’64, hopes to change that with a matching fund program to finish the Control Room and complete its transformation into a truly state-of-the-art facility. Through the Wirth MMR Control Room Matching Fund, she hopes fellow McGill graduates and friends will support her initial donation of $475,000 in order to generate the $950,000 necessary to complete the project.

“Music affects people in special ways like nothing else, and McGill music students are all amazingly talented. We are often blown away by the excellent young performers but behind the scene, areas like the Control Room of the MMR are extremely important to the school and the future of music at McGill,” she says. “For the school to continue to excel, we need proper equipment and a conducive work environment. I really want others to get involved at this time and work together to get this done.”

The funds raised will fund the installation of moveable acoustic panels and curtains on the walls, modifications to existing lighting and electrical circuits, and the addition of a ceiling grid for hanging research equipment, including speakers, microphones, cameras, and measurement devices. The plywood panels in the Control Room will be replaced with multi-layer windows for maximum sound isolation and allow students and researchers in the control room to have visual communication with performers in the MMR.

Finishing the Control Room will allow the Schulich School to significantly enhance its advanced training of graduate students, its capacity for high-quality audio and video productions, and its cutting-edge research into sound, performance, musical creation, audience response and much more.

Wirth, who chairs the Wirth Rail Corporation in Montreal, is already one of the Schulich School’s great benefactors and volunteers. She has sat on the Faculty Advisory Board – which she currently Chairs – for over a decade, sharing her passion for music and business acumen to provide counsel on strategic, operational and financial directions.

She has given generously to McGill over the years, but hopes that a matching fund program will bring new donors to the fore. She and her late father Manfred Wirth gifted the Wirth Opera Studio, a state-of-the-art rehearsal space for students in the Department of Performance, and her subsequent donations upgraded the studio’s acoustics and audio and video recording facilities. Other donations include the establishment of the Student Travel Fund and several student scholarships including one in the memory of Dixie Ross Neill, the former Director of Opera Studies who encouraged Wirth’s support of music at McGill.

“McGill’s Schulich School of Music is a world leader in music training and research,” says Wirth. “Please support this worthwhile project, which is crucial to keeping McGill, Montreal and Canada on the forefront of the next generation of musical performers, composers, researchers and industry leaders.”

Brett Leonard, a PhD student in Sound Recording and lecturer at the Schulich School of Music, can barely wait until the time when the Control Room is properly outfitted.

“Right now, we’ve plateaued and simply can’t produce better recordings or do better research,” he says. “We need these last obstacles removed to finally make full use of this amazing facility.”

Empowering McGill students to take music to new and amazing heights: now that’s a tune we can all enjoy.

For more information on the Wirth MMR Control Room Matching Fund, please click here

To make your gift to Matching Fund, please click here