“To have a performance in something other than a multipurpose room or a cafetorium, to have it in a true concert hall, is an amazing experience,” said Majors, 46, an Acworth resident.
The classic architecture seemed appropriate for a monumental day for the music programs at Lassiter and elsewhere in the Cobb County School District. The school held an open house Sunday for the new Lassiter Concert Hall, a 1,000-seat music venue paid for as part of a $14.9 million SPLOST project.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our community, for our kids to showcase what they can do in a place like this,” Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said. “It’s fantastic that our district put this together.”
The facility will be open to all Cobb schools and others in the community. Hinojosa said its acoustics are designed by the same company that did those in the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center.
“It’s a district-wide facility, but we’re so glad it’s here at Lassiter,” Hinojosa said. “It is very unusual (for a high school), but it is a showpiece.”
School board member David Banks said large school concerts were previously held at McEachern High School in Powder Springs or at Kennesaw State University.
“We can basically do it all here. We don’t have to go across the county or fight traffic in Kennesaw,” he said. “I just hope it gets well used — that people take advantage of this type of facility in east Cobb and we wear it out.”
Alfred L. Watkins, who has been band director at Lassiter since it opened, said the concert hall will serve 500 band, choir and orchestra students, the largest music program in the county. It will also give a permanent home to the Cobb Wind Symphony, which Watkins founded and conducts.
“It represents the best of the school,” Watkins said. “The school is strong academically, artistically and athletically. The kids are strong in character, and this is part of that whole mindset.”
Watkins conducted the wind symphony during the open house, while hundreds came in to check out the new facility. During intermission, he showed off some of its features.
Curtains behind the stage can be raised and lowered in order to suit what type of music is being played, Watkins said. And the columns are designed to improve the acoustics in the hall, which has 350 seats near the stage, with 650 stadium style seats behind them.
“Sound is like an energy ball,” he said. “You have to have something to harness it.”
Some will notice that the stage doesn’t have curtains that can be raised and lowered in front of it, like a traditional theater might. But Watkins said that shouldn’t keep the concert hall from hosting dramas and other events.
“Shakespeare had a stage similar to this,” he said. “He seemed to have done OK.”
Lassiter senior Mark Hopper, a band member, said he has been waiting for the day he could perform at the concert hall since construction started in March 2010.
“We’ve watched it built from the ground up, dodging all the construction,” the 18-year-old said. “I love how it turned out.”