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Thursday, March 6, 2008

New home for Music by the Lake

Plans are under way for the construction of a new permanent open-air pavilion for the Music by the Lake summer music festival, hosted each year on the George Williams College of Aurora University campus in Williams Bay.

More than $1.1 million has been raised in private contributions toward the $1.4 million project goal since November. Site preparation and construction will be completed in June when the festival opens its eighth season since the revival of the celebrated Geneva Lake summer music tradition in 2001.

The new seasonal venue will be constructed on the site of the Lewis Auditorium and will replace the current Allyn Pavilion with a tensile structure inspired by the famous Benedict Music Tent at the Aspen Music Festival. The new facility will be called the Ferro Pavilion in recognition of the $500,000 leadership gift to the project from the Ferro Family Foundation, established by lake residents Michael and Jacky Ferro of Chicago.

Plans for the new pavilion will increase seating capacity in the pavilion, improve site lines for audiences and expand terrace seating around the perimeter of the pavilion. Included in the design is a permanent stage with enhanced acoustical and technical capacity that will suspend lighting and sound equipment from the ceiling to enhance the performance experience for the audience and artists.

"Thanks to the generosity of the Ferro Family Foundation and many of our friends around the lake, the new pavilion will provide the festival with a unique venue to enhance the performance experience for our guests." said Christine Flasch, executive director of Music by the Lake in a news release. "This exciting performance space allows us to attract leading artists and to significantly increase the number of concerts this summer."

"We value our time at Geneva Lake and the opportunity to share the experience of Music by the Lake with family and friends, and now the community, through the new pavilion," the Ferros said. "The opportunity to help make this unique new venue a reality is rewarding. We believe this new pavilion will serve the campus and the greater lake community as a unique resource for many years to come."

"The generous support of the Ferro Family Foundation and the numerous other donors who have given generously to make the pavilion a reality has been humbling and an endorsement for the future of the George Williams College campus," said Rebecca L. Sherrick, president of Aurora University.

"This new facility is a major step toward our vision of creating a permanent summer cultural and intellectual destination on Geneva Lake akin to Aspen or Chautauqua in upstate New York."

The pavilion will open formally on Saturday, June 28, when Music by the Lake begins its 2008 season with Grammy Award-winning artist Maureen McGovern and the Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra. The fund-raising campaign will continue throughout the summer. For information, call 245-8501 or visit www.aurora.edu/mbtl.

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