Acoustic Achievement

Idyllwild Arts Foundation marks 70th anniversary with grand opening of William M. Lowman Concert Hall.

Emily Chavous Foster Arts & Entertainment


Idyllwild Arts Foundation (IAF) marked its 70th anniversary milestone with the grand opening of the William M. Lowman Concert Hall.

More than 300 donors, alumni, board members, friends, and community members were on hand to celebrate the opening of the nearly $ 6.4 million Concert Hall, which is now the centerpiece of the acclaimed arts institution.

Since 1996, Idyllwild Arts Foundation recognized the need for a modern performance space that would benefit IAF students, faculty, staff, and the community.

“This new hall, with its world-class acoustics and performance stage 60 percent larger than any other campus venue, opens up exciting new opportunities for our students,” said President and Head of School, Pamela Jordan. “This space makes our campus worthy of the incredible talent of our students and faculty”.

The concert hall is a fitting tribute to the contributions of Lowman. He arrived on campus with his wife Carolyn in 1985 as the leader of the institution, and was immediately faced with a deteriorating summer program, deficit budgets, and cancellation of some classes due to lack of enrollment.

Working with Buzz Holmes, and Dr. Richard MacNeal, Lowman convinced the Board to take an even more courageous step and form a high school arts academy.

(From left) Major donors Jim Lovelace and Dwight Holmes join William Lowman and Pamela Jordan, president & Head of School for Idyllwild Arts Foundation.

Before the end of the decade, Lowman presided over the only fully-accredited independent boarding high school for the arts in the west. Today, Idyllwild’s student body boasts over 300 students representing 33 countries.

The William M. Lowman Concert Hall, which seats 298, was designed by award-winning architect Whitney Sander of Los Angeles, and acoustically engineered by ARUP North America, world famous for its spectacular design of the Sydney Opera House. The 8,000 square foot gem is sheathed in 67,000 pounds of rusted corten steel panels that blend with the cedar siding of surrounding campus buildings.

The interior finish includes hundreds of kiln dried Douglas fir beams that are designed to appropriate the densely wooded forests of the San Jacinto Mountains. 80 wooden “ribs” are hung vertically along each side of the hall and connect across the ceiling in a saw tooth pattern, each beam placed at specific and varying angles.

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The 8,000 square foot concert hall is sheathed in 67,000 pounds of rusted corten steel panels.