GALESBURG — Musicians, board members and investors from the Knox-Galesburg Symphony Society drove gold shovels into gravel outside the former Knox County Farm Bureau building on Friday to celebrate the start of its renovation into the association’s new head office and music school.
Lucas Wood, executive director of the Knox Galesburg Symphony, said the center would be a game-changer for us, as the organization has never inhabited its own dedicated building in its nearly 75 years. The center will contain four practice spaces, a large lesson studio, a classroom, a multipurpose recital space and two administrative offices.
The Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra will continue to offer concerts at various venues in the community, but Wood said he is delighted with the new center as it will allow the non-profit organization to provide the community with more experiences than simple concerts, such as private and group concerts. music class.
“I see this project as an evolution for this organization, a way for us to turn around and give back to the community that has supported us for 75 years,” Wood said. “This project, and the programs that will develop here, will create a ripple effect to change people’s lives for generations.”
The nonprofit purchased the properties at 95 and 107 N. Seminary St. for $360,000 in May last year. Erik Page, project manager for Estes Construction, said Knox County Farm Bureau renovations will begin this fall and will take about five months.
Peggy Bonner, a percussionist who has performed with the Knox-Galesburg Symphony for more than 25 years, said she can’t wait for the building to be completed. Bonner said she plans to conduct music lessons in space and thinks it will help build relationships between young and old.
“As you may know, fine arts programs and performance venues have suffered lately.” Bonner said. “This building will provide a place to not only discover, create and perform music, but also to build that piece of music in a very special place in this community.”
About 265 people attended the Friday ceremony. Elizabeth Culbertson, executive director of the FISH Pantry, said she would be interested in enrolling her 2- and 5-year-olds in music lessons once the center opens.
“I know music is great for teaching discipline and a whole other language, so to speak,” Culbertson said. “So that’s definitely something we’d be interested in. I’d probably let my five-year-old choose which instrument.”
Mayor Peter Schwartzman also made the remarks, praising the school as a “hugely ambitious” project that happens to tie in with the city’s strategic plan to create places for people of all ages, backgrounds and classes in community get together – in this case, playing and learning music.
“When I see bulldozers in Galesburg, I get a little nervous and I’m a little disappointed, usually, because that usually means we’re going to have to demolish another building that’s been here for over 100 years,” Schwartzman said.
“But in this particular case, I have the assurance that this particular bulldozer is not going to raze this building, but, in fact, this project is going to keep this building alive and that is a wonderful tribute. So let’s give them a round of applause for that.