The fully renovated auditorium in Hill Hall is now to be called the James and Susan Moeser Auditorium, in honor of the former chancellor and his wife, who prioritized the arts during their tenure at UNC.
Among the speakers were Chancellor Carol Folt, chairperson of the music department Louise Toppin and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Kevin Guskiewicz. The speakers gave high praise to UNC’s music program, Hill Hall’s makeover and the donors who made the project a reality.
“Hill Hall is a space as glorious as the music that has happened here for more than three quarters of a century,” Guskiewicz said.
Thomas Kenan, a William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust member, said the music department is one of his favorite departments, and hinted at the future presence of a pipe organ in the hall.
“The reason the Chancellor is so sweet to me is that she knew that I was a piano dropout, clarinet dropout,” Kenan said. “After two lessons on the pipe organ, my teacher said ‘Let’s try golf.’”
Musical performances were given by students and faculty to commemorate the auditorium’s opening.
Among them was first-year music major Renee McGee, who performed Igor Stravinsky’s “Fanfare for a New Theatre” with music professor and director of jazz studies James Ketch. McGee said he was thankful for the renovations and that they offered unique acoustic opportunities.
“The acoustics are so incredible that it’s great, especially for a trumpet player, to practice playing in such an open space,” McGee said.
Toppin was grateful for those who funded the renovation and members of the music department who persevered through the long renovation.
“I also want to thank the countless others who oversaw all aspects of this complex project,” Toppin said.
Folt spoke about the new auditorium and rotunda as well as the donors’ appreciation for the arts at UNC.
“In a broader sense though, I think this is really part of celebrating the importance of the arts at large at UNC, America’s first public university,” Folt said. “And that has that commitment to creativity, and not just learning about it, but doing it and being very much a part of our DNA.”
While many lauded the new space, some took time to remember the old Hill Hall, before the renovated auditorium, rotunda and HVAC system.
“During my first graduation, sweat just kept dripping down my back as I tried to call each name,” Toppin said.