Marlboro Music Reich Hall
Owner: Marlboro School of Music, Inc.
Location: Marlboro, Vt.
Inspired by the humble Cape Cod cottage, the new Jerome and Celia Bertin Reich Rehearsal Building and Music Library offers the celebrated Marlboro Music program upgraded practice facilities for its musicians. Driven by the overarching desire to best serve today’s musicians and music itself, the hall’s design stays true to the spirit of Southern Vermont, where the program is held each summer, while providing much-needed modern rehearsal spaces, a music library, and staff offices.
Dubbed the “classical world’s most coveted retreat” by The New Yorker, Marlboro Music has gathered many of the world’s most talented classical musicians for a seven-week festival focused on collaboration and away from the pressures of performance since 1951. The program is held on the campus of Marlboro College, which recently closed due to low enrollment but is still maintained by Marlboro Music. It also promotes a communal way of living, with the musicians, staff, and their families sharing meals and chores while also engaging in other social events. But after more than 70 years, the campus’ aging farm buildings proved to be less than ideal environments for rehearsal and storing Marlboro’s renowned chamber music archive, which contains more than 10,000 scores.
Reich Hall draws on the 400-year-old typology derived from the dwellings of 17th-century English settlers. Arising from an aesthetic of restraint, the cottage’s simple gabled form is intrinsically linked to the campus’ identity, and the hall’s small footprint and compact volumes help reinforce the program’s place among the Green Mountains’ rolling hills. For both the program and the design team, the primary goal was to create a new sustainable building, fully integrated into the steeply sloped terrain with minimal site disturbance. Its four pitched-roof forms step down the landscape’s natural slope, while its upper and lower floors are organized around south-facing outdoor rooms for community gatherings.
Inside, the lobby’s humble ceiling height allows the full volumes of the library and rehearsal rooms to soar. With their simple wood surfaces, the rehearsal rooms evoke instruments themselves. Rippling wood grain and knots of varied sizes coalesce with locally sourced white pine slats to support an acoustically “dry” space in which musicians can hear their instruments and voices with no ambient interruptions. All of the building’s systems are integrated in ways that render them nearly invisible, spotlighting the building’s beauty and the surrounding landscape.
With the completion of Reich Hall, Marlboro Music now has world-class rehearsal spaces that reflect the immense talent the program draws each year. For several weeks each summer, it offers a concert series for the public, drawing scores of visitors from nearby Brattleboro and the greater Northeast region. Visitors can experience performances featuring established musicians alongside young artists on the cusp of their careers, true to Marlboro Music’s egalitarian spirit and legacy.