Hope College will name a new center for musical arts, which will be constructed on its campus, in honor of Jack H. Miller for his lifetime of generosity to the college.

The “Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts” will include two performance venues, classrooms, practice rooms, faculty studios and office space for the department of music. The 64,000-square-foot complex will be built along Columbia Avenue between 9th and 10th streets.  

Miller’s major gift to the $35 million project, which includes construction costs and an endowment for maintenance, will enable the college to begin construction in the coming school year.  The center will play an important role in both music performance and music education at Hope, in addition to serving as a venue for performances by community organizations.

The building is a significant component of the college’s $175 million comprehensive campaign, “A Greater Hope”, now nearing completion. It was inspired by an initial lead gift to the campaign from Richard and Helen DeVos and brought to fruition by a major gift from Jack H. Miller.

“I am excited and proud to make this gift to Hope College.  The students of Hope deserve a new world class facility for music instruction and performance.”  Miller said.  “I have had a lifelong love of all arts, especially music.  This gift is for the students of Hope so they can use their talents and grow and go on to do wonderful things with their lives.”

Jack H. Miller, who resides in Grand Haven, MI and Naples, FL, is a 1954 graduate of Hope College.  He led the Howard Miller Company for 48 years until retiring in 2002.  The company was founded by his father, Howard C. Miller, in 1926.

The “Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts” will be located directly across the street from the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication, which was made possible by a gift from Martha Miller’s estate and other contributions from members of the Miller family in honor of their mother and grandmother.

The Miller family’s involvement with Hope spans more than 90 years.  Martha, who died in May 1999, was a 1924 Hope graduate. Jack’s siblings, Connie Miller ’58 Johnston and Philip Miller ’65, and all of Jack’s children: Sue Miller ’81 DenHerder, Buzz Miller ’84 and Meg Miller ’86 Willit are also alumni.

“Both Hope and the Holland community have dreamed of an acoustically 

superior concert hall for many years, and our music students and faculty have long deserved better space for instruction, rehearsals and performance,” said President James E. Bultman.  “We are grateful to the many donors whose support has made the center possible, and especially appreciate now the transforming legacy gift from Jack H. Miller that makes what was once a dream a reality.” 

The centerpiece of the new building will be an 800-seat concert hall featuring both main-floor and balcony seating.  The facility will also house a smaller recital hall seating approximately 125 for more intimate performances.

Instructional space will include dedicated rehearsal space for the college’s several choral and instrumental ensembles, 17 individual practice rooms, an updated piano lab, a computer lab, a percussion studio, a recording studio and two general-use classrooms. The building also includes 24 faculty teaching studios and offices.

The department of music presents more than 125 performances, clinics, workshops and recitals each year.  Hope also features concerts through programs such as the long-running Great Performance Series.  In addition to hosting performances, the space will support learning by hundreds of students each semester.

Hope is making a priority of developing partnerships with community organizations like the Holland Symphony Orchestra, Holland Chorale and Grand Rapids Symphony that could benefit from the performance space.  The vision is for the center to become not only a venue for professional groups, but also a resource for area music teachers and area schools for conferences, competitions, and recitals.

The “Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts” will be an anchor of the developing arts corridor along Columbia Avenue between 9th and 14th streets.  The arts corridor includes the college’s Dow Center - home to the department of dance, DeWitt Center - home to the department of theatre and Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, De Pree Art Center and Gallery, the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication, and the Kruizenga Art Museum (soon to be under construction). 

The “Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts” will replace Nykerk Hall of Music which was constructed in 1956 when Hope’s enrollment was 1,100 students.  Enrollment this past year was more than 3,300.  Hope College and Holland have never had a venue dedicated strictly for music performance.  Over the years, musicians and ensembles have performed at the Holland Civic Center, area high schools, large churches, Dimnent Chapel, Wichers Auditorium in Nykerk Hall of Music, and the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Groundbreaking could be as early as October of this year with completion anticipated in the fall of 2015. 

Holland Sentinel
MLive/Grand Rapids Press  /  MLive Followup
Associated Press