Robert and Judi Newman Center for Performing Arts

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Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts
Established 2003
Location 2344 East Iliff Avenue, Denver, CO 80210

The Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts is located on the University of Denver campus in Denver, Colorado at the southwest corner of E. Iliff Ave. and S. University Blvd. Robert and Judi Newman were asked by then Chancellor Daniel L. Ritchie to spearhead the fundraising effort for the Center. They also made a substantial donation to the Center's fundraising efforts. The Newman Center officially opened in the fall of 2002 with the commencement of classes, and the three main performance venues officially opened in spring 2003.

Aerial View of Newman Center for the Performing Arts

While the Newman Center appears from the outside to be one large building, it actually consists of six distinct buildings, each with its own foundation, separated one from another by two inch gaps for acoustical isolation. The Center is divided into many academic and rehearsal spaces as well as multiple performance venues, including Virginia E. Trevorrow Hall on the north end of the building, which houses the Lamont School of Music, and includes other academic and rehearsal facilities. The three main performance venues are located on the main floor of the Center and include June Swaner Gates Concert Hall, an opera house with nearly 1,000 seats, Frederic C. Hamilton Family Recital Hall, an intimate recital space of 222 seats, and Elizabeth Eriksen Byron Theatre, a black box theater seating up to 350. The Galen and Ada Belle Spencer Foundation Meet-the-Artist Room serves as a reception room for many events.

The Newman Center hosts nearly 500 performances each season, including theatre, dance, jazz, world and classical music. Up to 150,000 people each season attend events in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Performers include international touring artists, local performing arts organizations, as well as the award-winning musicians, singers and thespians of the University of Denver. The University's own "Newman Center Presents" series is a multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural offering of renowned touring artists. It was inaugurated in the fall of 2003. Newman Center Presents mixes well-known performers with rising stars from around the world. Almost half of the artists presented by NCP have never appeared in Denver before. NCP regularly commissions new works and provides educational residency activities for students of the University and pre-college students. Most of the performances in the Newman Center are open to the general public as well as University faculty and students.

June Swaner Gates Concert Hall[edit]

This venue is the most widely used performance space in the Newman Center. It is known for its great acoustics, which were designed by Kirkegaard Associates. Gates Concert Hall has a large performing stage, an orchestra pit, a Wenger orchestra shell used for full symphony and chamber orchestras, and tiered seating for the audience. The HVAC system for the Hall is underground, thus isolating mechanical noise. Air conditioned and heated air is supplied through hundreds of vents in the floors of the Hall so that large volumes of air can be moved very slowly, thus reducing the "white noise" created by blown air. The walls of the Hall are hand-applied plaster, and the shaping of the walls along with this material helps create the outstanding acoustics. Acoustical banners can be raised and lowered via a winch system in the attic, thus increasing or decreasing natural reverberation, as appropriate depending on the nature of the event taking place. Gates Concert Hall is used for operatic, musical and dance shows as well as jazz, classical music, corporate presentations, memorial services, and other events. It seats from 849 to 971 people, depending on the configuration of the pits. Gates Concert Hall includes multiple 9-foot New York Steinway pianos, the newest one acquired in the fall of 2013 through the generous support of the University of Denver/Newman Center, the Newman Family Foundation, and the Denver Friends of Chamber Music.

Joy Burns Plaza[edit]

This is the main gathering space in the Newman Center and serves as a lounge and study area for staff and students during the day and as a lobby for performances that take place during the evenings. The Plaza is elegant with a high vaulted ceiling, large clerestory windows, tall columns, alabaster chandeliers, Italian travertine floors and custom-made furniture by Daniel Strawn. The M Allan Frank Family Box Office is located in the Plaza, which is where tickets for performances may be purchased. Tickets are also available online at

Frederic C. Hamilton Family Recital Hall[edit]

This hall is used for recital performances by the students and faculty members of the Lamont School of Music, but is also available for public rental. Hamilton Hall includes a 9-foot Hamburg Steinway concert grand piano and the William K. Coors organ, a 2,850-pipe tracker action organ designed and built by Karl Schuke Berliner Orgelbauwerkstatt in Berlin, Germany. It seats 222 people. As with Gates Concert Hall, acoustical banners can be raised and lowered via a winch system in the attic, thus increasing or decreasing natural reverberation, as appropriate depending on the nature of the event taking place.

Elizabeth Eriksen Byron Theatre[edit]

Also known as the "Byron Flexible Theatre," or just "the Flex," this space is used for theatre students to learn the practice of theatre production. The theatre is capable of making more than 40 different seating and staging arrangements and has an adjacent rehearsal room. There are some professional performances shown in this theatre, especially during the University of Denver's winter and summer breaks. It seats up to 350 people.

Virginia E. Trevorrow Hall[edit]

This is the north wing of the Newman Center and its facilities are mainly used by the Lamont School of Music faculty, staff and music majors. The Lamont School of Music has approximately three hundred music majors as well as non-music majors who use the facilities throughout the year. The following facilities are included in this hall.

Academic facilities[edit]

The academic spaces include Lamont offices (Main Administrative Office, PR Office and Lamont Admissions), state-of-the-art classrooms, 42 faculty studios, 35 student practice rooms on the Morey C. Ballantine Student Floor, the Marvin and Judi Wolf Conference Room (22-seat boardroom style meeting space), a recording studio which contains a drum booth (with walls lined with river rocks for acoustical reasons), an electronic piano lab, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Music Library, and a student lounge.

Rehearsal facilities[edit]

There are various rehearsal and practice rooms that are available to both faculty and students on a regular basis. The Carol L. Moore Vocal Rehearsal Room is the main rehearsal space for the Lamont School of Music Opera and Choral programs. The Instrumental Rehearsal Room is the main rehearsal space for the Lamont Symphony Orchestra, the Lamont Wind Ensemble and the Pioneer Pep Band. There is also a Jazz Rehearsal Room, which is used by the Jazz Studies program at the school. Virtual Practice Rooms are also available that are equipped with Virtual Room Acoustic Systems, which electronically create reverberations in a small space so the acoustics in the rooms can sound like a variety of spaces, from a large concert hall or cathedral to a small, acoustically "dead" club. On the Morey C. Ballantine 5th floor, there are various Student Practice Rooms, which are available for student use on a first-come, first-served basis and are each equipped with a piano. The Lamont School of Music was the 27th "All Steinway" music school in the U.S.

Carl and Lisa Williams Recital Salon[edit]

This room is used for solo recitals, chamber music recitals and rehearsals, and a large lecture classroom. It is the venue used for "Flo's Underground," a free, live jazz performance on Fridays during the academic year from 5:00pm to 7:00pm given by current Lamont jazz students. It seats 80 people.

Art in the Newman Center[edit]

Exterior Works[edit]

Bas Relief Sculptures[edit]

The exterior of the Newman Center includes three sculptures created by Denver artists Madeleine Weiner and Kathy Caricof. The two M Allan and Margot Gilbert Frank Bas Relief Carvings on the north facade of the Newman Center were designed to act as "bookends" on the north wall of Trevorrow Hall, home of the Lamont School of Music. The artists wished to depict and celebrate music, specifically jazz (trumpet, bass, drum and saxophone) and classical (opera, horn and violin). The figures and instruments are carved in an energetic style, a constant reminder of the music being created behind the walls. Each relief is 24 feet tall by 12 inches deep, and is carved from Indiana Limestone. The sculpture on the west patio of the Newman Center, against the exterior wall of the Department of Theatre's Byron Theatre, was also designed and carved by Denver artists Madeline Wiener and Kathy Caricof. This sculpture depicts three characters from the Commedia Dell’Arte, Italian quasi-improvisational theater popular during the Renaissance. Colombina (Columbine), who hides behind Arlecchino (Harlequin), is demure and gentle, while Arlecchino gestures to the throne on which passers-by can sit to join the audience. The smaller figure represents Pantalone, a miserly, scheming masked character in tattered clothing. He clutches a purse, out of which coins are falling. Note also the hat on the ground that is filled with coins, as if the players are collecting money for a performance. This sculpture is 12 feet tall and is carved from Indiana Limestone. Don’t miss the cute bunnies under the feet of the characters on the left, each of which even has on its own theatrical mask.

Bowlen Family Sundial[edit]

The Bowlen Family Sundial is placed vertically on the south face of the Gates Concert Hall stage house and was inspired by similar sundials in Italy. It has two sets of hour markers. The larger, outer set is used to tell the time in the summer months when the sun is high in the sky and the shadows cast by the gnomon are long. The smaller, inner set is used in the winter months when the sun is low in the sky and the shadows are much shorter.

Saunders Family Rose Window[edit]

The Saunders Family Rose Window is located in the student lounge on the fifth floor of Trevorrow Hall. Cab Childress, University Architect Emeritus, wanted the Newman Center to have its own rose window, not an ecclesiastical one, but rather a real rose. Mark Rodgers, current University Architect, picked a rose from the University’s rose garden and used it to create plans for the carving. It is hand carved in Indiana limestone. The rose is the logo of the Newman Center, roses being traditional gifts to performers at the end of concerts.

Interior Works[edit]


Inside the west entrance of the Newman Center is a free-standing sculpture entitled "Harlequin" (c. 1957) by Marion Buchan (1895-1971). "Harlequin" was one of several near life-size treatments of the subject by Buchan, who was Assistant Professor of Drawing and Painting at the University's School of Art from 1944 to 1958. This version was commissioned by Campton Bell, Theatre Department chairman, around 1957. In 1993, it was removed from the lobby of the Lamont School of Music, which was then located in Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood. "Harlequin" was professionally restored in 2002 and prepared for long-term installation at the Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Restoration was generously supported by the Save Outdoor Sculpture! Foundation and by Holly Buchan. The sculpture was installed courtesy of Bruce and Martha Clinton in honor of Robert and Judi Newman.

"Trio and Tone Shapes"[edit]

The west lobby of the Newman Center includes a bronze cast entitled "Trio and Tone Shapes" by Arnold Rönnebeck (1885-1947). Rönnebeck was Instructor in Sculpture at the University's School of Art from 1929 to 1935. "Trio and Tone Shapes" was an unrealized 1939 commission for a Denver Public Schools auditorium. A 1968 account by Vance Kirkland, then director of the University's School of Art, indicates that the piece was rejected by DPS as “too modern.” The relief was retrieved from the Hosek Manufacturing Company by Kirkland in 1968 and incorporated into the University’s art collections. The 2007 casts were taken from the painted plaster original; the remaining bronze resides in the collection of Denver’s Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Art. The relief was cast at the Fedde Bronze Works, Denver. The University gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of the family and estate of Arnold Rönnebeck, and the support of the JFM Foundation.

Flemish Tapestry[edit]

At the mid-point of the grand staircase in Joy Burns Plaza is a Flemish tapestry, a gift of Robert and Judi Newman. It was created in the late 16th or early 17th century. It is probably from studios in the town of Audenarde. The scene is “The Story of Moses,” or “Exodus.” Moses is the bearded figure to the left of center as you look at the tapestry; he holds a staff in his right hand. His brother Aaron is farther to the left and wears the miter. Their sister Miriam is the largest, and central, figure in the piece. She and other ladies are musicians and are leading the people in celebration after having escaped the bondage of the Pharaoh. Approximately 10’ x 14’.

"Chenrezig" (Sanskrit: Avalokiteshvara)[edit]

The stage level elevator lobby on the west side of the Newman Center includes Thangka painting on fabric, completed in 2007. The painting was made by Lobsang Choegyal and Sarika Singh, Founders & Master Painters of the Thangde Gatsal School and was a gift to the Newman Center of University Professors Roscoe Hill and Sheila Wright to honor Lobsang and Sarika and all the University's students who participated in Project Dharamsala. This Thangka depicts the Mandala of Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion. In September 2004, Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery created a sand mandala in Joy Burns Plaza in the Newman Center devoted to Chenrezig. When finished, the sand painting was swept up and put into the river, as an acknowledgment of the impermanence of things. To commemorate the event, the Newman Center for the Performing Arts commissioned this painting from the Thangde Gatsal Studio in Dharamsala, India. Thangka painting is a uniquely Tibetan tradition that evolved between the 7th and 12th centuries. Thangkas are works of art, objects of devotion, and aids to spiritual practice. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is considered to be the reincarnation of Chenrezig. This artwork installed courtesy of Bruce and Martha Clinton in honor of Robert and Judi Newman.

Illuminated Manuscript Page[edit]

The stage level elevator lobby on the west side of the Newman Center also includes an illuminated manuscript page of tempera colors and gold leaf on vellum parchment from Northern Italy or France (c. 1380-1420). This manuscript page once belonged to an antiphonary (a book of liturgical music) and was a gift of the Carol Margolin Family to the Newman Center. In Catholic liturgy, the passages appearing on the page are associated with the week leading up to the celebration of Pentecost. However, the scene portrayed inside the large illuminated letter “C” on the side shown is the feast of the Last Supper. The initial “C” begins the phrase Cibavit eos… (“He fed them...”). "Cibavit eos frumenti, alleluia; et de petra, melle saturavit eos, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Exsultate Deo adjutori nostro; jubilate Deo Jacob." (“He fed them with the fat of wheat, alleluia; and filled them with honey out of the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. Rejoice to God our helper; sing aloud to the God of Jacob.”)


Inside the Hamilton Family Recital Hall, on the Gallery Level, is "Allegro," sculpted by Anne Cunningham. Modeled after the pet parrot owned by Joe Docksey, Director of the Lamont School of Music when the Newman Center opened, the sculpture was a gift by Lamont students, faculty and the Lamont Music Associates.

"Play it Again, Philippe"[edit]

The Marvin and Judi Wolf Conference Room includes a work of mixed-media and plaster life casts entitled "Play it Again, Philippe" (1988) by Lee Milmon (1940-2005). Milmon received her BFA from the University of Denver in 1962 and her MFA in 1971. After completion of her degrees she continued to work in various media, including drawing, printmaking, sculpture, and weaving. She taught at the Colorado Institute of Art, Metro State College, the Colorado Women’s College, and at the University of Denver's School of Art and Art History.


External links[edit]

Newman Center Presents

Newman Center Rentals

University of Denver