Skip to main content

The new Natalie L. Haslam Music Center is a physical expression of the musical art form.

Acoustical wall panels and retractable curtains allow the recital hall and rehearsal rooms to be tuned to reverberate or absorb sound to meet the needs of various performances.

Performance studios and academic offices are soundproof.

Even the building’s very façade is musical. The exterior glass wall resembles abstract sheet music. The vertical pieces between the glass panes represent the bars, and horizontal pieces represent the staff. The colored glass emulates musical notes.

The state-of-the-art facility, which has been under construction since 2010, will open its doors to students August 21. The center will be a venue where students can hone their craft and train under a world-class faculty.

“We now have a home to match our tradition of excellence,” said Jeffrey Pappas, director of the UT School of Music. “The Natalie L. Haslam Music Center will be an inspirational environment for present and future students for generations to come. It also will be a community asset and will serve all lovers of music and the arts.”

Along with a new building, the School of Music is celebrating one other accomplishment: receiving All-Steinway School distinction—an international mark of music excellence signaling that at least 90 percent of an institution’s pianos are Steinway-designed. The school recently completed the initiative to raise more than $3.5 million to purchase sixty-eight new Steinway & Sons pianos to either replace or add to its existing inventory.

“This is a new era at the School of Music,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the UT College of Arts and Sciences. “Their new home and All-Steinway designation will position them to continue recruiting top students and faculty and create a brighter future for music at the University of Tennessee.”

The School of Music is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The music center’s opening coincides with the opening of the John D. Tickle Engineering Building. They are among twelve classroom and research facilities on the Knoxville and Agriculture campuses that have been built or undergone major renovations in the past five years.

The building is named for philanthropist Natalie Haslam. In 2006, she, her husband Jim Haslam, and the Haslam Family Foundation gave UT $32.5 million, $10 million of which was designated to the UT School of Music. The state of Tennessee allocated $30 million for the new music building.

The $40-million Natalie L. Haslam Music Center project replaces a facility that was constructed in 1964 to accommodate 150 students. The School of Music now serves 400 students. The building represents the first time all School of Music programs, faculty, and staff are under one roof.

The building was the vision of the late Roger Stephens, who was director of the School of Music from August 2001 through February 2011. He was the driving force in the planning for the facility for many years before his death.

The four-floor, 123,000-square-foot facility houses eight technology-enhanced classrooms; fifty-six practice rooms; fifty-seven performance studios/academic offices; an organ studio; the 412-seat Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall; the George F. DeVine Music Library; a recording/mixing lab; computer, electronic music and piano labs; and an academic tutoring center.

Other features:

  • The building is designed to conserve water use. Rainwater is collected and stored in underground cisterns and used to irrigate the site’s plants and lawns.
  • The lobby has a glass monumental stairway—a first of its kind on the UT campus.
  • The materials used in the building’s construction will allow it to be considered LEED Silver certification from the US Green Building Council.
  • The Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall’s design pays homage to classic design of grand symphony and opera halls.
  • Energy-saving Lutron Daylight Sensor systems are mounted in the ceiling. They dim automatically when there is enough natural daylight.
  • The building is energy efficient and is designed to reduce energy consumption. Colored portions of the glass, while part of the aesthetic design of the exterior, are also coated with a ceramic pattern that reduces solar heat gain. The building overhangs provide shade.

Associated Music Center Architects, a joint venture of BarberMcMurry Architects and Blankenship and Partners, designed the center and was responsible for the construction. Johnson and Galyon was the contractor.

To learn more about the UT School of Music, visit the website.


Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,