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About the Concert Hall

The new William M. Lowman Concert Hall, designed by award-winning architect Whitney Sander of Los Angeles, is an approximately eight thousand square-foot gem in the heart of the Idyllwild Arts Academy campus. Acoustically engineered by ARUP North America, world famous for its design of the Sydney Opera House, the hall is sheathed in 67 thousand pounds of rusted corten steel panels that blend with the cedar siding of surrounding campus buildings. The jagged topography of the steel evokes the mountain landscape of Idyllwild, while the silhouette of the building represents an artist’s conception of the musical score “Xtal” by Richard James.
The shape of the building also resembles Tahquitz Rock, which it faces to the east. The house seats 298 audience members. The hall includes a lobby, restrooms, green room, mechanical space, and musical instrument storage space. ARUP engineers designed the hall to be acoustically brilliant. Its acoustical qualities have been inspired by the most renowned halls in the world. The scale and acoustical properties are equivalent to the Musikverein in Vienna. In all stages of development, fine acoustics have been the first priority.

The interior finish includes hundreds of kiln dried Douglas fir beams that are designed to appropriate the densely wooded forests of the San Jacinto Mountains. 80 wooden “ribs” are hung vertically along each side of the hall and connect across the ceiling in a saw tooth pattern, each beam placed at specific and varying angles that are not only aesthetically captivating but contribute to the finest acoustic effect.

The performance stage is 60 percent larger than the IAF Theatre stage in the Bowman Arts Center (1,820 sq. ft. compared to the current 1,100 sq. ft.) and thus able to simultaneously accommodate a full symphony orchestra and chorus, as well as jazz concerts and chamber music performances.

The project includes a professional landscape plan, designed to be sustainable and eco-friendly. The design features indigenous, drought-resistant native plantings, an oak grove, and solar-powered illuminated walkways leading to outdoor areas that serve as a central campus quad and gathering space for the school community.


Since 1996, the Idyllwild Arts Foundation recognized the need for a modern performance space which would not only complement the beloved but outdated IAF Theatre, but would give a clear indication to audiences of the school’s vision and future as it approached the new millennium. Twenty years later, it is now the centerpiece of a world class institution which for the better part of a century has harnessed the transformative power of art to change people’s lives.

In 2007, IAF began working with numerous Southern California architectural firms to consider designs for the new performance space. A year later the Venice, California-based firm, Sander Architects was selected to move forward and submit the schematic design for what would be called The William M. Lowman Concert Hall.

Thanks to the generosity of 282 donors a total of $6,396,000 was raised and ground was broken in October 2014. In March 2016, The William M. Lowman Concert Hall held its soft opening in the form of an Alumni Jazz Concert honoring Marshall Hawkins.

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