This Saturday, October 9, at 8 p.m., Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory celebrates 30 years of hosting arts performances for the public. In honor of this jubilee, the first group ever to perform at Fermilab is returning to Ramsey Auditorium: the Fine Arts String Quartet. Tickets for the event ($20/$10 for ages 18 and under) are still available. Admission to the anniversary event includes a special wine and cheese reception with the musicians after the concert, a commemorative booklet, a slide show, and a special welcome from some of the volunteers who have supported the Arts Series for many years.
Since 1974, the 830-seat Ramsey Auditorium has provided the setting for numerous concerts and shows for the public. In recent years more than 10,000 patrons have come annually to Fermilab to attend a variety of performances, from Christmas specials to modern dance performances. Suzanne Vega, Ahmad Jamal, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Pilobolus Dance, Pete Seeger, and Rachel Barton are some of the artists and groups who have given memorable performance.
Thanks to the vision of the lab’s founding Director Robert Wilson, the auditorium was designed to accommodate scientific lectures and conferences as well as to provide a venue for the performing arts, serving as a way of welcoming the community. Fermilab employees Art and Janice Roberts established the Fermilab Arts Series 30 years ago, supported by Wilson’s wife Jane. Their efforts provided the strong basis for an Arts Series that continues to this day, still adhering to the mindfulness of those early pioneers in terms of artistic integrity and excellence, affordability, educational opportunity, cultural diversity, and most importantly, outreach to Fermilab’s neighbors.
Over the years the Fermilab Arts Series has grown, keeping up with the changing times and the growth of the Fox Valley community. But the same basic operational model is still in place: a minimal staff, led by program manager Janet Mackay-Galbraith, working in tandem with a group of about 30 volunteers, led by chairman and Fermilab engineer Henry Glass. The non-profit Arts Series relies purely on ticket sales to cover performance and production costs.
To celebrate its first 30 years, and to get an equally good start to the next, the Fermilab Arts Series has brought back the Fine Arts String Quartet, today one of the most-recorded quartets in history playing an immense variety of chamber music. The ensemble performed at Fermilab in 1972 in a concert closed to the public. Hundreds of scientists, who had gathered at Fermilab for an international conference, listened to the Fine Arts String Quartet while sitting on folding chairs in the not-yet-finished auditorium. In 1974, Fermilab hosted the first public concert. It was the year that Wilson Hall, the landmark building adjacent to Ramsey Auditorium, was completed.
The Fine Arts String Quartet-featuring a group of internationally renowned master musicians different from 30 years ago-will be performing music of Haydn, Shostakovich, and Mendelssohn. For further information or telephone reservations, call 630-840-ARTS (2787) weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. At other times an answering machine will provide information and a means of placing ticket orders. Tickets can also be purchased at the box office on the evening of the show if the show is not sold out. If you mail in a check for tickets, make it payable to Fermilab, PO Box 500, MS 111, Batavia, IL 60510.
Ramsey Auditorium is located next to Wilson Hall, the central building of Fermilab. At this time, only the Pine Street entrance is open, right off Kirk Road in Batavia. For more information please visit the Arts Series Web site at www.fnal.gov/culture.