Morrison Recital Hall Renovation: an inspiring venue for stellar performances

rendering of performance space with pianist and violinist onstage
September 5, 2023

Laurie Wu McClain (B.A. '64, J.D. '82) and Chuck McClain have been attending music performances on campus for years. They are intimately familiar with 768-seat Hertz Hall — and were aware that no equivalent venue existed on campus for small performances. Cal parents John and Kristi Cumming likewise noticed that the quality of spaces in Morrison Hall did not do justice to the talent of student musicians. Thanks to their generosity, that is about to change.

125 Morrison Hall is currently used mainly as a music classroom. Unchanged since 1958, it shows the wear of 65 years of continuous use. Meanwhile, the Department of Music has seen the largest increase (36% year over year for the past 5 years) in majors across A&H, and Music department performances draw audiences from across the Bay Area.

In 2020, the McClains pledged a $1 million launch gift for the renovation of 125 Morrison, which will be renamed Wu Recital Hall in memory of Laurie's parents. This was the latest in a series of transformative gifts by the McClains. As Builders of Berkeley, Laurie and Chuck have supported an impressive range of programs including undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships in music and public health, and the Library. Their connections to Cal run deep: Laurie serves on the board of the UC Berkeley Foundation, Charles taught at Berkeley Law, and their son Christopher is an alum.

The Cumming family, whose philanthropy supports a number of educational causes, made a $1 million gift in spring 2023. The Cummings' son graduated from Berkeley this past May with a dual major in music and sustainable environmental design; he recently began a job with a major record label.

The new space will be a beautiful addition to the campus's public outreach efforts, with performances of chamber music, recitals, jazz, choral groups, Latin and Chinese music ensembles, and Baroque opera productions. The new room will serve as the principal performance venue for the department's research wing, the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies (CNMAT), which will be presenting state-of-the-art digital audio and video productions utilizing the latest technologies developed by our researchers at CNMAT. The effect of the new room will be transformative for all the musicians in the department and on the campus, and once again we thank our donors for their incredible vision and generosity!