In summer 2011, Belmont began a $9 million renovation of the south end of the Belmont Heights complex in order to provide the campus with a new, large concert venue suitable for acoustic performances. The design concept for the McAfee Concert Hall was developed in consultation with Earl Swensson Associates and Akustiks, the architects and acousticians who designed Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Acousticians conducted extensive, carefully documented scientific studies and developed a plan for the building that expands the volume of space to optimal acoustic proportions for a large orchestra and chorus, creates optimal sound diffusion, and eliminates most ambient noise. Additionally, the 1970 55-rank Aeolian-Skinner Organ was fully refurbished.
The renovation has received high praise with the McAfee Concert Hall being named the best new venue in Nashville by the Nashville Scene, adding that “The hall has marvelous acoustics, and the students now have a venue worthy of their talents.” Arts Nashville said “It’s no secret that ensembles that routinely play in a great concert hall improve dramatically in quality over time – just think of the strides the Nashville Symphony has made inside the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Belmont’s student and faculty groups will no doubt experience similar progress in the coming years. Finally, they have a performance space that is worthy of their talents.” The Tennessean said the “‘New’ McAfee Hall inspires” and called the space a “treasure.”
The 876-seat McAfee Concert Hall, located at 2100 Belmont Blvd., has hosted performances of the University’s classical choral and instrumental ensembles and special guests. Along with a Gala Opening Concert (10/6/12), Christmas at Belmont Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, and the President’s Concert on April 20, 2013, the inaugural opening season celebratine the new hall included guest performances by the Grammy-award winning Nashville Symphony Orchestra and internationally acclaimed Mezzo-Soprano Denyce Graves and a lecture by internationally-renowned musicologist and music critic Dr. Richard Taruskin. Most recently, McAfee Concert Hall played host to the second debate in the Nashforward debate series during the 2015 Nashville Mayoral Race.