Music to Our Ears
It's hard to vocalize how devastating the 2018 package bombs were to the people of Austin. The terrorist act took the lives of a young father and a promising teenage musician, injured four others, and forced us to confront (at least momentarily) the racial divides within the city.
Eighteen months later, those wounds are still raw, those questions unanswered, and the promise of those two lives — Anthony Stephan House and Draylen Mason — left unfulfilled.
As a way to honor Mason, a 17-year-old bassist with plans to attend the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Austin classical music station KMFA is establishing the Draylen Mason Music Studio, a 135-seat theater and recording studio on the east side as part of its sleek new headquarters.
The Mason Music Studio will anchor the station's new building, designed to be "a state-of-the-art classical media center and community gathering space," notes a release. Inside, Ausitinites can enjoy live broadcasts and concerts, and take part in community and educational programming.
“This performance space is a gift to Austin, a place for residents to connect, gather and discover,” said Mayor Steve Adler in a release. “Named in honor of a bright musician-composer who was lost too soon, the studio will be a powerful and lasting reflection on both his legacy and the ways that our city is shaped by artistic talent.”
Lynne Dobson and Greg Woolridge, who recently donated $1 million to the Pease Park Conservancy, made the donation to KMFA in honor of Mason and named the new theater in his honor. Though the specific amount was no revealed, a release called the sum "generous."
In addition to the new studio, the KMFA headquarters will also house recording studios, viewing areas, and the station's impressive classical musical library.
The new $10 million building, designed by Sixthriver and STG Design, will be located in a new development just east of I-35 on the north shore of Lady Bird Lake. As a nonprofit, listener-supported station, KMFA is turning to the community to raise a total of $13.5 million for construction costs and longterm maintenance for the building.
KMFA will move from its current North Lamar Boulevard building to become the anchor tenant for The Hatchery, a new 17.5 anchor development on Nash Hernandez Sr. Road between Waller and Comal streets. The mixed-use development is currently the site of the Rebekah Baines Johnson Center, a community for low-income seniors, and will offer 23,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space and 800 new multi-family units. According to its website, The Hatchery should open phase one in June 2020.
Meanwhile, the station's capital campaign, called "Dear Music, We Love You," has reached 52 percent of its goal as of press time. To donate to KMFA or learn more, head here.