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When James Lambrecht came to teach music at Augustana College, Rock Island, nearly 34 years ago, Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts was already in need of a makeover. The building (which dates from 1955 and includes the 1,500-seat Centennial Hall) is finally getting one.

Bergendoff, at 3701 7th Ave., Rock Island – named for Conrad Bergendoff, the college’s fifth president — houses the music, music education and art history programs, and performing arts spaces, and is currently in Phase I of a three-phase renovation, to cost about $13 million.

Lambrecht — director of bands and professor of trumpet at Augustana, where he conducts the Symphonic Band and teaches studio trumpet, wind conducting, and brass methods – is co-chair of the music department. When he came to the college in 1988, Bergendoff already was showing “desperate need of help,” he said in a recent interview. “Buildings like this, and Sorensen across the street, were built in the ‘50s.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

“Post-World War II, we needed spaces all over the country, built quickly, inexpensively and efficiently, and you ended up with these kinds of facilities, built really fast,” he said. “They were functional and compared to the house that used to house the music department before this building — this was amazing. This was state-of-the-art for 1955.”

That house was across 7th Avenue (where Brunner Theatre Center, in the former College Center, is now), a large Victorian house.

“We were thrilled back in the 1950s and ’60s to have a facility like this,” Lambrecht said of the two-story Bergendoff, which formerly housed the school’s main theater, Potter Hall. “They were not built really well. The thing about Augustana these days — you can see it with the Lindberg Center — it’s amazing. The facilities that the college is building these days are state of the art. They are not built quickly; they are not built cheaply.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

A new recital hall taking shape in Bergendoff’s former Potter Hall.

“They’re built with very excellent systems in them; they’re just amazing facilities,” he said. “And now, we’re finally getting that here with this building, and Sorensen Hall needs to be done the same way.”

The 52,000-square-foot, $18-million Peter J. Lindberg, M.D., Center for Health and Human Performance opened at 7th Avenue and 35th Street at the start of this school year. The $4.2-million transformation of the former College Center into the Kim and Donna Brunner Theatre Center opened at the start of the 2016-17 school year.

Bergendoff renovations were supposed to begin soon after Brunner opened (in fall 2016), but then the pandemic hit in early 2020, and a lot of the money that was to go to Bergendoff had to be diverted to refund students room and board costs during the pandemic, Lambrecht said.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

The entrance from the parking lot at Bergendoff Hall.

“Here millions were earmarked for this, and we had to put ourselves on hold a little bit,” he said. “But we’ve waited decades for this, so we could wait a little bit longer.”

After Brunner opened, Potter Theatre in Bergendoff was used mainly as a rehearsal space, classrooms and storage, Lambrecht said. “There’s a lot of space there, so it was used as a choral rehearsal area. We used it as classrooms during the pandemic. It was perfect, because you could distance students really nicely in there. It became one of our teaching areas.”


The renovations started this past summer, including Potter, and one main classroom on the second floor has been finished (for music education), as well as a new office for associate professor Michael Zemek, who is coordinator for music education and conducts the Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble.

“We put the choir rehearsals and classes in other rooms while we’re doing Potter Hall,” Lambrecht said. “Once that comes online, and those rooms should be ready for second semester, coming up in February. We’ll have access to another classroom, about this size, along with two medium-sized rehearsal classrooms. plus a brand new recital hall.”

This summer, they will finish the upstairs at Bergendoff, plus more studios to be refurbished. The square footage doesn’t change, but all the mechanicals are replaced — lighting, electrical, heating, ventilation and air conditioning; new windows, new walls, new paint, new flooring.


The backstage area of Potter Theatre has two-and-a-half stories of vertical space and will become the Julie Hamann ’82 Elliott Performance Hall for recitals by senior students and faculty.

Phase I will be finished in January and Phase II will begin next summer. The re-creation of the space will be done in three phases, and will include the replacement of all mechanical systems, windows and roofs. The total cost is estimated at $12 million to $13 million.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

James Lambrecht used a special mask to play trumpet during the pandemic.

They hope to open the new performance hall in March, to seat about 60-80 people. “It will be very intimate,” Lambrecht said. “Certain kinds of instruments and voices, and certain kinds of music will fit in there beautifully.”

BLDD Architects is the architect for the Bergendoff project. The firm has partnered with the college on other innovative projects, including the Gerber Center for Student Life, Brunner Theatre Center and the recent addition to Hanson Hall of Science.

Who was Bergendoff?

Conrad Bergendoff (1895-1997) was president of the college from 1935-1962.

He graduated from Augustana at age 19, earned his master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, and a divinity degree from Augustana Seminary, and studied at major universities both in the U.S. and abroad: Chicago (where he received his doctorate in church history), Columbia, Uppsala, Lund, Oxford, and Berlin.

Like his father, Bergendoff began his career in the ministry, serving parishes in Chicago and New York City before returning to Augustana, first as dean of the Seminary and then as president of the college and seminary, according to a college bio. Bergendoff brought with him an ecumenical ideal shaped by close association with Swedish archbishop Nathan Söderblom, pioneering architect of the World Council of Churches. Serving as Söderblom’s hand-picked secretary, Bergendoff was deeply moved by the archbishop’s passion for unity among various Christian denominations.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Conrad Bergendoff (1895-1997) was president of Augustana from 1935 to 1962.

“Similarly, Bergendoff sought to bring together the intellectual and the spiritual in education,” his bio says. “Conceiving knowledge as a perfect whole, he believed each academic discipline contributed its essential part. Both science and spirituality must be studied, he asserted, or education is incomplete.”

By 1955, Augustana had increased its endowment from $923,018 to $2.5 million and boasted new facilities, including a men’s dormitory, library, and fine arts complex. Enrollment had grown from 511 to 1,100; to serve these students Bergendoff sought to build a roster of excellent scholar/teachers. Phi Beta Kappa granted the college a chapter in 1949, the American Chemical Society accredited Augustana in 1955, and the Augustana Choir appeared on national television in 1952.

In the early 1950s, planning began for a permanent fine arts building and auditorium on campus. In 1954, a contractor was hired for the new fine arts building, but because of the high cost of construction, plans for an auditorium were temporarily dropped. The fine arts building was completed on June 1, 1955, at a cost of $635,000.


It included studios and classroom space for the departments of music, art, and speech. There was also a recital hall, later known as Larson Hall, and a multi-purpose room later known as Potter Hall. Potter was fitted with a stage at one end and a kitchen at the other to use for catering during different performances. Potter Hall would later become the main theatre performance hall.

In 1960, the fine arts building was named in honor of Augustana president Conrad Bergendoff. In 1973, more classroom space was needed in Bergendoff, so the art studios were moved to the second floor of the Central Heating Plant and to the basement of Centennial Hall. Finally, between 1983 and 1992, all of Bergendoff Hall was equipped with air conditioning.

 While plans for an auditorium were made at the same time as those for Bergendoff Hall, money was not available for its construction until a few years later. In 1956, Augustana began a campaign in the Quad-Cities in order to raise money for the planned auditorium. By 1958, the funds had been acquired and contracts had been made to build a new auditorium which President Bergendoff referred to as Centennial Hall, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the college in 1960.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

The 1,500-seat Centennial Hall was built in 1959, for Augustana’s 100th anniversary in 1960.

The auditorium was designed to be a music performance hall for use by the bands, choirs, and oratorio society of Augustana. Seating was planned for 1,640 with floor seats only. Centennial Hall also includes a basement that serves as the Augustana art museum, which contains both permanent and rotating galleries. These accommodations, plus the addition of altar furniture and a church organ led to a total cost of $1,125,000.

Centennial was completed in time for the 1959 fall term at Augustana. It was named in honor of Augustana College’s centennial, celebrated in 1960. Since then, it has served as the college’s primary auditorium for guest speakers, special addresses, and musical and other performances (including for the Quad City Symphony’s Sunday concerts).

Centennial Hall was supposed to have a balcony, but they ran out of money and couldn’t do it, Lambrecht said. “That’s what wrecked the acoustics in there.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

A painting of former college president Conrad Bergendoff at Bergendoff Hall, which opened in 1955.

He met Bergendoff when he was in his 90s, and the retired president came to every performance.

“I remember going to ‘Messiah’ performances, I was playing trumpet and he was in the front row,” Lambrecht said, noting he wasn’t a musician himself.

Bergendoff’s large ensemble rehearsal room (3,600 square feet, with 20-foot ceilings) was added in 1999, and was state-of-the-art for the time. “You can tell immediately there’s a difference in this,” Lambrecht said, noting its sound tiles on the walls and its proper HVAC.

The Symphonic Band practices there, and before the room was added, they rehearsed in the old Black Box Theatre on the lower level, just 2,000 square feet. It’s used now for classes and the Jazz Ensemble rehearsals. “It’s fine for 20 people,” Lambrecht said.

Music to Hurty’s ears

Jon Hurty, another music professor, has been teaching at Augie 25 years, and is director of choral activities, director of the Augustana Choir, Campus Chapel Music and head of the Augustana Oratorio Society. He’s also been looking forward to updating Bergendoff for years.

“The renovation was needed for a variety of reasons. Primarily, the building was constructed in the 1950s and has had only small partial renovations since that time,” he said Friday. “We have needed to bring the building up to the level of the program that we have—both the incredible students, but also the fine faculty and music program that we offer.”

“The current plans will include new combined rehearsal and teaching spaces that include up-to-date technology,” Hurty said. “We have been struggling to keep up with the growth and level of our program, so these spaces will help us to provide our student with facilities that match the program.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Jon Hurty, the college’s director of choral activities, has taught at Augustana for 25 years.

Bergendoff Hall, in its original form, “is not an extremely attractive or inviting space,” he noted. “The renovations have really added a significant attractive and modern style to the building. That does not necessarily improve our program. However, when you have a strong program to start and then add a more attractive building into the mix, it is very appealing to prospective students.”

Lambrecht remembers looking at the University of Michigan music school for grad school in the ’80s (he ultimately earned his master’s and doctorate at Indiana University-Bloomington, finishing in 1985).

“I couldn’t believe the condition of the buildings they were in,” he said of Michigan. “This was a renowned program. So sometimes, the program doesn’t necessarily reflect in the facilities – we do what we do. The ensemble program here has always been first-rate and world-renowned.


“We just continue to do what we do best, and this (renovations) will only help us do that job even better, and to recruit students,” Lambrecht said. “Recruiting is really critical at this stage, and students expect to see facilities. Whereas in the past, we could convince them to come to school at Augustana because of the quality of the program, not necessarily the quality of the facility.”

Students today are “very visual and like to see things,” he said. “This will really aid us in recruiting.”

Simply having consistent air-conditioning and heating in “Bergie” will be a big improvement, Lambrecht said.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

A section of the newly renovated Bergendoff Hall 2nd floor.

“This building has just been a train wreck in terms of consistency, and has been for decades,” he said. “That’s very difficult for pianos. When you have a piano in each room; when you have string instruments – anything made out of wood.”

“It’s very difficult to maintain those instruments when the temperature and the humidity is varying so widely. So having consistent climate control is one of the big pluses for us.”

The second major benefit is the technology – the sound systems, video projection, and lighting. “State of the art, simple, easy to use – works the first time in these rooms,” Lambrecht said. “So teaching will be much easier. The students will be able to plug in their own laptops and make presentations in these rooms.”

They will gain classroom space, much from Potter Hall – with three new classrooms altogether. Rooms 4 and 5 on the first floor will be converted to a technology lab, from the old costume shop. It’s currently used as a computer lab and piano lab, and will be combined into a state-of-the-art computer lab, piano lab and recording studio.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

An exterior of Bergendoff from 7th Avenue on the Augie campus, Rock Island.

The practice rooms at Bergendoff may be converted to self-contained modules, which will be soundproof.

“Our practice rooms now are not acoustically isolated, so there’s a lot of sound transfer – not only from room to room, but throughout the building,” Lambrecht said. “It’s kind of disturbing.”

There also is technology in the rooms that allows you to adjust the acoustics in the room, he said. “It changes what you’re hearing as you’re performing in the room.”

“The commitment is there to get this done as quickly as possible, and they’re going to order the materials all at once,” Lambrecht said, noting he couldn’t predict a completion date for the whole project.

There will be no changes for Centennial Hall, which has gotten a paint job and new seats in the past 20 years.

Maintaining music majors

Augustana has maintained its population of music majors, unlike many schools, Lambrecht said. “Most colleges and universities are losing students, but we’ve been maintaining where we’re at, which has been helpful. The project here will only aid us in our ability to sustain that.”

The number of music majors varies from 70 to 100 (in performance, music education and composition) over every four years, he said. Of those, music education is the most common, and the most viable career choice, Lambrecht said.

That’s why the second floor music ed area was done first, because that’s the department focus, he said, noting Augie also has a 100-percent job placement rate after graduation. “I’ve been here 34 years, and there’s never been a student who didn’t get a job in music ed immediately.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Christmas at Augustana, Centennial Hall, Choir, p: Leslie Zeglin

“Even in the middle of Covid, our students all signed on the dotted line in February and March,” Lambrecht said.

Until Ryan Jones ’24 applied to Augustana, he didn’t realize all his music teachers from elementary through high school in Lake Zurich, Ill., were Augustana alumni.

“They all played very important parts in my life that led me to be the person, and musician I am today,” he said recently. Jones’ influential educators were Adam Hjerpe ’93 (elementary), Kelly Harper ’98 (middle school) and Nick Juknelis ’01 (high school).

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Ryan Jones ’24, had a number of Augie music alums as teachers in Lake Zurich, Ill.

“I’ve had the privilege of watching a handful of my students sing in the Augustana Choir, which is pretty cool,” Harper said. “My love of teaching music and choir performance was fostered at Augustana, and hopefully I’ve passed this love on to the thousands of kids who have come into my classroom.”

Jones describes all his former choir directors as dedicated teachers who truly enjoy what they do. “Mr. J’s knowledge and passion for music are incredible,” Jones said. “He worked so hard to create good musicians out of us, and that is something that I am going to carry over once I become a choral teacher.”


Music has always been a part of Jones’ life, and he knew once he got to college he would continue with music, but he thought he would major in musical theatre. He says one day his brain clicked in a different direction, and he switched to vocal music education. “I instantly knew then that I would be going to Augustana because of how good the music education department is,” he said.

Augustana’s music education majors have a 100% placement rate after graduation.

“I loved my Augustana experience,” Juknelis said. “The teacher, the musician, the person I am today is so rooted in my experiences from Augustana.”

A surprise $2-million gift

Earlier this month, an anonymous donor contributed $2 million for improvements to Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts. The unexpected gift will enable the college to continue into Phase II of the project. To date, before the new $2-million gift, donors committed nearly $2.3 million to the project.

“This tremendous gift directly supports the teaching and learning opportunities at Augustana,” Kent Barnds, vice president of external relations, said recently. “Direct support for this project shows how important the fine and performing arts are at Augustana College.”

Augustana music ensembles recently performed two well-attended “Christmas at Augustana” concerts, one of the cornerstone performances of the music program.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Christmas at Augustana, Centennial Hall, Choir, Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Augustana Symphony Orchestra
p:Ryan Hurdle

The renovation plans include upgrades to classrooms, ensemble practice spaces, faculty offices and performance venues. Phase I included two music education classrooms, common spaces and multiple faculty offices.

About 25% of Augustana students pursue majors in music, music education and art history, or participate in one of 17 music ensembles.

“Donor support like this makes a direct and lasting impact on the lives of Augustana students,” said Barnds. “Projects like these cannot happen without considerable generosity, and we are pleased to continue the transformation done inside Bergendoff Hall.

“Donor gifts — big and small — are treasured and appreciated on our campus,” he said. “But, I have to admit, a gift of this size, at this time of year, conjures up some very special Christmas feelings.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Christmas at Augustana, Centennial Hall, Choir, Jenny Lind Vocal Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Augustana Symphony Orchestra
p:Ryan Hurdle

In 2017, Julie Hamann, a 1982 Augie graduate and folk musician, pledged a $1-million challenge grant for the multi-faceted project.

The $4.2-million Brunner Theatre Center (across 7th Avenue from Bergendoff and Centennial Hall) opened at the start of the 2016-17 school year. It includes a 260-seat theater on the building’s second floor, and flexible 80-seat black box theater on the third floor. Kim Brunner (‘71) and his wife Donna (‘75) provided the lead and naming gift of $1.5 million for the center.

The $2-million gift for Bergendoff has really accelerated the renovation process, Lambrecht said.


“The college made the commitment to do everything, because it’s more cost-effective,” he said. “They told us, before the $2-million gift came in, they were gonna do this anyway. The $2-million gift is icing on the cake, because it really helps to get this project going, and we’re less dependent on the depreciation and other funding that was in the campus budget.”

There’s a budget line for depreciation for all campus buildings, so those funds are used to make replacements and repairs, Lambrecht said. “There’s money set aside every year for that kind of funding.”

The college plans to do the first floor of Bergendoff (which includes many faculty offices and practice rooms) in the summer of 2023, to avoid disrupting students and faculty. “Who knows what the pandemic has in store for us, or anything else?” he asked. “Any time I try to predict anything, it’s wrong.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Photos of Augie music students at Bergendoff Hall.

There’s never been an anonymous large gift like this for the arts at Augustana.

“I think that they support the excellence we’ve always tried to maintain at Augustana,” Lambrecht said, noting the quality of facilities don’t always match the quality of the program (in its faculty and students).

The Augie art history department at Bergendoff (first floor) has had updates that music has not, he said, noting their classrooms and offices have been remodeled.

“My office looks exactly as it had been in 1955, other than I painted the walls,” he said. “I can’t do that again, so whatever the remodeling gives me, I’m stuck with, but that’s OK.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

A new office for Michael Zemek on Bergendoff’s second floor.

“We are so thankful this is happening,” Lambrecht said of renovations. “The faculty, we’re all at the age, there’s a bunch of us the same age – we all came in together in the mid to late ‘80s. We made this commitment to Augustana and we’ve been trying to get this building project done.”

“It’s kind of a legacy we’re leaving for the next generation, that this is finally getting done,” he said. “It’s always been a commitment to make his happen, and arts facilities are difficult to fund. It’s not like science or athletics, for example, where there are a lot more resources available. It’s challenging.”


Sciences and athletics are hot commodities now, and have the organizations that fund those projects, Lambrecht said.

The new $2-million gift will also help attract other donors for the project, he said.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Music professor James Lambrecht has taught at Augustana since 1988.

The college has always supported the arts as vital to a liberal-arts education, Lambrecht said. “We recruit a lot of non-majors to sing and play in our programs.”

One of every four students on campus participates in music (about 750 total). Most music majors perform in the Augustana Choir, Symphonic Band and Orchestra.

“I still have 50 percent of my Symphonic Band is non-music majors,” Lambrecht said of the 60-member group. “And they are amazing – they’re All-State players who came to Augustana to major in biology or physics, but still wanted to play their instrument at a high level.”

Bahls’ perspective on the project

This month has been big for Augie in another major way – as it introduced its ninth president Dec. 7, Andrea Talentino (a Yale, UCLA and Princeton-educated leader), who will become the first female president for the Rock Island school in its 161-year history. Steve Bahls, Augustana president since 2003, is retiring July 1, 2022.

While component parts of Bergendoff Hall have been updated since its opening in 1955 – including Larson Recital Hall, the Ensemble Rehearsal Room and the Art History Suite – this is its first comprehensive overhaul, Bahls said recently.

“This project involves mechanical and electrical systems, improved acoustics, more student and performance friendly spaces and the introduction of technology undreamed of 70 years ago,” he said, noting the opening of Brunner Theatre Center opened up opportunities for higher-quality spaces for music rehearsal and performance.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Steve Bahls will retire as Augustana’s eighth president on July 1, 2022.

“Augustana’s performing ensembles are among the best of any college in the Midwest. The students in our ensembles deserve practice and performance spaces that are also among the best in the Midwest,” Bahls said.

The college has “long been known for a high-quality fine and performing arts faculty and wonderful ensembles. But for some students, their high school facilities were better than what they found here,” he said recently. “Having first-class facilities is the missing piece in recruiting top music students, and our renovated facility will remedy that problem.”

The new $2-million gift was a total surprise to Bahls.

“It is very humbling to me to consider the donors who have such confidence in Augustana that during my 19 years here they have given nearly a quarter-billion dollars to benefit our students,” he said. “A timely gift like this one, to help with a project partially started and in need of a last-mile gift, in particularly gratifying.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

Andrea Talentino was announced as new Augustana president (and the first female in its 161-year history) on Dec. 7, 2021.

“We are within striking distance of completing this project more than a year earlier than expected,” Bahls said of Bergendoff. “Additional gifts will put us over the finish line in providing our students with the benefit of a renovated building earlier than originally expected.”

He promised the music faculty, when he joined Augustana in 2003, “that we would find a way to provide facilities with their extraordinary quality as artists and teachers,” Bahls recalled. “The financial challenges of Covid-19 slowed the project, but this gift kick-started it again. It is especially gratifying to see we have a pathway to complete the project before I retire, even if Covid forced me to extend my retirement date! In any event, I’ll be glad to see it done.”


He has served on many arts-related boards in the Q-C, including the QC Symphony and Quad Cities Cultural Trust. “I love the arts,” Bahls said.

“There is nothing better that a concert at Augustana to help me unwind and find a slice of heaven here in Rock Island. The arts help us think more deeply and more broadly about the societal challenges we face,” he said. “Exploring the subtleties of the human existence is not just beneficial to students; it helps all of us, and the society in which we live.”

Talentino (currently provost for Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y.) has been quite active with non-profit organizations in New York, including arts organizations. “I join the campus community in looking forward to the ways in which she will make her mark in the Quad-Cities and beyond,” Bahls said.

Lambrecht has not met Talentino, but has seen she’s very supportive of everything Augustana. “She’s talked about how amazing it is, for instance, that we can have non-majors participating in the arts, especially in music. That’s very unique and one of the hallmarks of Augustana College – to not just have music majors, but all majors participating in our ensemble programs,” he said.

In a 2016 essay (“The Value of a Liberal Education”) for Norwich University, Vermont, when Talentino was dean of the College of Liberal Arts, she wrote of creativity and imagination:

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

A new music classroom being created from the former Potter Hall.

“Education also does something else important, which was implicit in our Founding Fathers’ minds though less frequently mentioned, and that is to inspire the imagination. For the goal of education is not so much to teach facts as to encourage thoughts. An essential aspect of freedom lies, as our Bill of Rights so eloquently tells us, in the ability to think creatively and without limitation, and to express those thoughts openly and without fear of reprisal.”

“The purpose of a liberal education is thus twofold—to nurture personal freedom by inspiring and challenging intellectual thought, and to nurture our community, local and beyond, by developing citizens that bring all their energy, creativity, and reason to shaping the world we live in,” she wrote. “Never have we needed such education more.”


“So now, more than ever, we should be encouraging the liberal arts just as much as we encourage technical and professional fields,” Talentino said then. “We are confronted at home and abroad with deep divisions of race and ethnicity, with financial fragility, human cruelties and prejudices, and environmental crises. How will we contribute to the freedom of others? The answer will be different for all of us, but this much is clear—the nation and the world need those contributions.”

The future of touring

While Lambrecht and Hurty are dreaming of the finish for Bergendoff’s new variation, they’re singing the praises of past and future tours for their students.

“Our current plan for the Augustana Choir is an international tour to Germany and the Czech Republic,” Hurty said of 2022. “We are moving forward with plans and continue to hope that the situation with the pandemic will get better by that time. The students are very excited about the possibility of resuming our touring activities. The choir includes 50 students.”

He also will lead Handel’s immortal “Messiah” once again with the Augustana Oratorio Society and Oratorio Society Orchestra on Sunday, May 1, 2022. This will be the first campus performance of “Messiah” since 2017. The ensemble will include community members, singers for Augustana Choral Artists and the Augustana Choir and will include about 150 singers.

Pre-pandemic, Lambrecht taught in Japan every two to four years, but everything is on hold during the pandemic. “They are nailing this pandemic, and because they’re nailing it, they won’t let anybody else in,” he said. The Augie Symphonic Band was supposed to go in spring 2020, then this past spring, and they won’t be able to go in spring 2022.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

A large ensemble rehearsal room was added to Bergendoff Hall in 1999.

“They had 50 total cases in the entire country (population 126 million) in one day, and Rock Island County can’t even say that,” Lambrecht said. “They aren’t suffering like we are, but they want to keep it that way.” (Japan has only seen 18,375 deaths from Covid; the U.S. has 800,000.)

The last time he took the Symphonic Band to Japan was 2014, and the last time Lambrecht conducted in Tokyo (the Musashino Academy) was in 2019, for a semester. “It was a wonderful experience, but it’s on hold now. They’re not bringing any of the American conductors in until this is stabilized.”

He’s planning a U.S. tour next year with Symphonic Band, and Hurty is planning a European tour for the Augie Choir. “He’s more optimistic than I am that that will happen,” Lambrecht said. “He’s planning Germany and Czech Republic, but I just don’t think it’s gonna happen.”

“The trip that we took in 2014 was amazing, life-changing,” he said of Japan. “Those students loved that trip – it was amazing.”

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift

A new recital hall taking shape in Bergendoff’s former Potter Hall.

If they tour next spring, it will have to be after graduation, since Augie is now on semesters (instead of the past trimesters, when there were two-week spring breaks).

If they’re not able to tour next year, none of the current band or choir members will have taken a trip while in college, Lambrecht said. “Symphonic Band has been traveling since 1883,” he said.


The “Christmas at Augustana” concerts in early December at Centennial (with singers and audience members masked) were well attended, he said.

“They’re so happy to be sitting and listening to live music again,” Lambrecht said. “It was a lot of fun for us. How do we do this again? It’s only been two years, but it’s amazing what you miss. And it was a lot of fun for the performers and directors as well. It went very well.”

Before coming to Augustana in 1988, he was director of bands and assistant professor of music at Olivet College in Olivet, Mich.

In the fall of 2009 and 2011, Lambrecht served as guest conductor of the Musashino Academia Musicae Wind Ensemble in Tokyo, one of the top collegiate wind ensembles in Japan. In the summer of 2014 and 2019, Lambrecht returned to Musashino for his third and fourth appointments as a guest conductor.

At least with the new and improved Bergendoff, he’ll get to travel someplace new and exciting without leaving his hometown.

Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College Gets a Long Overdue Facelift
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.