New faces not changing Spivey Hall tune

By Greg Gelpi

Faces may be changing, but the sounds of Spivey Hall will remain the same.

Clayton College & State University's world-renowned concert hall has welcomed five new faces to its staff of seven, but the quality and vision of Spivey Hall will remain the same.

Sam Dixon, the most senior of the new staff, said the facilities at Spivey Hall make it a premier location, one that can draw artists from around the world.

"The acoustics are the gold in the bank," the new general manager said of the "intimate" concert hall of less than 400 seats. "They don't leave us."

Through a mix of "art and science," the acoustics of the concert hall produce sounds that compel artists to come back, Dixon, 46, said. The acoustics remain "by far the best around." That isn't to mention the "elegance" of the facility, which contributes to the sound and experience of Spivey Hall performances.

What established Spivey Hall as an internationally-acclaimed facility will continue to make the hall competitive with other metro Atlanta facilities, he said, despite the 2002 opening of Emory University's Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.

"The reputation of Spivey Hall is already well established," Dixon said, adding that artists talk to artists about the hall and the sounds of the hall are heard by millions regularly on National Public Radio.

Although Spivey Hall will "stay the course," Dixon said his vision for the concert hall is to continue to provide the highest quality performances, while providing a sense of belonging for everyone.

"We want to increase our resource of artists who come here for the first time," he said, adding that there will also be an increased outreach to the community. "I know we're going to have to focus on getting people to try Spivey Hall for the first time."

Dixon said that he has experience convincing artists to take a 14-hour flight to Australia from when he worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Symphony Orchestra Network and that it's not nearly as difficult to convince artists to fly into Atlanta.

"We would like it to be known out there that we are the best at what we do," Dixon said.

Dixon heard about Spivey Hall while working as an administrator with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and actually attended the opening of the hall in 1991.

Jared Morrison, another new staff member, recalled performing at Spivey Hall while a music major at Shorter College. Morrison, 28, returns to Spivey as its marketing manager.

"When you come in here, you really start to hear the nuances of the music," he said. "It's so intimate with around 400 seats that the audience is always engaged."

As the marketing manager, Morrison said he will focus on several "niche" audiences in metro Atlanta, attracting those audiences to the wide array of concerts held at the hall. Ticket price is one way that he hopes to do that.

"Our ticket price would put someone in the upper balcony of Carnegie Hall," he said, comparing the cost of concerts.

Also joining the staff of Spivey Hall are Education Manager Amber Joy Dimkoff, Events Coordinator Aishah Zuhri Pacheco and Production Coordinator Barrett Hoover.