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Petro-Canada Funds Major New Music Facility

One of the province's major players in the oil and gas sector has made a significant contribution to the music and culture of Newfoundland and Labrador. Petro-Canada, operator of the Terra Nova offshore oil development and participant in the White Rose project, has provided $1.2 million to Memorial University so that a new music rehearsal and performance hall can be added to the existing M.O. Morgan Music Building on the university's St. John's campus.

Gordon Carrick, vice-president, East Coast Petro-Canada, and Dr. Axel Meisen, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial University, made the announcement Nov. 19, 2003 at a ceremony held at the D. F. Cook Recital Hall at the university's music school. The $1.2 million donation - one of Petro-Canada's largest - will fund the construction of the new facility, to be known as the Petro-Canada Hall, and which is set to open by early 2005.

"Memorial University's School of Music is an outstanding resource for the entire community, and Petro-Canada is very pleased to invest in a critical addition to the music education infrastructure available through Memorial," Mr. Carrick told the large gathering of university and government officials, faculty, staff, students and members of the music community. "The opportunity to invest in an educational and cultural resource that continues to broaden the reach of the university - to students, musicians and community-based musical groups - is especially satisfying."

Mr. Carrick also noted that the core of the company's approach to community investment is to support the development of Canadian talent, innovation and expertise through education. "This partnership with Memorial University's School of Music is a natural fit with Petro-Canada's Community Investment Program and further extends our support to education and the arts in the community in this province," said Mr. Carrick.

"One way to meet the growing needs of the university and the community is through creative collaboration with the private sector," Dr. Meisen said in thanking Petro-Canda for its donation. "By funding the new rehearsal and performance facility, Petro-Canada has demonstrated its commitment to the cultural and community development of Newfoundland and Labrador and to recognizing the important role of Memorial in this development. It's also excellent to see Petro-Canada supporting music, an area not directly related to its industrial activities, and to see the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Board endorsing Petro-Canada's commitment."

John Ottenheimer, minister of education and minister of youth services and post-secondary education, conveyed his thanks to Petro-Canada and noted the far-reaching effect this kind of support can have. "On behalf of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, I thank Petro-Canada for its generous support for this important expansion to the School of Music," he said. "This donation recognizes that education and culture are integral to the functioning and well-being of our society. It is an investment in the creativity of our people - it really is 'music to our ears'."

"The musicians of Newfoundland and Labrador are among the greatest natural resources that this province has been blessed with," said Dr. Tom Gordon, director of the School of Music. "Petro-Canada's foresight to invest in the School of Music - and the community it serves - will stimulate further growth of the cultural sector and permit Memorial and the province to claim a leading position in Canada as a dynamic musical community."

Memorial's School of Music has enjoyed much success in recent years and that same success is putting pressure on its infrastructure. The rehearsal and recording space at the school is currently booked year round, and the demand from students and community groups to access facilities in the Music Building continues to grow.

The new 195 sq.m. (2,100 sq. ft) rehearsal and performance facility will adjoin the M.O. Morgan Music Building near the D. F. Cook Recital Hall, on the east side of the building. With a performance area of approximately 56 sq.m. (600 sq. ft.), an audience capacity of 120 people and a rehearsal capacity of 150, the new Petro-Canada Hall will position the School of Music to expand its performance and conference capabilities to meet the needs of the community. It will also include a small suite of offices that will be available for university and community music organizations.

The Petro-Canada Hall will also enable the School of Music to increase the range of services it can offer to the music community, both within the St. John's metropolitan area and through the extended reach of electronic communication. Equipped for both recording and Web-casting, the facility will link the School of Music to global communities for real-time distance instruction and multi-site rehearsal.

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