The Jacqueline du Pré Music Building was the first purpose-built concert venue in Oxford since the Holywell Music Room, which dates from the time of Handel. A joint fundraising campaign by St Hilda’s College, of which Jacqueline du Pré was an Honorary Fellow, and the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund raised over £1 million with the support of a wide range of institutions, trusts, and very many private individuals. The Music Building was opened in September 1995 with a gala concert given by the Medici Quartet and the English Chamber Orchestra, in the presence of HRH the Duchess of Kent.
Designed by architects van Heyningen and Haward, with acoustics by Arup Acoustics, the Music Building boasts the 200-seat Edward Boyle Auditorium - now equippedwith Steinway D concert grand piano - five practice rooms and an electro-acoustic studio, with excellent disabled access for performers and audiences alike. The enduring spirit of Jacqueline du Pré is reflected in a striking glass engraving by Laurence Whistler and a full colour reproduction of her familiar cello-playing portrait. Thanks to a legacy from the Rev. Brian Duke in 2002, the Brian Duke Foyer was added, also designed by van Heyningen & Haward. This elegant glass structure complements beautifully the original music building and is a great asset, serving both audiences and musicians.
From 1994 to 2006, the College devolved responsibility for the Music Building and its programmes to a subsidiary charity, the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building Company. Its Board of Trustees, which included Fellows of the College and others with knowledge of the musical world, oversaw the establishment of the Music Building as a respected venue hosting performances by artists of international reputation, providing a base for prestigious Festivals, and promoting a wide range of educational and community events. In 1998, the cellist Steven Isserlis became the Music Building’s Patron, in 2001 the Belcea Quartet became Quartet in Residence, and a long and distinguished line of performers continue to accept the invitation to perform in the JdP’s own series of concerts.
In July 2006, St Hilda’s College resumed direct responsibility for the JdP. An immediate priority was the enhancement of the Music Building itself, most notably the installation in autumn 2007 of an air conditioning system, and - thanks to a generous gift to the College - a Steinway D Concert Grand piano. In addition the creation in 2006 of a new post of Director of College Music was recognition of the contribution that music makes to the life of a college community, and the St Hilda’s Music Society’s recital series is now an established feature of the JdP’s programmes.
St Hilda’s is committed to sustaining and developing the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building as a centre for the learning, teaching, performance, and experience of music at all levels, at all ages, and for people from all backgrounds. The College is pleased to be able to draw on the support of Alumnae, Friends of the JdP, private trusts, and public funding bodies in ensuring that the artistic, educational, and community programmes which take place in the JdP remain a vibrant memorial of Jacqueline du Pré.