Driving down Chicago Avenue, one may notice North Central College’s Fine Arts Center, but how many of us have actually been inside? Speaking from experience, I know that the Schoenherr Gallery is impressive and its receptions are amazing: the well-curated exhibits are provocative, the featured artists talks are insightful and the hospitality is abundant. But it wasn’t until I overheard a conversation touting the many fine attributes of the adjoining Wentz Concert Hall that I realized what a gem we have in our midst.
Completed in 2008, the 650-seat auditorium is known for its world-class acoustics. Designed by Talaske Sound Thinking, critically-acclaimed consultants for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, Jay Pritzker Music Pavilion at Millennium Park and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, the sound system was created for the specific purpose of delivering the best possible concert experience. This is not a multi-purpose venue: it was targeted for those who appreciate hearing classical, jazz and contemporary music at its best.
Named in honor of NCC alumnus Dr. Myron Wentz, an avid music lover who was a principal donor for the Fine Arts Center, the Concert Hall is hailed as a premier destination not only by the attendees but also by the performers who have appeared there. Jazz trumpeter Herb Alpert was quoted as saying that the acoustics were so great that he wanted take the place with him.
Other notables such as Yo-Yo Ma, Herbie Hancock and Ramsey Lewis have shared similar sentiments. Because of its reputation, the Wentz stage attracts such acts as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Colbie Caillat and Los Lonely Boys. Art Garfunkel and Kevin Eubanks are scheduled for 2017-2018 as are Richard Davis, Branford Marsalis and Regina Carter.
Regulars such as DuPage Symphony and the Chicago Sinfonietta round out a season that offers a variety of music in a hall that, “is one of the finest in the United States,” says classical guitarist Jason Vieaux.
North Central College’s Wentz Fine Arts Center
171 E. Chicago Ave.