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How did a pianist build a sprawling home for music in the Texas Hill Country?

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Dane Walters
/
KERA
The sprawling campus of the International Festival Institute houses gardens, two chapels, and a stunning concert hall.

This episode of the KERA video series "The Shape of Texas" explores the architecture of International Festival Institute, a musical conservatory in Round Top.

The campus was constructed with music in mind. Famed concert pianist James Dick was inspired to create a small summer institute for young musicians in the 1970s. His idea eventually grew into Festival Hill, a 200-acre campus replete with gardens and a stunning concert hall.

The concert hall is covered with intricate wooden designs, hand-carved by local artisans. The curved ceiling of the hall features two large compass stars on opposite sides of the space, one visible to the audience and one visible to the performers.

James Dick paid close attention to the construction of the concert hall to ensure that its acoustics were fully optimized. The International Festival Institute at Round Top is a stunning synthesis of the dual arts of architecture and music.

KERA's “The Shape of Texas” video series explores how our built environment holds our history, reflects our diverse cultures and projects our ambitions for the future. From the glittery, kitschy Beer Can House in Houston to the soaring Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, architecture helps tell the story of who we are in Texas.

Find out more about Festival Hill as well as other nearby attractions.

Max Chow-Gillette is the Fall 2022 Art&Seek intern.