Focal Chinese Music To Re-Open Melrose’s 116-year-old Corinthian Hall

Arts photos by Elaine Foley,

Starting June 10, 2012, Focal Chinese Music Corp. (FCM), a music education and performing arts company will re-open and manage Melrose’s 116-year-old Corinthian Hall. Currently owned by Melrosian Stephen Longmuir, Corinthian Hall, with its 1900s interior preserved and restored, will serve as FCM’s headquarters.

“What we bring to the table are industry expertise and resources that match the potential of Corinthian Hall as an in-demand venue,” says Jean Y. Foo, C.E.O of Focal Chinese Music. Her company is recognized for designing music curricula and training programs relevant to America’s Chinese and Asian communities. FCM’s students learn to apply work ethics and values pronounced in Asian and American cultures towards music learning.

“On one hand, we go out to early education centers, non-profits and institutions to build their music programs. On the other, students come to our training centers for lessons. All these activities entail much more than delivering classes. We need to manage our spaces, hold parents’ seminars, plan faculty and student concerts, work on guest artist rosters, and engage in interdisciplinary collaborations,” explains Foo. “There are many dots to connect, but everything we get out of our work becomes our assets, knowledge and track record. Competence and a game plan are what we will bring to Corinthian Hall.”

“Corinthian Hall’s greatest value in the contemporary world is its heritage,” reveals Foo. “It holds important archeological, anthropological and societal information about Melrose and America spanning more than a hundred years. While we need to preserve the hall’s history, we must innovate. Corinthian Hall’s legacy serves as a critical reference for FCM to grasp what has been successful or not in that space, and provides us with insights as to what can become of this monument in the next century.”

In the past, Corinthian Hall has been predominantly used for evening banquets, performances and social gatherings. Foo acknowledges that this setup puts the owner at economic risk since the only source of revenue comes from one-time rental for events. Unlike largely endowed institutions or grant-funded non-profits, Corinthian Hall would have no wiggle room from this one-dimensional operation to sustain itself beyond rental income.
Keeping Corinthian Hall up and running seven days a week means striking a balance to house ongoing daytime programs and diverse evening activities.

“Our strategy is ‘Corinthian by day, and Corinthian by night.’ We need different approaches to keep Corinthian Hall utilized on weekdays and on weekends, day and night,” says Foo. “Corinthian Hall, with its vintage charm and a new back garden, will continue to proudly host weddings, banquets, fundraisers and corporate functions. On the other hand, Corinthian Hall is ready to become a key performing arts venue fueled by daily music and arts education programs. Modern amenities, including Wi-Fi and iPod players will be added to make the space much more functional for our guests.”

In addition to FCM’s flagship afterschool training, Corinthian Hall will also be used for its Sunday Morning Chinese and Music Program. This Sunday program is similar to a Chinese School system available in more Chinese-populated areas, including Newton, Acton, Cambridge and Winchester. There is currently no such Sunday program featuring Chinese and music training in the North-Eastern region of Massachusetts. Having one at Corinthian Hall in Melrose brings a positive impact on the region’s growing Chinese and bilingual communities.

“Aside to Melrose, our research shows that Wakefield, Malden and Stoneham are key neighboring cities experiencing a steady population increase in young, educated Chinese families. For their children, these couples want the best education embracing their cultural roots, yet not compromise on their professional and family lives. With FCM’s programs housed at Corinthian Hall, the venue will become part of an effort to enrich the lives of the local communities through convenient and quality music education,” said Foo.

Once FCM moves into Corinthian Hall, the venue will have opening hours for visitors to view and take a tour of the hall. Corinthian Hall will also open its box office and online ticketing system. A club membership is being planned to offer Corinthian Hall’s most loyal fans access to the best rental and event promotions at Corinthian Hall.

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