Chip Davis, founder of the multi-platinum group Mannheim Steamroller, has made a donation in the amount of $1 million to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD). The gift supports the $29 million renovation and expansion of SMTD's E.V. Moore Building, which is being completed this summer.
The University will recognize Davis's gift by naming a multimedia innovation lab the Chip Davis Technology Studio. It will be located within a newly designed music technology suite, currently under construction on the lower level of Moore's new wing. The music tech suite was announced last fall when William and Delores Brehm committed $2.5 million for its construction; the U-M Office of the Provost provided an additional $500,000 for the project.
The Davis Technology Studio is a signature element for the multifunctional tech center, which will also include a music technology lab, a control room/surround sound space, workshops, editing labs, and a machine room.
"The pioneering, entrepreneurial spirit and extraordinary achievements of Chip Davis are an inspiration," said Dean Christopher Kendall. "We are so grateful for his generous financial support for this critically important facility; it is deeply appropriate for his name to be attached to a space where students will develop their innovative skills."
Davis graduated in 1969 from U-M with a Bachelor of Music in music education and bassoon. He also studied voice and composition and was a member of the Michigan Marching Band. He is considered an early pioneer of pop/classical electronic music and is an emblematic music entrepreneur, known internationally as an innovator in the field of popular music.
Long before it was popular, Davis started his own music label, American Gramophone, and employed innovative marketing and promotional techniques to sell and distribute his own music. Mannheim Steamroller has since sold more than 40 million records, making it one of the 50 top-selling musical artists of all time and the top-selling Christmas artist of all time.
Construction for the Moore expansion and renovation project, which includes the new William K. and Delores S. Brehm Pavilion, providing an additional 34,000 gross square feet, began in the fall of 2014. Along with the music tech suite, the project will renovate practice, classroom, rehearsal, and faculty studio spaces and create a new lecture hall, rehearsal hall, percussion and jazz practice suite, and a public commons area. The project will be completed in time to welcome students back for the fall 2015 term.