Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre
The 367 foot long, 2,260 seat Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre has been Rochester's premier theater since its completion in September of 1922. The theater was established by industrialist and philanthropist George Eastman as an attempt to introduce more people to classical music by way of a movie theater with an orchestra to play background music for the films. The theater has since been used as Rochester's Philharmonic Orchestra's principle venue, alongside housing performances by renowned musicians such as John Williams, Igor Stravinsky, Stan Getz, and Keith Jarrett.
Backstory and Context
Established by George Eastman, founder of the Kodak Eastman Company, Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre (commonly known as Eastman Theatre) was opened to the public on September 4, 1922 as the largest performance venue at the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music. George Eastman’s intent behind funding the construction of such a large theatre stemmed from his love for classical music. He hoped that the building would be used as a community theatre for silent films and that the orchestra’s accompaniment of these films would introduce more people from the Rochester community to classical music. Inscribed on the entrance facade are the words, "For the enrichment of community life".The first film shown at the theatre was "The Prisoner of Zenda"- a silent film that played on opening night.
Eastman Theatre's building is well-known for its expansive and luxurious design. The program for the theatre’s opening night reads- "In the architectural arrangement and in the furnishing and equipment of the theatre, it is believed that nothing has been omitted to provide artistic appointments and every detail of comfort and convenience, as well as perfection from an operating standpoint." The building’s marquise extends 367 feet down Gibbs and Main Street. It’s exterior is made from cut limestone and marble. Originally, the theatre contained 3,352 seats, but thanks to a $10 million donation by the Eastman Kodak Company, was remodeled in October of 2009 to be a state-of-the-art 2,260 seat concert hall.
Over the years, the theatre has had performances from musicians such as John Williams, Igor Stravinsky, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Leonard Slatkin, and Sir Georg Solti. It has also been the primary performance location for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and is used for various concerts, speaking engagements, and community events in the city today. Most commonly, however, Eastman Theatre is used by students of the nearby School of Music for rehearsals and performances ranging from jazz to opera to choir.
Brayer, Elizabeth. The Eastman Theatre: Fulfilling George Eastman's Dream. Edition 1st. Rochester, New York. Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, 2010.
Eastman School of Music. Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre, Eastman School of Music. September 26th 2020. Accessed September 29th 2020. https://www.esm.rochester.edu/concerts/halls/kodak/.
Eastman School of Music. History of Eastman, Eastman School of Music. September 26th 2020. Accessed September 29th 2020. https://www.esm.rochester.edu/about/history/.
Monroe County Library System. Eastman Theatre, LibraryWeb. December 19th 2000. Accessed September 29th 2020. https://www.libraryweb.org/rochimag/architecture/SpecificBuildings/Eastman/Eastman.htm.