January 12, 2010
The College of Saint Benedict has changed the name of Petters Auditorium at the Benedicta Arts Center to Escher Auditorium, in honor of S. Firmin Escher, OSB, a member of Saint Benedict's Monastery and an emerita faculty member in the music department who passed away June 8, 2009. S. Firmin was an early and forceful advocate for the arts at CSB.
The College's decision was made in consultation with the Fred and Rosemary Petters family who are cherished friends of the college.
S. Firmin spent her entire life sharing her passion for music and was a central figure in the development and construction of the BAC, which opened in 1964.
She envisioned the need for an arts center that would do much more than meet the needs of the music department; it would challenge the CSB community with its ambition and include comprehensive facilities for the performing and visual arts.
"This is a wonderful tribute to the spirit and work of S. Firmin," said CSB President MaryAnn Baenninger. "Because of her energy and foresight, the Benedicta Arts Center has become a premier educational facility as well as an outstanding performance venue. I extend my gratitude to Rosemary and Fred Petters for joining us in recognizing S. Firmin's legacy."
S. Firmin's long association with CSB began in 1940. She taught violin and other music-related courses, conducted an orchestra, founded the Campus Singers and produced operas. In addition, she served as music department chairperson, dean of fine arts and academic dean.
David Arnott, assistant professor of music at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University, occasionally has the opportunity to play S. Firmin's beloved violin.
"Though S. Firmin is no longer with us, I feel her presence with me each time I play her beautiful violin, whether it's in the Sacred Heart Chapel or on the stage of the BAC," David said. "With her name now permanently associated with the building, she will be remembered in perpetuity."
Escher Auditorium is a 1,078-seat auditorium within the BAC. The auditorium is home to numerous performances, and is the only venue outside of the Twin Cities offering annual Minnesota Orchestra concerts.