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

MELROSE, MA – 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.

Photo credit: Elaine_Foley(, Scott Levine (

“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.”

Hailing from Singapore, Foo is an internationally-active composer who grew up in the performing arts sector. She currently resides in Massachusetts. A graduate of the prestigious Beijing Central Conservatory of Music and Tufts University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Foo has more than a decade of teaching and curriculum designing experiences, previously coaching and implementing duo-cultural music programs during her faculty appointments at international schools. Equally impressive is her arts administration experience,
having previously worked at the authoritative Gramophone Magazine (China) and managed the Tufts Symphony Orchestra.

“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.

“The chances of getting repeat or retained rentals in a year for ad-hoc activities are under 5%,” explains Foo. “Added to that, the performing arts, event and wedding industries operate on cycles: concert seasons run from September to May, and couples get married in the summer. If we do not get enough bookings from organizations and brides three to twelve months in advance, we cannot expect a good harvest for the upcoming season. Planning committees do not just fork out thousands of dollars for an add-on performance or banquet when brochures and invitations are already sent.”

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.”

Keeping in mind how event cycles work, FCM will launch its Venue Grant Program this June to support over fifty new performances at Corinthian Hall for its 2012-2013 Season. Each grant will help performing artists and groups fund up to 67% of Corinthian Hall’s half-day rental and event staffing fees. “We want performing artists and groups to know that it will not cost them an arm or a leg to showcase their artistic achievements at the historic Corinthian Hall,” assures Foo. “With this grant and a 60% turn-out for 120 people – the current banquet seating capacity at the 2000 square feet hall – presenters can easily cover rental and staffing fees with just 31% of ticket sales at $20/ticket.”

FCM is also designing meeting packages and gift certificates for conference planners and brides who wish to take advantage of Corinthian Hall’s new rental promotions.

Aside to having a rich event calendar, Corinthian Hall is set to house ongoing classes and programs from Mondays to Fridays. On weekday mornings, Corinthian Hall would be available for nursery music and art classes, photo shoots, lunch meetings, conferences or seminars. From 3pm to 6pm, Corinthian Hall will serve as a training ground for students enrolled in FCM’s after-school program. Enrolled students, mostly bilingual or native speakers of Chinese, are ensured daily Chinese classes, instrument practices with music counselors, as well as targeted training in music literacy, choral and performance.

“The afternoon program solves two pressing issues for FCM’s busy parents: daily instrument practice and Chinese language immersion,” says Foo. “Our students study with esteemed faculty recruited from top conservatories, venues and orchestras. These students are groomed using our progress-evident music curriculum and pedagogy. Now, we have Corinthian Hall for them to train in a formal performance space, everyday.”

In addition to FCM’s flagship after-school 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.”

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. For more information, please contact FCM at: [email protected], or visit FCM’s website: