When One Good Surprise Leads to Another

The program dedication for the festive gala reopening of the St. Cecilia Music Center reads, Chuck Royce and Peter Wege: two incredible men and lifelong friends who made the MUSIC LIVES HERE campaign possible with a lead gift and the gift of leadership.

Before he died in July 2014, Peter told his good friend Chuck he had a surprise for him. Wege knew Chuck and Stella Royce’s favorite cause was the St. Cecilia Music Center. And as he did so often, Peter supported what his friends cared about. Nevertheless, when Mary Nelson called St. Cecilia’s after her father’s death, Executive Director Catherine Holbrook cried into the phone when Mary said the “surprise” was $1 million!

It was the single biggest donation ever given to St. Cecilia. And the unexpected gift triggered a year-long $2.4 million renovation of the 1893 building. The night of the reopening, St. Cecilia returned its own surprise honoring Peter and the Wege family by announcing the newly done recital room was named the Wege Recital Hall.

St. Cecilia is known as the “Mother of the Arts in Grand Rapids” because the Grand Rapids Symphony, Civic Theatre, and Opera Grand Rapids all started in that building. In addition to its renowned musical events, the Italian Renaissance structure has hosted many famous speakers over the years, including suffragette Susan B. Anthony.

The Music Lives Here campaign has resulted in new seating, remodeled lobby and box office, fixtures and furnishing, a new roof, and the remodeled lower level space that now includes the Wege Recital Hall.

Pictured above:
Celebrating the $2.4 million renovation of St. Cecilia in November are Jim and Mary Nelson and Judy and Jim De Lapa. They are holding the sign designating the newly remodeled room named to honor Peter Wege and The Wege Foundation.

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