Aurora School of Music founder Vera Holczer, guest artist Pierre van der Westhuizen

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From the Aurora Advocate, published February 17, 2016: 

Aurora -- A ribbon-cutting, tours and lunch for city officials and invited guests took place Feb. 10 to mark the completion of renovations and expansion at Aurora School of Music.

"The school is becoming one of the prizes Aurora has to offer, as well as a prominent music center in Northeast Ohio," said Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin, who was among the guests at the ribbon cutting.

"[Owner] Vera Holczer may be fulfilling her dream with the beautiful renovations at the school, but she is also bringing a cultural spotlight to shine on Aurora."

The school started in 2003 inside Holczer's living room, when she taught music lessons to a handful of students.

It has grown to about 700 students and one of the top music schools in the region.

"The expansion ended up costing nearly triple the original budget, but the results are better than we expected," said Holczer.

The school now has about 7,000 square feet more space, with five more teaching rooms. Twelve rooms are on the lower level, while a state of the art concert hall seating about 200 guests occupies the first and second floors.

"Students and faculty can enjoy soundproofed rooms downstairs, with no disturbance to the concert hall," said Holczer. "There also are top of the line recording and video systems with high-definition projection for movies and presentations."

She noted the acoustic design of the hall has already brought accolades from musicians.

Artists on stage have a very easy time hearing themselves, as opposed to halls that cater to the audience.

"We united the existing waiting room and our west wing of the old building with the same bricks and sidings as our expansion, with new flooring and colors," Holczer said.

Aurora School of Music students perform at many local events, and have the opportunity to participate individually or in ensembles at recitals, rock and jazz concerts an classical music sessions.

IN THE PAST, the school has brought in several world-class musicians to teach and play for students, including Alexander Ghindin, who won the Cleveland International Piano Competition a few years ago.

Holczer, a Hungarian pianist who came to the U.S. after finishing her degree at the Budapest Bartok High School Conservatory, also studied at UCLA and Cleveland Institute of Music.

"Starting this school was the dream of my life," Holczer told the Advocate back in 2008. "Since I moved from Hungary to California to study piano, I had this in my mind.

The city's planning commission approved plans for the expansion project in April 2014, and Holczer has praised the city's support of the project.

"The city could not have been more supportive, helpful and efficient throughout the design and approval process," she said.

"When I practiced law in Cleveland," said Womer Benjamin, "I worked with representatives of the Casadesus International Piano Competition, the predecessor of the Cleveland Piano Competition, so I have a deep appreciation for the stature of the competition in the international music community.

"That Vera was able to secure the competition's prominent president [Pierre Vander Westhuizen] to help emcee the school's ribbon-cutting and hold a master class demonstrates the growing importance of her school in the music world.

"Aurora is so fortunate to be home to this incredible institution."

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