Sonoma State University announced its inaugural, summer season at the Green Music Center on Tuesday, unveiling a line-up that will kick off July 4 with the return of the traditional campus Independence Day pops concert and fireworks show.
The nine-concert MasterCard Performance Series brings back cellist Yo-Yo Ma along with other well-known crossover artists from the classical world. The July 4 show will feature vocal soloists and an orchestra to be announced.
"The celebration of the Fourth of July will be very important to rekindle the spirit of patriotism," said SSU President Ruben Arminana. "We're going to have a small-town, USA celebration."
The Fourth of July concert, which will begin at 7:30 p.m., costs $25 to $45 for outdoor seating and $45 to $85 for indoor seating.
The popular Independence Day event began in 2000 as part of the Green Music Festival, a summer series intended to build support for the Green Music Center. It was suspended in 2007 when the university decided to concentrate on fund-raising and construction of the center.
Headliners of the summer season include retro-pop orchestra Pink Martini on July 14, classical/bluegrass band The Goat Rodeo Sessions with cellist Ma on Aug. 23, and jazz-trumpeter Chris Botti on Aug. 25.
"These people do crossover music, so it's more popular," said Emmanuel Morlet, the new artistic and managing director for the Green Music Center. "That's the idea for the summer."
The summer-season announcement was made on the terraces behind the 1,400-seat Weill Hall, which has a back wall that opens up. The hall will open its back doors during the summer series for an additional 6,000 patrons to picnic on the lawn and at tables.
"Through September, we hope to have the hall open like this so people can enjoy the great music and the wines," said Sandy Weill, chairman of the Green Music Center Board of Advisors. "It's a really great future for all of us who live out here."
In a new partnership with Napa Valley's Festival del Sole, the summer series will bring in the Russian National Orchestra with violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet on July 16.
In another new collaboration with producer Rick Bartalini Presents, pop/classical singer Josh Groban will perform with the Santa Rosa Symphony on July 24.
After performing four concerts at Weill Hall this season, the San Francisco Symphony will return on Aug. 4 with guest conductor Sarah Hicks for an evening of "Music from the Movies," featuring a special narrator and tunes from the silver screen that appeal to kids of all ages.
Most of the summer series was planned by consultant Robert Cole in collaboration with Jeff Langley, director of SSU's School of the Performing Arts. Morlet, who joined the team this month, was responsible for two programs.
At the last minute, Morlet booked a performance by El Gusto, known as "The Buena Vista Social Club of Algiers," which will give its West Coast debut on Aug. 11. The concert will be preceded by a screening of director Safinez Bousbia's documentary film, "El Gusto." All seats are $5.
The ensemble of Jewish and Muslim artists, who were separated by the Algerian War 50 years ago, was recently reassembled by the film director. The musicians share a passion for <CF102>Chaabi</CF>, a blend of Berber, Andalusian and Flamenco-influenced music styles.