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SSU gets $12 million donation for Green Music Center

Philanthropists Joan and Sandy Weill are donating $12 million to Sonoma State University for completion of the Green Music Center, the university announced Tuesday.

Described as the largest single cash gift in SSU's history, the donation ensures a fall 2012 opening of the center, with its 1,400-seat Tanglewood-style concert hall named after the Weills.

Sanford "Sandy" Weill is a former chief executive of Citigroup, which he built into the world's largest bank before the financial meltdown of 2008, and is a nationally recognized philanthropist.

$12 Million Donation To Green Music Center

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Weill, 78, and his wife, 76, both classical music lovers, said they have donated $800 million to arts, health care, educational and social service organizations.

The Weills, whose primary residence is New York City, bought a 362-acre estate in the hills west of Sonoma for nearly $31 million last year, believed to be a record price for a real estate deal in Sonoma County.

"We love to be involved in the communities where we spend time," Sandy Weill said in an interview Tuesday on the concert hall stage.

When the couple first toured the Green Center late last year and heard a student piano, violin and cello performance, Sandy Weill said they were impressed by the "sound of the music filling the hall."

To confirm their impression, the Weills asked Chinese concert pianist Lang Lang, a friend, and Carnegie Hall Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson to check out the towering concert hall.

Gillinson "thought it was phenomenal," said Sandy Weill, who is chairman of the Carnegie Hall board of trustees.

Weill said the concert hall will give Sonoma County a "terrific" economic boost, adding a "world class cultural destination" to an area that has "world-class wines and world-class weather — not counting March."


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