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Music marathon at new Green Music Center

  • Alison Krauss and the band Union Station, including Jerry Douglas, left, and Dan Tyminski perform at the Green Music Center on Sunday, September 30, 2012 in Santa Rosa, California. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

The crescendo of excitement surrounding the grand opening of Weill Hall at Sonoma State University reached a climax Sunday with a dawn-to-dusk, all-American trio of concerts spanning the heights of local and national talents.

From an uplifting choral concert at sunrise to an orchestral showcase in mid-afternoon and a rollicking bluegrass show at sundown, the musical marathon at the Rohnert Park campus drew more than 10,000 audience members throughout the day, giving a taste of the diversity of music to be presented at the $145 million Green Music Center in the months and years to come.

The biggest event of the day came last, when bluegrass maven Alison Krauss and Union Station with Jerry Douglas took over the stage a little after 7:30 p.m. and got toes tapping and hands clapping with traditional, Americana tunes and ballads. The concert was mostly acoustic, but the voices were miked.

Green Music Center Opens

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"We knew we wanted the definitive sound and voice of America's music," said Jeff Langley, artistic director of the Green Music Center, while introducing the band. "There is no better representative of American music at its best than Alison Krauss."

The laid-back concert drew a sold-out, capacity crowd of 6,000, who wore cowboy hats and jeans, down vests and denim jackets while sipping wine outdoors at the tables and on the lawn, where the temperature had cooled into the high 60s.

Among those seated inside the hall was Gary Humbarger of San Francisco, who was given a ticket at the last minute by friends in celebration of his 50th birthday.

"I've seen her many times," he said of the multiple Grammy-winning Krauss. "She has a very pure, crystal clear voice, and she's an amazing fiddle player. She tells good stories, too."

Coming on the heels of Saturday night's sold-out, gala recital by pianist Lang Lang, the early morning Sunrise Choral Concert was a quiet and contemplative affair, with the rear wall of the hall closed but a full house of 1,400.

About halfway through the free 40-minute program, which featured original songs by Langley, the sun's rays peeked over the Sonoma Mountains and flooded the eastern half of the hall with sunlight.

"I don't think Jeff Langley could have predicted the dramatic effect of the light pouring through the windows," said David Marsten of Calistoga, a board member of the Santa Rosa Symphony. "We have been dreaming of this moment for many years, and it surpasses all expectations."


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