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Performance hall for Sparky's Schroeder

  • A view from the balcony of the new Schroeder Hall on the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park , California on Monday, August 18, 2014. BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

Most performance halls are named for famous musicians or wealthy sponsors. But the brand-new, $9.5 million Schroeder Hall in Rohnert Park is named for a cartoon character.

“People ask if there’s a Mr. Schroeder,” said Laurence Furukawa-Schlereth, co-executive director of Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center, where Schroeder Hall makes its debut this weekend near the larger, now-famous Weill Hall.

Throughout its coming season, the 240-seat, 3.420-square-foot Schroeder Hall will offer choral and instrumental concerts, lectures, films and more.

Schroeder Hall At SSU


But Mr. Schroeder won’t be there. That’s because he’s the small blonde boy in the “Peanuts” comic strip who played Beethoven on a toy piano, ignoring bossy Lucy as she talked of marriage.

The late cartoonist Charles “Sparky” Schulz based Schroeder on a combination of childhood friends, remembered a toy piano played by one of his own children, and took care to use authentic notes in his sheet-music captions when Schroeder played.

“Sparky loved classical music,” said Schulz’s widow, philanthropist and Green Music Center donor Jean Schulz, who suggested the name for the new hall.

“I said, ‘What you would think about calling it Schroeder Hall?’ Hoping it wouldn’t sound silly.”

The entire Sonoma State University campus embraced the idea, university officials said.

“I think the name is unique,” said SSU President Ruben Arminana. “The cartoons appear all over the world and Schroeder is known worldwide, no matter where you travel.”

The intimate hall, attached to the university’s music department building, will feature 10 free concerts this weekend, including pianist David Benoit’s “Tribute to Charlie Brown.”

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