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No second fiddle, SSU to debut Schroeder Hall this weekend

  • A day before classes start, SSU freshman Danny Pollard, left, Robbe Burns, and Andrew Stella talk with House Manager Lori Hercs as they check out the new Schroeder Hall where they will be having their economics class. Photo taken on the Sonoma State University campus in Rohnert Park, California on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER/ The Press Democrat)

When it debuts this weekend, Sonoma State University’s new Schroeder Hall, a short walk from the Green Music Center’s renowned concert venue, is set to offer the campus and community something different.

The 250-seat recital hall, across the lawn seating area behind the 1,400-seat Weill Hall, will provide a more intimate space for live music by both local and guest artists as well as a place for students to learn, rehearse and perform.

Where Weill Hall, which debuted in 2012, has earned national and international acclaim for highly-billed orchestral concerts and celebrity performances, Schroeder will serve as classroom and lecture space on weekdays, presenting faculty and student recitals. On weekends, it will host performances by community groups and visiting artists, including authors and poets.

Schroeder Hall At SSU

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“This hall is going be a workhorse for the music department,” said Brian S. Wilson, chairman of the university’s faculty.

The hall is attached to the music department building but also will be used by other departments on campus, Wilson said.

The completion of the 3,420-square-foot Schroeder Hall puts in place another key part of the $145 million, 600,000-square-foot Green Music Center. With Weill Hall as the centerpiece, future plans call for construction of a 10,000-seat outdoor amphitheater with fixed and lawn seating.

University officials offered several dozen journalists an early preview Monday of the $9.5 million Schroeder Hall, with a tour of the space and a demonstration of its pipe organ, designed to play the music of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

“The acoustics are perfect,” said organist James David Christie of Oberlin Conservatory of Music, after playing one of his own compositions on the 1,248-pipe organ. “This is one of the finest recital and performance halls for organ music that I have ever experienced.”

Speaking from the organ loft high above the stage, Christie was easily heard without amplification, underscoring the facility’s dual purpose as a lecture hall and classroom.

The Green Music Center project began 17 years ago, when founding donors Don and Maureen Green dreamed of a small recital hall for concerts by local groups like the Sonoma County Bach Choir, to which the Greens belonged. The choir is one of the groups slated to perform at Schroeder Hall during the coming season.


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