Sonoma State University on Thursday announced the grand opening weekend Aug. 23 and 24 of Schroeder Hall, a 250-seat recital hall that will present intimate concerts by guest artists, year-round music classes and concerts and special organ recitals on its 1,248-pipe Brombaugh Opus 9 organ.
The recital hall, which complements the nearby 1,400-seat Weill Hall in the Green Music Center complex, represents the vision of the center's original founding donors, Donald and Maureen Green, who initially committed to build a $10 million choral hall. That idea later expanded into a performing arts complex comprising classrooms, concert hall and an outdoor entertainment venue.
"The opening of Schroeder Hall represents a 'coming full circle' for the Green Music Center," said Sonoma State University President Ruben Arminana. "We are all tremendously pleased that the dream of this recital hall is at long last becoming a reality."
Over 15 years of fund-raising, the Green Music Center grew into a $145 million project centered around the acoustically resonant Weill Hall, modeled after the Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood in western Massachusetts. When Weill Hall opened in September 2012, the university still needed $15 million to finish Schroeder Hall. Major donors Joan and Sandy Weill, whose donations helped push Weill Hall over the finish line, also helped finance the completion of Schroeder Hall.
In 2007, local philanthropist and contributor Jean Schulz named the recital hall in recognition of her late husband, cartoonist Charles Schulz, who was known for his piano-playing "Peanuts" character, Schroeder.
To honor Jean Schulz, jazz pianist David Benoit will give the inaugural performance on Aug. 23 in the recital hall, a private concert entitled "Tribute to Charlie Brown."
The Grand Opening festivities will take place throughout the weekend, with nearly a dozen free concerts that will showcase talent from the campus, community and beyond.
Special highlights include a concert by pianist Jeffrey Kahane, conductor laureate of the Santa Rosa Symphony, and recitals by SSU students and faculty. James David Christie of the Boston Symphony Orchestra will christen the hall's Brombaugh Opus 9 organ with a concert in collaboration with soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, conductor Julian Wachner and members of the Santa Rosa Symphony.
Beginning in September, the hall will feature up-and-coming musicians and celebrated guest artists through an ongoing series, "Sundays at Schroeder," which will explore various musical genres.
The 11-concert lineup continues through May 2015 with performances by pianist Juho Pohjonen, singer Storm Large of Pink Martini fame, Galician bagpiper Christina Pato, jazz vocalist Mary Stallings and violinist Ray Chen, among others.
In addition, Schroeder Hall will serve as a home for the students and faculty of the SSU music department and as an expanded classroom for the 9,000-student university. It will also become a venue for student life and an additional space for meetings, presentations and workshops organized annually by students groups.
Designed by BAR Architects of San Francisco, the hall boasts a gently-curved stone exterior with a swooping roof line that echoes the roof line of Weill Hall, just across the lawn. Inside, there are soaring ceilings and a dedicated organ balcony for the Brombaugh Opus 9, a gift from donors BJ and Bebe Cassin in 2005.
"This hall will be the epicenter of music education on a daily basis, and a place to showcase the diverse talents of Sonoma State University's exceptional students and faculty, in addition to beloved artists from a wide range of genres," said Green Music Center Co-Executive Director Zarin Mehta. "To step through the doors of Schroeder Hall is to embark on an exploration of the arts."