GMC debut a smashing success
Throngs flock to SSU for weekend of classical and bluegrass music
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By Nicole C. Weld  October 5, 2012 12:00 am


The founding members of the Green Music Center had every reason to beam with pride and accept whatever congratulations came their way on Saturday night, Sept. 29. They finally experienced the long-awaited realization of a vision they had dreamed together come true.  

The Red Carpet rolled out, and the gates opened up to welcome the arrival of Sonoma County’s world-class concert hall.  A starry sky complemented a bright-eyed full harvest moon as they aligned themselves perfectly for the debut of Sonoma County’s new music hall, which has been built to the standards of utmost excellence.

The premiere drew familiar names from the worlds of music, academia, technology, business and national politics, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Gov. Jerry Brown. Also on hand were major financial contributors to the center Sanford and Joan Weill and Donald and Maureen Green, for whom the center has been named.

Saturday and Sunday marked the opening of the center's principal venue, the 1,400-seat Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall.  Pianist Lang Lang, quoted by the New York Times as the “hottest artist on the classical music planet,” officially inaugurated the Weill Hall Saturday night, followed on Sunday by a concert by the Santa Rosa Symphony – which will now make GMC its home – and an evening performance by bluegrass star Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas.

While Weill Hall is big enough to bring in the San Francisco Symphony and even to do opera in concert, at its heart it is an intimate venue with close to perfect acoustics.

Bruno Ferrandis, the Santa Rosa Symphony's music director, seconds the words of praise about his orchestra's new home. He said moving into the new hall has been a major change. But the precise and sensitive sound will help for a smooth transition. He raves how one can hear the exact difference between mezzo-piano and pianissimo. It will, he says, enable the symphony to create different shapes and nuances in the music.

The design echoes in many ways that of Ozawa Hall in Massachusetts, but integrates the seamless surroundings of Sonoma County:  windows opening to the idyllic countryside, a palette resonating with the colors of the Sonoma Mountain hillside, the architecture itself is reminiscent of the beautiful landscape throughout Sonoma County.

The premiere drew familiar names from the worlds of music, academia, technology, business and national politics nation wide.  

“Nothing can beat what's happening tonight,” Green said during a champagne reception that preceded the performance by renowned pianist Lang Lang.  “After 15 years of hard work, we have completed this magnificent architectural and acoustical jewel which will enhance the cultural life of our community for generations to come.”

The grand finale ended with a showering glitter of fireworks that left a glowing impression on the full-moon sky throughout Rohnert Park and its neighboring cities.

Gov. Brown and his wife, Anne Gust Brown, strolled into the party with Sanford and Joan Weill.  The governor said he was impressed with what he had seen so far of the place. “I’d like to see Sonoma County on the cultural map,” Brown said, adding, “I spend most of my time in Sonoma County on the Russian River.”

Sonoma State President, Ruben Armiñana said his goal is to position the university at the center of the performing arts network, and the Green Music Center will serve as a hub, joining the academic community with the artistic community of musicians, artists, dancers, thinkers, poets, and lovers of the performing arts world-wide.  

Sonoma County is undoubtedly positioned to achieve new status as a revered artistic hub that may one day equal its reputation for exquisite wines.  This captivating union enhances the quality of life for those who call it home, and incites an allure for those wishing to visit the region.


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October 9, 2012
Sonoma County will be another San Francisco in a few years. With the GMC and future casino........just wait and see. I will keep moving north, thank you.
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