GMC opens second season
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By Mira Brody  September 20, 2013 12:00 am

The hills of Sonoma County were again filled with the sound of music when the Green Music Center began its second season last Sunday, Sept. 15, with Grammy Winner and renowned soprano, Renee Fleming. With performers such as Lang Lang, the Vienna Philharmonic, Hilary Hahn and Lyle Lovett, it’s bound to be a busy and successful year for the second-year performing arts center.

“By all accounts we had a phenomenal inaugural season,” Jessica Anderson, director of communications said. “We saw the development of the relationship between Sonoma State and Carnegie Hall with the Fellowship Program, and ticket sales have been very positive so far.”

The Fellowship Program is a collaborative effort between students of Weill Hall and the Academy Program of Carnegie Hall and Julliard Music School in New York. The graduates of these various East Coast academies are actually living in the resident halls of SSU and mentoring both college music students and visiting North Bay K-12 schools in order to promote education in the arts and music education. They also lead workshops with the Santa Rosa Youth Orchestra and will perform this season at both Credo and Casa Grande high schools.

“To have them living here in Rohnert Park we think is a phenomenal opportunity and led to success last year,” says Anderson of these mentors. “They are working with students, exposing them to new careers in music and music education.”

Chef Charlie Palmer, whose progressive American creations are the foundation of the Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, oversaw the kitchens for the pre-show gala fundraiser last Sunday. Not only does this extravagant event celebrate the opening of the Green Music Center’s 2013-2014 Series, it also draws in some of the Bay Area’s more prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists for this “Night at the Opera.”

Because it was such a triumph last year, the Green Music Center is still offering package performances to members this year but has changed the system a bit. This way, members can order subscription packages with more variety. They have also added more outdoor shows so that patrons can bring their whole family, a picnic and sit under the stars during a performance.

So far, the two performance halls, Weill and Schroeder, are built primarily for acoustic and orchestral sounds and remain non-amplified. There are plans however, for the construction of the MasterCard Pavilion, a venue that would accommodate a wider range of genres including rock and roll, pop and dance.

With the Green Music Center and the arrival of the Graton Casino, locals are truly living in a time when more and more people are learning about Rohnert Park and the residents are provided with fresh experiences. 

Since last year, for example, there has been a growing audience for classical music and more opportunities for the arts to be available in schools once more, an interest that can only grow with the expansion of the new performing arts center.

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