Wine Country Welcomes Weill Hall
Oct. 18, 2012
By Elizabeth Chapin
From American cellist Yo-Yo Ma to Chinese pianist Lang Lang, the Green Music Center’s Weill Hall at Sonoma State University is now hosting some of the world’s most recognized musicians. But the world-class hall, which celebrated its grand opening the weekend of Sept. 29, will also host the educational endeavors of students in SSU’s music department.
“The fact that SSU students will use this center only adds to the importance of having such a place here,” said SSU President Ruben Armiñana about the Donald & Maureen Green Music Center, home to the incredible new facility.
Armiñana’s vision of making Sonoma State a center for music and a public resource finally came to fruition thanks to the support and dedication of the community, as well as several unprecedented gifts.
Built by the same architects as Boston’s famed Tanglewood Hall, Weill Hall seats 1,300 and has a back wall, which if opened, can seat an additional 3,000 outside. And the outdoor audience does not miss out on the hall’s incredible acoustics.
Green Music Center spokesperson Jessica Anderson said that the hall’s acoustics were fine-tuned to the point where they could be set into different configurations, depending on what type of ensemble is playing.
“There are different variables that come with different types of music,” Anderson said. “The architects tested the hall with a full orchestra, a jazz ensemble and choral groups to find “sweet spots” for every type of music.”
The end result is what Alan Silow, executive director of the Santa Rosa Symphony, called “a turning point for the history of arts in Sonoma County and a key economic engine for the area.”
Weill Hall is now the new home of Silow’s Santa Rosa Symphony, which took the stage opening weekend for the first official time. The hall will also serve as the summer home of the San Francisco Symphony. The partnerships have stirred up quite a bit of excitement among the arts community. During his remarks, Silow added that Sonoma County would now have a world class performing arts center on par with its world class wines.
Already receiving a stamp of acoustic approval from some of the world’s best musicians, Weill Hall has also proven to be an inspiring learning addition for Sonoma State’s music department.
Currently, all of the department's vocal and instrumental repertoire classes are held at Weill Hall, and there’s no better place for students work on their stagecraft and presence. Music students also have clinics and master classes where they learn from the best.
The program has also recently launched a partnership with Carnegie Hall and the Julliard School to sponsor a new academy at Sonoma State for artists in residence.
“The interest in our program has definitely increased,” said Delores Bainter with Sonoma State’s music department. “Weill Hall is the students’ stage, too. We’ve created one of the best places in the world for musicians to learn.”