Orange County Performing Arts Center
The Orange County Performing Arts Center is a performing arts complex
located in Costa Mesa, California, United States. The Center offers the
world’s leading dance companies, Broadway shows, award-winning
classical, jazz and cabaret artists, family entertainment, special
events and year-round educational programs. It is also the artistic home
to three resident companies: Pacific Symphony, the Philharmonic Society
of Orange County and Pacific Chorale.
The Center encompasses the 3,000-seat opera house style Segerstrom
Hall, the 2,000-seat Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the
500-seat multi-functional Samueli Theater, 250-seat Founders Hall and
46,000-square-foot (4,300 m2) community plaza. Its Lawrence and Kristina
Dodge Education Center includes the studio performance space and Boeing
Education Lab. Other amenities include two private donor rooms, the
elegant Leatherby’s Cafe Rouge and two informal cafes. The performance
venues all feature artist amenities, including dressing rooms, artist
lounges, practice suites and rehearsal studios.
In the late 1960s, a number of Orange County community leaders
decided it was time for their community to have a world-class performing
arts venue. The region’s population had grown, businesses were
headquartering here and major educational institutions were being
established. Two of the county’s existing artistic organizations -
Philharmonic Society of Orange County and Pacific Symphony - needed a
concert hall with seating and acoustics appropriate to their needs.
In 1979, the local Segerstrom family donated a 5-acre (20,000 m2)
site for the original facility. It was also determined that the new
performing arts complex would be built entirely through private funding.
Government funding would be neither solicited nor accepted. The Center
held the distinction of being the first such organization of its scope
in the country to hold this distinction. Charles Lawrence served as lead
architect. An international team of Dr. A. Harold Marshall, Dennis
Paoletti and Jerald R. Hyde designed the acoustics.
The vision of the Center's founders became reality on September 29,
1986, when Segerstrom Hall – one of the nation’s most innovative and
technically advanced homes for the performing arts – opened its doors to
the public for the first time. Soprano Leontyne Price inaugurated the
venue by singing the "Star Spangled Banner" with Zubin Mehta conducting
the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In 1998, the Segerstrom family made
another commitment to the Center. An additional parcel of land was
deeded to the Center for the purpose of constructing a concert hall, a
multi-use theater, an education center, public restaurant and community
plaza. The creative team of architect Cesar Pelli, acousticians Russell
Johnson and Damian Doria of Artec Consultants, Inc. and landscape
architect Peter Walker and Partners were engaged for this new project.
Another major step towards the completion of the original dream of
the Center’s founders came when, in August 2000, Henry Segerstrom
provided the lead gift of $40 million to the Center’s $200 million
capital campaign. This was the largest charitable cash gift in the
history of Orange County. In recognition of this cornerstone gift, the
new concert hall was named the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
after the Center’s founding chairman and his late wife. The 500-seat
theater was designated Samueli Theater in recognition of the $10 million
gift from the Henry Samueli family.
Groundbreaking for the expanded Center took place on February 6, 2003
with a concert by the Pacific Symphony in Segerstrom Hall followed by
three backhoes synchronized in making the first official digs on the
construction site and a fireworks display. The year 2006 was a watermark
year for the Orange County Performing Arts Center and the community. In
April, the Center announced Terrence W. Dwyer as its new president.
Dwyer had previously served as managing director of two of the nation’s
preeminent theaters - the La Jolla Playhouse and Houston’s Alley
Theatre. That same month, Connector, a towering steel sculpture created
by renowned artist Richard Serra, was installed on the new community
plaza that unites the Center’s original structure with the newer venues.
It was commissioned by Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom. On September 14,
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a host of other state and
local government dignitaries participated in a community dedication
ceremony in the concert hall.
The highlight of the year occurred on September 15, 2006 when the
Center inaugurated its new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with
a spectacular concert by Pacific Symphony led by its music director,
Carl St. Clair. Featuring Plácido Domingo singing the world premiere of
Canciones de Lorca by composer William Bolcom, the evening also included
performances by Pacific Chorale. On September 16, St.Clair, Pacific
Symphony and Pacific Chorale performed the world premiere of Philip
Glass’ The Passion of Ramakrishna. Violin virtuoso Midori performed the
Beethoven Violin Concerto.
The first six weeks celebrating the opening of the new concert hall
featured gala celebrations, recitals and concerts offered by the Center
and its Artistic Partners, a community day enjoyed by 10,000 people and
an unprecedented residency by Russia's Kirov Orchestra, Opera and Ballet
of the Mariinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg. The Mariinsky companies were
led by their artistic director Valery Gergiev. Performances included the
North American premiere of the Opera’s production of Wagner’s Ring,
Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov, the ballets Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake,
and concerts that included an evening of epic proportions featuring the
combined powers of the Kirov Orchestra and Pacific Symphony. Maestros
Gergiev and St. Clair shared the podium. Samueli Theater, opened with a
concert by Grammy Award-winner Sheryl Crow followed by a performance by
Camp Freddy and a recital by young artists of the Mariinsky Theatre
Conservatory. During this same period, the Center also celebrated its
20th anniversary. A festive evening was marked by a sold-out concert in
Segerstrom Hall by legendary vocalist Tony Bennett.
In addition to offering a broad spectrum of quality regional,
national and international programming, the Center has one of the
nation’s most respected departments of education and community programs.
Each year, nearly 500,000 elementary, middle and high school, college
students and educators have their lives enhanced by attending a Center
arts-in-education program such as the Center’s Arts Teach, Summer at the
Center, Masters at the Center and others. Founders Plus, one of the
Center's many support groups, helps to distribute thousands of free
tickets to students and the underserved each year. Support groups and
service organizations help to raise funds and community awareness for
the Center. Participation and membership provide members with
opportunities to enjoy many events and to share and enhance their love
for the arts. The Guilds of the Center, Angels of the Arts, Center
Stars, Founders Plus, Center 500, BRAVO! and Center Docents offer
important financial and ambassadorial support for the Center through
their activities, dues structures and fundraisers.
To the great credit of the generosity of donors and patrons, the
Center has operated in the black for each fiscal year. To this day, the
Center is completely funded through corporate and private donations.
The Orange County Performing Arts Center's Renée and Henry Segerstrom
Concert Hall, which is part of Segerstrom Center for the Arts, has a
concert organ - the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ (C.B.Fisk Opus
130. It has 4,322 pipes and 75 stops, including 57 individual voices, 4
manual keyboards with 61 notes each, 1 pedal keyboard with 32 notes. It
weighs nearly 30 tons and took approximately 42,000 hours to assemble