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Symphonie Fantastique

The Green Music Center is Ruben Armiñana's most improbable milestone yet—a dazzling jewel with a long road to realization



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Additionally, students and faculty in Sonoma State's music department are eager to see the completion of the 250-seat Schroeder Hall. A medium-sized, acoustically pleasing cousin of the 1,400-seat main hall, Schroeder Hall is the closest thing to the Green's original vision, yet remains unfinished, needing $5 million for completion. In the meantime, most student ensembles meet and perform in GMC 1028 or 1029, which are boxy rooms with odd acoustics. "I believe when Schroeder Hall opens, it will be mostly academic focused," says administrative coordinator Caroline Ammann. "We can get students in there, it's the perfect place."

University CFO and executive director of the GMC Larry Furukawa-Schlereth understands the criticism, but doesn't feel it will stick in the long run. "It's difficult when a project is in the planning stage or building stage for people to fully understand its impact," he says. "Once a thing is completed, people become more aware of the importance of a project." He adds that the controversy surrounding the Green Music Center has not been any greater than any he's experienced on campus, including the Schulz Information Center, which was completed in June 2000, one month after the CSU Board of Trustees approved a master plan adding the 48 acres for the GMC.

"Now," says Furukawa-Schlereth, "people can't imagine the university without the operations of the Schulz Information Center. I think the same is true with the music center."


Though he exudes a sense of modesty about it, Armiñana is, by all accounts, the person who took the idea for a small choral hall and turned it into a world-class performing arts facility. He persevered in the face of adversity, both financial and personal. "By nature," he says today, "I'm not a quitter."

Even when a large donor suggested otherwise, Armiñana would not stray from his vision. "I had a conversation with somebody who is no longer on earth," he says, declining to name names, "who said, 'Here, you have my money, why don't you just build a tent to do summer things, et cetera. You can build a really nice tent with the money you've got.'" But straying from the original plan was not an option. "We were never willing to compromise," says Armiñana. "There were chances, and requests, to compromise the quality, and the answer was absolutely no. Once we made the decision of what the full scope of the project was, there was never a doubt to do it all."

Does the controversy bother him? "Not at all," he responds, matter-of-factly. The Green Music Center and other capital improvements made under Armiñana's tenure (the Schulz Information Center, the Salazar and Darwin Hall renovations and student recreation facilities, among others) will remain integral parts of the educational experience far after he retires, and "if people think I did this to create a legacy, I just don't operate that way," he says.

"I think soon, someday," he says, "they will forget Ruben Armiñana."


CUBAN RHYTHM Chucho Valdés swings the Steinway on Nov. 11
  • CUBAN RHYTHM Chucho Valdés swings the Steinway on Nov. 11

Grand Opening Weekend

Sept. 29 Lang Lang, piano, in program of Mozart and Chopin. 7pm. Indoor seating sold-out; $20–$55 lawn tickets available.

Sept. 30 Sunrise Choral Concert, community and university choral ensembles. 7am. Free; advance tickets required.

Sept. 30 Santa Rosa Symphony, with Corrick Brown, Jeffrey Kahane and Bruno Ferrandis. 2pm. Indoor seating sold-out; $10 table and free lawn tickets available.

Sept. 30 Alison Krauss & Union Station. 7:30pm. Indoor and lawn seating sold-out.

Upcoming performances include Bill Maher (Oct. 20), John Adams (Oct. 27), Aziz Ansari (Nov. 4), Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (Dec. 6, Mar. 7), Yo-Yo Ma (Jan. 26), Anne-Sophie Mutter (Mar. 2), Wynton Marsalis (Mar. 21) and others. See for full schedule and ticket information.

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