Soka University in Aliso Viejo will inaugurate the new Soka University Performing Arts Center this fall with a black-tie concert and reception on Sept. 17 featuring Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony, with pianist Horacio Gutiérrez as soloist.
The handsome Soka Performing Arts Center, designed by Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects in Los Angeles, looks especially promising; it features a 1000-seat multi-purpose concert hall with acoustics credited to Yasuhisa Toyota, the same genius behind the sound of Walt Disney Concert Hall. An adjacent building, the Nelson Mandela Hall, has a 180-seat black box theater as part of its accoutrements. Together, they cost $73 million.
After the opening, Soka will offer, among many other events, an ambitious season of classical fare, which includes two more visits by the Pacific Symphony, the St. Petersburg Symphony (from Russia), the New Zealand String Quartet, the Tokyo String Quartet and a solo recital by pianist Emanuel Ax.
For more information go to http://www.soka.edu. For tickets call 949-480-4ART or visit firstname.lastname@example.org.
I remember Mr. Toyota speaking to an LA Phil affiliate group to which I belonged. This was before Disney Hall opened and when there was still a lot of uncertainty about what it would sound like. A technically rigorous, honest, impeccable presentation by a gifted, no-nonsense engineer. I occasionally read the notes to remind myself what a good technical talk can and should be.
The prices for the concerts are very reasonable (gala notwithstanding). I may have to break my “don’t go to Aliso Viejo anymore” rule to see the PSO or Manny Ax there.
I’m going to attempt to go to the opening salvo and report on whether or not it’s worth your drive.
Seeing world-renowned pianist Horacio Gutierrez is such a wonderful treat. It will be worth every minute of the drive. I have heard Gutierrez play many times and he is one of the great masters today! We are all very fortunate to be able to hear him with such grand acoustics and at a university that values and supports the creative life and arts for its students. I think Gutierrez’s recording of the Rachmaninoff piano concertos no 2 and no 3 with Lorin Maazel and the Pittsburgh Symphony is magnificent and was nominated for a Grammy! Many are looking forward to a great evening at the opening!
I think it was a combination of Yasuhisa Toyota AND Frank Gehry that resulted in the acoustic marvel on Los Angeles’s Bunker Hill. One without the other could not have accomplished what was unveiled in 2003. So Mr. Toyota’s technical know-how and supervision combined with Mr. Gehry’s devotion to curves and other ingenuous elements allowed for something uncommon to occur. That’s why I can relate to Esa-Pekka Salonen’s sentiments beginning at the 45-second mark:
Such cultural enhancements to the community are quite gratifying to me. It’s one reason why I also greatly admire what Henry and Renee Segerstrom have done in Costa Mesa. In fact, if i were one of those well-heeled benefactors that make a difference to a city, I’d happily be contributing to the completion of the fundraising for Segerstrom Concert Hall. I’d then throw in some more for Soka (if they need it), and would love to support any other organization that adds to the cultural and educational resources and life of this region.
Mr. Toyota mentioned that Sapporo and Suntory Halls which he and his firm built before Disney Hall gave him important insights for the LA project. Lots of flowing curves in all of the designs but three different architects for each. The Disney Hall design apparently came first but he got to finish the others first since the fundraising here took longer than expected.
Salonen gave a talk to the same group a couple of years later. He came unprepared, mumbled some random thoughts, and left after a few minutes escorted in and out by a phalanx of Phil staff.
Interesting links to Toyota’s many projects. Did I miss Disney hall in the list? Interesting to compare.
Question; Anyone have any thoughts on who had the most influence or input on the final sound at Disney Hall? Is this Gehry’s area of expertise? My guess is it sounds the way it does in spite of Gehry.
Whenever I hear music from Walt Disney Hall, I want to give a big hug to Mr. Gehry and a pat on the back to Mr. Toyota. I place the two of them in that order of importance because all the other halls that have been supervised by Yasuhisa Toyota but designed by other architects haven’t sounded quite as good as the one he worked on with Frank Gehry. Such is the challenge and rarity of creating an interior with truly good sound.
Incidentally, a new concert hall overseen by Mr. Toyota will be opening next week in the Midwest, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts near downtown Kansas City. And just a few days ago, a new hall opened in Montreal, Canada, supervised by the same company that worked on the acoustics of the Segerstrom Concert Hall.
if you are talking about music FROM the Walt Disney Concert Hall, as opposed to music IN it, then you might consider giving a smooch or two to Fred Vogler and his crew because without them you would not hear anything outside of the building.
Architects know nothing about acoustics. An acoustician wants an architect to yield his designs to what the acoustician believes will make the best sound for the hall. The Disney collaboration was a success because Gehry didn’t have the ego to ignore the main function of the hall and didn’t pull rank on Toyota, who has a good record with concert halls.