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New concert hall opens in Sonoma County

September 28, 2012 8:47:40 PM PDT
A spectacular new concert hall opens Saturday night in the heart of the Sonoma Wine Country and one newly-arrived Sonoma County resident helped make it happen.

Sanford Weill is a legendary banking executive and philanthropist. He and his wife donated $12 million to make Weill Hall a reality.

"We care a lot about the arts, we love communities that we live in, and we care about this university," said Weill.

This architectural gem is on the campus of Sonoma State University. The man many consider the world's greatest pianist is the opening night performer. Lang Lang played a role in getting the building finished. He's a friend of Weill's who asked the pianist to assess the acoustics.

"Five people were here waiting for him. He was here from about 12:15 to about 2 in the morning, playing, moving the shades up and down and called me up to tell me he loved it," said Weill. "That's when we decided to make our gift."

It is the centerpiece of the Green Center which began 15 years ago with a donation from Donald Green. The auditorium seats 1,400, but the back wall opens up and 5,000 more people can sit outside to listen -- a new reason to visit Sonoma County.

Renowned for some of the best food and wine in the country, you can now add culture to this inventive performance venue. It will be a versatile place. The university choir will perform. Alison Krauss will perform on Sunday.

It is the new home of the Santa Rosa Symphony. And Weill hopes to help create summer camps for at-risk kids to learn about music and dance. He believes success is more than profits. It's about giving.

"How can the company do things to make their country and our whole society a better place?" said Weill.


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