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Posts tagged ‘Santa Rosa performing arts’

Grand Opening of the Green Music Center


The Santa Rosa Convention & Visitors Bureau Announces the Grand Opening and Inaugural Season of the Green Music Center. The 1,400 seat Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall is modeled after Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood and was designed to replicate the intimacy and acoustics of Vienna’s Musikverein and Symphony Hall in Boston. In addition to the concert hall, the Center will include two additional performance venues. The south end is designed with a back wall that can be fully opened onto a beautifully landscaped and terraced lawn, similar to Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, expanding the reach of the capacity for large-scale outdoor events.

The Green Music Center has programmed a season offering a diverse array of the world’s most distinguished performers from classical music, opera, jazz and world music – the majority of whom make their first appearances in Sonoma County with these performances. The vocal splendor series features eight concerts and kicks off in October with Canada’s superstar soprano Karina Gauvin.

To read more about this amazing venue, please check out our web-site at


Wells Fargo Center for the Arts: where Wine Country meets world-class entertainment

Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
Wells Fargo Center for the Arts

I think it’s safe to say that the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts is a local and regional treasure. The sprawling center, located just north of Santa Rosa, brings to the Wine Country entertainers and performances of a caliber that is surprising and breathtaking.

When I arrived recently for a talk with Executive Director Rick Nowlin, stage crews were preparing for a performance of “Riverdance,” the wildly popular, long-running show that features a pulse-raising version of Irish dance.

I paused to watch the preparations for what I’m sure was a logistically challenging show to produce, given the variety of sets and number of performers involved. I got butterflies imagining the spectacle that would occur that evening: the thunderous tapping of eloquently synchronized feet, the haunting music, and atmospheric sets.

Gladys Knight - appearing at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts on January 6, 2012
Gladys Knight - appearing at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts on January 6, 2012

As I waited in the center’s administrative offices for the meeting, I viewed an entire wall filled with autographed photos of the ultra-talented glitterati who have graced the stage at the center: Bill Cosby, Tony Bennett, Wynonna Judd, Ellen DeGeneres, Jethro Tull, and many others.

Once I stepped into Rick’s office, I had to ask what draws celebrities of this stature to Sonoma County, so far from more expansive, urban venues. Said Rick with a smile, “The hospitality here is great, the audiences are enthusiastic, and it’s the gateway to the beautiful Wine Country.”

It’s not hard to believe that a celebrity might find spending a few days in Wine Country – known worldwide for its wine, cuisine, beautiful scenery, and laid-back atmosphere – a desirable diversion from theaters in other, less-luminous locales.

Then there are the positive aspects of the center itself, Rick points out. Wells Fargo Center for the Arts houses, in its main theater, a stage of a style and size that allows a performer to engage more directly with an audience, perhaps providing a refreshing change from stadium-sized venues where the fans are a vast sea of indistinct faces.

Ruth Finley Person Theater
Ruth Finley Person Theater

“The ‘thrust stage’ – which projects out into the audience – helps provide an intimate experience for both the audience and artists,” Rick said. “No seat is more than 75 feet from the stage.”

From personal experience, I know that even the balcony seating has a great view of the stage, and the shows are just as stirring from that vantage as they are from the first few rows on the ground level.

Part of the center’s reputation is built too, on the carefully thought-out, and meticulously arranged, range of entertainment designed to satisfy the tastes and interests of anyone who might pass through the door. The staff takes seriously the center’s motto to “enrich, educate and entertain.”

“Our programming philosophy takes into consideration both the variety and quality of the productions and entertainers. We want to offer the community the best of many art forms, including music, dance, theater, and comedy,” explained Nowlin.

All ages can find something to delight in at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. Seniors have flocked to shows featuring Tim Conway and Harvey Korman cutting up on stage, as well as a cast of talented young singers and dancers jiving and jitterbugging to 40s era music in a show called “In the Mood.”

Younger adults can also find more contemporary (and sometimes edgy!) entertainers on tap, such as comedians Lisa Lampanelli and Mike Birbiglia.

On other days, kid-friendly fare such as The New Shanghai Circus, “Disney’s Choo-Choo Soul,” or “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild!” take center stage for a much younger, but equally awe-struck audience who, like their elders, leave raving about what they’ve just witnessed.

If you go:
Wells Fargo Center for the Arts hosts shows for all ages and interests several times a week, with acts ranging from cutting-edge comedy to death-defying acrobats in the center’s 1,600-seat Ruth Finley Person Theater. Also regularly staging shows is the center’s resident company, Roustabout Theater. For a list of upcoming events, go to: