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Gala Performance opens the long awaited Valley Performing Arts Center

Posted By Karen Young On February 1, 2011 @ 12:59 am In Activities,Arts & Culture,Family,Featured,Music,My Daily Find,spotlight,Theater | No Comments

BY ANGELA FENTIMAN

The Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) made its long-awaited debut Saturday (January 29) with a multitude of renowned performance artists and Cal State, Northridge alumni.

The gala audience was comprised of community members, politicians and performers. Photos: Courtesy CSUN

The black-tie Inaugural Gala Performance featured Shakespeare, ballet, comedy and everything in between . Gillian Murphy and José Manuel Carreño, principal dancers for American Ballet Theatre, wowed the sold-out audience; and Cal State, Northridge alumna and noted Soprano Carol Vaness shared her world-renowned voice that has graced opera houses across the globe.

The evening’s jazz and popular music performances were highlighted by Monica Mancini’s (daughter of Henry Mancini) rendition of her father’s hit, Moon River. Jazz greats Dave Koz and Arturo Sandoval joined Mancini for the performance.

Broadway star Davis Gaines kicked off a tribute to musical theater by performing Music of the Night from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

In addition to the 1,700-seat concert hall where the inaugural gala was held, the 166,000 square foot performing arts center houses a 178-seat black box theatre, backstage support, classrooms, 230-seat lecture room, rehearsal and events space and a new broadcast facility for KCSN public radio.

Many of the performers shared their memories of attending Cal State, Northridge or growing up in the area. Mancini, whose childhood home was just blocks away from where the campus is today, remembered riding her bike through the orange groves with her sister.

Comedian and alum Cheech Marin added some humor to the evening, accompanied by his wife and noted pianist Natasha Marin. He shared memories of ditching classes at San Fernando Valley State College (CSUN’s name when he was a student) to smoke marijuana. He joked about receiving a distinguished alumni award from the university, tell attendees, “no wonder China is kicking our butts if I’m considered distinguished.”

Lobby

University President Jolene Koester informed the audience of the long journey it took to open the Valley Performing Arts Center. The story began nearly a decade ago, and it took hard work by Koester, elected officials, foundations and community groups to make the facility a reality.

The result of all the years, donations and dedication is a $125 million, LEED Silver Certified, state-of-the-art center that will bring world-class performances to the San Fernando Valley. The Valley Performing Arts Center allows Valley residents to attend symphonies, theater, opera, dance and many other artistic expressions in their own backyard, which until now, would have required a trip Downtown or to the Westside.

In addition to the 1,700-seat concert hall where the inaugural gala was held, the 166,000 square foot performing arts center houses a 178-seat black box theatre, backstage support, classrooms, 230-seat lecture room, rehearsal and events space and a new broadcast facility for KCSN public radio.

The Valley Performing Arts Center allows Valley residents to attend symphonies, theater, opera, dance and many other artistic expressions in their own backyard.

The Performing Arts Center now opens the door for a surge in upscale restaurants, lounges and bars where arts patrons can enjoy pre- and post-event dining and cocktails.

More information about the Valley Performing Arts Center and an upcoming schedule can be found at www.valleyperformingartscenter.org.

Angela Fentiman is a freelance writer and public relations professional who has represented clients across all sectors—nonprofit, government and business. She has a master’s degree in public administration (MPA) and a B.A. in communication. Angela can be contacted at angela.fentiman@gmail.com.

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