Former President of the New York Philharmonic to Cultivate A Musical Destination in the Northern California Wine Country
Future Launch of Two Additional Performance Facilities in 2014 and 2015 To Drive Diverse Indoor and Outdoor Performance Schedule, And Educational Programs in Partnership with Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall
Dr. Ruben Armiñana, President, Sonoma State University (SSU), and the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center Board of Advisors, Sanford I. Weill, Chairman, announced today that Zarin Mehta will join the Green Music Center (GMC) at SSU in a leadership role. Mehta, cited as among the top arts administrators internationally, served as President of the New York Philharmonic from 2000 - 2012, and previously as President and CEO of Chicago's Ravinia Festival, and as Managing Director of the Montreal Symphony.
Zarin Mehta will set the artistic vision for GMC, located in the heart of the Northern California Wine Country, and its year-round MasterCard Performance Series in the spectacular new 1,400 seat Joan and Sanford I. Weill Hall, including presentations of important Orchestras, ensembles and artists from the spectrum of classical music, jazz, world music and more. Mehta will call on seasoned musical friendships, and broad international experience, as he develops ideas, concepts and rosters for future GMC seasons. Each season will also feature regular performances by the San Francisco Symphony and the Santa Rosa Symphony. Additional information will be announced beginning next year.
Mehta will cultivate the programs of GMC as two additional performance venues are completed - the 250 seat Schroeder Hall, featuring a Brombaugh tracker organ, expected to open in 2014, and the MasterCard Performing Arts Pavilion, an open-air space, expected to open in 2015. Mehta will build and further develop public and young people's educational programs and partnerships, including ongoing work with The Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall in New York. In all of these endeavors, he will work closely, as Co-Executive Director, with Larry Furukawa-Schlereth, Chief Financial Officer of Sonoma State University, who has been instrumental in the realization and opening of the Green Music Center.
"The idea to create a world-class arts and culture campus in the Northern California Wine Country dates back nearly 15 years to the early commitment of lead donors Donald and Maureen Green," said Dr. Ruben Armiñana, President of Sonoma State University. "As Sonoma County and Sonoma State University have grown and matured, so has the expectation for rich, international-level culture. Loyalty to the goal and selfless dedication and generosity by so many - the Greens, Weills and the Board of Advisors plus the 1,800 donors - has brought us the kind of exceptional leadership that the Green Music Center, and Sonoma County, truly deserve."
"We are absolutely thrilled to announce Zarin Mehta's appointment at the GMC," commented Sandy Weill. "Having Zarin come on board is really transformational and a terrific validation of something many of us have come to realize - SSU and the GMC can become a world class cultural destination and game changer for the students and community."
Mr. Weill continued: "My great friend Lang Lang has been instrumental in the early days of the GMC. He was the first one I asked to test out the venue when my wife Joan and I became interested in the project. Lang Lang arrived at the Hall after performing in San Francisco one evening and stayed well into the early hours of the morning. He was immediately impressed with the Hall's terrific acoustics. And it was during Lang Lang's recent visit to Sonoma to perform at Weill Hall last month when he asked me whether Zarin had been approached by the GMC.
Upon hearing that he had not, Lang Lang reached out to his mentor Zarin, who is on his speed dial, and they talked about the unique opportunity at the GMC. Joan and I could not be more excited and we would like to thank California State University Chancellor Tim White, Ruben Armiñana, Larry Furukawa-Schlereth, the GMC Board of Advisors, and all at SSU for their commitment to putting in place the leadership that this beautiful new center for culture, music and the arts deserves. The hard work has just begun but attracting the caliber of somebody like Zarin gives us every confidence that we can achieve greatness."
"The vision that was begun by Sonoma State University's President, Dr. Ruben Armiñana, with Donald and Maureen Green, and brought to fruition by Sandy Weill and the Board, with Larry Schlereth's quiet hard work, is exemplary in the American musical landscape," said Zarin Mehta.
"To create a new, world-class center for music, performance, and education, in the heart of the magnificent Sonoma County Wine Country - one of the most beautiful settings imaginable - requires determination, dedication, and most of all, a true love of music. I am very touched by the young emissary Lang Lang's determination, and honored by my old friend Sandy's recognition - and his unrelenting pursuit - and very grateful for the kind of example-setting philanthropy that he and Joan have made a hallmark in New York and California over a long period of time. My wife, Carmen, and I, look forward to becoming part of the San Francisco Bay Area community and developing GMC into an international musical destination. I'd also like to thank Robert Cole for his programming support in this formative, transitional period of GMC."
"The realization, and ultimately the stability, of a major new facility like GMC is an endeavor that has high demands and needs over the long term," commented Larry Furukawa-Schlereth, Co-Executive Director of the Green Music Center and Chief Financial Officer of Sonoma State University.
Larry Furukawa-Schlereth added, "From the founding vision of our President and his wife Marne Olson to bring the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center to life, to Sandy and Joan Weill's unwavering commitment to establish it with a solid base of support, to the complex endeavor of giving it sophisticated musical spirit, it has been a demanding and complicated journey. Now, with the leadership of Zarin Mehta, and his world-class expertise and experience, the GMC is set to become the centerpiece of Sonoma cultural life, and a major draw to the region, without doubt, from near and far. I'm looking tremendously forward to working with Zarin to put the GMC on the international musical map, and to welcoming him to the Sonoma County community."
Zarin Mehta is among the world's leading arts administrators. He recently concluded his 12-year tenure as President and Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic, having helped make the Orchestra a worldwide cultural ambassador through international tours in Europe, the Americas, and Asia -- including a historic February 2008 concert in Pyongyang, DPRK.
He made outreach to young people a priority, expanding the Orchestra's extensive educational activities; fostered an active commissioning program; introduced an innovative series of lectures and discussions; promoted the use of new technologies to enhance the concert experience; and spearheaded a new series of downloadable concerts, recorded live. From 1990 to 2000, he was President and CEO of the Ravinia Festival in Chicago, where he holds the title of Lifetime Trustee.
Mehta qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1962. While Partner in the firm Coopers & Lybrand, he joined the Board of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra and served as its Managing Director from 1981 to 1990. Zarin Mehta holds the Order of Canada, and is the recipient of two Honorary Degrees, from the University of Montreal, and Roosevelt University, Chicago.
He has received numerous awards, the most recent of which was the prestigious Outstanding Achievement Award from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) in March 2012. In October 2011 the Asian American Arts Alliance honored him for his contributions to cultural diplomacy. Mehta was a featured panelist and presenter at the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA) Conference in Seoul entitled "Cultural Shifts" in June 2012. He currently resides in Chicago with his wife of 47 years, Carmen.