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Mondavi Center anniversary: Where are they now?

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From page A16 | September 16, 2012 |

There were many people who played prominent roles in the opening of the Mondavi Center in fall 2002. Where are they now?

Robert and Margrit Mondavi, of the Napa Valley, donated the “naming gift” to the emerging performing arts center in 2001, as well as funding that created the Robert Mondavi Institute for Food and Wine Science, which was built across the street from the performing arts complex. Robert Mondavi died in May 2008. Margrit Mondavi continues to attend concerts at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts from time to time.

Barbara Jackson of Davis made the “naming gift” in 2001 for Jackson Hall, the Mondavi Center’s primary venue. Jackson continues to attend concerts and contributes financial support to several performances, including the Oct. 6 “Rising Stars of Opera” concert featuring members of the San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellows program, and the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra. Jackson’s late husband, W. Turrentine Jackson, a noted history professor at UC Davis, died in 2000.

Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef of UC Davis made the decision in the 1990s to build a new performing arts center on the campus. Vanderhoef retired and became chancellor emeritus in August 2009. At that time, the Mondavi Center’s Studio Theatre was renamed the Larry and Rosalie Vanderhoef Studio Theatre in honor of the couple’s leadership role the building the center. The green plaza in front of the Mondavi Center also was named the Larry Vanderhoef Quad. They continue to attend performances at the center, and are prominent supporters of the ongoing exchange program between the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London and UC Davis.

Brian McCurdy was the Mondavi Center’s director at the time the center opened in 2002, and he is widely credited with having gotten the new performing arts complex off to a spectacular start. McCurdy left in 2005 to take on a similar role launching the Gallo Center for the Performing Arts in Modesto (then under construction). McCurdy has since returned to his native province of Ontario, Canada, where he is the cultural director for the City of Kingston, a job that has involved the renovation of the historic Grand Theatre, built in 1879.

Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas of the San Francisco Symphony led that orchestra at the Mondavi Center’s dedicatory gala on Oct. 3, 2002. Thomas was so pleased with the new hall that he has brought the orchestra back to Mondavi Center almost every season since that time; there are three San Francisco Symphony performances at Mondavi this season. Tilson Thomas continues in his role as music director of the San Francisco Symphony, a post he assumed in 1995.

Mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson sang the concert that dedicated Jackson Hall on Oct. 4, 2002, the year after the magazine Musical America had recognized her as Vocalist of the Year. She subsequently was treated for cancer, and died in July 2006 at age 52. The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, a Bay Area ensemble that will return to Mondavi for a concert on Nov. 7, recently released a posthumous album featuring Lieberson’s 1991 and 1995 recordings of music by Berlioz and Handel.

Acoustician Ron McKay, credited for the Mondavi Center’s remarkably clear and resonant sound, died in December 2011. McKay’s widely praised design for the Mondavi Center was largely replicated by his associates at the Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University Northridge, which opened last year. The Valley Center has a 1,700-seat main hall that bears a striking resemblance to the Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall.

Architect Stanley Boles of Boora Architects in Portland, Ore., designed the Mondavi Center. He continues as a principal with that firm.

Conductor D. Kern Holoman of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra conducted the “hard-hat concert” for workers involved in the Mondavi Center’s construction, which preceded the formal dedicatory gala. Holoman transitioned into a role as the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra’s conductor emeritus in 2009. Holoman’s biography of conductor Charles Munch, published last year by Oxford University Press, was published last year and drew praise from reviewers in this country and in Europe.

Violinist Andrea Segar performed at the 2002 fall convocation at UC Davis, held in Jackson Hall. Her appearance at the convocation was kept secret from her father, Bob Segar, assistant chancellor for campus planning at UC Davis, who had played an important role in the creation of the Mondavi Center. Andrea Segar, who grew up in Davis, has gone on to earn a master’s degree at the New England Conservatory and doctoral studies at SUNY Stony Brook. She returned to the Mondavi Center in 2001 to appear as a soloist with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra.

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