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In The News

Sonoma State University Hires Zarin Mehta to Join the Green Music Center (GMC)

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. Mr. 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. Mr. 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. 
 
Mr. 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. Mr. 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 classcultural 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. “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 
 
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. Mr. 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. Mr. 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. Mr. Mehta currently resides in Chicago with his wife of 47 years, Carmen. 
 
GREEN MUSIC CENTER 
 
Nestled in the picturesque foothills of Northern California’s esteemed wine country, the Green Music Center is a focal point for arts in the region, with its spectacular 1400-seat Weill Hall. A program of Sonoma State University (SSU), the GMC’s inaugural season launched in fall 2012 with an international array of top classical, jazz, and world music presentations. Earlier this year, SSU launched a new partnership with Carnegie Hall which has included a year-long residency at SSU by young professional musicians, all alumni of The Academy, a prestigious program created by Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and the Weill Music Institute, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education. Complementing this Visiting Artists in Residence program, a partnership with Santa Rosa Symphony has also brought Carnegie Hall’s Link Up program for grade school students to Sonoma County. 
 
MASTERCARD WORLDWIDE 
 
MasterCard Worldwide is the series presenting sponsor for Weill Hall at Sonoma State University's Green Music Center. The MasterCard Performance Series brings global musicians and talent to the university, in addition to unique music-related access and experiences. 
 
SONOMA STATE UNIVERSITY 
 
Sonoma State University is a public liberal arts college located in California's premier wine country, one hour north of San Francisco. Nestled at the base of the idyllic Sonoma Mountains, the campus is home to more than 9,000 undergraduate students and is among the most popular campuses in the California State University system. Named a "Most Wired" campus by The Princeton Review and a "Best Regional University" by U.S. News & World Report, SSU was first in the country to offer an undergraduate degree in Wine Business. 
 
THE WEILL MUSIC INSTITUTE AT CARNEGIE HALL
 
The Weill Music Institute creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, WMI inspires audiences of all ages, nurtures tomorrow’s musical talent, and harnesses the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. The Weill Music Institute generates new knowledge through original research and shares a wide range of free online resources with educators and music lovers around the globe. More than 400,000 people each year engage in the WMI’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall. 
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