Schroeder Hall brings new life to Green Music Center

The Green Music Center of Sonoma State University has opened its newest addition, Schroeder Hall. Since it’s grand opening on Aug. 22, Schroeder Hall has created a more up close and personal experience for students, faculty, and visiting artists. 

Opening night at Schroeder hall consisted of an invite only performance; David Benoit, a pianist inaugurated the hall with a “tribute to Charlie Brown.” Saturday and Sunday consisted of free community concerts, featuring Jeffrey Kahane, James David Christie of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Soprano Ruth Ann Swenson.

Robert Plantz, a faculty member at Sonoma State, attended opening weekend at the Schroeder Hall and had many positive things to say regarding the new facility. 

“Schroeder Hall really showed off the incredible talent of these performers. Ruth Ann Swenson sang both from the stage and from the balcony above the stage. It was interesting to hear the difference in the sound,” said Plantz. “From the stage it was like being in a small room with her. From the balcony, it was more like being very close to her in a large space. Schroeder Hall provides a perfect place to listen to her sing.” 

Not only will Schroeder Hall be open for performances, but also students can use the hall for classes and practices be get experience in a real world setting.

Artist-in-resident in the music program at Sonoma State Sæunn Thorsteindottir, originally from Iceland shared her thoughts on the new venue.

“The hall is a perfect size for small instrumental groups, I play the Cello and it’s perfect for my instrument because the sound is super clear on stage, but also very resonant in the audience. So it’s the perfect combination for my vantage point. It’s warm, but still very clear,” said Thorstaindottir.

Named after the piano playing character Schroeder from the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz, the hall consists of 3,420 square feet, housing 250 seats bringing the audience closer to the performance. This is compared to the much larger Weill Hall in the Green Music Center, which consists of 1,400 seats.

“It’s a beautiful looking hall, it’s a beautiful sounding hall. So it’s a success from a standpoint of running a hall,” said Zarin Mehta, co-executive director of the Green Music Center. 

In September, Schroeder Hall will host a concert series called “Sundays at Schroeder.” Every Sunday the hall will host a variety of different artists, with admission around $25. 

“Schroeder Hall is a wonderful addition to the Green Music Center that bridges the gap between the academic goals of the GMC and the performances for the community that the GMC brings,” said Elizabeth Northrup, music education club president at Sonoma State. “Schroeder Hall allows students, like myself, to perform senior recitals in a real concert venue, instead of a classroom. Many of my classes and performances are now taking place in Schroeder. It’s wonderful to see the space used.”

Above the stage of Schroeder hall houses a Bromaugh’s Opus 9 tracker organ. Consisting of 1,248 lead pipes, ranging from 16 feet to smaller than a pencil. The ninth organ in a series of 66 built by the landmark American organ builder John Bromaugh, the tracker organ is the heart of Schroeder Hall. 

Bromaugh’s Opus 9 was built for the now historic landmark Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio in 1972. The tracker organ was purchased in 2005 as a gift to Sonoma State University by donors B.J. and Bebe Cassin, Bob Worth, Margaret McCarthy, Donald and Maureen Green. 

Since the grand opening of Schroeder Hall, it is anticipated that the facility will give students of Sonoma State University and the community a smaller more intimate performing arts space. The hall will allow students to have the ability to practice in a smaller real world setting, and the audience can be closer to the performance.