Nothing to do on campus?

Dear Editor,

During the opening weekend of Schroeder Hall we attended five of the 10 concerts. We have attended concerts in Weill Hall, both inside and on the lawn. Weill Hall is very nice, but Schroeder Hall is exactly what I envisioned when I first heard plans for the Green Music Center (GMC) in the 1990s. Wow.

But one thing about this weekend bothers me. It seemed like the only students there were performers or ushers (they all seemed to be enjoying the concerts). All the concerts were free. There were many empty seats at several concerts that we attended. It was the first weekend of the semester, so I doubt that serious studying had begun.

During the debate three years ago over raising student fees to help pay for the new Student Center, a common complaint from students was that there is not enough to do in Rohnert Park. So you are provided with a world-class music venue, free concerts featuring world-class performers, and there is “nothing to do”?

Okay, I’m biased. I like most kinds of music. I enjoyed many rock concerts while living in San Francisco in the 1970s, and a Wagnerian opera keeps me on the edge of my seat. My all-time favorite performers include Ella Fitzgerald, Earl Scruggs, Mick Jagger, and Marilyn Horne. And I have always loved organ music. I found the Brombaugh organ in Schroeder hall to be an absolutely stunning combination. Performances by Ruth Ann Swenson, who is on the vocal faculty at SSU, took me back to seeing Marilyn Horne in recital in Hertz Hall at UC Berkeley when I was in grad school there in 1968. Again, wow. WOW.

Yes, the concerts may not have featured your favorite types of music, but the whole point of a university education is to expand your mind. To be honest, we were not fond of the music in one of the concerts, but we still enjoyed the extraordinary talent of the performers in that concert.

Over the past several years I have publicly criticized the wisdom of committing so much of SSU’s talented resources to the construction of the GMC. Given that music venues like the GMC typically have funding problems, I still question whether the benefits will outweigh the cost. But this is an unanswerable question, and the GMC is a done deal. At this point we should all enjoy and support the success of the GMC.

You have a fantastic resource right here on campus. Check out the performances being offered by the Music Department (http://www.sonoma.edu/music/concert_calendar/). If you click on the link “Venues & Directions – Tickets, Box Office and Parking” near the top, you will find that admission is included with your student I.D.

- Robert Plantz, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science