Green Music Center doesn't serve most students

Les Arts Florissants, The Tetzlaff Quartet, and Tango Buenos Aires are the latest artists to perform at the Green Music Center, continuing a trend of performers on campus that most students wouldn’t recognize, let alone go and see.

The center announced their winter lineup last month, and the list of performers featured talented, world-class musicians, but absolutely nothing for students, most of whom don’t appreciate the genres of music that the Green Music Center routinely provides. To the average student, these performances would be boring – a chore to attend. 

According to the center’s website, the Weill Hall venue “features artists ranging from orchestras; chamber ensembles; violinists, pianists, and vocalists; as well as jazz, world music, and ethnic dance.”

 If the Green Music Center was a space for students, it would host artists that interest young people, not violinists. 

According to Brian Wilson, the chair of Sonoma State University’s music department, there are about 140 music majors and 20 music minors, plus a lot of interested students who participate in different ensembles. Of the 9,408 Sonoma State students, only a tiny percentage get to benefit from the most beautiful part of campus, which is a major injustice.

According to The New York Times, when former Sonoma State President Ruben Armiñana was trying to get the Green Music Center built, “he faced intense opposition from faculty members, especially during the last decade of budget cuts at California’s state universities, and survived a vote of no confidence. Why, many asked, did Sonoma State need this center?”

Besides hosting the university’s music program and holding some student-oriented events, the center does little to serve the needs of students and they don’t benefit from it nearly enough.

Unfortunately, the school designed the Green Music Center to host events for Sonoma County residents, not its students. The school is swindling students, making them pay for a venue that few use to subsidize the cost for wealthy attendees of prestigious events. 

According to the Press Democrat, the Green Music Center “cost taxpayers about $45 million in California State University funds.” University funds help keep the center operating, along with donations. 

When Sonoma State University President Judy Sakaki pulled the plug on the 10,000 seat MasterCard Pavilion last year, it was a good decision – the millions it was going to cost could be better spent on student affairs. But this venue was going to be a place where the university could invite artists that students enjoy. The part of the Green Music Center that students would get most excited about never existed. The center needs to compensate by inviting artists that students like to the existing venues.

Now all that’s left for large events is Weill Hall, which seats 1,200 with space for 4,000 on the lawn. With reserved table seating, the hall is a place for more subdued concerts. Guests often have the option of purchasing a meal or wine beforehand. Weill Hall perfectly caters to the residents of Wine Country, mostly ignoring students. The artists that perform there reflect this, most of whom are respected by their peers  but not well-known by students.

The music majors at Sonoma State can appreciate the wonderful Green Music Center, but most students miss out on this campus gem. Students shouldn’t be ignored in the business of the Green Music Center. 

The school should invite performers that students like to Weill Hall. Common, Gabriel Iglesias, or Chris Young are all past examples of Sonoma State inviting the right people. But more often it’s choirs and ensembles, to the student’s detriment.

Since the Green Music Center is a part of campus, it should fit in the new administration’s mission of student success.