Setting the Stage for the Future:
Conrad Prebys Music Center Opens with Dedication, Sold-Out Concert
Judy Piercey | May 11, 2009
Debra Turner and Conrad Prebys attended the campus dedication of the new Conrad Prebys Music Center.
UC San Diego’s Gospel Choir, along with hundreds of attendees from the campus and community, welcomed the new Conrad Prebys Music Center in star-studded style on Friday at the dedication of the new facility.
The standing-room-only crowd featured local philanthropist Conrad Prebys, whose generous gifts helped the university complete construction of the $53 million destination facility. UC San Diego supporters and guests at the opening events included Prebys and Debra Turner, Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Department of Music Chair Rand Steiger, Joel and Ann Reed, new University of California Regent Charlene Zettel and her husband David, Murray and Elaine Galinson, Irwin and Joan Jacobs, former UC San Diego Chancellor Richard Atkinson and his wife Rita, Peter and Peggy Preuss, Alex Butterfield and Audrey Geisel, among others.
Kenneth Anderson directs the UC San Diego Gospel Choir, which performed at the Conrad Prebys Music Center dedication.
Speaking at the dedication, Prebys––whose nascent music career came to a halt as a young teen when he performed a less-than-flawless piano concerto at a competition––praised the caliber of faculty and students in the UC San Diego department of music. After listening to rehearsals in the new music center, the one-time aspiring musician noted, “I made the right decision retiring at 13.” In 2007, the San Diego builder gave $6 million to continue the building of UC San Diego’s state-of-the-art music center, named the Conrad Prebys Music Center in his honor. A year later, he made an additional $3 million donation to support the department of music with the establishment of the Conrad Prebys Music Endowment.
Founded by composers over 40 years ago, the renowned UC San Diego department of music today spans a spectrum of music from classical to contemporary, including jazz, Hindustani, computer and experimental music. The faculty has included many distinguished composers, performers and scholars who have been recognized with Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur “Genius” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships and Grawemeyer and Grammy awards.
While most buildings begin from the ground up, the university’s construction of its new Conrad Prebys Music Center began from the inside out, with an emphasis on sound. Steiger, who is an internationally renowned composer and conductor with a long-standing interest in contemporary music, played an integral role in developing the new facility and encouraging financial support.
Rand Steiger (left), chair of the UC San Diego Department of Music, greets Music Center donor Conrad Prebys.
To Steiger and his fellow colleagues, the Conrad Prebys Music Center will set the stage for the future of the department of music. With this in mind, the best architectural and acoustical designers were sought to join the core design team––architects Mark Reddington and Wendy Pautz of LMN Architects in Seattle, and renowned acoustician Cyril M. Harris, whose career spans 60 years. The facility’s crown jewel, a world-class, 400-seat concert hall destined to be one of the finest in the world, is named the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall in recognition of Prebys’s most recent gift.
San Diego Union-Tribune music critic George Varga highlighted the excellence of UC San Diego’s new facility in his recent review: “[The] Conrad Prebys Concert Hall––like the new music center that houses it––is a gem that will benefit UCSD students and audiences for many years to come. It’s difficult to imagine anything else, in this region or beyond, topping it.”