UCSD Logo UCSD Logo For Printing
Related Links
Social Bookmarks

$3 Million Gift from
Philanthropist Conrad Prebys
is Music to the Ears of UC San Diego

New concert hall to be named for Prebys
in recognition of additional gift to UCSD’s Department of Music

May 30, 2008

By Laura Margoni

Local philanthropist Conrad Prebys is not a golfer. He doesn’t like to fish, he doesn’t want a boat and he has no interest in flying planes.  Fortunately for the University of California, San Diego, he does like music. “It’s a true passion of mine and has been a great part of my life,” said the one-time aspiring musician.  Now, the San Diego builder has demonstrated his love of music by making a $3 million gift to support the renowned UC San Diego Department of Music with the establishment of the Conrad Prebys Music Endowment. This gift comes just one year after Prebys made a $6 million gift, which enabled UC San Diego to continue building its state-of-the-art music center, now named the Conrad Prebys Music Center in honor of his gift.  The facility’s crowning jewel—a world-class, 400-seat concert hall designed by LMN Architects of Seattle and Cyril Harris, one of the most respected acoustical engineers in the world—will be named the Conrad Prebys Concert Hall in recognition of Prebys’s recent gift.

Photo of Conrad Prebys
Conrad Prebys

“UC San Diego’s Music Department is already doing incredible work with contemporary music and has the potential to become even greater,” said Prebys. “I’m thrilled that I’m able to help them realize their goals.”

Funds from the endowment will be used at the discretion of the department chair to support the department’s greatest needs.  According to Rand Steiger, chair of the Department of Music in the Division of Arts and Humanities, half of the income from the endowment will be used to maintain and replace world-class musical instruments and cutting-edge equipment, and half to fund graduate fellowships.

“One of our major goals is to admit more graduate students and offer them better financial support while they’re here,” said Steiger. “Thanks to Mr. Prebys and his generous gift, we can now ensure that our next generation of composers, scholars and performers will be able to benefit from the fellowships funded by his endowment.”

For most of its history, the UC San Diego Department of Music has been distinguished and recognized worldwide by its commitment to the new in composition and computer music. As the West Coast’s premier center for education and innovation, the department attracts students from around the world who wish to study with distinguished faculty including Pulitzer Prize winner Roger Reynolds, Guggenheim Fellow Anthony Davis and Steven Schick, director of the department’s celebrated percussion program.  These talented students take advantage of highly progressive programs grounded by a curriculum that also emphasizes the traditions and history of western music. Many of the department’s students have gone on to lead distinguished careers in music around the world. Alumni of note include:

  • Mark Applebaum (Ph.D. Composition), associate professor at Stanford University, has received commissions from Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Vienna Modern Festival, Antwerp’s Champ D’Action and Festival ADEvantgarde in Munich.
  • Juan Quezada Campoverde (Ph.D. Composition), assistant professor at DePaul University, is an Ecuadorian composer of mostly chamber works performed throughout the Americas and in Asia and Europe.
  • Chris Chafe (M.A. Composition) is a professor at Stanford University and serves as director of the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.
  • Lisa Cella (DMA Flute Performance), Frank Cox (Ph.D. Composition and cello) and Michael Richards (Ph.D. clarinet) are all professors in the Music Department at the University of Maryland.
  • Chaya Czernowin (Ph.D. Composition) has won critical acclaim for compositions performed at festivals such as Wien Modern; Donaueschinger Musiktage; and the Salzburg Festival, where she recently had the premiere of a remarkable new opera built around an incomplete work of Mozart.

“Our graduate students make a vital contribution to the musical life of San Diego and the experiences of our undergraduate students, and then many go on to extraordinary careers after they leave UC San Diego,” said Steiger. “Some of the best young musicians in the world apply to our programs, and the institutions we compete with offer these same students generous scholarships to recruit them. Fellowships like the ones created by Mr. Prebys's gift will enable us to attract the best students, and enhance their experience once they are here.”

These promising young musicians will soon be able to practice at the Conrad Prebys Music Center, which is currently under construction and slated for completion in Fall 2009. The Music Center will be a superlative new venue for the arts with innovative performance spaces, studios, practice rooms and offices.

“The Music Center will offer wonderful spaces to share all our music-making with the community,” said Steiger. “Performances will include everything from great historical works in the classical tradition, through contemporary works that engage the newest technologies.”

While the building itself is now funded, there are still many ways to support the new Music Center.  An initiative is currently underway to raise additional philanthropic support to fill this new facility with the most promising students, the most talented faculty and the most innovative educational and research programs.

There are many ways to support the new Music Center, including naming opportunities for the following:

  • Recording Studio; $1.5 million
  • Black Box Theater; $1 million
  • Interdisciplinary Computing in the Arts Studios; $1 million
  • Orchestral Rehearsal Room; $500,000
  • Choral Rehearsal Room; $100,000

Additionally, many other individual spaces within the Music Center can also be permanently named for a benefactor.  More information on these opportunities is available online at: www.dah.ucsd.edu/giving.


Media Contact: Laura Margoni, 858-822-2485

Terms and Conditions of Use