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In the late 1960s, a number of Orange County's community leaders decided it was time to have a world-class performing arts venue in which local, regional and esteemed guest artists could perform for the rapidly growing and culturally discerning population. Businesses were headquartering here and major educational institutions were being established. The Philharmonic Society of Orange County, Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony needed a concert hall with seating and acoustics appropriate to their needs and the caliber of their performances; a setting in which to grow and achieve greater prestige and recognition.

In the mid 1970s, the local Segerstrom family donated a five-acre site for the Orange County Performing Arts Center. It was determined that the new complex would be built entirely through private funding. Government funding would be neither solicited nor accepted. The Center was the first arts organization of its scope in the country to hold this distinction. Charles Lawrence served as lead architect. An international team of Dr. A. Harold Marshall, Dennis Paoletti and Jerald R. Hyde designed the acoustics.

The vision of its founders became reality on September 29, 1986, when the Orange County Performing Arts Center opened with a concert in its Segerstrom Hall – one of the nation’s most innovative and technically advanced homes for the performing arts with a gala concert conducted by...

In 1998, the Segerstrom family made another commitment to the Center. An additional parcel of land was deeded to the Center for the purpose of constructing a concert hall, a multi-use theater, an education center, public restaurant and community plaza. The creative team of architect Cesar Pelli, acousticians Russell Johnson and Damian Doria of Artec Consultants, Inc. and landscape architect Peter Walker and Partners was engaged for this new project.

Another major step towards the completion of the original dream of the Center’s founders came when, in August 2000, Henry Segerstrom provided the lead gift of $40 million to the Center’s $200 million capital campaign. This was the largest charitable cash gift in the history of Orange County. In recognition of this cornerstone gift, the new concert hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center was named was named the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall after the Center’s founding chairman and his late wife. The 500-seat theater was designated Samueli Theater in recognition of the $10 million gift from the Henry Samueli Family Foundation.

The year 2006 was a watermark for the Center and the community, and will be talked and written about for years to come. In April, Connector, a towering steel sculpture created by renowned artist Richard Serra, was installed on the new community plaza that unites the Center’s original structure with the newer venues. It was commissioned by Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom. On September 14th, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and a host of other state and local dignitaries participated in a community dedication ceremony in the concert hall. The highlight of the year occurred on September 15 when the Center inaugurated its new Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall with a spectacular concert by Pacific Symphony led by its music director, Carl St. Clair. Featuring Plácido Domingo singing the world premiere of Canciones de Lorca by composer William Bolcom, the evening also included performances by Pacific Chorale. On September 16, St.Clair, Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale performed the world premiere of Philip Glass’ The Passion of Ramakrishna.

On January 12, 2011, the Center was named Segerstrom Center for the Arts to honor the extraordinary contributions of the Segerstrom family, whose unwavering commitment has been at the core of the Center's success. The Segerstrom Center for the Arts presenting institution and its venues are situated in a 14-acre multidisciplinary campus of the same name that encompasses two other major arts organizations. These include the Tony® Award-winning South Coast Repertory and the future site of the new Orange County Museum of Art.

Today, Segerstrom Center for the Arts is unique as both an acclaimed arts institution and as a multi-disciplinary cultural campus. It is committed to supporting artistic excellence on all of its stages, offering unsurpassed experiences, and engaging the entire community in new and exciting ways through the unique power of live performance and a diverse array of inspiring programs.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts presents an array of world-class artists and companies, including a renowned International Dance Series, national tours Broadway musicals, jazz, cabaret, chamber ensembles, family-friendly theater productions an annual Off-Center Festival of creative and innovative theater and artists, a free alfresco Movie Mondays series on the Arts Plaza during summer and many special events.

The Center has one of the nation’s most respected departments of education and community programs that provides arts and arts-in-education experiences to young people ages grammar through graduate level. Each year, approximately 320,000 students, parents and educators have their lives enhanced by attending Center education programs, such as the Center’s Arts Teach, ArtsConnect, Summer at the Center, Masters at the Center, professional teacher training and others.

Segerstrom Center for the Arts is Orange County’s largest non-profit arts organization. It owns and operates the 3,000-seat opera house style Segerstrom Hall, the 2,000-seat Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, the 500-seat multi-functional Samueli Theater, 250-seat Founders Hall and 46,000-square-foot Arts Plaza. The Center’s Lawrence and Kristina Dodge Education Center includes the studio performance space and Boeing Education Lab as well as the offices for the Center’s education department. Other amenities include two private donor rooms, the elegant Leatherby’s Café Rouge and the informal Plaza Café. The performance venues, enclosed in architecturally stunning theaters, all feature impeccable acoustics, artist amenities, including dressing rooms, artist lounges, practice suites and rehearsal studios.

Timeline of Events [ TOP ]


The Center changes its name to Segerstrom Center for the Arts on January 12 to honor the extraordinary contributions of the Segerstrom family, whose generous transformational gifts of land and unwavering commitment has been at the core of the Center's success. In addition to the organization adopting the new name, the entire 14-acre multidisciplinary campus on which its venues stand is also designated as Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Segerstrom Center encompasses the producing-presenting institution itself and two other major arts organizations. These include the Tony® Award-winning South Coast Repertory. A gift of land from the Segerstrom Family enabled SCR to open its theater in Costa Mesa in 1978 and set the stage for the subsequent creation of the arts complex. In 2002, SCR opened an expanded facility on the campus, the Folino Theatre Center, encompassing the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage and the Nicholas Studio. Segerstrom Center is also the future site of the new Orange County Museum of Art.

Lawrence M. Higby elected chairman of the board of directors.

Center begins year-long celebration of 25th Anniversary with campus-wide events and performances. Artists and companies include: Free concert on the Arts Plaza by Ozomatli in collaboration with Getty’s Pacific Standard Time project, free Polyglot Theater installation of We Built This City on the Arts Plaza, free recital by organ virtuoso Cameron Carpenter in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, performances by San Francisco Ballet and National Acrobats of China plus the beginning of the Access for All program, which provides $10 tickets to many performances throughout the 2011-12 Season.


The Center commissions and presents the world premiere of a new work titled IdEgo from Project Bandaloop. The performances are presented free to the public, as Project Bandaloop dancers repel from the top of Segerstrom Hall and dance across the exterior wall overlooking the Arts Plaza.

The Center presents a screening of the world premiere of LA Opera’s production of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino starring Plácido Domingo and Charles Castronovo. More than 2,500 viewers on the Arts Plaza applaud the performance, which was projected on the side of Segerstrom Hall.

The Center presents the exclusive Southern California engagement – the second in the world – of threesixtyº entertainment’s production of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan. The show is performed in a special state-of-the-art theater pavilion on the site of the future Orange County Museum of Art. The tent is world’s first 360-degree CGI theater set.

Segerstrom Hall is awarded the American Institute of Architects’ (Orange County Chapter) Twenty-Five Year Award. The honor is presented to buildings or artistic installations that are 25 years old and recognizes buildings that demonstrate consistent and lasting excellence in function, distinguished execution of their original program and are highly creative statements measured even by today’s standards. As the Institute noted, the highest criteria in judging is used: that the architectural solution is timeless.


The Center produces Tour de Force: A Gala Dance Spectacular. Celebrated from the Bolshoi Ballet, Kirov Theatre, Berlin State Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, National Ballet of Canada, Complexions Dance Company and Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg were showcased in an all-star evening of dance.


The Center launches new Off Center Series that includes monthly performances by top indie bands, imaginative theatrical companies, solo artists, and contemporary music and dance talents that are leading the new wave of creativity in the performing arts.

The Center co-commissions and presents world premiere dance event: Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion. Production featured the Russian prima ballerina DianaVishneva performing three world premiere works created by renowned choreographers Alexei Ratmansky, Moses Pendleton and Dwight Rhoden. The great American dancer Desmond Richardson was paired with Vishneva, aswell as well as dancers from the Kirov Ballet. Later performances were offered in New York, Chicago and Moscow.

Thomas V. McKernan, CEO of the Automobile Club of Southern California, elected board chairman, succeeding Michael S. Gordon.


Lawrence and Kristina Dodge make a challenge grant of $10 million to the Orange County Performing Arts Center's Building on the Vision campaign. The Center's new education space resources in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is named the Lawrence and Kristina Dodge Education Center in their honor


Terrence W.Dwyer becomes the Center's fourth president and chief operating officer.

The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall opens on September 29, launching Celebration 2006, with a concert starring Plácido Domingo singing the world premiere of William Bolcom's Canciones deLorca. Carl St.Clair conducts Pacific Symphony and PacificChorale. Additional performances include the world premiere of Philip Glass' The Passion of Ramakrishna with St.Clair conducting Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale, and performances by such artists as violinist Midori, pianist Alexander Toradze, tenor Rolando Villazon and Opera Pacific with a concert version of Porgyand Bess. An unprecedented Mariinsky Festival features artistic director Valery Gergiev leading the Kirov Orchestra in concerts, the North American premiere of the Kirov Opera's Ring production and Boris Godunov, followed by performances of Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake by the Kirov Ballet. Samueli Theater opens with a performance by Grammy Award winner Sheryl Crow. A campus-wide Community Arts Day welcomed more than 5,000 people to special events and tours of all venues.


Elizabeth Segerstrom named chair for Celebration 2006 galas, honoring the openingof the Center's new venues and 20th Anniversary in September 2006.

Internationally renowned landscape architecture firm of Peter Walker and Partners joins the expansion design team.


February 6 groundbreaking ceremony for the Center's new venues, highlighted by concert in Segerstrom Hall followed by three "waltzing" backhoes taking the first scoops of dirt from the construction site and a fireworks spectacular.

July 7, construction begins on Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Samueli Theater, education theatre, Boeing Education Lab and public restaurant – 20 years to the day when construction began on Segerstrom Hall and Founders Hall (1983).


January announcement of a $10 million gift to the Building on the Vision campaign from the Samueli family.


Judith O'Dea Morr named the Center's first executive vice president.

Official launching of the Building on theVision capital campaign with a $40 million naming gift from Henry Segerstrom. The 2,000-seat concert hall will be called the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. Gift is largest cash charitable donation in the history of Orange County.

South Coast Repertory announces $40 million expansion.


Roger T. Kirwan named chairman of board.


SCR announces plans to expand with the construction of a new 300 to 350-seat theater.

PSO celebrates its 20th anniversary season.

Segerstrom family gift to the Center announced. Developed area will be known as Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and will include expanded South Coast Repertory, concert hall facility and visual arts complex. Total value of land reported at $13.2 million; Center portion estimated at approximately $8 million. Cesar Pelli and Associates is named as architectural design firm and Russell Johnsonand Artec Consultants Inc for acoustical design.


Jerry E.Mandel named Center's third president and chief operating officer.

The Center introduces its Cabaret Series in Founders Hall.


Mark Chapin Johnson named board chairman.

The Center introduces its Jazz Club series in Founders Hall.

Tom Tomlinson retires from the Center and Judith O'Dea Morr returns as director of programming, later serving as interim chief operating officer.


Board unanimously votes Henry Segerstrom Founding Chairman of the Center for life.


Thomas H.Nielsen succeeds General Lyon as board chairman; Thomas Kendrick and Judith O'Dea Morr retire. Tom Tomlinson appointed executive director and chief operating officer.


General William Lyon succeeds Henry Segerstrom as chairman of the board.


The Center introduces its Concert Series, which includes performances in Segerstrom Hall and Founders Hall.


SCR wins a Tony® Award in New York for Distinguished Achievement by a Resident Theater.

Center Chairman Henry T.Segerstrom and President Thomas R. Kendrick announce Board approval to proceed with the plans to design and construct a 2,300 to 2,500-seat concert hall.


Opera Pacific performs its first season at the Center with Dr. David Di Chiera as general director.

The Center revises by laws to combine the trustees with the board of directors, Henry T. Segerstrom named president and chief operating officer.


The 3,000-seat multi-purpose theater is named Segerstrom Hall.

The Orange County Performing Arts Center opens on September 29, and Henry T. Segerstrom announces from the stage on the opening night that the $73.8 million theater has been fully funded by private contributions raised by the Trustees and volunteers.

The Center launches its International Dance Season with New York City Ballet. Since then, the Center has become one of the nation's leading presenters of international dance.


Judith O'Dea Morr appointed as the Center's general manager.

The Segerstrom family announces their gift of the Richard Lippold indoor/outdoor sculpture, named Fire Bird by Renée Segerstrom (wife of Henry Segerstrom).


Thomas R. Kendrick succeeds Bedsow as new president of the Center.


On July 7, ground is broken and construction commences, which will include the 3,000-seat multi-purpose hall. $40 million cash is in the bank, raised by the Trustees for the building fund. Cost estimates for the hall raised to $65 million.

Several dedicated Support Groups combine to form the county's first professional resident opera company, Opera Pacific.

Orange County Performing Arts Center inaugurates Orange County Imagination Celebration, based on a Kennedy Center model.


The Orange County Music Center (later renamed the Orange County Performing Arts Center) receives a commitment of five acres of land and $1 million cash gift for the design and construction of a major performing arts center from the Segerstrom Family.

OCMC changes itsname to the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Architect Charles Lawrence named; C.L. Peck Contractors announced to build the Center at cost.


Gary Phillips and Associates organizes fundraising campaign. Henry T. Segerstrom becomes chairman of the Trustees, a special group of directors with responsibility for major fundraising. Len Bedsow named first executive director of the Center.

Pacific Symphony Orchestra founded under direction of Keith Clark.


The Segerstrom family donates 5-acre site on which to build the Center.


SCR relocates to its newly opened $3.5 million Fourth Step Theater. The Main Stage is named for the Segerstrom Family, major donors to the Building Fund.

Georgia Spooner creates The Guilds of the Center support organization.


South Coast Repertory receives commitment of the site for its planned Fourth Step Theater from the Segerstrom Family.

Pacific Symphony Orchestra is founded.


Santa Ana-based organization formed with same goal determined that suitable site would be near confluence of freeways. Nineteen sites examined.


Newport Harbor Foundation formed, the first local group whose primary purpose it was to build a major Orange County cultural center. Feasibility studies conducted determined that Newport Beach would not be anacceptable site.


Irvine Master Chorale founded by Dr. Maurice Allard. Under direction of John Alexander, changes its name in 1981 to Pacific Chorale.


South Coast Repertory founded by David Emmes and Martin Benson. In 1965 the company opens a theater in Newport Beach.


Philharmonic Society of Orange County is founded (then called Orange County Philharmonic Society).

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