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O.C.'s Soka University plans fall debut of new concert hall by Disney Hall's acoustician

February 2, 2011 | 11:31 am

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The San Fernando Valley isn't the only Southern California community that will mark 2011 as the year it finally got that must-have credential of a forward-looking suburban region: a major performing arts venue.

Joining the 1,700-seat, $125-million Valley Performing Arts Center at Cal State Northridge as the new hall on the block will be YasuhisaToyotaAlSeib the 1,034-seat Soka Performing Arts Center (pictured above and below) in Aliso Viejo, scheduled for an October opening on the campus of the small-but-wealthy Soka University of America.

Until now, south Orange County had lacked an elite, 1,000-seat performance venue, and the fact that its acoustic design is by Yasuhisa Toyota (pictured), famed for the results he got at Walt Disney Concert Hall, makes the Soka Center a likely attention-getter from the get-go.

David Palmer, just hired as general manager of the Soka Center after 19 years running the performance series at Whittier College's 403-seat theater, envisions cooperating with venues such as the Valley Performing Arts Center and the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts to give touring artists convenient steppingstones through Southern California, each stop drawing on a separate audience.

In Orange County, he sees the Soka Performing Arts Center filling a missing niche between the 756-seat Irvine Barclay Theatre on the UC Irvine campus and the Segerstrom Center, whose venues hold 300, 500, 2,200 and 3,000 seats. Conceivably, Palmer said, a given artist could play at both Soka and the Segerstrom Center’s Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall during the same tour swing, by offering markedly different concert programs in each hall.

Click here for the full story on the hall, which cost $73 million together with a second arts building for classrooms, studios and offices.

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— Mike Boehm

Photos: Soka Performing Arts Center at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, exterior (top) and interior; Yasuhisa Toyota at Walt Disney Concert Hall. Credits: RMA Photography, Inc./Soka University (performing arts center); Al Seib/Los Angeles (Toyota).

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