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Record executive Mo Ostin gives $10 million to UCLA for new music center

May 4, 2011 |  9:58 am

OstinMo Ostin, a record executive and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee who sent the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Bonnie Raitt, Neil Young and Paul Simon into the recording studio, now will send students at UCLA’s School of the Arts and Architecture into a studio that bears his name.

The university is announcing Wednesday that Ostin has given $10 million for a new two-building facility called the Evelyn and Mo Ostin Music Center, which will include a state-of-the-art recording studio in one building and offices, classrooms, a rehearsal room, a café and a place for students to meet and relax in the other.

“This is a very big step for us,” said Christopher Waterman, the arts school dean, who characterized the current on-campus recording facilities as “small, informal and frankly not very good.”

The gift from Ostin, who as Morris Meyer Ostrofsky earned a 1951 economics diploma from UCLA, will cover half the $20-million cost of the project, with the rest to be raised from other donors.

There’s no immediate plan, Waterman said, to turn UCLA into a West Coast rival of schools such as Boston’s Berklee College of Music or the University of Miami, which offer degrees in music engineering and production. Instead, the Ostin Music Center’s studio will be integrated into existing arts programs, so that students studying to compose and perform music will have an excellent facility to record their work and release it onto the Internet, while preparing for the studio aspects of their careers.

The center, named for Ostin, 84,  and his late wife, is being designed by L.A. architect Kevin Daly and his firm, Daly Genik Architects. It will be built next to the Schoenberg Music Building, with completion expected in 2014.

Ostin was CEO of Warner Bros. Records for 25 years and is now the label's chairman emeritus. From 1996 to 2004, he headed DreamWorks SKG Music.

Waterman said it has yet to be determined whether campus garage bands and other student musicians will be able to book studio time for their personal projects at the center; also kicking around are ideas such as establishing a Bruin Records label to funnel the arts school’s output to the world, and perhaps earn the institution some royalties.

“We’re always on the lookout for possibilities of revenue generation,” Waterman said with a laugh, “but the main thing is the role [the studio] will play in the educational process.”

The Ostin Music Center will represent a convergence of former music business rivals, since many of its users will be students from UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music -- named for the trumpet player who became the “A” in A&M Records and donated $30 million to UCLA in 2007.

Alpert’s arts philanthropy continues apace. California Institute of the Arts announced Tuesday that his foundation has given $1.5 million to the CalArts Community Arts Partnership, an after-school education program that sends students and some faculty from the Valencia campus into community centers around Los Angeles County to provide free arts classes for children. In honor of the $2.8 million Alpert has given to the program since 2006 -- and the more than $28 million he has given CalArts overall (it sports its own Herb Alpert School of Music) -- CalArts will throw a reception May 26 at its downtown Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater. Students from Plaza de la Raza in East L.A., one of the CAP program’s neighborhood sites, will perform a contemporary adaptation of “La Vida es Sueno” (“Life is a Dream”) by the 17th century Spanish playwright, Pedro Calderon de la Barca.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Mo Ostin. Credit: Los Angeles Times 

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