Critic's Notebook: Orange County's new Soka Performing Arts Center
Every concert hall opening is a moment of hope. The Soka Performing Arts Center’s on Saturday night takes place at a college of hope. Soka University of America was started in Aliso Viejo in South Orange County 10 years ago on, its mission statement says, "the Buddhist principles of peace, human rights and the sanctity of life."
Could that thus be the good karma that allowed the college to snag star acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, of Walt Disney Concert Hall fame? Soka's 1,000-seat acoustical jewel is, in some ways, a little Disney, and it makes us wonder what the chamber music hall that was originally to have been part of Disney might have been. It was cost-cut out during the fundraising.
Best of all, in an effort to spread the word, Soka is subsidizing its cultural events, including classical concerts, in order for tickets to be affordable to the community. Emanuel Ax will, for instance, give a recital on March 8. General admission is $33, seniors and students pay less -- $23. But that’s not all that is remarkable about this new hall, which I previewed attending a dress rehearsal in the hall by the Pacific Symphony.
-- Mark Swed
Photo: Acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, left, with architect R. Doss Mabe at the dress rehearsal for the opening of the Soka Performing Arts Center Tuesday. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times.