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September 21, 1986|RICK VANDERKNYFF

1973 May: The Orange County Cultural Center, a nonprofit corporation, is formed by a group of civic and business leaders to establish a $10-million music center in the county. The group hopes to build a 2,000-to- 3,000-seat facility within five years on an as yet undetermined 15-acre site.

1979 May: Site announced for the proposed Orange County Music Center (formerly the Orange County Cultural Center). Segerstrom family donates five acres in Costa Mesa near South Coast Plaza. The Segerstroms eventually donate an additional $6 million in cash pledges to the project.

1980 September: A fund-raising drive for the center begins. Backers seek to raise $40 million to build a 3,200-seat main theater with a 1,500-seat auxiliary facility and an additional $19 million toward a permanent endowment.


March: Len Bedsow, former general manager of the California Civic Light Opera Assn., becomes the first executive director of the Orange County Music Center.

Caudill Rowlett Scott, a Houston architectural firm, is chosen to design the center; Blurock Partnership of Newport Beach is named (in April) architectural associate.

November: Initial designs for a "world-class" performing arts complex are unveiled at a meeting of the Costa Mesa City Council. Planned for a winter, 1985, opening are a 3,000-seat main theater with a seven-story granite arch and a 1,000-seat companion facility.

December: The center's fund-raising tally reaches $20.6 million.


January: Orange County Music Center is renamed the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

December: At year's end, money pledged reaches $26 million for construction, $3 million for an endowment.


April: Opening of the center is postponed until fall, '86.

May: Construction estimates rise to $65.5 million, an increase of $25.5 million.

July: Ground-breaking festivities with county civic and business leaders in attendance.

Construction begins.

December: Raised to date: $35 million for construction, $10 million for endowment.


June: Len Bedsow announces plans to resign at year's end. Center officials undertake search for executive director (Bedsow leaves Feb. 1, 1985).

July: Arline Chambers, a longtime Southern California arts administrator, is hired as general manager.

September: The final steel beam is hoisted. At a press conference, Beverly Sills announces that talks are in progress to bring New York City Opera to Orange County in 1986-87.

December: To date, backers have raised $44 million for construction, $16.9 million for an endowment.


May: Thomas R. Kendrick, director of operations at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, becomes executive director of the Orange County Center. Judith O'Dea Morr, the Kennedy Center's general manager of theaters, joins Kendrick as his top operational deputy.

October: Center officials announce an increase in construction costs, last estimated in 1983. Cost of the main theater rises to $70.7 million from $57.3 million; the cost for the 1,000-seat second theater, scheduled to be built in the late 1980s, is also projected to increase from the 1983 estimate of $8.2 million.

Sculptor Richard Lippold unveils model for the "Fire Bird,"--a 60-foot-tall, 120-foot-wide work of aluminum and stainless steel--commissioned by the Segerstroms for the center.

November: Kendrick and Sills announce the center's first signed attraction: New York City Opera will present Bizet's "Carmen," Puccini's "Madama Butterfly" and Leonard Bernstein's "Candide" in January, 1987.

The center's grand opening, with Zubin Mehta leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is set for Sept. 29, 1986. The Orange County Pacific Symphony, the first local group signed by the center, is scheduled to appear Oct. 2 as part of a 16-concert classical schedule.

December: Mikhail Baryshnikov, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, announces a one-week engagement of "The Nutcracker" for December, 1986.

Raised to date: $56.8 million for construction, $63 million--primarily in deferred gifts--for the endowment.


February: Opera Pacific announces a first season to include "West Side Story" and a new "La Boheme." "Porgy and Bess," based on a production by the Houston Grand Opera, will be produced with nine other American opera companies.

March: The Orange County Philharmonic Society announces that it will present 10 concerts during the center's 1986-87 season, including appearances by the Chicago Symphony, LosAngeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Orchestre National de France and Warsaw Philharmonic.

April: New York City Ballet announces plans to perform eight works by the late George Balanchine during an Oct. 15-19 engagement as part of a three-city tour, its first West Coast appearances since 1974.

August: The center launches a drive to raise the last $5 million needed to construct the $70.7 million main theater. The drive is bolstered by a $2 million matching grant from the James Irvine Foundation, bringing the foundation's total center contributions to $5 million.

Richard Lippold's "Fire Bird" sculpture is installed under the arch.

The center's 3,000-seat multipurpose theater is dedicated as Segerstrom Hall, named for the project's biggest benefactor.

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