South Coast Symphony music director Larry Granger is hoping the new Irvine Barclay Theatre will give his organization the kind of boost other local music groups got when the Orange County Performing Arts Center opened in 1986.
That was the magical year when organizations saw audiences grow and prestige rise, and Granger hopes for the same after the season-opening concert Sunday at the new facility.
"We're hoping that the Irvine theater will give us more recognition in the county than we've been able to focus on in the past," Granger said after a recent inspection of the new $17.6-million facility. "We hope it will focus attention on where we are now and that people will hear us as a new organization instead of judging us from where we've come from, which is always a concern with organizations and artists in general."
The orchestra will split its season between the Irvine facility (on Sundays) and its traditional home at the Robert B. Moore Theatre at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa (on Saturdays).
"So it's not a move in that sense, it's an additional venue," Granger said. "We do have some of our subscribers going to the Irvine theater. Actually, we're getting a lot of new people coming to both facilities. . . .
"Some people prefer Saturday evening at any venue rather than Sunday afternoon. I think people who are going to Irvine are primarily interested in the new venue."
For the first concert, Granger has put together a celebratory program, opening with Vaughan Williams' "Serenade to Music."
"We felt very strongly the very first work should be a salute to music itself," Granger said. "The work also gives us a chance not only to work with instrumentalists, but with vocalists as well (the 40-member Lee Vail Singers), which I think is also appropriate to the opening of the theater and the opening of the season."
The program also will include Aram Khachaturian's "Piano Concerto," with soloist Leonard Pennario. "It's an aerobic workout," said Granger. The concert will conclude with Beethoven's "Symphony No. 5."
"It represents to us a triumph of the orchestra's struggles over the past seven years," Granger said.
Still, there will be struggles. Granger and the orchestra will have only two rehearsals in the new facility before the concert.
"But these will not be standard-length rehearsals," he said. "We have booked some overtime."
(As of press time, the "sound shell"--or reflective backing placed behind the musicians--was still to be installed. The concert itself will be used by management as part of its effort to "tune" or adjust the acoustic of the facility.)
But Granger is optimistic. "Things are coming along really nicely," he said. "I think it will be a wonderful theater for us. . . ."
"The biggest problem is really getting the word out about the theater and the events that are there. We hope they will be producing a quarterly calendar of all the events . . . so people can see all the choices. We would look forward to combining mailing lists of all organizations."
Still, Granger doesn't hesitate to take on the role of promoter.
"There's no bad seat in the house," he said. "People can distinguish facial features from wherever they are sitting. So the level of communication will be much more personal there."
What: South Coast Symphony.
When: Saturday, Oct. 6, at 8:15 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 7, at 3:15 p.m.
Where: Saturday: Robert B. Moore Theatre, Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa. Sunday: Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine.
Whereabouts: To Orange Coast College, take the San Diego Freeway to Fairview exit south. To the Irvine Barclay Theatre, take the San Diego Freeway to Jamboree exit south. Left on Campus Drive.
Wherewithal: $12 to $25.
Where to Call: (714) 432-5527 for Orange Coast College; (714) 854-5527 for the Irvine Barclay Theatre.