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Its Past Saluted, Arts Center Looks Ahead

Celebration: Rededication is urged as events marking 10th anniversary come to close.


COSTA MESA — The band played "Auld Lang Syne." Brightly colored confetti drifted through the air. It was a New Year's Eve of sorts Sunday as the Orange County Performing Arts Center ended its 10th anniversary celebration with the burial of a time capsule and turned its sights to the future.

The center has been holding a variety of events to mark its 10-year milestone. But in many ways Sunday was the most special because it marked a belief and hope that the center will continue to thrive well beyond 2036--the 50th anniversary of the center and the year when the time capsule is to be unearthed.

"In this, the final event . . . we celebrate a rededication to vision, a renewed commitment to the future," said Jan Landstrom, chair of the center's time capsule committee.

The time capsule--actually a large metal box--contains an array of mementos of the center's history: an ad signed by opera diva Beverly Sills; posters signed by the cast members of "Cats," "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and other productions; a k.d. lang concert poster; a photo of Mikhail Baryshnikov touring the still-uncompleted center, and dozens of other artifacts including compact discs and videotapes.

And if culture lovers in the future need an incentive to open the box buried at the base of the Grand Portal Arch, it also contains a pair of $25 center gift certificates set to expire in 2046.

A monument marking the spot reads: "On this day we look to the past for inspiration and to the future with hope. . . . On this day we look back with pride on our accomplishments and rededicate ourselves to ensure the arts for generations to come.

Exactly 10 years ago Sunday, the center opened its doors with an opening-night concert by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. In the years since, the privately supported center has become Orange County's beloved cultural hub and has gained national and international recognition.

"This place is so very special," said Diana Carol of Costa Mesa, who has been attending center events since the opening and made it a point to be at Sunday's ceremony. "I can't remember what it was like before we had the center."

The 5 p.m. ceremony began after the matinee of Opera Pacific's "Turandot," drawing a standing-room-only crowd of several hundred who were entertained by the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Band and the Pacific Chorale Children's Chorus.

During the ceremony, center volunteer Maria Constantinides of Costa Mesa was busy taking pictures from every angle. Constantinides said she wanted lots of photos because she knows she won't be around when the time capsule is unearthed.

"I am 75, so I won't see it," she said. "But I love this place very much and I love classical music. I'm just happy I've been able to be here for the past 10 years. For me, that's enough."

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