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A Jolt of Joy Rocks the Reopened Royce


There are those who say that Royce Hall, one of UCLA's four original buildings, is the heart and soul of the university, which meant that its wounds from the Northridge earthquake four years ago had a devastating effect on the sweeping campus.

Not surprisingly, the concert hall's reopening Saturday night, titled "Encore: Celebrate the Return"--a fund-raiser that was part rock concert, part pep rally, part night of a dozen stars--practically brought the house down again.

"It birthed it, in a way--it was transformational," said Ann Moss, who co-chaired the evening with Evelyn Ostin, along with their legendary music industry husbands Jerry Moss and Mo Ostin. UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale was honorary chairman.

Carol Burnett tested the acoustics in the renovated hall with one of her famous Tarzan yells. John Lithgow opted for a rabble-rousing excerpt from "Henry V." Even Mayor Richard Riordan cracked a few jokes, following Paul Reiser's warm-up act.

The unscripted jam session of headliners Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder and Don Henley, following James Galway's opening act, helped double the length of the program and had the dinner committee fretting that "Wolfie would lose his hair," as Moss said of chef Wolfgang Puck, who was personally prepping pizza and lamb chops in a mammoth, twinkling tent erected on site for the 900 black-tie revelers.

The count of prominent people involved included honorees Lew Wasserman, chairman emeritus of Universal Studios; John Wooden, UCLA's legendary former basketball coach; Harold Williams, former president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust; and arts patron Ginny Mancini.

The edifice has been graced by such greats as Arthur Rubinstein, Aldous Huxley, T.S. Eliot and Elton John. "It's the icon, the symbol, the emblem of UCLA," said Daniel Neuman, dean of the School of Arts and Architecture, which received the $1.5 million raised by the evening, part of a massive fund-raising push called Campaign UCLA. "All I feel is a continuous state of ecstasy, and I'm astonished at the degree to which this community is in love with UCLA and really with Royce."

You didn't have to be a member of the alumni association to appreciate it, but the evening did bring back memories for many. "I came here for concerts and sat in the balcony for many raucous academic senate meetings," recalled Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. "And I took Subject A here, which is remedial English. That I remember."


Entertainers sing--and speak--Royce's praises. F1

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