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Six weeks before its opening, the Orange County Performing Arts Center’s 3,000-seat multipurpose theater in Costa Mesa was dedicated Sunday and given its official name–Segerstrom Hall.
The $70.7-million theater is named after the family that runs the Costa Mesa-based C. J. Segerstrom & Sons development firm and is the Arts Center’s chief benefactor.
The theater’s opening Sept. 29 will present the Los Angeles Philharmonic, under the direction of Zubin Mehta. Other attractions in the Center’s first season will be the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Opera.
Sunday’s one-hour open-air ceremony under the theater’s seven-story portal was marked by one paen after another to the Segerstroms–who not only donated $6 million to the Arts Center but also gave the Center a five-acre site in the family’s South Coast Plaza commercial sector.
Timothy Strader, Center board president, praised the “great generosity and vision” of the Segerstroms, whose gifts include the 60-foot-high “Fire Bird” sculpture by Richard Lippold, which will be installed in the next few weeks in the theater’s front entry.
But the most succinct tribute at the ceremony–and one that brought laughter from the audience of 150–came from Lippold himself. “They are the Medici of Costa Mesa,” said Lippold, comparing the Segerstroms with the family that ruled Florence during the Renaissance and commissioned many of the period’s great artworks.
Four generations of Segerstroms were represented at the event, led by the family firm’s operating partners, Henry Segerstrom, his mother, Ruth, and his cousin, Harold Jr.
“We share this moment of overwhelming joy and accomplishment with the whole community,” said Henry Segerstrom, the firm’s managing partner and chairman of the Center’s fund-raising drives.
The Center is on land that was acquired in 1898 by Swedish immigrant farmer C. J. Segerstrom. Most of the farm holdings have since been converted to shopping centers, offices, hotels, residences and other developments in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana.
Under Henry Segerstrom, the Arts Center’s campaign has reached more than $65 million in pledges and gifts–all from private donors–for the $70.7-million construction cost of the 3,000-seat theater.
Center management also hopes to build a 1,000-seat theater by the end of the decade.
The Arts Center is next to the South Coast Repertory Theatre’s two-playhouse complex, built in 1978 on a two-acre site donated by the Segerstroms.
SCR’s 507-seat main playhouse is named Segerstrom Auditorium.