On March 19, 2016, Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts at Chapman University will celebrate its Grand Opening, ushering in a new era for the school’s performing arts and unveiling a new cultural beacon for the region. The Grand Opening celebration will include performances by opera legends Plácido DomingoDeborah Voigt and Milena Kitic, an orchestra and chorus of more than 150 voices, and an array of distinguished artists and Chapman alumni, directed by John DeMain.

Musco Center for the Arts is named for Orange County philanthropists Paul and Marybelle Musco, whose generous donation anchored and launched a multi-year drive to open the $78-million facility debt free.

With 88,000 breathtaking square feet, Musco Center provides a state-of-the-art venue for students to hone their talents, discover their voices and visions, and prepare for rich and rewarding lives in the arts. Designed by award-winning architects Pfeiffer Partners, with acoustics by world‑renowned Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics, the new Center boasts an intimate seating chamber with 1,044 seats on three levels and a full-scale stagehouse capable of grand spectacle or lush symphonic sound with its unique orchestral shell in place. When complete, Musco Center will serve as a dynamic focal point for campus life and the broader community, giving notice that world-class arts education and artistic achievement have found a new home in Southern California.

Placido Domingo

Opera legend Placido Domingo will headline Musco Center’s Grand Opening celebration on March 19, along with fellow opera superstars Deborah Voigt and Milena Kitic.

“At Musco Center, students and faculty will refine their art forms through hands-on experience in advanced facilities, and the surrounding community will experience spectacular performances and productions from the world’s finest practitioners on a grand scale,” said William D. Hall, D.M., founding dean and artistic director of Musco Center and legacy music professor at Chapman University. “Here, the arts will find a suitably stunning venue for achieving their highest form.”

According to Hall, a key factor in setting the stage for the opening of Musco Center was naming Giulio Ongaro, Ph.D. as the new dean of the College of Performing Arts (CoPA) last August. “Musco Center offers an ideal environment for CoPA’s distinguished faculty to prepare our students to realize their professional dreams and aspirations through real‑world production experience,” said Ongaro.

Chapman Chancellor Daniele Struppa also announced the appointment of Richard T. Bryant, a noted performing arts strategist, launch specialist and marketer, as interim executive director of Musco Center. “Chapman has already benefited from Richard Bryant’s broad experience opening, managing, and marketing major performing arts centers around the United States,” Chancellor Struppa said. “He joined Chapman last March to help us develop the Musco Center’s launch and strategic operating plans. We are pleased he has agreed to expand and extend his leadership role.”  Bryant begins his role immediately.

Following its Grand Opening on March 19, Musco Center will kick off its Opening & Preview Season with dazzling international virtuosos and ensembles that define excellence, as well as the best Chapman student performances. Opening & Preview Season performers represent a diverse range of world talents and experiences, including the following:

  • Musco Center Distinguished Piano Series, presenting the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Gold Medal‑winning concert pianist Vadym Kholodenko
  • Great Voices Series with renowned American opera baritone Rod Gilfry
  • Arts & Lecture Speaker Series with Jeff Corwin, American animal and nature conservationist and Animal Planet host
  • Chapman World CAFÉ (Cultural Arts Festivals & Events)

A recent snapshot of Musco Center construction progress (taken in Oct. 2015).

“The heart and soul of Musco Center will be performances by talented Chapman students, including a new production of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, staged to coincide with the Bard’s 400th birthday, as well as music and dance by The Chapman Orchestra, Opera Chapman and other outstanding student ensembles,” added Hall.

Tickets for the Preview Season that begins in April 2016 will go on sale December 1 via Musco Center’s new website at www.muscocenter.org.

Tickets for the Grand Opening celebration on March 19 are still available. Contact Michele Wanner by phone at 714.744.7623 or via email at bautista@chapman.edu to attend this very special event.