The San Francisco Bay Area’s newest concert hall, the 500-seat Performing Arts Center at Menlo-Atherton, was inaugurated on Sunday afternoon in front of a capacity audience by David, Wu Han, and clarinetist Anthony McGill. Presented by Music@Menlo, the event celebrated the creation of a state-of-the art venue for chamber music in Silicon Valley, and introduced Music@Menlo audiences and new listeners to an additional location for selected festival concerts.
in David’s words…
The Performing Arts Center at Menlo-Atherton has been on our radar for some time. Having been invited during the planning stages to provide input on design and acoustics, and having witnessed the various stages of construction in several hard-hat tours, Music@Menlo seemed the fitting choice to present the hall’s first ticketed, non-school event.
As Wu Han mentioned when she addressed the audience, Anthony McGill performed in the very first Music@Menlo concert, on a single day festival that we held in 2002 to introduce the concept. Her comment that it was only natural that he should be a part of this hall’s maiden voyage, especially given his recent international exposure as the inaugural clarinetist for President Obama, drew cheers from the audience and a wide, proud grin from Anthony, who was sitting on stage with us.
Our program included the clarinet trios by Beethoven and Brahms, plus the Beethoven g minor sonata for piano and cello. Anthony amazed with his usual incredible sound and technique, and the kind of passion that has endeared him to Music@Menlo audiences for years. A special note of interest for this program: none of the works, including the encore by Bruch, had ever been programmed for the main stage at the festival, and it was the first occasion on which Anthony, Wu Han and I have played together as a trio. So it was truly a concert of firsts in many ways.
The hall itself is stunningly designed as a spectacular addition to the Menlo-Atherton school. I know of no public or private school concert hall that exists on this level of quality, which is comparable to major performing arts centers around the world. We must commend the extraordinary vision and commitment to excellence on the part of the school board and the design team. They have given a great gift to the community and especially to lovers of chamber music.
The concert was celebrated afterward with a beautiful reception for the artists and festival board members and friends at the home of Patty and Eff Martin, visionary festival supporters, classical music enthusiasts, and our gracious hosts every summer.
Menlo-Atherton Concert Hall Strikes Gold (SFCV.org)