Mondavi Center: Primed for the party

Less than one week before its opening, there's plenty of work to do to ready the brand-new Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for a performance.

"The week before a building opens is pretty hectic," said Jim Fong, the Architects and Engineers construction administrator for the building.

Rich Rojo would agree. The Mondavi Center's director of marketing describes a "full-court press" in his office toward Thursday when the center's performing arts series will open with a gala concert with the San Francisco Symphony.

"There's a construction crunch, a training crunch and a ticketing crunch," he said. "It's pretty typical for the opening of a performing arts center."

Despite the work needing to be done, the center will be ready on time, Rojo and Fong agreed.

"We are going to open. We are going to have a convocation and a performance," Fong said. "There are steps and procedures we have to go through, and we are checking them off."

After working six days a week for months, construction workers and other tradespeople at the site are now laboring seven days a week on such tasks as casting slate tiles onto the floor, the lobby and the courtyard, landscaping the area and ensuring theatre seating is properly installed and clean.

Inside the theater, technicians are testing sound, lighting and mechanical equipment around Jackson Hall and the Studio Theatre. Ushers are learning their way around the center's multiple levels.

All systems need to be properly working by tomorrow night when the center hosts a T-shirt-and-jeans style "Hard Hat Concert" with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra for the building project's construction workers.

"That will be the test case," Fong said. "If something doesn't work we have the (rest of the) weekend to fix it."

Earlier this week UC Davis took possession of the building, no longer considered a hard-hat area, from the contractors.

"We are running this as a UC Davis facility for the first time now," Rojo said.

Mondavi Center opening events run from Wednesday morning through Sunday evening. The events include:


11 a.m.: Fall Convocation - A celebration of the arts at UC Davis.


  • 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: The center's ribbon will be cut by Robert and Margrit Mondavi. Barbara Jackson will cut Jackson Hall's ribbon. Paula Lorenzo will snip the ribbon for the Rumsey Ran-cheria Grand Lobby, and the Studio The-atre ribbon will be cut by UC officials. Native American dancers, the brass section of the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra and the aerial dance troupe Project Bandaloop will perform.
  • 8 p.m.: Black--tie gala performance by the San Francisco Symphony.


  • p.m.: Jackson Hall will be dedicated with a performance by mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, named 2001 Vocalist of the Year by Musical America.


Free, outdoor performances are set.

  • 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.: La Bottine Souriante, from Quebec, combines Celtic, brass band jazz and funk influences in its music.
  • Noon and 3 p.m. - Members of Project Bandaloop will dance up and down the sides of Mondavi Center while tethered to a nylon rope.
  • 12:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.: MASS En-semble plays large-scale musical instruments while emphasizing dance and the visual arts in their performances.


  • 3 p.m. - La Bottine Souriante
  • 4 p.m. - MASS Ensemble

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