Ribbon Cut on New Headquarters, “Charlie and Ling Zhang Musical Arts & Education Center”!

Open HouseTrumpets played, flags were raised and a giant ribbon was cut to unveil the new Pacific Symphony administrative headquarters in the city of Irvine! Symphony President John Forsyte revealed the new name of the building—the Charlie and Ling Zhang Musical Arts & Education Center—in honor of the man whose vision and generosity made the move possible. Located at 17620 Fitch Avenue, the building is adjacent to Symphony arts partners, Arts Orange County and the newly founded Orange County Music & Dance (OCMD). The Symphony’s offices, now located in a highly visible location off of MacArthur Blvd, contain 15,000 square feet, which is 55 percent more space than the previous location at the same rental cost.

Open HouseA pre-event reception was held for donors who contributed to a “New Building Campaign,” co-chaired by Scott Siegel and David Collins, which offered office space naming sponsorships and raised more than $500,000! (A few spaces/sponsorships are still available.) A celebratory flag-raising and ribbon-cutting ceremony took place before attendees were treated to a performance of the Allegretto movement from Mozart’s Piano Quartet No. 2 given by Symphony musicians and pianist Orli Shaham in the black box theater located at OCMD.

A number of remarks were given, thanking Charlie and Ling Zhang and expressing gratitude that the Symphony finally had a physical place to hang its name and call home. Forsyte paid tribute to the Zhangs by first referencing Andrew Carnegie and Henry Huntington. “Orange County is similarly blessed with visionaries who can make a profound difference,” said Forsyte. “Think of a man who came to the U.S. with a few dollars and a clarinet, who dreamt of being a professional musician. Charlie Zhang and his wife, Ling, have catalyzed dramatic change for our region and have given us all a gift that will transcend generations. We cannot thank them enough."

Open HouseMusic Director Carl St.Clair recalled when the Symphony had its offices in a church basement in Santa Ana, where the orchestra also rehearsed. “We have definitely come a long, long way,” said St.Clair. “The reason for that is because we’ve never stopped dreaming. And Charlie’s presence here has shown us that there is no reason for Pacific Symphony to ever stop dreaming about the orchestra that it is going to become throughout the 21st century in our beloved Orange County. Opening these doors to everyone is a sign that we understand our responsibility to our community and to the great Pacific Symphony for years and years to come."

“Thank you so much. It’s really a humble moment for me,” responded Charlie Zhang. “To quote Beethoven’s Ninth, ‘All mankind must become brothers.’ We are here together as brothers united. Ling and I came to America 37 and 39 years ago as little kids with a dream. Today, this building is part of a bigger dream—being proud to be American."

Zhang’s vision for OCMD was to create a place where young people can engage in the musical arts without financial barrier. Having OCMD next door creates an opportunity for the Symphony to utilize the performance and rehearsal spaces and create more programs for children and adults in the community. In addition to Symphony musicians holding music lessons in the building, the Symphony is launching “Parent and Me: Music and Movement” workshops this month (see separate story). The 21,000-square-feet facility features eight music rooms, three dance studios, two classrooms, a recording studio and a 120-seat theater, as well as the Monkey Business Café and the Arts OC office.