Tobin Center Opens
September 4, 2014
The ceremony concludes.
About 100 tickets remain for tonight's inaugural "Celebration of the Arts" concert, starting at 7:30 p.m.
Update: 11:35 a.m. — Former Mayor Phil Hardberger stresses community effort. "We can do anything in Bexar County and San Antonio that we want to do."
He thanks the efforts of Wolff and Bugg. "It was a monstrous job," Hardberger says. "Bruce sets the record for raising money."
"The arts are the heart and soul of the city," Hardberger adds, recalling the gift of the city of the land and buildings. "We have a lot we can party about."
Update: 11:30 a.m. — "Standing here today is almost like being in a dream — this beautiful and innovative building, the way San Antonio has embraced the importance of the arts to our community's future, and the way the public and private sectors have pulled together. It's almost like a dream, but better. When we wake up tomorrow, this fabulous center will still be here. The Tobin Center is not only an instant cultural landmark, it is an enduring reminder of one man's generosity, and a testament to the hard work of individuals like Nelson Wolff, Bruce Bugg and Phil Hardberger who have worked for years to make this dream a reality." — Mayor Ivy Taylor
Update 11:20 a.m. — Bugg recalls the history of the planning for the Tobin Center, citing the citizens committee that decided to rebuild the former Municipal Auditorium. Bugg then outlines the fundraising from the private sector, more than $50 million.
"We are closing in on our $54 million goal everyday," Bugg says. Bugg then outlines the long ties between the Tobin family and the center's site. Bugg dedicates the center in honor of philanthropist Robert L.B. Tobin and the people of San Antonio and Bexar County.
Nelson Wolff takes the lectern and says: "Today, we dedicate a building on the banks of the San Antonio River to the ages."
Wolff thanks, among others, the hotel/motel industry for collecting the visitors tax that helped pay for the building. The Bexar County commissioners collectively present Bugg a certificate of thanks.
Update 10:50 a.m. — Symphony Music Director Sebastian Lang-Lessing is the first to take the stage and lead the brassy Dukas fanfare, in stereo from balcony positions on both sides of the stage. The dignitaries take the stage, accompanied by Handel's Fireworks music.
The first speaker is Mike Fresher, who welcomes the audience to big applause.
"San Antonio has waited a long time for this and now the wait is over," said Fresher, who goes on to describe the building, his voice breaking at times from his pneumonia, although he appears well.
Fresher introduces City Council members and Bexar County Commissioners Court.
Bugg speaks next, after a prolonged overture performed by the musicians on stage:
"This may not be the seventh wonder of the world, but this is the wonder of the seventh-largest city in the United States," Bugg says.
10:15 a.m. — The $200 million-plus Tobin Center for the Performing Arts will be dedicated in a ceremony beginning at 10:30 a.m. Thursday with musicians of the San Antonio Symphony on stage.
The Municipal Auditorium, opened in 1926, has been reborn in an arts complex that features the H-E-B Performance Hall seating 1,759 people, the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater accommodating up to 250 people and a River Walk Plaza that can hold up to 600 people.
The complex, designed by LMN Architects of Seattle, features a wraparound silver "sky wall" that will light up in the evenings with thousands of flickering diodes of every color.
Speaking at the ceremony will be San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, former Mayor Phil Hardberger, J. Bruce Bugg Jr., chairman of the Bexar County Performing Arts Center Foundation, and Tobin Center CEO and President Michael Fresher.
Fresher has been suffering from pneumonia since last week but was at work Tuesday. "This doesn't keep the center from opening. They want me in the hospital," he said Tuesday. "I'll deal with it in March," he said jokingly and hoarsely, shrugging off his illness.
The first concert is Thursday night, called "A Celebration of the Arts." The ticketed event will feature musicians of the San Antonio Symphony, Ballet San Antonio and Opera San Antonio.
Those organizations are among local performing arts groups that will call the Tobin Center home.
As the ceremony's start approaches, the media is in place. Musicians are warming up on stage.
People are walking toward the center's glass-door entrance to get their first glimpse of the finished center.
"I'm so proud San Antonio has a facility like this," said volunteer usher Margaret Garcia. "I great to be part of this from the beginning."
The symphony music for the ceremony will be regal with Paul Dukas' "Fanfare of the 'La Peri,' " followed by Georg Frederick Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks as the dignitaries take the stage and Charpentier's Introduction from "Te Deum" before the remarks begin.