CSULB Breaks Ground on Bob Cole Conservatory of Music Pavilion and Plaza

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(From left) John Carnahan, chair of the CSULB's Cole Conservatory of Music; CSULB President F. King Alexander; Regina Cole, wife of the late Bob Cole; Rodolfo "Rudy" Silva, Cole Scholar and CSULB music student; Raymond Torres-Santos, CSULB's dean for the College of the Arts; and Don Para, CSULB provost and executive vice president.

On Friday, September 23, 2011 the groundbreaking of Cal State Long Beach’s Bob Cole Conservatory of Music Pavilion and Plaza was met with true fanfare. Three conservatory faculty—Carolyn Bremer, Martin Herman and Alan Shockley—wrote fanfares in celebration of the $2.5 million project.  The groundbreaking indicated the official start of construction for what will become the hub of the conservatory, serving students, faculty and the community.

The Bob Cole Conservatory of Music Pavilion and Plaza are expected to be completed at the end of the summer in 2012. 

“The building of this pavilion and plaza is a symbol.  However, a symbol in itself is powerless, but with enough people behind it, a building can change the world,” said Raymond Torres-Santos, dean for CSULB’s College of the Arts.  “Buildings are physical representations, the manifestation of a common cultural agreement.  They allow you to see inside the mind of the community that created it.

“This plaza represents the entrance of a holy place of music-making and the future transformation of minds, but there is also a practical consideration here,” the dean continued.  “Our new gateway will provide a huge open space…that can become a huge focal point for special events and passive recreation.”

Completely funded through private donations, the project includes an exhibit honoring the legacy of Bob Cole including photos, artifacts and memorabilia; terraced seating adjacent to music practice rooms that will serve as an amphitheater; a new entry plaza; renovation of the existing Music Complex; and new landscaping and walking paths extending through the complex toward the pavilion.

“The pavilion holding the piano and other precious belongings of Mr. Bob Cole will remind us of the power of passion.  Music was Bob Cole’s passion and favorite pastime,” Torres-Santos noted.  “The pavilion will create a portal for our faculty, students and visitors.  Taken together, the physical improvement will enhance the area as an artistic village together with the Dance Department and Carpenter Performing Arts Center.”

Also speaking at the ground breaking were Music Department Chair John Carnahan, CSULB Provost and Executive Vice President Don Para, music student and Cole Scholar Adolfo “Rudy” Silva (who was the very first recipient of a Cole Scholarship), and Robert Bersi, special counsel for University Advancement at CSULB.

In 2008 CSULB’s Department of Music was renamed the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music in recognition of a $16.4 million donation to the university from the Bob Cole Trust, the largest donation in CSULB’s history.  Cole, who died in 2004, was a successful Long Beach real estate entrepreneur for more than 35 years who enjoyed playing piano for his family and friends.  His passion for music and supporting students interested in its study led to the donation that created the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.

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