Thus, I was delighted by the significant role Guaraldi played during last weekend's public unveiling of the Green Music Center's new Schroeder Hall, all part of Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California. The intimate, 250-seat venue was named after Charlie Brown's Beethoven-loving friend, Schroeder, at the suggestion of Charles M. Schulz's widow, philanthropist Jeannie Schulz. Aside from that nod to the resolutely focused Peanuts character who never lets lovestruck Lucy Van Pelt distract him from pounding out complicated symphonies on a toy keyboard — with painted black keys! — the designation also acknowledges Charles "Sparky" Schulz's lifelong fondness for classical music.
Additionally, the name brings renewed focus to a longstanding debate among Peanuts fans: Is Schroeder the young lad's first name ... or his last?
"People ask if there's a Mr. Schroeder," laughed Laurence Furukawa-Schlereth, co-executive director of the Green Music Center, when he was interviewed in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Schroeder Hall's debut weekend was marked by close to a dozen concerts and special events, the first of which — dubbed the "Schroeder Overture" — took place Friday evening, August 22. The cheerful, invitation-only crowd was an engaging blend of donors, Sonoma State University and Green Music Center personnel, staff members from both the Charles M. Schulz Museum and neighboring Creative Associates, and honored guests.
I had to wear a coat and tie, which conflicted with my long-established "Northern California casual" rep. Folks who know me would have fainted at the sight.
But it was a Snoopy tie, so maybe it would have been only a brief swoon.