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By David Barbour

The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music gets a finely renovated venue

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The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music is an eclectic institution, thanks to a faculty gifted with expert knowledge in composition; conducting; ethnomusicology; jazz studies; music education, history, and theory; and instrumental and vocal technique. The faculty includes Terence Blanchard, Kenny Burrell, Herbie Hancock, Barbara Morrison, and Wayne Shorter. Alumni of the school include the film composers Stephanie Economou and James Horner; Khori Dastoor, general director of Opera San José; jazz trumpeter John Daversa; jazz saxophonist Jade Elliott, and the opera soprano Angel Blue. Such variety suits the school’s namesake, himself something of a Renaissance man. With one of the great long-running careers in American music, Alpert has embraced a multitude of identities. His group, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana.

The Herb Alpert Foundation engaged WSDG to design the acoustics for a small on-campus live performance theater at the prestigious UCLA, with help of Lani Hall. Lani Hall, John Storyk and Herb Alpert.

Brass remains an icon of ‘60s-era pop. He has also had a notable solo career, performed at the 1984 Olympics and Super Bowl XXII, composed a James Bond theme (more about that in a moment), and contributed to albums by, among others, Gato Barbieri, Rita Coolidge, Jim Brickman, and UB40. In addition, he has a not-inconsiderable career as an abstract expressionist painter, and in whatever free time he has left, has been a producer on such Broadway shows as Jelly’s Last Jam, Angels in America, August Wilson’s Seven Guitars, and the Sting-com-posed musical The Last Ship. With his wife, the singer Lani Hall—who delivered “Never Say Never Again” for the James Bond film of the same name—he has been a major philanthropist. In 2007, he and Hall donated $30 million to University of California, Los Angeles, to form and endow the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, which opened in 2011. What the school has been missing, however, was a live venue that was commensurate with its reputation. It got exactly that near the end of 2019 with the opening of Lani Hall. “I was attracted to the idea of combining forces with the university to create a jewel of a performance space with excellent sound quality for the school’s students, faculty, and audiences,” Alpert says. “Lani is the girl of my dreams. I know she does not seek this type of attention, but I was thrilled to surprise her with this recognition of her own artistry and to celebrate our 46th wedding anniversary.” The plan was to renovate a rather utilitarian venue, the Jan Popper Theatre in Schoenberg Hall, giving it an extra shot of style along with improved acoustics. (Popper was a longtime member of the UCLA faculty, who staged nearly 300 productions for the UCLA Opera Workshop.) For architectural and acoustical design, Alpert reached out to John Storyk, co-found-ing partner of WSDG; with a resume that incl