Ruby Diamond Auditorium’s Grand Reopening to feature new works, Florida State ensembles

Clockwise, from upper left: Ellen Zwilich, Scott
McAllister, Paul McKee, Ola Gjeilo

Soon the curtains will rise and music will fill the air once again at Ruby Diamond Auditorium now that a two-year-long renovation and expansion has transformed it from a general-purpose venue to a world-class performance hall.

Clockwise, from upper left: Ellen Zwilich, Scott McAllister, Paul McKee, Ola Gjeilo

On Friday, Oct. 8, beginning at 8 p.m., the 2010-2011 concert season will commence at The Florida State University with a Grand Reopening Celebration at Ruby Diamond that will also mark the FSU College of Music’s 100th anniversary.

To commemorate the historic occasion, the concert will feature the debut of highly anticipated works by four distinguished contemporary composers, performed by the FSU College of Music’s University Symphony Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble and Combined Choirs (an assembly of more than 600 voices).

The FSU ensembles will grace the auditorium’s stage for the first time since its transformation began in 2008 and the talented students who bring them to life can’t wait, said College of Music Dean Don Gibson, who notes that the decision to include them in the debut performance was a deliberate one.

“The four newly commissioned works showcased in our Oct. 8 concert will celebrate not only the glorious rebirth and reopening of Ruby Diamond but also the beginning of our second century of musical excellence at Florida State,” Gibson said. “Our decision to feature as many students as possible in this Grand Reopening concert exemplifies how delighted we are to finally have a large performance venue appropriate to the needs of these young, developing artists.”

Those young artists will perform Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and FSU Francis Eppes Professor of Music Ellen Taaffe Zwilich’s Fanfare, Reminiscence and Celebration (University Symphony Orchestra); FSU alumnus and Baylor University School of Music composition Professor Scott McAllister’s XANADU (Wind Orchestra); The Jewel Within by FSU jazz trombone Assistant Professor Paul McKee (Jazz Ensemble I); and Manhattan-based Norwegian pianist and composer Ola Gjeilo’s Rays of Light (Combined Choirs).

Zwilich has a special, longstanding connection to Ruby Diamond.

“I first entered Ruby Diamond Auditorium as an FSU freshman, playing violin in the orchestra and trumpet in the band,” Zwilich said. “During my years at FSU, this was the place where I encountered so much of the repertoire, playing under Ernst von Dohnányi and Pablo Casals to name two of the most memorable conductors, and playing in everything from the Opera to the unofficial Lab Band, since at that time jazz was not yet a part of the curriculum. This was a place that profoundly affected my life, and I was deeply honored to receive this commission.”

In keeping with the momentous nature of the celebration, the Oct. 8 concert at Ruby Diamond is black tie optional.

Tickets for the event are $25 general admission ($15 for FSU students with ID) and may be purchased through the FSU College of Music Box Office, located in the lobby of Ruby Diamond. For ticket information and box office hours, please call the College of Music Box Office at (850) 645-7949 or visit the website at

Several other events will also mark the reopening of Ruby Diamond Auditorium, including a sold-out Seven Days of Opening Nights concert Oct. 2 starring blues great B.B. King. For more information, see