San Diego raises $98.7 million for open-air shell

San Diego raises $98.7 million for open-air shell


norman lebrecht

May 14, 2021

If there’s one orchestra with foresight, it’s the San Diego Symphony which, long before Covid, commissioned a British firm to create an acoustic shell in which it can perform outdoors.

The fund-raising is well on target.

San Diego will soon play while the rest can just pray.


  • Music fan says:

    More likely by the time the shell is completed, COVID will be a thing of the past. But it will be handy during the next pandemic. Besides, San Diego is blessed with great weather so people can enjoy themselves year round.

    • monsoon says:

      I assume that the pandemic will have some kind of impact on performing arts center designs in the future. The trend right now is mega buildings that house multiple concert halls of different sizes and lots of plazas that can be used for event rentals. I imagine architects will consider having more outdoor spaces, eliminating an in-door hall and some of the open indoor spaces.

  • Fred Funk says:

    Everyone is hopeful that most orchestras will restart by September. That’s about 116ish days from now. On that 1st day back, a viola player will ask for a note check.

  • Michael B. says:

    I am a San Diego resident, and this is a ridiculous waste of money. That shell will be used for “pops” programs which generally involve the orchestra either playing meaningless orchestral arrangements of rock or other pop music or backing some excruciatingly bad pop singer. I would rather have three root canals without Novocaine than attend such a program. I would have strongly preferred that the orchestra raise money for educational programs that will introduce students to real classical music rather than spend the money on this white elephant.

    • Marfisa says:

      Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, Mozart Symphony 41. Pops, I grant you.

      “Real classical music”/pop music. A false and damaging dichotomy.

    • Hal Hobbs says:

      I am a San Diego resident as well. Although I will not be an attendee since I prefer the indoor season, I am thrilled for the San Diego Symphony in the creation of this new venue. With the programming that they intend to do, it will be an influx of revenue so that it will support all that the organization does, including education programs. The Boston Symphony has the pops which also provides an influx of revenue for that organization so that they are successful in all areas. Don’t be such a snob. Hooray for the Shell and for the San Diego Symphony!

  • Michael B. says:

    That is, of course, a legitimate classical program, even if it is a bit short. However, that is not at all representative of what the orchestra will be presenting in the “Summer Pops” programs to be held at the shell.

    • Peter San Diego says:

      I believe things may change in future. Not that the programming you (and I) have no taste for will cease, but that classical programming will be more prominent. The Mozart-Wagner program is a streaming concert under present conditions; let’s wait and see what a return to full programming will bring.

  • J Barcelo says:

    Well this will be great for the summer concert series with its enormous crowds. I hope the orchestra can now find the funding necessary to build a great hall. Copley is an acoustic dud and that fine orchestra will never develop to its full potential until they rehearse and play in a world-class hall.

    • Cabrillo says:

      The orchestra nearly DIED a couple of decades ago, and it was the board’s commitment to Copley that saved it. There is more to a venue than acoustics, you know, important as they are.

      • San Diego resident says:

        There is more to a venue than acoustics indeed but one wonders what it is that Copley has apart from location. I agree that San Diego and its orchestra would benefit greatly from a new hall, especially given than there is hardly any good venue for classical music in the whole county, but I am afraid it will never happen.

  • Los Angeles has had its outdoor shell for almost a century now.