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San Diego Symphony’s New Outdoor Venue Gets An Official Name

San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer addresses invited guests at an event to ...

Photo by John Carroll

Above: San Diego Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer addresses invited guests at an event to announce the new name of the Symphony's outdoor venue as The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on May 13, 2021.

The new outdoor home for the San Diego Symphony now has a new name. Actually, more than one new name. On Thursday, the Symphony announced the venue would be known as The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park.

The sound, the space, the overall setting brought one word to mind for Symphony CEO Martha Gilmer.

“Joy. In the midst of the dark times of the past year, every time we would come to this place, we would feel joy," she said.

Listen to this story by John Carroll.

Joy that is possible because of San Diego’s leading philanthropists stepping up with huge donations: $15 million from Evelyn and Ernest Rady and $11-million from Joan and Irwin Jacobs.

Ernest Rady said he was thrilled with what the project has become.

“It’s turned out to be more than I contemplated in my wildest dreams," he said.

Irwin Jacobs called the place truly special.

“We did not imagine anything as grand, as wonderful as it has turned out. It’s just such a special place now," he said.

Millions were also given by the Conrad Prebys Foundation and philanthropist Una Davis.

RELATED: San Diego Symphony Prepares To Open ‘The Shell’

Video by Roland Lizarondo

As KPBS reported last month, the Rady Shell is technologically state of the art. Advanced lighting and sound will envelop audiences. There will also be many food offerings from some of San Diego’s best chefs and more than 60 new restrooms replacing the former porta-potties.

When it’s not being used for performances, the venue will become a public park.

“This venue will belong to all of San Diego,” Gilmer said.

But the Symphony CEO had more on her mind today than the Rady Shell.

The Symphony took public, a fundraising campaign that’s been raising cash from big-money donors for the last few years. They’re nearly 80% of the way toward raising $125-million. Now, they’re asking for the public to chip in to help with things like their other venue, Symphony Hall.

“It’s a 90-year old performance venue and you know, you have to replace things.”

But on this day, the star of the show was the remarkable bayside place called the Rady Shell and all that it will offer to the people of San Diego.

The first concert at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park will happen sometime this August, an event that will kick off untold years of performances at a one-of-a-kind venue.


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John Carroll
General Assignment Reporter & Anchor

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI'm a general assignment reporter and Saturday morning radio anchor for KPBS. I love coming up with story ideas that aren't being covered elsewhere, but I'm also ready to cover the breaking news of the day. In addition, I bring you the local news headlines on Saturday mornings during NPR's Weekend Edition.

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