The Ambassador Auditorium
The Ambassador Auditorium in Pasadena, CA has been hailed as “The Carnegie Hall of the West.” This concert hall was the premier venue to 20 seasons of the worlds’ best musicians and performers from 1974 to 1995 on the West Coast. During those 20 seasons, it has been estimated that over 2.5 million patrons attended more than 2,500 concerts. With 1,262 seats and glorious acoustics, the Ambassador Auditorium is the best place in Southern California for classical music.
Notable artists who performed at the Ambassador have included Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, Dame Janet Baker, Claudio Arrau, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Horacio Gutierrez, Alicia de Larrocha, Artur Rubinstein, Andrés Segovia, Yo-Yo Ma, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic.
Artur Rubinstein spoke glowingly of its acoustic qualities. For many years he refused to play on the West Coast due to earlier bad experiences with hall acoustics and pianos. To entice him out West to the Ambassador, he was allowed to select any concert grand piano at Steinway Hall in New York. It was shipped out and tuned by Steinway. After Rubinstein’s performance, a plaque was affixed naming it the Artur Rubinstein piano.
Because the Ambassador Auditorium’s reputation spread so quickly in musical circles as a superior concert venue, the Berlin Philharmonic, under the baton of Herbert von Karajan, changed his American tour with this orchestra to include the Ambassador Auditorium as the only concert hall that the orchestra played in on the West Coast. That concert included Mahler’s Symphony No.9.
Many other artists were enticed to perform west of Chicago by reports of the Ambassador Auditorium’s superior acoustics. Given its size, it is ideal for presenting concerts, recitals, and orchestras. It is one of the few concert halls constructed in the latter half of the 20th Century with nearly perfect orchestral acoustics. It is a large, chamber music-sized venue, with design amenities like some of the finest concert halls.
The Ambassador Auditorium was built as both a facility to be used by the Worldwide Church of God for church services and for college functions for the Ambassador College that was adjacent to it, as well as a hall for public performances celebrating the performing arts. At the time it was constructed, the concert hall was furnished with Iranian onyx, African teak, wool carpets woven in India, and splendid gold-leaf overlay. It officially opened in 1974 with performances by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.