Being embarrassingly out of the loop in most news San Gabrielian, when I heard on KPCC yesterday that Pasadena’s world-renowned Ambassador Auditorium was grandly reopening, I was more than pleasantly surprised. Closed since the mid-’90s and long thought to be doomed to redevelopment, I was thrilled to discover that the prestigious performance space had been saved and was beginning its resurrection last night with a glorious performance of Handel’s “Messiah” by the Pasadena Symphony and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Eager to know who or what had raised the 1,200-plus seat theater from the dead, I hopped online and googled around a bit. Turns out its savior is a 10-year-old Pasadena-based organization called the Harvest Rock Church, which, in partnership with Maranatha High School, concluded the sale last summer with the place’s previous owners, the Worldwide Church of God, for an undisclosed amount and a whole bunch of hallelujahs. I just love it when various apostolic religions can come together to spare such a work and place of art.
Hang onto your fire and brimstone… I’ve got nothing against the ownerships past or present, and on the surface the new kings seem very enthusiastic to have had the duly ordained ways and means to salvage such a world-renowned stage. In addition, they say that though the building is going to function primarily as its new church, they’re genuinely eager to share it with the community at-large. But for those of us envisioning its return as “the Carnegie Hall of the West,” and hosting an eclectic mix of performance and art in such an acoustically perfect envionment, hold on to your horses of the apocalypse…
Things first get a little too evangelical for my taste in a Harvest Rock Church press release announcing the purchase and answering how they arrived at the decision to buy the 30-year-old Ambassador:
“Beginning in 2001, God began to speak through his prophets that it was time for Harvest Rock Church to look for property. This constant theme has been spoken to us by major prophetic voices: Cindy Jacobs, Kim Clement, Jim Goll, Jane Hamon, Chuck Pierce and many others. God also guides his people through open doors. The door began to open in January 2004 when a letter of intent was given to us that we could purchase AA if we came up with asking price. God then supernaturally provided the funds to purchase AA. What was once a prophetic vision has become a reality.”
Supernatural funding… whatever you sayeth.
As to what we might find up on the auditorium’s stage, the church’s founder and senior paster Che Ahn sets that straight right quick: “We will continue to make rental of the auditorium available to Pasadena and Southern California for major arts events and Christian concerts as long as the performances are worked around our church schedule and that the performances do not conflict with our values.”
Did ya get that last part: “…that the performances do not conflict with our values.” Thus it’s no coincidence that Handel’s “Messiah” is first up on the stage. And thus it’s a good bet ladies will never be flinging their undergarments up at Tom Jones there ó which is all fine, so spare me the wrath of gawd and property ownership stuff. I’m not here to contest that the new landLORDS can’t do whatever they damn well please with the place. I’m just saying that an Ambassador so “saved” will leave a lot of performance opportunities spurned.
Jesus Is their Ticketmaster. The bible tells them so.