Jefferson was convinced that the city, with its long summer season, could support an outdoor pavilion to accommodate an expanded music festival. He and several city officials took a nationwide inspection tour of the leading music pavilions. The city then funded an architectural feasibility study which led to the hiring of architects Frank 0. Gehry and Associates of Santa Monica to draw up plans for the site on 122 acres of gently rolling hills off Kirker Pass Road. In 1973, the Concord Performing Arts Center Authority was formed by the city and the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
The Pavilion opened May 16, 1975, with a benefit performance featuring Sarah Vaughan and Henry Mancini.
The winner of an American Institute of Architects design award, the Pavilion is roofed, but open on three sides. There’s seating for 3,769 under the roof and 5,000 more on the surrounding grassy slopes. More than 300,000 patrons attend performances each season by symphony orchestras, dance troupes, athletes, and individual celebrities such as Johnny Mathis, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, and Zubin Mehta. What began as an idea in the community has developed into one of the country’s outstanding performing arts facilities.
Cowell Historical Society