Restored Fox Theater in Spokane reopens as the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox in a gala concert on November 17, 2007.

  • By Jim Kershner
  • Posted 7/02/2008
  • Essay 8681
See Additional Media
On November 17, 2007, the restored Fox Theater reopens as the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox in a gala concert. The 1931 Art Deco-inspired Fox Theater in downtown Spokane shows off its gleaming new face in a concert featuring the Spokane Symphony and opera star Frederica Von Stade (b. 1945). Seven years earlier, the symphony had saved this grand old movie palace from the wrecking ball and then spent $31 million in restoration. A new name is also unveiled, the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, in honor of the father of major donor Myrtle Woldson. The theater becomes the permanent home of the Spokane Symphony.

Earlier in the day, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire (b. 1947) had presided over a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the bright Art Deco lobby. Patrons who had purchased the most expensive tickets had dinner at the nearby Davenport Hotel and then walked a red carpet for nearly two blocks to the theater entrance.

Tuxedos and gowns were much in evidence as the sold-out concert crowd filed in. Prior to this day, the symphony musicians had only rehearsed in their new multimillion-dollar home; this was the first time they would hear how the meticulously designed new acoustic properties would perform with a full audience.

The first warm chords of Beethoven’s Egmont Overture filled the theater, and the Fox was officially reborn. Later in the concert, music director Eckart Preu turned to the audience and said, "Every musician seeks the best instrument, such as a Stradivarius. This building, right here, is our Strad" ("Power of Two").

Mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade sang pieces from Mozart, Offenbach, and Bizet. The concert concluded with Respighi’s "The Pines of Rome," which showed off the building's new tonal properties.  

The grand opening celebrations continued over the next few days, with a free Community Showcase Day on November 18, 2007, a Tony Bennett concert on November 19, 2007, and a jazz-blues concert with the Spokane Jazz Orchestra and Too Slim and the Taildraggers on November 20, 2007.

 The theater is now the home of the Spokane Symphony and is also a venue for many other music and theater performances.

Sources: "Welcome Back"  Spokesman-Review (special section), November 11. 2007; "Power of Two," Symphony: The Magazine of the League of American Orchestras, May/June 2008; Grand Opening 2007: Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox, commemorative program, November 17, 2007. 

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You