Ambassador Performing Arts Foundation Collection
Ambassador Performing Arts Collection
Open for research; material must be requested at least two business days in advance of intended use. Contact the Archive for assistance.
The Ambassador Auditorium Collection consists of audio, video, and print materials documenting performances at the Ambassador Auditorium, ca. 1974-1995. Performers include Victor Borge, Bing Crosby, Placido Domingo, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Vladimir Horowitz, Herbert von Karajan, Leontyne Price, Artur Rubinstein, Mel Torme, Sarah Vaughan, and Andre Watts. Materials related to the conception and construction of the auditorium are included.
Gift of the Ambassador Foundation, 2001.
The Ambassador Auditorium is located on the grounds of Maranatha High School (formerly the campus of Ambassador College) in Pasadena, California. The Ambassador was built under the guidance of Herbert W. Armstrong as a facility for religious services of the Worldwide Church of God and also as a performing arts center. The architectural design of the building bears certain similarities to that of the Temple of ancient Israel. The first public concert at the Ambassador was presented by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Carlo Maria Giulini, on April 7, 1974. For the next twenty years the Ambassador hosted many of the world’s finest performing artists in many genres, and thus it was known as “The Carnegie Hall of the West.” Notable artists who performed at the Ambassador included Artur Rubinstein, Leontyne Price, Victor Borge, Peter Schickele as P.D.Q. Bach, Julian Bream, Andres Segovia, Barbara Cook, Juilliard String Quartet, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Yo-Yo Ma, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, the Chieftains, the Kingston Trio, Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, Marcel Marceau, Claire Bloom, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Modern Jazz Quartet, Oscar Peterson, Ravi Shankar, Mel Torme, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. During this period the Ambassador also hosted the inaugural Ivo Pogorelich International Solo Piano Competition as well as the Pasadena Jazz Festival. The interior design of the hall was noted for its exceptional elegance displaying Iranian onyx, African teak wood, gold overlay and wool carpets from India. Due to the relatively small seating capacity of the main hall with 1262 seats (compared with Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium which has 2804 seats), the Ambassador was particularly well suited to small ensembles and solo performances. In the mid 1990s the Worldwide Church of God, which operated the Ambassador Auditorium and Ambassador College, ceased its operations and sold the property. In 2004 a portion of the property, including the Ambassador Auditorium, was purchased by HRock Church of Pasadena.