The UC Davis music department will begin the year with its annual Noon Concert performance series, continuing with its long-time tradition of free weekly noontime concerts.
The concerts are typically held in room 115 of the music building, a small performance-friendly room familiar to regular attendees of the midday showings.
This month, however, four of the noon concerts will be held in the Grand Lobby of the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. This is the second year that the department has partnered with the Mondavi Center for its free performances, and members of the music department look forward to the change in venue.
“[Room 115] is a fine room. However, for these four concerts we’ll try to kick off the year with a little bit of an extra special touch,” said Phil Daley, events and publicity manager for the music department.
Keith Bohm, a saxophone player and instructor who teaches at UC Davis and California State University, Sacramento, commented on the advantages of playing in the Mondavi Center lobby, mentioning the acoustical advantages of the lobby’s concrete and limestone architecture, among other reasons.
“The ambience of that space is in itself a good performance space – the glass on the outside, the interior décor,” Bohm said. “I think the ambience of the room [makes it] a fun place to play.”
“The venue is obviously very beautiful,” said Pablo Ortiz, professor of composition and chair of the performance committee, who is in charge of selecting performers for the concerts. “[It is] also a little noisier than other venues, but it’s a good tradeoff because [it gives] a lot of exposure for the performers, and we can accommodate more people. I think it’s a great use for that space.”
Above all, the selection committee aims to put together a diverse set of concerts throughout the year. Past concerts have included vocal performances, jazz and improvisational groups, and non-Western styles of music.
“We try to find … the most interesting and also the most diverse [performers],” Ortiz said.
Today’s concert will feature Bohm on saxophone with pianist John Cozza in a classical performance, with 19th and 20th century pieces written for the Paris Conservatoire.
Other concerts will feature music ranging from Baroque to that of modern composers. One performance will feature music written by UC Davis professor Mika Pelo and performed by Icelandic violinist Hrabba Atladottir.
Another concert, scheduled for Oct. 23, will feature music by the French Baroque composer Forqueray. Violet Grgich will accompany the composer on the harpsichord with Colin Shipman on the viola de gamba, a fretted string instrument typically used in the Baroque period.
The concerts have drawn a large and diverse crowd in the past, and audiences usually include students, professors and Davis community members. Students of Music 10, an introductory course to Western music and music history, often attend many of the concerts.
“It is a good way of making a break with the rest of the world,” Ortiz said. “You live within that music or what that music offers to you for an hour, and then you go back to your normal life. I think that’s why people keep coming in such large numbers. Music has that power.”
All concerts are free to attend and are located in either the Mondavi Center lobby or 115 Music. For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit music.ucdavis.edu.
JUSTIN T. HO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.