After 30 years of conducting the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, D. Kern Holoman took his final bow last Sunday evening.
In celebration for the symphony’s 50th season, Holoman directed the orchestra in what was his last concert at the university at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. The musicologist will formally step down from his post this coming June.
“It’s been a good run,” wrote Holoman in the souvenir program for the Golden Jubilee concert. “In the nostalgic moments, I think most of all about college students routinely achieving, individually and collectively, art and beauty of which none of us knew we were capable.“
“There’s no lack of fond memories, and the good times will continue,“ he added.
Born in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1947, Holoman graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music from Duke University and a master’s degree and a doctorate from Princeton University.
At age 26, Holoman set foot on the UC Davis campus as an assistant music professor in 1973. Five years later, he became the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra’s fourth conductor.
Holoman enjoys playing music without words, he said.
“I decided to give music a try in high school, as a joint result of my fondness for orchestral playing as a bassoonist, Leonard Bernstein’s Young People Concerts on television, some good teaching and some well-timed encouragement,“ Holoman said in an e-mail interview.
“My first fan letter came from the recently deceased [North Carolina] Senator Jessie Helms,” he said.
Holoman, also a UC Davis music professor, will be taking a leave of approximately 15 months before returning to teach again.
“The search for a new conductor has begun with enormous excitement and promise,” Holoman wrote in the souvenir program. “The month of February will be devoted to meeting and hearing the candidates.“
The results of the international search for Holoman’s successor will be announced in April or May, he said.
“[Holoman] is both a legendary teacher of Music 10 and an internationally acclaimed musicologist, known especially for his work on French composer Hector Berlioz,” said Jessie Ann Owens, the dean of the UC Davis Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, in a press release.
“He has turned the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra into a superb ensemble and given us unforgettable performances. His vision and energy helped create the Mondavi Center. It would be impossible to overstate his contributions to music at UC Davis,” she said.
In the little spare time that he has, Holoman enjoys listening to early stereophonic recordings of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, Holoman said.
“I enjoyed, a decade ago, my teenaged daughter’s flirtation with country music,” he said. “[I] have been through fascinations with Gilbert-and-Sullivan and the Broadway musical, and so on.
“I always enjoy going to the San Francisco Opera with Barbara Jackson [of Jackson Hall] to see and hear works I’ve never witnessed live,” he said.
Holoman’s philosophy for life goes along the lines of “taking care to live each day well,” he said.
“I admired Bob Mondavi’s view of the good things in life,” Holoman said. “Over the long haul, I’ve found that I’m most content when discovering beauty – in sound, sight, words, etc. – even if it’s only ephemeral.“
POOJA DEOPURA can be reached at email@example.com.