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Thursday, October 21, 2021

UCD Symphony to perform at Mondavi Center

In their last concert of the ’09-’10 season, the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra (UCDSO) will present their annual Family Concert on June 3 at 7 p.m. at the Mondavi Center. Tickets are available to students for $5.

The concert will feature two pieces showcasing the winners of the two different competitions held at UC Davis.

Ching-Yi Wang, who won the UCDSO Composition Competition, will perform her original piece entitled, “Lament.” Wang is a UC Davis Ph.D. candidate in theory and composition and a teaching assistant with bachelor of arts and masters of fine arts degrees in theory and composition from Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan.

“‘Lament’ is a piece dedicated to Taiwan, my original country. In August of 2009, typhoon Morakot destroyed the southern half of Taiwan seriously,” Wang said. “Hundreds of people in the mountain village of Shao Lin were buried by a large mudslide. I was very sad and decided to compose a work expressing my sorrow.”

The Composition Competition is extremely competitive and includes three different rounds. After the first round of submissions in January, the faculty selects five pieces. Then, the orchestra plays those five in February and the faculty selects two finalists. After the orchestra plays those two again in April, the jury selects the final piece.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for me to have my piece read by the orchestra two times, and even lucky to have the orchestra perform my work at a public concert,” Wang said.

Her winning piece will be featured during the concert and played by the full symphony orchestra.

“The piece starts with low register instruments such as cello, bass and timpani, indicating waves flood the coastal area and low-lying lands,” Wang said. “As for the second section, I used the initial melodic line of ‘Song of Farmers,’ a Taiwanese folk song. I hope this piece can encourage Taiwanese people to have positive attitude all the time.”

The UCDSO Concerto Competition will also feature a winning performance. This is the Concerto Competition’s first annual event, and any associated student is eligible to enter.

Andy Tan and Shawyon Salehi won the competition with their duet of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante. Tan, who plays the viola, is a UC Davis graduate student studying music composition. Salehi, who plays the violin, is a first-year music major, specifically violin performance.

“Everybody practiced really hard and invested a lot of time and money,” Tan said. “We had to pay the piano player to accompany us for the competition.”

The competition itself was held in the Mondavi Center. Christian Baldini, the music director and conductor of the UCDSO, said the winners “won the competition with a superb audition, back in March” in an e-mail interview.

The two musicians began practicing several months independently and combined forces one month before the competition.

“One day Andy approached me and asked if I wanted to play the concerto with him. We barely knew each other,” Salehi said. “I learned the piece before and played around with it a bit, it’s one of my favorites. When he offered I couldn’t say no.”

Because of the steep competition, there will be two honorary mentions announced during the concert.

“We have a responsibility to not only just play but to play music, let the audience enjoy it,” Salehi said. “Without [the competitors] I wouldn’t have been here. The work they put into it really made me work harder.”

Baldini said that “in addition to Mozart and Wang, the concert will also feature music from a wide range of composers, including Piazzolla (who is from Argentina, like me), Liadov and Shostakovich (both Russian).”

The five pieces that will be performed during the concert will all be one-movement pieces.

“So many schools would be so jealous to hear how good our orchestra is, and how lucky we are of having the Mondavi Center,” Baldini said.

Although Baldini is the UCDSO conductor, Professor D. Kern Holoman will conduct the concert. Baldini will be conducting in Europe, so Holoman – who was the conductor for 30 odd years – has come out of his first year of retirement to conduct this concert.

“I’m an apprentice conductor all over again,” Holoman said. “It’s very humbling. I wouldn’t necessarily choose these pieces and I spent a lot of time learning them. It’s a concert I like a lot and am really looking forward to.”

BRITTANY PEARLMAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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