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Davis, California

Monday, December 11, 2023

Plan for new music performance building and recital hall in the works

The UC Davis Music Department hopes to begin construction on a new performance building and recital hall in the next couple of years. The facilities will satisfy the department’s burgeoning number of students and members, along with its need for stronger acoustics.

The 400-seat hall, designed for vocal and ensemble performance, will neighbor the present Music Building. It will also include four new practice rooms, recording controls, a music studio, artist and audience amenities, production and teaching offices, and the Artists’ Courtyard – an outdoor site for lectures, informal performances and artist receptions. Parking will be available at the corner of Third and A Streets.

“The music department has much outgrown its old building,” said Joshua Paterson, events and production manager for the music department. “Our largest class, Music 10, takes place in Wright Hall simply because we don’t have space here.”

Paterson said that the foremost reason the department wants to undergo construction is to have an acoustically superior place for their students to perform in.

“It won’t quite have the same magnitude as the Mondavi Center – Mondavi has both a hall with 200 seats and a hall with 1600 seats – but this hall will perhaps fill the gaps, with 400 seats,” Paterson said. “It’s also slated to have some teaching studios and practice rooms that are much needed.”

Among its many perks, the recital hall will boast 100 concerts annually – becoming one of the most active venues in the Sacramento area – as well as a weekly free concert at noon, music festivals, and artists-in-residence events. Collaboration between the Mondavi and the Music Department is sure to take place, as Mondavi staff will use the facility for some of their shows that currently take place in the Mondavi’s smaller concert hall.

“What the recital hall will offer is not just a place for music groups, but classrooms as well, with as many as 375 seats,” said Christopher Reynolds, chair of the department of music. “Such a large number is relatively rare on campus. The class I’m currently teaching on history of rock and roll is over-filled, which demonstrates a need for larger classrooms.”

State bond funding will constitute 75% of $21.6 million needed for funding, with the rest of the funding provided for on behalf of generous citizen donations. Expenses include production costs, performance recordings, visiting artists, outreach, patron services, marketing, and operations.

“We’ve raised nearly two million dollars and we need state funding for $11 million to $13 million,” Reynolds said. “The California economy needs to recover enough for this to go forward. With luck, we’re just a few years away from building.”

Reynolds said that former UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef has named this hall one of the top campus priorities. The chancellor proclaimed his plan for a collection of campus performing arts venues in his 1994 inaugural address. Along with the Mondavi Center, that plan also included a more intimate concert hall to house chamber, vocal, and solo music recitals.

The purported concert hall would cater to the vast growth of the Department of Music, which has shown itself to be one of the most active academic programs at UC Davis. The number of undergraduate majors has increased from 11 to 150 since the construction of the music building in 1966.

“The music department is very blessed to have the involvement of the community that has given 1.7 million dollars to make this project a reality,” said Maureen Miller, Assistant Dean of the College of Letters and Sciences. “This is a tremendous show of support. We’ve received some very generous gifts.”

Further fundraising methods will include production costs for concerts and performances, performance recordings and production of CDs, visiting artists and ensembles, performance and outreach, and patron services, marketing and operations of the Recital Hall.

For information on gift opportunities, contact the Department of Music.

ELENI STEPHANIDES can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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