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Davis, California

Friday, April 12, 2024

Off to Spain we go

Having toured France, Australia, and Canada in the past, the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra has selected Spain as its next destination to visit. From March 24 to April 4, UCDSO  will be performing in Madrid, Granada, Valencia, and Barcelona, including at the prominent Palau de la Musica Catalana (or Palace of Catalan Music, as it is known in English).

For the past year or so, UCDSO has been fundraising toward their goal of offering a 25 percent scholarship to the 100 or so students that make up the orchestra for the trip.

When asked why the orchestra decided on Spain to travel and perform at, the orchestra’s conductor, Christian Baldini was full of praise for the European country famous for its distinct style of guitar music.

“Spain is one of the most exciting music scenes in the world nowadays. Thirty years ago, they barely had any first rate orchestra,” Baldini said. “These days, they have over 30 excellent orchestras, and numerous world class concert halls. Spanish audiences are now eager to listen to musicians from abroad.”

Besides its growing music scene, Baldini noted that Spain has much to offer the orchestra members as students will be given a chance to immerse themselves in Spain’s local community and experience the delicious cuisines that abound in the country.

Morgan McMahon, a recent graduate with a Bachelors of Science in environmental horticulture, is a violinist in the orchestra and has been a member since she was a first-year student in 2008.

Initially, McMahon wasn’t going to join the orchestra in its tour of Spain since she was a recent graduate. But, once she received a job offer in Davis, she decided to continue playing with UCDSO and go to Spain as well.

“It was a big decision on a personal level, since the tour is so expensive, especially as a non-student orchestra member but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that I can’t miss. Preparing for the tour is going to require a lot of work from each orchestra member and Professor Baldini has already given us some challenging pieces so far this season,” McMahon said.

Robert Glenn Olson, a junior aerospace and mechanical engineer, is also another member of UCDSO who is just as excited as McMahon. He has played the French horn for nine years and just like McMahon, he joined UCDSO when he was a first-year student.

“I have been waiting for the trip since Spring quarter of 2010 when it was announced. I am extremely excited to get out of the country for the first time, and to be able to do it with an ensemble,” Olson said. “Everything is so much more fun from the stage. I think we will learn a lot about how we play music because we will have to adapt quickly to the different halls.”

Members of the UCDSO are currently hard at work during their weekly practices rehearsing pieces they will be playing in Spain.

Besides the excitement and anticipation among the orchestra members about the upcoming trip, Baldini sees the trip as a great opportunity for UCDSO to not only gain knowledge of other genres of music but also to spread recognition of UC Davis internationally.

“We represent UC Davis and the entire community of Davis at large. We will be traveling as musical ambassadors of our campus and this makes us proud. We perform with great love and dedication, and we are proud to have one of the most ambitious and exciting orchestral programs in the entire country,” Baldini said.

UCDSO will be performing Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto, Op. 38, and another concerto, both with different soloists during their time in Spain. The first concert will take place in Madrid, where they will not only share the stage with a local Spanish orchestra, but also collaborate together.

MICHELLE RUAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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