With the dawning of the new year, students new and old assemble at Welcome Week events to revel in the glory of a fresh beginning.
The annual Fall Convocation took place on Monday, Sept. 24 to kick-start the celebrations and usher in the newest generation of Aggies with open arms.
However, the commencement of the 2012-2013 school year marks another special event at UC Davis: the 10th anniversary of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
Executive Director of the Mondavi Center Don Roth stated that the event was not just a welcome home.
“[It is] a celebration of the arts, and the prospects of the future,” he said.
Wide-eyed first-years and distinguished faculty alike filed into Jackson Hall as Anush Avetisyan, winner of the Founders’ Prize in the Mondavi Center’s 2012 Young Artists Competition, performed a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and Grace Zhou, a junior winner in the 2011 competition, captivated the audience as she performed a piano solo to thunderous applause.
These opening acts welcomed a cartoon director, Roth, displayed at the start of his speech.
A presentation, “A Life without Mozart,” jumped onto the projector screen, illustrating a barren landscape void of life that Roth explained in seriousness amid the chuckles of the crowd.
“Art won’t solve all of the troubles of the world,” he said. “Without it, however, there is no real life without the arts. We look ahead to a new decade, and two new centers for art in Davis.”
After acknowledgements of the leaders and supporters of the Center, Chancellor Linda Katehi took to the stage for her fourth convocation address since becoming chancellor. She began by discussing the rising financial burdens on the public education system and challenges that art programs face as a direct result. Her message, however, remained optimistic for the future of UC Davis both as an academic powerhouse and, as she described, a “cultural Mecca.”
“Higher education has a tough time everywhere, but we have many reasons to be proud,” she said. “We were recently named the eighth-best public university in the nation. We increased our researched funds to $745 million, which is higher than any other UC and an increase of 10 percent.”
Katehi also stressed the importance of art in the everyday lives of the student body.
“Learning to question and to create, learning to learn — this is the greatest form of education,” she said. “The sensitivities of art [are] what will make us sensitive citizens, and not just strong employees. It is where we find human significance and that enables us to see life more clearly, to think and to reflect.”
Margrit Mondavi herself made an appearance.
“It is true that Robert and I believed that wine, food and art enhance your life,” she said. “And art is a major part of that enhancement. The center is my greatest reward, a promise for things to come, and of course, something important you can see from the highway other than the water tower.”
Gamelan Ensemble, directed by Henry Spiller, later performed a traditional Indonesian folk piece with brass instruments and small mallets.
Rachel Teagle, director of the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art that is to be built in 2014, spoke of the upcoming plans and overall goals in expanding the art community at UC Davis.
After a classical performance of the school anthem, the crowd emptied the hall and went out onto Vanderhoef Quad for food and entertainment.
Katehi commented on the success of the Mondavi Center since its inception in 2002.
“The Center has elevated and extended the arts to a level we can’t even imagine. It’s not just the building. The program is amazing, and so diverse,” Katehi said.
She also said she would like to encourage students to come to more shows at the venue. Mondavi agreed.
For now, Mondavi is ecstatic with the progress she has seen. She finished by saying she is most excited to see Yo-Yo Ma again, who will be performing in Jackson Hall next January.
Incoming animal science major Sarah Domanski said the convocation was informative.
“I got to learn a lot about the campus and what we have to offer. After seeing it, I definitely would like to see more performances at the Mondavi Center,” she said.
ADAM KHAN can be reached at email@example.com.