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Davis, California

Sunday, April 21, 2024

UC Davis Symphony Orchestra presents “The Sea and Heaven”

The UC Davis Symphony Orchestra will be performing in Mondavi Center’s Jackson Hall on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. The theme of the performance is “The Sea and Heaven” and will feature three classic works that evoke this imagery.

This is the second concert of the quarter from the symphony and will be conducted by assistant music professor Christian Baldini.

The works to be performed consist of Benjamin Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from the opera Peter Grimes, Béla Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3 and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major.

The first piece, Four Sea Interludes, is split into four consecutive movements that each represent different time frames within the opera it’s from. The song is reminiscent of the movement of the ocean and the power of a storm, thus relating to the heaven and sea theme.

Third-year music major Alex Stepans has played French horn in the UC Davis Symphony since his freshman year and is excited for the concert’s complex set list.

“The story is about a town by the sea in Britain,” Stepans said about the Four Sea Interludes. “The themes are Dawn, Sunday Morning, Moonlight and Storm.”

The second piece, Piano Concerto No. 3, is split into three parts. Composer Bartók originally wrote the piece as a gift for his wife in his final months of life. Each movement has its own unique flavor and pulls from the influences of Hungarian folk music, the sounds of nature and joyous moments in life.

 Bartók’s piece features a piano solo that intertwines with the symphony. The solo will be performed by UC Davis applied music faculty member and piano teacher Michael Orland. Orland does not often perform concertos in his work and has expressed excitement about working with the symphony on this particular piece.

“It’s a big deal to get to play this concerto for a pianist like me who doesn’t usually play concertos,” Orland said. “It’s a very exposed part and needs a lot of coordinating with the orchestra. The idea is the duality between the solo and the orchestra and how they interact.”

The third piece, Symphony No. 2 in D Major, is split into four movements like Four Sea Interludes. The outer two movements are fast-paced with the first movement based off of the composer Brahms’ own melody “Brahms’s Lullaby.” The inner two movements are slower and help to balance out the two livelier movements.

 Symphony No. 2 in D Major lasts around forty to fifty minutes, ending the full concert at around two hours.

The symphony has bi-weekly practices and has been preparing with Orland and Baldini for the past six weeks in order to perfect each work. Each practice consists of paying close attention to each dynamic and decoration needed to assure each piece conveys the message within the harmonies.

 Third-year computer science major Aaron Pyzik Shuler is the principal trumpeter in the symphony and said he enjoys working with Baldini.

“I really admire Professor Baldini,” Shuler said. “He’s a really incredible conductor, his musical interpretation is awesome and he pushes the orchestra to perform at a high level; he sets the bar of expectation very high.”

The UC Davis Symphony Orchestra consists of around 110 students and holds two to three performances each quarter at the Mondavi Center. The symphony holds auditions at the beginning of each quarter and encourages returning members to re-audition.

The Music Department encourages students to go see the symphony perform at the Mondavi because the tickets are exponentially cheaper than professional orchestras (only $8 for students and $12 to $17 for regular tickets) and for the purpose of supporting their fellow peers in the arts.

“I think we’re playing very accessible pieces [for audiences], even to those who don’t have musical experience,” Shuler said. “It’s incredibly nice to see us at the Mondavi Center because the hall is just an amazing place. It’s great to get new musical experiences to broaden your horizons.”

Tickets can be purchased at the Mondavi Ticket Office or online at tickets.mondaviarts.org.


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