On Friday, June 6, the UC Davis University Chorus performed their program “Songs Folks are Made Of.” Led by guest conductor Ben Johns, the University Chorus performed an eclectic array of songs that expressed the “whimsical nature” of the human spirit.
Ben Johns served as guest conductor while conductor Jeffrey Thomas was on sabbatical leave for Spring Quarter, and has previously performed under the conductorship of Thomas while performing for the American Bach Soloists.
According to Johns, the set list for the program features shorter songs with noticeable shifts in emotional weight.
“[The program] is intended to illustrate the wacky and offbeat in all of us — there’s some classical things, some jazzy things in there,” Johns said. “It’s a little bit whimsical like our daily lives are, where there are some moments that are somber and studious, and it can quickly change to expressions of joy.”
Lila Atchison, a UC Davis community member who sings soprano in the chorus, explained that the performance of this unique array of songs reflects the diverse membership of the University Chorus.
“It’s been great, a lot of students and community members are enjoying themselves, and there’s a lot of great music being made,” Atchison said. “Especially from this choir, people come from all walks of life. Most of the students in the choir aren’t music majors, which is really cool.”
Levi Sole, a community member who sings tenor for the choir, hopes that this diversity of spirit can be presented to the audience on June 6.
“I hope that we can stay on pitch. I hope that we can channel and display that diversity of spirit to the audience,” Sole said.
Sole also explained that the diversity of both the program list and the choir also offered its own challenges, which is conspicuously present in the shift between Cristobal de Morales’ “O Sacrum Convivum” and Anders Edenroth’s rendition of Sweden’s The Real Group’s “Chili con Carne.”
“[The program has] very old music and then there’s very new music in the space of 30 seconds. It’s a completely different mindset and thought process,” Sole said.
According to Johns, it’s a special opportunity to be able to rehearse and perform in the Mondavi Center with relative frequency.
“[The Mondavi Center is] still very young, and absolutely beautiful inside both to look at and hear things in. It’s such a versatile space for all sized performances. A lot of the great music conservatories don’t have venues of this size and quality,” Johns said.
PAUL SANCHEZ can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.