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Cultural Programs

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Davis: Cultural Programs

Cultural Programs and Activities

Since the city of Davis was small, it could not provide much cultural activity on its own. Therefore, the community looked to the campus for most local events. The productions on campus were well attended and supported by the community and also by a good share of the Sacramento valley community.

Committee for Drama and Lectures
Most of the cultural events at Davis were traditionally presented by the campus Committee for Drama and Lectures (CAL), originally known as the Committee for Drama, Lectures, and Music.

Since its founding in the late 1940s, the committee presented a wide range of lectures, concerts, solo artists, plays, and classic films. Concerts ranged from Dave Brubeck Quartet to the Fine Arts Quartet and included all styles and types of music and ensemble combinations. During the mid-1960s, programs included the Cleveland Symphony, Lenox Quartet, Actor's Workshop of San Francisco, the Oakland Symphony, Andrés Segovia, Dizzy Gillespie, and the New Music Ensemble.

All-University Concerts
Several All-University Concerts were presented in cooperation with CAL, as were many concerts that involved faculty and student members of the music department.

All the cultural programs presented by CAL, except most lectures and the films, were held in Freeborn Hall, an 1,800-seat assembly hall that was part of the Memorial Union complex. This hall replaced Recreation Hall, which was used until 1962.

The Associated Students, under the auspices of its Memorial Union Student Council, presented a varied program of concerts throughout the school year. Most of them featured popular or folk music.

Dramatic Productions
Dramatic and musical productions as extra curricular activities dated back to the 1920s on the campus. With the founding of the College of Letters and Science, they became part of the academic program.

After 1954, the dramatic art faculty offered more plays each school year for the campus community. First, the plays were presented in Recreation Hall and later, in an old dining hall in East Hall converted to a studio theatre. It was replaced with facilities in the new fine arts complex which opened in 1966. In addition, Wyatt Pavilion Theatre was opened in 1964. This former judging pavilion on the campus seated about 200 persons. Elizabethan in concept, it offered the department opportunity to stage plays from various periods in a semi-arena setting.

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Musical Programs and Organizations

In addition to its cooperative programs with CAL, the music department presented a variety of concerts throughout the year, ranging from solo recitals to complete orchestral and choral concerts and including both student and faculty performers. The department also presented noon concerts in the library each month and provided original music for most campus dramatic productions; the two departments combined forces several times for musical plays and operas.

The University Symphony
The University Symphony at Davis was founded in 1957-58 by Richard Swift, who conducted the group until 1964. Robert Bloch succeeded him as conductor. The symphony regularly performed two public concerts each year as well as a number of concerts for the Davis public schools. Guest performers with the orchestra included the University Chorus in performances of Handel's Ode for St. Cecilia's Day and music by Haydn, Milhaud, and Mozart.

Chamber Music
A number of chamber music ensembles existed on the Davis campus after 1951. Jerome Rosen coached these groups from 1951-56, Richard Swift from 1956-61, and members of the Griller Quartet from 1961-64. After that time, the ensembles were coached by Robert Bloch, Richard Swift, Marvin Tartak, and Arthur Woodbury. Ensembles included various baroque groups: a student string quartet, a student wind quartet and quintet, brass ensembles of various sizes, and a number of piano trio and piano quartet ensembles. These groups all performed at student concerts and noon campus concerts. Some toured the University campuses under the auspices of the Intercampus Arts Exchange Program.

The University Concert Band
The University Concert Band was formed in 1952 by Jerome Rosen who was the conductor until 1958. After 1958, Larry Austin conducted the group, and in 1963, Arthur Woodbury became associate conductor. The band performed twice a year on campus, drawing from a repertory of music composed especially for concert band. It performed works by Copland, Ives, Beethoven, Arnold Schoenberg, members of the music faculty at Davis, and others.

The Marching Band began in 1929 when J. Price Gittinger came to Davis as supervisor of musical activities. He served as band director until 1948. During the early years, the band was composed of students, faculty and Davis townspeople. In 1935, the first all-student marching band was formed and shortly after came under the sponsorship of the Associated Students at Davis. Directors included Jerome Rosen (1952-58), Larry Austin (1958-64), and Arthur Woodbury after 1964. The 60 member all-male group performed regularly at football games and rallies, and led the annual Picnic Day Parade. After football season was over, the Mav'rik Band was formed to support the basketball team.

The Repertory Band
The Repertory Band was formed in 1960 by its conductor, Larry Austin. This organization of mixed winds, brass, percussion, and strings performed music written for ensembles of various sizes that did not fit into the orchestra or concert band repertoire. Music performed included Milhaud's Le Beouf sur le toit, Stravinsky's Symphonies pour vent, and new music by faculty composers Larry Austin and Richard Swift.

The University Chorus
The University Chorus, founded in 1951 by Jerome Rosen, performed at least two concerts each year on the Davis campus and occasional extra concerts with the University Symphony, Concert Band, and Repertory Band. Large works performed by the group included Stravinsky's Mass, Purcell's Great Service, and Bach's Motets. The chorus also performed new music by Copland and Milhaud, and faculty members Rosen and George Perle. Following Rosen, Richard Swift and George Perle served as conductors.

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Last updated 06/18/04.