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
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
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 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.
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
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.
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.