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Irvine: Cultural Programs

University Extension
Irvine, in cooperation with University Extension, began well in advance of formal opening of the campus to present a variety of cultural programs. By 1963, Orange County was the site of the third largest University Extension program, enrolling approximately 3,000 persons each semester in classes and an equal additional number in lecture series and special cultural events. While at that time the program was administered from Los Angeles, Irvine sponsored three chancellor's series: '"The Arts Today," "Five Evenings of Music," and "The Urban Explosion."

Arthur J. Marder, professor of history, became the first Irvine faculty member to present a public lecture series. From October, 1964, through January, 1965, he gave eight lectures on "The Western Tradition" to a capacity invitational audience in an auditorium near the unfinished campus.

With the opening of the campus in 1965, University Extension moved administration of its programs in Orange County to Irvine. Richard N. Baisden was named director. Initial extension cultural offerings at Irvine were the "William Butler Yeats Centennial," including readings, lectures, recitals, and films, and courses in writing, art, orchestra, chorus, and theater.

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The Division of Fine Arts
The Division of Fine Arts in fall, 1965, began production of student concerts, musicals, and dramatic performances, collaborating with the Committee for Arts and Lectures to present a varied offering of cultural events, including distinguished lecturers, concert artists, film series, and gallery exhibitions. Presentations of exceptional note during the 1965 season were the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, directed by Zubin Mehta, which gave the maiden concert in Campus Hall, and the initial concerts of the University Chorus, under Roger Wagner, and the University Orchestra, under Mehli Mehta.

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Besides Campus Hall, which seated nearly 1,600, facilities on campus for cultural presentations at the outset included the 350-seat Science Lecture Hall, the 170-seat Fine Arts Studio Theater, and the Fine Arts Gallery. Scheduled for completion in 1969 were fine arts buildings to include a 600-seat theater and a 300-seat concert hall.

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Music Groups
Formed at Irvine shortly after the establishment of the campus were a University Orchestra, under the direction of Mehli Mehta; a University Chorus, under Roger Wagner and Maurice Allard; and the University Chamber singers, under Allard. The chamber singers were a select group of 16 members from the chorus, which numbered 60. First concerts by the chorus and the orchestra were given in 1965. The chamber singers made their debut in March 1966.

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