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Los Angeles: Cultural Programs

Programs and Activities

Through its cultural programs, the Los Angeles campus attempted to provide an accessible and ever-expanding source of aesthetic and intellectual experience for students and staff as well as for the general public. During the academic year 1963-64, an estimated 339,000 people attended concerts, lectures, art exhibits, films, and theatrical presentations.

Dance received special emphasis in the concert schedule during seasons in the mid-1960s as the result of increasing community interest in contemporary dance and the efforts of the Department of Dance.

The Los Angeles campus art galleries were open to the public daily, attracting an annual average audience of more than 30,000. The UCLA Art Council sponsored one major exhibition each year and an annual UCLA Art Council Lectureship, an occasion for public appearances by many leading art authorities. Frequent Department of Art exhibitions open to the public included rare prints and printmaking from the Grunwald Graphic Arts Foundation collections, sculpture, costume design, architecture, industrial and graphic design, ceramics, and both graduate and undergraduate student exhibitions of merit.

Theater and Film
The Theatre Group at Los Angeles, founded in 1959, was a pioneering experiment in campus-based professional theater. It was a joint venture by University Extension and the theatrical professions, presenting six professionally produced, directed, and acted productions each year drawn from both classical and contemporary repertoires. In 1962, the group received a Ford Foundation grant of $500,000. The Department of Theater Arts, in addition to its intramural, experimental production programs, presented an annual season of six plays that include significant works as well as many plays never before produced.

Los Angeles annually presented four major film series, concentrating on selected films of outstanding artistic merit which had been overlooked by the public. In addition, special series were devoted to the art of film making, tributes to great directors and actors, travel documentaries, educational and art films. Film programs often included short features written, directed, and produced by students of the theater arts film division. During the mid-1960s, Los Angeles students were consistent award winners at the Venice, London, and Edinburgh film festivals.

In music, more than 60 concerts a year ranging from solo recitals to major orchestral works were presented. In addition to world renowned artists, such as those presented in the "Great Artists" series, the Los Angeles campus supplemented the cultural calendar with the most significant in unique and avant-garde programs. The University's Committee on Fine Arts Productions, established in 1936 to maintain the high standards of performance at Los Angeles, functioned on a nonprofit and self-supporting basis to present artists and programs not financially feasible for most concert managers, often supplying the only possible platform for many specialized performers and their selective audiences. The Department of Music offered a large number of events each semester, highlighted by the annual fall presentation of the Opera Workshop under the direction of Jan Popper.


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Musical Organizations

The University Symphony Orchestra
The University Symphony Orchestra at Los Angeles was organized by Mehli Mehta, who was appointed director in September of 1964. Within two months the orchestra included 90 musicians and the first concert was given at Royce Hall on November 18th of that year. By the mid 1960s the orchestra gave regular symphony concerts both at Royce and Schoenberg Halls, performing a wide range of works. The orchestra also performed for the Opera Workshop productions and the concerts of the University choral groups.

The University Chorus
In the mid 1960s the University Chorus averaged about 150 members each semester, only ten per cent of whom were music majors. Its repertoire ranged from baroque through contemporary, with emphasis on the latter. Under the direction of Donn Weiss, the chorus performed such contemporary masterworks as Britten's Cantata Academica and Saint Nicholas, Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms, and Honegger's King David, all with orchestra.

The UCLA Women's Choir
The UCLA Women's Choir, circa 1965, was composed of approximately 50 women and sang choral literature of all periods. Concerts were given on campus and appearances were made in the community each semester. There was no audition for the choir, but the level of music and musicianship was high.

The UCLA Band
The UCLA Band originated with a 42 piece ROTC military band started in 1928. The band remained a military group until 1934, when its members, taking an interest in other campus activities, began to appear at football games and other events. In 1935, under the direction of Leroy Allen, the group became an integral part of campus life, providing music at rallies and games. Under C. B. Hunt and Patton McNaughton, the band grew to a full 128 piece organization in 1947. In 1952 Clarence Sawhill became director and with the assistance of Kelly James, he expanded the band program to include a 100 piece Concert Band, an 80 piece Symphonic Wind Ensemble, a 144-piece Marching Band, and a 60 piece Varsity Band.

The University Glee Club
The University Glee Club was organized in 1964. Under the direction of Donn Weiss, the 50 member all-male group presented a varied repertoire that included classical music, spirituals, and folksongs.


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