People migrate, and they’ve done so for hundreds of years. UC Davis will focus on this phenomenon with the “Art of Migration,” a five-day festival starting Wednesday, Jan. 30.
Davis, after all, arguably came to exist because of migrants. Davis draws its name from Jerome C. Davis, who was born in Ohio in 1822 and came west as part of a survey expedition led by John C. Fremont (with Kit Carson as scout) about 1845; the party crossed the Sierra at what is now known as Carson Pass.
Davis returned to California in 1849 and tried his hand at gold mining — unsuccessfully — then settled in Yolo County and married into the Chiles family. The little town of Davisville, which later became known as Davis, carries his family name, and several hundred acres of ranch land he once owned became part of the University Farm, which in turn became UCD.
And UCD now attracts students and faculty from all over the world. Composer Sam Nichols of the UCD music department, one of the festival’s many organizers, says “migration takes many forms” and that its impact, and the process itself, manifests itself in several ways.
The festival’s official name is “Worlds of Discovery and Loss: the Art of Migration” and in its mission statement, it says that the festival “looks at the creative worlds generated by migration, and tries to locate various boundaries, both real and imagined.” The festival is packed into five days, from Wednesday, Jan. 30, to Sunday, Feb. 3, in the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
The festival will include three appearances by a visiting ensemble, the Calder String Quartet — a highly regarded foursome that was featured last summer at the Edinburgh International Festival, and recently gave several highly praised performances in the Bay Area.
Other guests will include Japanese marimba player Mayumi Hama, Chinese composer Lei Liang and Chan Park, who will represent the Korean p’ansori tradition of story-singing, performed by one singer with a barrel drum.
Also participating in this interdisciplinary festival will be UCD entities including the Mondavi Center, the Davis Humanities Institute, and the departments of art studio, performance studies, music, theater and dance, and sociology.
The festival will include the premiere of several new works, as well as the first regional performance of several recent works that will be seen or heard for the first time in this area.
Professor Robin Hill of the art department says “artists are a migratory species” and “artists who begin a work of art purposefully, not knowing where it will take them, who require a sense of being lost in order to arrive somewhere, are also performing a kind of migration.”
An outline of the events — many of which are free — is as follows:
* Wednesday, Jan. 30, 6:30-7:45 p.m.: Yocha Dehe Grand Lobby, Mondavi Center Drawings on Migrations. An exhibition of large-scale works on paper and small objects on display Jan. 30-Feb. 28. Artists works by Chau Huynh, Lisa Rybovich Crallé, Alan Hopkins, and Meredith Tromble, curated by Robin Hill, professor of studio art at UCD. Free, non-ticketed.
* Wednesday, Jan. 30, 8 p.m.: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center. Chan Park, Korean p’ansori. P’ansori is the tradition of Korean story-singing, and is performed by one singer with a barrel drum. Park is an associate professor at Ohio State University. Tickets: $20 adults, $8 students and children.
* Thursday, Jan. 31, 12:05 p.m.: Yocha Dehe Grand Lobby, Mondavi Center. Shinkoskey Noon Concert: Calder Quartet, Rootstock Percussion, Mayumi Hama, marimba. Free, non-ticketed.
* Thursday, Jan. 31, 2-4 p.m.: Yocha Dehe Grand Lobby, Mondavi Center. Panel discussion: “Art and Migration” moderated by David Kyle, professor of sociology at UCD, co-director of the Center of Expertise on Migration and Health, and faculty director of the UC Global Health Institute.
The guest panelists are Anthony Sheppard, musicologist and professor of music at Williams College; Maria Elena González, a Cuban-American sculptor; Philip Kan Gotanda, American playwright and filmmaker at UC Berkeley, as well as previous Granada artist-in-residence at UCD; Peter Kulchyski, native studies, University of Manitoba; and Chan Park, a Korean p’ansori expert and professor of Korean language, literature and performance studies at Ohio State University. Free, non-ticketed.
* Thursday, Jan. 31, 8 p.m.: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center. “Migration and Other Projects,” a presentation by master’s of fine arts degree candidates in the department of theater and dance, with support from the Institute for Exploration in Theatre, Dance and Performance.
It includes “The Migration Project/Le Projet Migration” choreography by Christine Germain in collaboration with Slater Penney and Maria Candelaria, recipient of the Best Choreography Award at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, 2012; “Crawl” by Jarrell Iu-Hui Chua and Bobby August Jr.; and two extracts from “Today I Live,” a full-length play by Susan Jane Arevalo Free, non-ticketed.
* Friday, Feb. 1, 8 p.m.: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center Empyrean Ensemble: Art of Migration, featuring Kurt Rohde and Mika Pelo, directors, and Matilda Hofman, conductor. Music by contemporary composers Lei Liang, David Coll, A.W. Khumalo, Kari Besharse. 7 p.m. pre-concert talk in the Yocha Dehe Grand Lobby. Tickets: $20 adult, $8 students and children.
* Saturday, Feb. 2, 8 p.m.: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center Calder Quartet (Program I). Music by 20th century composers Maurice Ravel and Bela Bartók, and contemporary composers Nicholas Omiccioli and Lei Liang. 7 p.m. pre-concert talk at with Liang. Tickets: $38 adults, $19 students and children.
* Saturday, Feb. 2, 10:30 p.m.: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center. “Stranger, Beware …,” a night of European cabaret with Bella Merlin of the department of theater and dance, and Michael Seth Orland, piano. Free, non-ticketed.
* Sunday, Feb. 3, 2 p.m.: Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center. Calder Quartet (Program II), music by contemporary composers Ryan Suleiman, Tina Tallon, Elliot Cless and classical composer Felix Mendelssohn. Post-concert Q&A with the quartet and faculty member Sam Nichols. Tickets: $38 adults, $19 students and children.
* Sunday, Feb. 3, 7 p.m.: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center. UCD Symphony Orchestra (Christian Baldini, music director and conductor) featuring Mayumi Hama, marimba. Music by contemporary composers Annie Hui-Hsin Hsieh: Icy Disintegration and Laurie San Martin, and 20th century composer Gyorgi Ligeti and Sergei Prokofiev. Tickets: $12-$17 adults, $8 students and children.
* Tuesday, Feb. 12, 8 p.m.: Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center. Author talk: Isabel Wilkerson on her book “The Warmth of Other Suns.” Tickets: $20-$40 general, $10-20 students.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at email@example.com or 530-747-8055.