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Long-anticipated music recital hall breaks ground at UC Davis

By From page A1 | May 04, 2014

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Donors to UC Davis' new music recital hall don hard hats and wield shovels at Friday's groundbreaking on campus. From left are Grant and Grace Noda, Barbara Jackson and Clairlee Leiser Bulkley. Phil Daley/Courtesy photo

After many years of planning and fundraising, UC Davis broke ground Friday for a 394-seat music recital hall and classroom building, located next to the existing Music Building.

The new hall — which will host chamber music ensembles and solo performances — will have a high ceiling and acoustically reflective wood paneling, intended to replicate the much-admired sound quality in the Mondavi Center’s 1,800-seat Jackson Hall on campus.

The 17,500-square-foot facility also will include four teaching studios for music instruction and rehearsals, a dressing room and a green room for performers, and a glass-walled lobby suitable for receptions.

The lobby will bear the name of longtime Davis residents Grace and Grant Noda, who have donated $1.5 million toward the $15 million project. The Nodas, as well as arts benefactor and Davis resident Barbara Jackson — who also made a donation toward the music recital hall — were among the dignitaries turning over the first shovels full of dirt.

Grace Noda smiled when she saw the shovels decorated with cello scrolls on the handles, because she’s a cellist. She told The Enterprise she “could almost see the recital hall being built” in the air around her as Grant observed, “It wouldn’t have happened without (Grace). She loves music.”

“This is a day that has been a long time in the making,” said Jessie Ann Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies, adding that the new recital hall will be “an asset for our campus and the region.”

Owens voiced appreciation for Chancellor Emeritus Larry Vanderhoef, who was sitting in the audience, noting his pledge during his inaugural address in 1994 to build a concert hall, an art museum and a recital hall at UCD.

The concert hall opened in 2002. The Shrem Museum of Art broke ground on March 1 and Friday’s ceremony completed his promise.

Chancellor Linda Katehi said the decision to build the recital hall was made in 2009 or 2010, “right after the state decided to cut our budget at this campus substantially. … (But) while we were cutting left and right on other projects, a decision was made to make a major investment in this recital hall. …

“You may ask ‘why?’ It is because the arts, and music specifically, is not just a discipline, it is a core pillar for everything we do on this campus … a glue that brings people together.”

Katehi spoke of how music classes attract not only music majors, but also students majoring in many other disciplines, ranging from science to literature to history. She also noted that many UCD alumni attend concerts organized by the music department, adding, “It is a way of getting people together to share common values, and create a culture that supports our university in the near- and long-term.”

Naturally, the groundbreaking ceremony featured performances by four groups based in the music department: the UC Davis Gamelan Ensemble; the Empyrean Ensemble, a professional group, premiering a new piece by faculty composer Ross Bauer titled “in the midst of it all” that was written for the ceremony); a string quartet made up of undergraduates performing a movement from Antonín Dvorák’s popular “American” string quartet; and the Korean Percussion Ensemble.

Music professor emeritus D. Kern Holoman lent a touch of historical perspective to the occasion, reading aloud from a yellowed memo he had written back in 1981, detailing plans for a fundraising effort to build new recital hall. Dean Owens dubbed Holoman the “quintessential Energizer bunny” who had beaten the drums in support of the project for decades.

It was also announced during the ceremony that D.Kern and Betty Holoman had made a substantial donation toward the project, and that one of the teaching studios in the new building would be named for the couple. Other teaching studios will be named for earlier donors Ralph and Clairlee Leiser Bulkley, and for Natalie and Malcolm MacKenzie.

Fundraising is still underway, with the goal of another $1.3 million in pledges toward the project. The new building is expected to open in fall 2015.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected]

Jeff Hudson

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