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Site-clearing begins for UC Davis recital hall

Barbara Jackson, left, and Grace and Grant Noda celebrate the site-clearing Thursday for a new 375-seat music recital hall at UC Davis. The lobby will be named for the Nodas and the stage will be named for Jackson, in honor of their generous gifts toward the construction costs. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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From page A1 | November 16, 2012 | Leave Comment

The UC Davis music department celebrated the site-clearing for a long-awaited new 375-seat concert hall on Thursday, with an outdoor concert that celebrated the demolition of two old, outdated buildings to make way for the new venue.

Donors and longtime local music lovers Grace and Grant Noda and Barbara Jackson donned hard hats and led a demolition countdown, while drums rolled. The Nodas donated $1 million toward the project in 2008, and recently gave an additional $500,000. Jackson, for whom Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center is named, also made a “significant gift” toward the recital hall, in the words of Dean Jessie Ann Owens.

As the countdown ended, a lever was pushed down on a red box labeled “TNT,” triggering a 40-foot-high jet of colorful confetti, while a bass drum sounded thunderous beats. The festivities marked the destruction of Temporary Building 195, which already has been torn down, and an old boiler building, still standing as of Thursday, but not for long.

The lobby of the new building will be named in Grace and Grant Noda’s honor, in recognition of their gift. The stage will be named in honor of Jackson.

“Music has always been important to my family, and we are happy to be able to help,” Grace Noda said. “It was clear to us how much this is needed and how great an impact it will have.”

A total of $2.4 million has been donated thus far toward the recital hall, with another $2.6 million to be raised to get construction under way. The total cost of the project will be $15 million, with UC Davis putting up $10 million. Campus officials hope to break ground in 2014 and have the building completed sometime in 2015.

The 375-seat recital hall — to be equipped with a concert-quality grand piano — will be used as both classroom space and a performance space for music, and will be used by the UCD Chorus, Empyrean Ensemble, UCD Jazz Band, UCD Baroque Ensemble, UCD Early Music Ensemble and other groups. Add in the long-running Thursday noon series of free recitals and the total reaches an estimated 100 concerts per year.

The new building also will feature an anticipated four teaching studios/rehearsal rooms, a recording booth, artist and audience amenities, a production manager’s office and an outdoor plaza.

Music department chairman Henry Spiller noted that the department “has been bursting at the seams for decades as we have continued to squeeze in more and more students and programs — jazz, world music, ethnomusicology and popular music.”

Since the existing Music Building was completed in 1966, the number of faculty members in the department has more than doubled, and the number of undergraduate music majors has increased eightfold.

Spiller said the new recital hall building “will provide a crucial new space for general students, music majors, our guest performers, our dedicated faculty and the entire community to learn, perform and enjoy a wide variety of musical activities. The building will ring with activity and music practically all the time.”

Owens, dean of the Division of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies in the College of Letters and Science, and a professor of music, added that considerable attention will be devoted to designing a hall with a good acoustic — “and Jackson Hall at the Mondavi Center set the bar very, very high.”

A committee is evaluating several architects who are interested in designing the new building.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8055.

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