Spring Conservatory lineup includes Latin Grammy Award-winning composer
University of the Pacific has secured some of the nation’s top musicians to perform for the community and mentor students in the Conservatory of Music during the spring semester, including a Grammy-winning composer and four-time Grammy-nominated jazz musician.
“Each week there are joyful events that demonstrate Pacific’s commitment to inclusion through music,” said Conservatory of Music Dean Peter Witte. “Faculty have designed an incredible spring season, including recitals with many of our newest faculty stars, and our students and faculty will collaborate with path-setting artists.”
Gabriela Lena Frank will be Pacific’s composer-in-residence Feb. 20-23. Frank was named one of the top 35 most significant women composers of the 20th and 21st centuries by the Washington Post in 2017. She also is composer-in-residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra, a Guggenheim Fellow and a winner of a Latin Grammy.
“She is truly one of the foremost contemporary composers, period,” said Andrew Conklin, assistant professor and program director of music composition. “It’s huge for us to get her here.
“She’ll be working closely with our composition majors to do hands-on group composition, instruction and master classes. In addition to that, she will be working with our student and faculty performers to rehearse, interpret and perform some of her chamber music compositions and will be a resource for all of our conservatory students.”
Kalena Bovell, associate conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and Conductor of the Memphis Youth Symphony, joins Pacific as guest conductor-in-residence Feb. 10. She also has had recent residences at Juilliard and the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Bovell will be the first woman of color to conduct Pacific’s University Symphony Orchestra in concert. All three works students will perform with Bovell are by historically underrepresented composers.
Pacific’s Opera Theatre program will perform George Frideric Handel’s “Alcina” March 21-24. The opera program has had tremendous success over the past two years, winning second place in the National Opera Association’s production competition for 2023’s “Into the Woods” and first place for 2022’s production of “The Threepenny Opera.”
“We have been doing a lot of work on the music and getting used to the language since we’re doing it all in Italian,” said voice performance major Jordan Yang ’24. “We've been focusing on getting the language into our system so that we have an easier time learning the music. It’s been going really smoothly.”
Four-time Grammy Award-nominee Stefon Harris, a vibraphonist, will perform with the Pacific Jazz Ensemble April 17 at 7:30 p.m. Harris will also teach jazz students during his visit to Pacific. In addition to his musical career, Harris is a former Ted Talk speaker. His 2011 Ted Talk, “There are no mistakes on the bandstand,” has more than 825,000 views.
A screening of the documentary "The Beat of the Heart” will take place April 26 as part of the 85th anniversary of Pacific’s music therapy program and will be followed by a question-and-answer session. The documentary shows how music therapist Brian Schreck records cancer patients’ heartbeats and incorporates them into unique musical compositions.
“The music can be composed by the patient or family members or incorporated into a preexisting piece,” explained Eric Waldon, professor and music therapy program director. “We frequently see these with patients receiving hospice care, but these heartbeat recordings are also being used more and more to celebrate a significant event in someone’s life, such as finishing chemotherapy.”
Schreck is co-teaching a course on heartbeat recordings this semester for students to learn the technique.
Other highlights from the spring schedule include:
- Pacific Wind Bands will perform with students from Stockton’s Edison High School and Franklin High School bands Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
- Guest artist Danilo Mezzadri, winner of the Brazilian International Flute Association Competition, performs April 8 at 7:30 p.m.
- The University Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Choirs will perform Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria,” with Conservatory Concerto Competition winners April 27 at 7:30 p.m.
- Numerous faculty and student recitals
Most Conservatory events are free for Pacific students, faculty and staff; $5 for seniors; and $10 for general admission. Opera Theatre productions are $15 for students and $30 for general admission. Additional information is available online.