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Arts Programs

Arts Programs

Performing Arts

Photo of students from the Curtis Institute of Music
Students from the Curtis Institute of Music performing at UC Davis Cancer Center Auditorium.

The power of music, dance and theater to lift the human spirit is undeniable. People love to sing in the shower or hum along to music playing on the radio. We relax with background music while we work, and walk or jog to the beat of favorite tunes loaded onto our MP3 music players. And we love to attend live performances by musicians, dancers and stage actors. The performing arts mirror and articulate our emotions, energize us, bring us joy.

We display our love and respect for our nation by standing during the playing of the National Anthem. Wedding parties and graduating students march in processionals to the accompaniment of music.

Music has the power to evoke pleasant memories, to bring a lump to the throat, to motivate military squadrons, to make the spirit soar. It is a common bond that unites people of all cultures.

UC Davis Health System has established a performing arts program for the benefit and enjoyment of our staff, faculty, students, patients and their families, and members of the community at large. In collaboration with the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and various performing arts ensembles from the Davis campus, the health system presents performances at the Sacramento campus throughout the year. Most performances are staged in the UC Davis Cancer Center Auditorium, which offers fine acoustics and comfortable seating.

Some of the performing ensembles that have graced our stage are nationally or internationally renowned. They have scheduled appearances while on tour, in conjunction with appearances at the Mondavi Center in Davis.

Photo of a performance by Grupo Fantasma
Performance by Grupo Fantasma

Musical soloists and ensemble players who have staged performances at the Sacramento campus include:

  • Grupo Fantasma, an 11-member Latin dance band from Texas
  • Curtis on Tour, consisting of members of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music String Quartet from Philadelphia
  • Robert Belinic, a brilliant classical acoustic guitarist who won the 2001 Young Concert Artists European Auditions in Leipzig, Germany, and the following year became the first guitarist to win the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York
  • Emmy-winning film composer and pianist Misha Segal, who has scored more than 80 motion pictures, including Phantom of the Opera, and has recorded with Chick Corea, Freddy Hubbard, Smokey Robinson, Luther Vandross, Nancy Wilson, Randy Crawford and other singers and performers of note.

The health system also presents outdoor summer concerts by local performers, events to which we welcome local-area residents and businesses as well as our own staff, faculty, students and patients.

Performers who have appeared at our Sacramento campus include the Pediatric String Quartet, which pediatricians Jesse Joad and Anthony Philipps created and direct. Joad, who plays cello, is a professor of pediatric pulmonary medicine and associate dean for diversity and faculty life. Philipps, who plays violin, is a professor of pediatric neonatology, chair of the health system’s Department of Pediatrics, and medical director of UC Davis Children’s Hospital. The string quartet’s viola player is Suzanne Eidson-Ton, an assistant clinical professor of family and community medicine and assistant director of the Family and Community Medicine Obstetric Residency Program. The ensemble’s roster of guest musicians includes other faculty physicians, medical residents and performers from the local medical community. The quartet performs at medical school graduation ceremonies, retirement events, receptions for visiting scientists and other special occasions.

Students of the medical and nursing schools make use of two pianos that were donated for use in the Education Building. They find music a restful release from the rigors of study, and their fellow students and instructors enjoy their performances. Faith Fitzgerald, professor of internal medicine and associate dean of ethics and humanities, donated one of the pianos and periodically takes groups of medical students to the Sacramento Opera.

Photo of patient with music therapist

Within the UC Davis Children's Hospital's Child Life Program, music therapist Kathy Lorenzato uses rhythm and familiar songs to comfort and calm young patients. The play room and teen room in which she presents daily music sessions offer a refuge from the hospital environment that can be terrifying for children. In the sing-along sessions, kids play keyboard instruments, guitars or drums. The sessions are open to parents, and give family members a chance to enjoy a simple pleasure together. The hospital’s collection of musical instruments includes drums from throughout the world. In addition, Lorenzato conducts private sessions for patients who are in traction, medical isolation or immobile for any other reason. The therapy is helpful and soothing for the most profoundly ill or injured children; even if they are unable to respond with facial expressions, the medical instruments that are monitoring them reveal the calming effects of Lorenzato’s singing.