Mondavi Center Announces New Season; Will Run October Through May

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Fran Lebowitz, Las Cafeteras, Becca Stevens, Joshua Bell and More

Arturo O-Farrill
Arturo O'Farrill will perform at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in October. (Laura Mariet/photo)

After 19 months without live performances, The Mondavi Center for Performing Arts at the University of California, Davis, announced today its 2021–22 season. The entertainment begins Oct. 14 with Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra and closes May 19, 2022, with flutist, electronic musician and academic Grace Leslie.

More than ever, the Mondavi Center is focused on its audiences, with a priority on safety and flexibility while delivering the dynamic programming that it is known for.

“Every Mondavi Center season announcement is eagerly anticipated and exciting, a highlight in our cultural calendar. But now, launching a season on the heels of a pandemic year, which kept our theaters dark for more than a year and a half, makes this a truly extraordinary moment,” said Mondavi Center Executive Director Don Roth.

“I am thrilled that we can present to you a season of artists and thinkers, many of whom have profound things to say about where we are as a culture and where we’re going as a society. Just as importantly, each one of them will remind us of the magic that only happens with live performance. We are thrilled to return, as the lights start to go on again in theaters, galleries and museums across our region, our nation and the world.”

UC Davis Arts All Returning Live

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art reopened June 3 with a diverse roster of new exhibitions that will be on view through Nov. 12, 2021. Gallery capacity is limited to keep visitors and staff safe. Visit to reserve free timed tickets and learn more about the new season.

The UC Davis Music Department's concert schedule is in the works, with full orchestra dates and times posted soon here.

Jazz & Roots

Kicking off the season, Arturo O’Farrill’s Fandango at the Wall on Oct. 14 tears down musical walls, exploring jazz, classical, Broadway, hip hop and son jarocho with special guests the Villalobos Brothers and the Conga Patria Son Jarocho Collective. The first of two Marsalis brothers to appear this season, Delfeayo Marsalis brings his Uptown Jazz Orchestra on Oct. 23.

Pamyua, on Nov. 21, will play Inuit soul music, its own genre that merges traditional Inuit drumdance melodies with R&B vocal styles and dance. Singer Veronica Swift, also on Nov. 21, has built a résumé that even many late-career jazz singers would envy. Her latest album, This Bitter Earth, shows even further growth from this prodigious talent. Damien Sneed brings Joy to the World: A Christmas Musical Journey on Dec. 4 — just in time to ring in the holiday spirit with original arrangements of jazz, gospel and classical favorites.

Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra continue their long relationship with the Mondavi Center, presenting the full vigor and vision of American’s music on Feb. 2. Making a Mondavi Center debut, singer and songwriter Becca Stevens, on Feb. 10, makes music that is based in folk and jazz, but makes room for smart lyrics and funky beats. Another debut features keyboardist Matthew Whitaker on March 25, a phenomenon on the Hammond B3 organ and piano, and his talented band mates. The next night, cabaret artist and provocateur Meow Meow will bring her remarkable voice and keen physical comedy together for an unforgettable evening of music, crowd-surfing and tragicomic delight.

Classical with Alexander String Quartet, opera, more

Pianist Christopher Taylor will, over two weekends at opposite ends of the season (Nov. 6–7 and April 22–23), perform all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies in transcriptions for solo piano by Franz Liszt. The Alexander String Quartet, the only group to have performed in every Mondavi Center season, will focus on the chamber music of Antonin Dvořák over three concerts (Dec. 5, Jan. 30 and May 15).

Robert Greenberg will provide lively commentary on the music, with illustrations by Alexander String Quartet, before each performance in Mondavi’s Jackson Hall.

Academy of St Martin in the Fields. (Benjamin Ealovega, photo)

Bringing a New York City holiday tradition to Davis, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, on Dec. 10, will perform J.S. Bach’s complete Brandenburg Concertos. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, on Jan. 15, under the baton of its new music director, Vasily Petrenko, will perform Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Olga Kern, as well as Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme.

Heartbeat Opera, on Feb. 19, delivers on its promise to rejuvenate opera in its adaptation of Beethoven’s Fidelio, in which a Black activist is wrongly incarcerated and his wife disguises herself to infiltrate the system and free him. Proving the adage that two is better than one, pianists Garrick Ohlsson and Kirill Gerstein, on March 6, will join forces in a piano duo performance featuring works by Rachmaninoff, Ravel and Busoni. One of the most beloved ensembles in the world, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields with Joshua Bell, on March 12,  makes a welcome return to Davis.

Pianist Lara Downes, on April 7, brings another innovative project, this time working with composer Clarice Assad on World of Change, a suite of pieces reflecting on global transformation, disruption and destruction, renewal and rebirth.

Speakers include thinkers, humorists

The Mondavi Center has a proud history of presenting pre-eminent thinkers and humorists. This season begins with author and quintessential New Yorker Fran Lebowitz on Feb. 24.

Fran Lebowitz in front of backdrop
Fran Lebowitz will speak Feb. 24 at The Mondavi Center, UC Davis. (Cybele Malinowski/photo)

Author and scholar Heather McGhee, on April 3, is one of the most brilliant and influential thinkers exploring inequality today as evidenced by her groundbreaking work The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. David Sedaris, appearing May 1, is one of America’s preeminent humor writers, whose wildly popular live readings feature his acerbic wit and keen observations of the human condition.


Circa, the Australian cirque company, brings its new work Humans 2.0 on Jan. 28, pushing the boundaries of what circus and acrobatics can be while celebrating what it means to be human. Equality of Night and Day is a new work by Ronald K. Brown and Evidence, A Dance Company,  on Feb. 26, that examines the concepts of balance, equity and fairness. It features an original score by Jason Moran, spoken-word elements from poet and activist Angela Davis, and a photographic display projected on stage curated by Deborah Willis.

Global works

Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández, on March 18, brings together the music, dance and costume of Mexican folklore from pre-Colombian civilizations through the modern era. Las Cafeteras, on April 28, combine Afro-Mexican beats, rhythms and rhymes to deliver inspiring lyrics that document stories of a community seeking love and justice in Los Angeles.


When work presses at genre boundaries, the Mondavi Center brings it together under the Intersections banner.

Eliza Jane Schneider, on Nov. 11, combines her talents as a voice-over artist and dialect coach in Freedom of Speech, a theater piece that takes viewers on a cross-country road trip to capture a picture of America you won’t see — or hear — anywhere else. Still Will Be Heard, Nov. 17-19, is a music-theater piece by Liz Queler that takes us on a journey through the poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Kinetech Arts, March 9 and 10, combines the work of dancers, scientists and digital artists to create its pieces; its new work Passages is an immersive experience that explores the relationship between entropy and time.

Paul Dresher and Joel Davel create lush textures and rhythmically propulsive grooves that fascinate the ear and the eye with instruments they created in the Dresher Davel-Invented Instrument Duo (March 11 and 12).  In Ritual Encounters the work of artists Ashwini Bhat and Forrest Gander reconfigures the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at Mondavi as a kind of temple that celebrates the secular, sacred environment of Mount Tamalpais.  That all happens April 14 through May 6.

Grace Leslie, on May 19, creates “brain-body” performances that combine flute and electronics improvisation that is triggered by electrical readings of Leslie’s brain, heart and skin.

Mondavi brochure

The Mondavi Center’s digital brochure, with complete information on the artists referenced in this press release, is available at (The website is embargoed and password protected until 1 p.m., June 7. )

The Mondavi Center’s 2021–22 season is supported by a long list of members, donors and corporate partners including Western Health Advantage, UC Davis Health, Downey Brand, Capital Public Radio, Sactown Magazine, Hyatt Place UC Davis, UC Davis Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, UC Davis Global Affairs, and Park Winters.


Subscriptions at the Mondavi Center are discounted packages of three events or more. Subscribers enjoy priority seating, early access to added shows, and discounted tickets throughout the 2021–22 season. More subscription information is available at

Safety and protocols

The Mondavi Center and UC Davis are committed to providing healthy and safe facilities for audiences, performers and staff. Based on campus, state and CDC guidelines at the time of performance, protocols may include mask enforcement, increased cleaning and ventilation/filtration enhancements, vaccination or negative test verification, and more. We will continue to update our website with current protocols as information becomes available.


Ticket prices start at $25. Ticket prices fluctuate throughout the season; the most current pricing is always available at

All performance dates and times are subject to change.


Media Resources

Media Contacts:

  • Karen Nikos-Rose, News and Media Relations,, 530-219-5472
  • Rob Tocalino, Mondavi Center,, 530-754-5422

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