The Mondavi Center announces its 2022-23 season of performing arts, celebrating 20 years of presenting the finest in music, dance, speakers and theater. The season, supported by the Nancy and Hank Fisher Family Fund, begins in earnest Oct. 6 with a performance by the San Francisco Symphony almost 20 years to the day that the symphony appeared at the Mondavi Center’s Opening Gala.
This time the symphony, led by new music director Esa-Pekka Salonen and featuring soprano Golda Schultz, will kick off a season that features the richness and variety audiences have come to expect from the Mondavi Center.
Less earnest, perhaps, but decidedly more comical, “Weird Al” Yankovic appears in a preseason “Just Added” event on Sept. 24.
The season concludes May 21, 2023, with the Curtis Symphony Orchestra featuring conductor Osmo Vänskä and Yefim Bronfman on piano.
“We knew that our 20th anniversary season needed to be special,” said Don Roth, the Mondavi Center’s executive director. “That, as always, we would discover amazing new artists such as Emmet Cohen and Becca Stevens. That we would bring, as well, Mondavi Center favorites, when possible, exploring a different side of their talent, such as Yo-Yo Ma performing at the center of arguably the greatest piano trio in the world with Emanuel Ax and Leonidas Kavakos.
“What we didn't know, when we first starting thinking about this anniversary season, is that we would be emerging from a time that has challenged everyone one of us, our staff, the artists we present and the patrons we welcome. I feel so fortunate that I get to work with the great Mondavi Center team to provide the kinds of restorative experiences — through music, dance, theater and lectures — that can lift us out of our daily life and concerns, and provide enrichment, entertainment and joy.”
The powerhouse trio of pianist Emanuel Ax, violinist Leonidas Kavakos and cellist Yo-Yo Ma brings the music of Beethoven to the sublime acoustics of Jackson Hall on Jan. 24. Violinist Joshua Bell (Dec. 10) brings another dazzling recital to Davis, while pianist Vladimir Feltsman (April 8) completes his three-year cycle of recitals after a two-year pause. Another longtime Mondavi Center friend, violinist Itzhak Perlman returns with longtime accompanist Rohan de Silva (Jan. 14).
In addition to the San Francisco Symphony (Oct. 8) and Curtis Symphony Orchestra (May 21), the center welcomes for the first time the iconic City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 15) under the baton of dynamic conductor and music director Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla with soloist Sheku Kanneh-Mason on cello.
The only group to appear in every Mondavi Center season (including the virtual 2020-21 season) is the Alexander String Quartet with Robert Greenberg, who return for three performances (Dec. 4, Jan. 15 and April 2) completing their two-year cycle featuring the chamber music of Antonín Dvořák.
The American Bach Soloists (Dec. 17) return with A Baroque Christmas program featuring excerpts from Handel’s Messiah including the famed “Hallelujah” Chorus.
Michael Barenboim & West-Eastern Divan Ensemble (March 10) features young Israeli and Palestinian musicians playing classical music together.
And maestro James Conlon reclaims lost musical history with his Recovered Voices project. Over two days a chamber orchestra (April 10) and chamber music ensemble (April 11) from the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles will perform music by Jewish composers whose careers — or lives — were interrupted by the Nazi regime in Germany. The center will also host a symposium with maestro Conlon in partnership with the UC Davis Department of Jewish Studies (April 11).
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Mondavi Center for the first time since 2013, bringing two performances (April 18 and 19) of the troupe’ acclaimed repertoire including the landmark Revelations.
From across the Atlantic, Ballet Preljocaj returns with a modern retelling of the timeless Swan Lake (March 5) featuring Tchaikovsky’s score augmented by modern electronic music.
An entirely different kind of dance comes to the stage with Dublin Irish Dance’s Wings (April 14), a rich production featuring Irish and world champion dancers together with Ireland’s finest musical and vocal virtuosos.
This season’s big news is the return of the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre in its jazz club guise. The Mondavi Center will host three three-night runs in the VST over this season: pianists Connie Han (Oct. 20-22) and Emmet Cohen (Nov. 17-19) each lead their acclaimed trios, while Sammy Miller & The Congregation (Feb. 16-18) bring their infectious brand of jazz.
The Jackson Hall stage is home to the brightest stars in the jazz firmament. Cecile McLorin Salvant (Jan. 27) is one of the finest vocalists working today in any genre, and her every Mondavi Center appearance reveals new facets of her profound talent. Powerhouse Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez and percussionist Pedrito Martinez (Feb. 24) pair up for a dynamic duo concert.
Bluegrass has been quiet but consistent element of many Mondavi Center seasons. This year raises the volume a bit with an all-star quartet featuring mandolinists Sam Bush and Mike Marshall, alongside bassist Edgar Meyer and his son, violinist George Meyer (Jan. 20).
North Carolina native Becca Stevens (Feb. 9) creates music that combines jazz, Appalachian folk music, indie rock and pop. And from South Carolina comes Ranky Tanky (April 1), performing music inspired by the Gullah culture, joined by multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons (a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops).
Highlighting music based in the African American experience, Notes on Hope is a new creation from soprano J’nai Bridges and drummer Ulysses Owens Jr. (April 30) and a full band. Lara Downes and John McWhorter (May 5) will use music and spoken word to explore Scott Joplin & The Birth of American Music.
Two remarkable theater events this season highlight social issues in unique ways. Why Not Theatre’s Prince Hamlet (Oct. 21-22) is a bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet told in American Sign Language and English. Evolve (Nov. 11-13) is a unique theatrical experience exploring divergent points of view between police and Black Americans from Portland’s Red Door Project.
October features two remarkable Grammy-winning vocalists from Latin America: Aida Cuevas (Oct. 12) is a legend in her native Mexico, as is her longtime group Mariachi Juvenil Tecalitlán; Venezuelan singer Nella (Oct. 29) is an emerging superstar who combines folkloric roots with contemporary rhythms.
‘With a Twist’
Hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure, an evening with Australian cabaret artist Meow Meow (March 31) will have you holding on to your seats (as she might try to take them from you) and grabbing for handkerchiefs. And, an orchestra made up entirely of ukuleles leavened with a hefty dose of British humor make the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (April 28) one of the more popular — and hilarious — groups to regularly visit the Mondavi Center.
Introducing youth to the performing arts has been a longstanding mission of the Mondavi Center. Lightwire Theater presents Dino-Light (Jan. 22) a glow-in-the-dark adventure praised for its blend of puppetry, technology and dance. Japanese taiko group Yamato (Feb. 26) returns with its newest spectacle, Hinotori: The Wings of Phoenix. Austin, Texas’ Theatre Heroes (May 7) has created a multimedia version of Jack London’s classic tale The Call of the Wild.
The Mondavi Center has a proud history of presenting pre-eminent thinkers and humorists. This season’s Campus Community Book Project features author and activist Zach Norris (Feb. 16) speaking on the topic of his book Defund Fear: Safety Without Policing, Prisons and Punishment. More speakers will be announced as the season is finalized.
- The 2022-23 digital brochure is available online.
- Subscriptions offer discounted packages of three events or more. Subscribers enjoy priority seating, early access to added shows, and discounted tickets throughout the 2022-23 season. More subscription information is available here.
- The Mondavi Center and UC Davis are committed to providing healthy and safe facilities for audiences, performers and staff. Based on campus, state and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines at the time of performance, protocols may be in place. We will continue to update our website with current protocols as information becomes available.
- Ticket prices start at $25. Prices fluctuate throughout the season; the most current pricing is always available at mondaviarts.org.
- Performers, event dates and times are all subject to change.
- Rob Tocalino, Mondavi Center, email@example.com