Mondavi Center enhances offerings with Mellon grant

four men in tuxes making music on flower pots
The So Percussion ensemble will be visiting UC Davis, thanks to the Mellon grant.

The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis has received a $400,000 award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will support innovative performances in classical music, residencies by major American orchestras and festivals connected to academic programs.

“This generous grant supports our belief in the power and beauty of classical music to enrich lives,” said Don Roth, executive director of the Mondavi Center. “It will give us the opportunity to deepen our work to engage audience members with classical music by supporting nontraditional and less formal concert formats, by collaborating with UC Davis artists and faculty to create exciting multifaceted music festivals, and by creating major artist residencies that bring community members and artists in closer contact.”

With the award the Mondavi Center this fall will expand its “Visions” series of cross-disciplinary and affordably priced programs spanning classical, contemporary and world music with multimedia elements. Building on the informal setting of the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, the Mondavi Center will construct digital sets displaying content unique to these performances and created in collaboration with the artists. The four groups, each giving two performances, will include the acclaimed So Percussion ensemble, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Phillipe Sly and John-Charles Britton performing Schubert lieder arranged for bass-baritone and guitar, and an exploration of 20th century American music from cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Lara Downes.

Grant funds programs through 2017 

The grant, which covers the period from July 2014 through June 2017, will allow the center to undertake at least two residencies with major American orchestras, similar to one held in 2013 with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra,

The residencies will include workshops and performances with local schools and in the community as well as at the university.

The award will also help fund several festivals with UC Davis academic units, including 2014–2015’s Music and Words Festival with the Department of Music and a partnership with Native American studies, both early next year. Words and Music will include a residency by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Melinda Wagner, performances of works by composer fellowship winners and Bob Ostertag, UC Davis professor of cinema and technocultural studies. The Mondavi Center and the UC Davis music department usually stage a festival in alternating years.  As a result of the support of the Mellon Foundation, these partners plan a major expansion of the festival concept in early 2017.

“The reports of classical music’s death have been greatly exaggerated,” Roth said “and the activities which the Mellon Foundation has supported and will continue to support at the Mondavi Center are proof that this wonderful art form is alive and well.”

This is the second time the Mondavi Center has received a Mellon Foundation performing arts grant. In 2011 the center was awarded $580,000 for similar initiatives.

Other Mellon Foundation grants

Earlier this year UC Davis was awarded $1.725 million from the Mellon Foundation to support research in the humanities during the next seven years. The grant is dedicated to supporting the humanities and the arts and will allow for creation of four new research initiatives in the humanities and arts. Additionally, a year-long partnership between the Cinema and Technocultural Studies Program and the UC Davis School of Law examining surveillance in modern democracies also received a grant this year of $175,000 through the Mellon Sawyer Seminars on the Comparative Study of Cultures.

Media Resources

Jeffrey Day, Arts, humanities and social sciences, 530-219-8258,

Rob Tocalino, Mondavi Center, 530-754-5422,

Secondary Categories

University Society, Arts & Culture