music / Out and About

Symphonic Eggheads

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The day of the Egghead Music Walk was just a little warmer than pleasant, but nothing short-sleeves and sunscreen couldn’t fix. The sizable crowd that gathered in front of Mrak Hall for the first stop of the walk didn’t seem to mind. They bunched around the little stage on the sidewalk and sprinkled themselves on the lush grass around the “See no evil/Hear no evil” eggheads. The gathering quieted almost magically as the first piece was introduced: “hear no evil … after Arneson, Bach and Copland” composed by Kurt Rohde. The song was lively yet brooding with trilling fade-outs and a purposeful atonality that would appear in all the pieces played throughout the walk. [A quick note about the pieces, they were all composed by UC Davis professors specifically for this event, and have never before been performed in public.]

The next stop was on the other side of Mrak at the upside down egghead called “Eye on Mrak (Final Laff)” where Swedish composer, Mike Pelo introduced his piece, “Night Music” dedicated to all the people who walked by the egghead at night. It was a delicately spooky song with a evoking a stylized horror film mentality. After that we were walked to Shields Library where the crowd gathered around the “Bookhead” egghead and the composer, Laurie San Martin, introduced her piece “Tiny Font” inspired by her eight year-old daughter. The song had a lively start, with some quieter bits and plucking motif woven in.

From the library we were guided to the art corner of campus and the “Yin & Yang” eggheads in front of Wright Hall. This location was the only one where two pieces were performed. The first was “Both Sides” composed by Ross Bauer who sought to evoke both Yin and Yang with his high and heavy piece full of dark undertones.

The second song, “The Fleeting Ying of Motive” was composed by Argentinian composer Pablo Ortiz who used his background in tango and working with dancers to create a piece that evoked an older style of music, the kind that antagonistic not-yet lovers dance to in period films.

The final stop was by Dutton Hall at the “Stargazer” egghead. The composer was Sam Nichols who warned us that his piece, “Portrait of an Artist (detail)” which was originally intended to capture the playfulness of the sculptures had veered a bit into obsessiveness. This indeed came through in the light and eerie piccolo, the thumping double bass and the piano weaving in between them. After this, Robert Arneson’s widow, whose husband created the eggheads, spoke about how the event really captured his love of music and the arts. Then there was a nice outdoors reception with delicious brownies. Pablo Ortiz, called it a “very successful bringing together the traditions of the art department and live music.” And as the crowd grew exponentially at each stop, I would tend to agree, if they ever do this event again, which hopefully they will, I urge anyone with any interest in modern classical music or art to go.

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