Campus-KPBS Partnership Gives Inside Look at UC San Diego Arts
Audience members reached into plastic buckets and grabbed handfuls of smooth stones. They would soon shake these stones as percussionists in a performance of a piece by UC San Diego composer Lei Liang, directed by fellow faculty member Steven Schick. Among the audience was a large contingent of dedicated KPBS public radio members. Held last May, the interactive event was part of a new partnership between San Diego’s public radio and TV station and UC San Diego’s Division of Arts and Humanities, designed to bring KPBS members to campus for a first-hand experience of the arts here.
This year, on March 7, KPBS members will attend Open Studios, the visual arts department’s annual tour through the working spaces of its graduate-student artists, followed by a visit to the opening reception for the “State Park” exhibition at the University Art Gallery. On May 26, the KPBS contingent will return for a 7 p.m. concert at Conrad Prebys Music Center directed by Schick. The concert will preview music selected by the conductor and percussionist for the June Ojai Festival, where he serves as this year’s music director.
“We see ourselves playing a vital role in San Diego’s arts scene,” said UC San Diego Dean of Arts and Humanities Cristina Della Coletta. “The partnership with KPBS is a natural fit and it represents one of the ways in which we want to invite San Diegans to discover some of the innovative arts and humanities at UC San Diego.”
In addition to serving KPBS listeners, the events provide UC San Diego artists and audiences with the opportunity to meet their public-radio counterparts and to meet KPBS executives—such as Director of Programming John Decker, who welcomed the group to the concert last May and stayed after the concert for coffee and dessert in the courtyard of Conrad Prebys Music Center.
UC San Diego and KPBS have a long history of working together to bring the arts to San Diego. For the past several years, the station has aired recordings of the Camera Lucida chamber music series, a collaboration between the department of music and the San Diego Symphony. Cellist Charles Curtis of the music faculty is the artistic director for Camera Lucida, and he provides on-air introductions to the music.
Arts and humanities faculty seem to enjoy the interaction with KPBS members. Schick is a dedicated advocate for new and experimental music who is always eager to engage new audiences—by recruiting them as percussionists, for instance. Ricardo Dominguez, a professor of visual arts, said that the idea of hosting KPBS listeners at Open Studios is “groovy,” and he looks forward to introducing them to a vast array of art made by more than 40 artists working toward their MFA degrees.
“I think KPBS listeners are the perfect audience to appreciate new music,” said composer Liang. “I saw them in action during Steven Schick's performance of my piece Trans last May. Their participation with the rocks was some of the most beautiful music-making I have ever heard—the listeners ‘rocked’ the house! Their enthusiasm and highly musical responses were simply inspiring.”
All events presented by UC San Diego’s Division of Arts and Humanities are open to the campus community and the general public.