By Caitlin Antonios
At the UCI Music department’s most recent showcase of student musical talent, held at the 205-capacity Winifred Smith Hall– only 26 seats were filled. Half of them were faculty, the other half were parents of the performers.
Such a scene is a common occurrence for the UCI music department, who, despite being ranked #15 of all California universities, consistently draws dismal audiences.
“It’s not from a lack of publicity, I don’t think,” said Professor Nina Scolnik, the Associate Chair for Performance.
Yet the highest number of attendance for any of these events have been 65 people – again, made up of mostly faculty. The showcases happen only three times a year and are usually at noon. It’s a difficult time for students to attend, as a show in the evening requires more resources and production support. While they may be matinee concerts, each performer is nominated by a faculty member and then selected by Professor Scolnick to ensure the highest quality of performance.
The Music Department’s Honors Concert, performed in the Spring, doesn’t fare any better either, a signal of the widespread occurrence of the lack of attendance to these events.
Located in a secluded section of campus off Ring Road, past the Humanities Gateway Bridge, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts houses four theatres, seven studios and galleries, a $42.35 million Contemporary Arts Center and contains the Cyber A Cafe. Despite these amenities, hardly any students outside of those studying the Arts venture to Claire Trevor, and most Mesa Court residents simply pass by it to get to class.
“We [the music department] are small but mighty,” said Hailey Maxwell, a music and biology double major who’s played French horn for nine years. “People always forget about us because we are off the main circle, but we’re a really tight knit community and we’re all supportive of each other. It would be nice if people from other departments watched our concerts as well, [but] I don’t think they hear about them very much because they are only posted within the music school.”
Usually, only improvisation shows and plays are advertised around campus; music performances rarely receive the same publicity. Since the Claire Trevor supports four different departments, it is difficult to consistently promote the numerous daily events.
However, it is much easier to hear about the drama department’s events than it is to hear about the music department’s events. The music department faculty is concerned that it could be the branding of these events which seems to discourage attendance, but publicity seems to be the larger issue at hand. Until recently, faculty was unaware that students outside of the music department did not receive emails about events and upcoming concerts. Faculty has a limited amount of emails that can be sent per day, which leaves most of the publicity up to the Arts Publicity Office. While Claire Trevor advertising is minimal in general on main campus, the music department’s presence is felt even less.
For example, the only information that could be found about the showcase was on the music department website, after clicking the calendar of events. While it was a smaller noon performance, with only five performers, information was scarce and the advertisement minimal. Even larger events, like last week’s Jazz Orchestra Concert, are only promoted on the Claire Trevor website, with no emails sent out to students enrolled in other disciplines.
The showcase itself was a wonderful display of the department’s immense talent. Despite this stellar presentation, the four empty rows at the front of the auditorium detracted from the overall performance, making it seem more like a rehearsal than a recital. Even though the performers were performing more to empty chairs than to people, their acts were charismatic and engaging.
Another music performance will be held in a few weeks. While fellow peers may not attend, performers know that faculty and parents are there to support them.