The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts Announces 2018-19 Season

The Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis announces its 17th season of performing arts, filled with the leading artists in music, dance and theater alongside a powerful group of speakers. The season begins on September 22, 2018, with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and concludes June 2, 2019, with the Alexander String Quartet and pianist Joyce Yang debuting a new work by composer Samuel Carl Adams.

"The Mondavi Center's sustained success is a tribute to audience members throughout the Sacramento region," said Executive Director Don Roth. "In addition to supporting the artists they love and know, our audience has taken chances with us, which inspires us to reach further and to find for them what's new and worth exploring from the wide world of the arts. This forthcoming season is a reflection of that sustained relationship, as we present a compelling mix of established and emerging artists, alongside some programs that use cutting edge technology to challenge the very limits of what we mean by 'performance.'"

Established and Emerging Artists

Every Mondavi Center season balances artists in the prime of their careers with those just making a name for themselves. Folk legend Joan Baez (November 14, 2018) makes her Mondavi Center debut as part of her Fare Thee Well tour; while the new folk super-group I'm With Her (October 7, 2018) featuring Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan comes to Jackson Hall on the heels of its debut album. Vladimir Feltsman (May 8, 2019) and Igor Levit (November 2, 2018) are two Russian émigré pianists at very different places in their careers: Feltsman continues a three-year Mondavi Center recital cycle entitled Connections, Influences and Inspirations, this year focusing on works by Brahms and Schumann; Levit brings an intriguing program also featuring a work by Schumann alongside pieces by Bach, Busoni and more. Ballet Folklórico de México de Amalia Hernández (October 24, 2018) is one of Mexico's most notable cultural exports, a company that works to rescue and maintain the dance traditions of Mexico. Las Cafeteras and the Villalobos Brothers (January 25, 2019) represent two sides of modern Mexican culture: the former is a perfect expression of Los Angeles today, wrapping hip hop, cumbia and rock together in an effusive mix; the latter mixing Mexican folk music with classical and jazz traditions to alluring effect. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis leads the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (September 22, 2018) in a performance of his suite Spaces, which features dancers Jared Grimes and Lil Buck. The Marquis Hill Blacktet (October 10-13, 2018), led by the eponymous trumpeter from Chicago, embraces hard bop, R&B, hip hop and soul. Embodying the joy of deep traditions from Cuba in both song and dance, the Havana Cuba All-Stars (April 12, 2019) makes a return engagement featuring the greatest dancers and musicians of Cuba working in tandem.


Without a doubt the most famous voice to ring through Jackson Hall this year will be that of soprano Maria Callas. Callas in Concert (September 28, 2018) is a cinematic experience that brings the opera singer, who passed in 1977, back to life through groundbreaking digital and laser holographic technology. With diligently re-mastered audio featuring iconic arias from Bellini, Bizet, Verdi and Puccini, all performed with the live accompaniment of the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, this will be a landmark debut, both for Callas and this holographic technology.
The roster of singers who will be here in body and soul is equally impressive: American tenor Lawrence Brownlee and bass-baritone Eric Owens in a rare duo recital (March 11, 2019); Scottish folk singer Julie Fowlis (October 13, 2018); Nobuntu (November 1-2, 2018), an a cappella quintet from Zimbabwe; We Shall Overcome featuring Damien Sneed (March 1, 2019) is a gospel-infused celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. anchored by a gospel chamber choir; jazz phenomenon Veronica Swift (February 27-March 2, 2019) with the Benny Green Trio; and Storm Large & Le Bonheur (May 3, 2019) with a modern take on cabaret. The season also features two free events featuring young opera singers: our annual Barbara K. Jackson Rising Stars of Opera concert (October 4, 2018), this year celebrating the occasion of its namesake's 100th birthday; and Curtis on Tour's Curtis Opera Theatre Vocal Quartet (February 14, 2019) singing operatic and Great American Songbook favorites on Valentine's Day.


The Mondavi Center is synonymous with the finest orchestras from around the world. In the 2018-19 season, Russian composers and piano soloists are omnipresent. The Czech Philharmonic (November 12, 2018) under the direction of Semyon Bychkov performs an all-Tchaikovsky program including the Piano Concerto No. 1 with soloist Kirill Gerstein. The Russian National Orchestra (March 2, 2019) features an all-Rachmaninoff program, with pianist George Li performing the Piano Concerto No. 2 under the baton of Mikhail Pletnev. Later that week, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields (March 8, 2019) returns, celebrating its 60th Anniversary with a program featuring Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 12 with pianist Jeremy Denk. Finally, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (April 6, 2019) and new music director Thomas Søndergård cap off the series with works by Prokofiev, Sibelius and the Rachmaninoff Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini performed by Olga Kern.


The Mondavi Center's Concert series presents the most celebrated classical artists and ensembles. The series kicks off in the fall of 2018 with two heavyweights: Irish flutist Sir James Galway (October 14, 2018), and violinist Pinchas Zukerman (November 10, 2018). The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (December 8, 2018) has made its performance of J.S. Bach's complete Brandenburg Concertos an annual holiday tradition, one which will be replicated in Davis to get the season started. (Not on the Concert series, another holiday concert of note features the Boston Brass [December 16, 2018] performing Stan Kenton's swinging arrangements of holiday songs.) The series closes with pianist Vladimir Feltsman (May 8, 2019).


Since the Mondavi Center opened, dance has been an integral part of every season. Company Wang Ramirez (October 23, 2018) melds hip hop, modern dance and aerial work in its production Borderline. Camille A. Brown & Dancers (December 1, 2018) bring social consciousness, theatricality and deep musicality in a repertoire program featuring excerpts from Black Girl: Linguistic Play. Ballet Preljocaj (April 10, 2019) first appeared in Jackson Hall in 2002, and the company returns for the fourth time with La Fresque, a story-ballet inspired by the Chinese fairy tale "The Painted Wall."


Another company with a long history at the Mondavi Center, Akram Khan Company (November 4, 2018) returns with Chotto Desh, a coming-of-age piece of dance-theater that features immersive digital projections. Other family-friendly performances include: Cirque Mechanics' (October 28, 2018) new production 42FT, an homage to the timeless art of the circus; 7 Fingers Cirque's (February 10, 2019) Reversible, a riveting mix of theater, dance, circus and acrobatics; and one of Israel's leading cultural exports, Mayumana (April 14, 2019), in Currents, a grand spectacle featuring custom-made instruments, video-art projections and thrilling movement.


The Mondavi Center is deeply committed to jazz and improvised music, and this season's artists represent the diversity and vitality of the art form. In Jackson Hall, the series journey begins with Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis featuring dancers Lil Buck and Jared Grimes (September 22, 2018). The SFJAZZ Collective (October 20, 2018), an all-star octet, continue to evolve jazz traditions, this time with fresh arrangements of Antônio Carlos Jobim tunes alongside new compositions by the all-star octet. Vijay Iyer (May 7, 2019) makes one of two appearances on the 2018-19 season leading his sextet making music that veers between tight horn lines, deep grooves and moments of atmospheric elegance. Iyer will also appear in a duo with cellist Matt Haimovitz (March 10, 2019) performing the music of Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin, Ravi Shankar, Billy Strayhorn and others.
The Vanderhoef Studio Theatre is home to the popular Studio Jazz series, where the jazz stars of tomorrow take residence for three weeks a season. In addition to the aforementioned Marquis Hill Blacktet, this season will feature Brazilian pianist André Mehmari (January 30-February 2, 2019) whose musical sensibility flows between Frédéric Chopin, Scott Joplin and Ernesto Nazareth. Closing out the series is vocalist Veronica Swift with the Benny Green Trio (February 27-March 2, 2019).


The Mondavi Center's Speakers series boasts engaging talks from some of the most profound thinkers and humorists of our time. The series begins with Preet Bharara (October 8, 2018), former U.S. Attorney who is now an acclaimed podcaster, Twitter influencer and law professor at New York University. This year's Campus Community Book Project is The Book of Joy by Douglas Abrams (February 4, 2019), based on a series of conversations between the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor (March 4, 2019) helped to break the story of Harvey Weinstein's alleged abuse, reporting which served to launch the #MeToo movement. John Leguizamo (April 3, 2019) is an acclaimed actor and writer, whose recent one-man show Latin History for Morons serves as the foundation for this speaking engagement.


The Irish are renowned for their gift of gab, and few writers capture that crackling dialogue better than Roddy Doyle. His play, Two Pints, which features two men at a bar talking about death, North Korea, the afterlife and much more, comes to the Mondavi Center in the talented hands of The Abbey Theatre of Dublin in a special weeklong run (May 6-11, 2019) that will see the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre transformed into the Vanderhoef Studio Pub, complete with Guinness! The Mondavi Center's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration continues, this year featuring virtuoso violinist Eileen Ivers and JigJam, a young Irish bluegrass group (March 17, 2019), all preceded by a free beer tasting in the Yocha DeHe Grand Lobby.

Alexander String Quartet

The only artists to appear on every Mondavi Center season, the Alexander String Quartet returns with a two-year cycle of the complete Shostakovich string quartets (September 30, 2018; December 2, 2018; and May 19, 2019). A final series event (June 2, 2019) features pianist Joyce Yang playing a new work (co-commissioned by the Mondavi Center) by composer Samuel Adams alongside work by Mozart and Brahms.

Just Added

The Mondavi Center continues to add new performances throughout the season. Donors and subscribers get early opportunities to buy tickets before they are available to the general public. Tickets are on sale now for the first Just Added event for the forthcoming season, Punch Brothers (August 21, 2018), with more shows to be announced over the summer.

Subscription Renewal and New Subscriptions

The deadline for current subscribers to renew their tickets is May 4, 2018. New subscriptions go on sale June 1, 2018, but priority deposits can be placed today at Individual tickets go on sale July 14, 2018.
Complete information about the Mondavi Center's 2018-19 season of performances, including dates, times, subscription prices and venues will be available online April 6 at High-resolution press images, brochures and a season information sheet are available at

Related Articles View More Sacramento Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You

Before you go...

Like Us On Facebook
Follow Us On Twitter
Follow Us On Instagram