UCLA Library, through its Hugo and Christine Davise Fund for Contemporary Music, recently awarded grants to 10 faculty and student music projects at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

The Library remains dedicated to building music collections of the past, present and future by funding these contemporary music projects, which encompass work ranging from new compositions and recordings to symposiums and research for contemporary music.

Established in 2010, the Davise fund offers grants between $1,500 and $5,000 to support contemporary music. When feasible, the Library acquires and preserves materials from the funded projects, establishing open collections of music scores and streaming recordings.

“While UCLA Library holds collections of scores, recordings and related materials from centuries past, the Davise Fund enables the Library to place an emphasis on capturing the creative output of contemporary composers, musicologists and scholars, among them UCLA faculty and students,” said Ginny Steel, Norman and Armena Powell University Librarian. “This vital work helps ensure that the Library’s open repository of new music continues to provide uniquely modern perspectives.”

Among the most recent cohort of awardees is “Music and Justice,” a symposium series from the Lowell Milken Center for Music of American Jewish Experience. From Feb. 26–28, UCLA faculty came together with other academics and musicians to host panels, concerts and conversations about race and social justice. The culmination of the event was the performance of jazz composer Dave Brubeck’s “The Gates of Justice.”

The work, which was written in the aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, weaves together African American and Jewish musical traditions to highlight similarities in the two communities’ experiences. February’s performance marked the first time three of Brubeck’s sons — Dan, Chris and Darius Brubeck — served as the accompanying jazz trio for the piece.

“As far as I’m concerned, the most important thing is this piece not be forgotten, and that it still speak to people in some way,” Chris Brubeck told the New York Times.

In addition to providing resources to revitalize existing music, the Davise fund has allowed for new works to be composed. Jesús Leonardo Flores, one of this year’s awardees, is a graduate student at the school of music. With the funding he received, he has worked to compose and arrange a debut performance of “Casas de Cartón.”

As a musician, Flores finds inspiration in stories of resilience. “Casas de Cartón,” a chamber piece, draws on the militarization of children during the Salvadoran Civil War for influence. It will be performed by students at UCLA who will be part of inTransit: Contemporary Music Ensemble, which Flores will found through the project.

“The financial support from the Davise fund allowed me to explore different sounds with talented, hardworking and professional young musicians,” Flores said. “I am confident that I learned more about composing during this process than I could have simply working behind a computer or piano.”

The Davise fund is named for Hugo and Christine Davise, who received music degrees from UCLA in 1931 and 1927, respectively. Their dedication to contemporary music was unwavering; they took the time to mentor many up-and-coming musicians. Hugo Davise’ scores are now in the care of composer and former student Marco Marinangeli, but photocopies of these works are available in the Library’s Performing Arts Special Collections. These scores — and the resources provided by the Davise fund — allow contemporary music to grow and thrive at UCLA.

“The Davise fund is unique among U.S. academic libraries and demonstrates the Music Library’s ability to cultivate deep connections to the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music's curriculum,” said Matthew Vest, music inquiry and research librarian.

The 2023 awardees’ projects:

  • “Weaving the Sounds Together”: Program organized by ethnomusicology lecturer Gamin Kang.
  • “Music and Justice”: Symposium hosted by the Lowell Milken Center for Music of Jewish American Experience.
  • “The Queen, My Lord, Is Dead”: Music graduate student Michelle Rice recorded the score of this chamber opera.
  • “The Heroine with a Thousand Faces”: Musicology professor Nina Eidsheim and music performance professor Jan Berry Baker are commissioning five works from composer Anne LeBaron.
  • Aperture Duo Residency: Music composition professors Kay Rhie and David Lefkowitz will use the funds for a residency of the Aperture Duo at UCLA.
  • “Just Pain”: Musicology professor Jessica Schwartz and music performance professor Jan Berry Baker plan to develop an interactive process score with composer Adam Mirza.
  • “New Creations Fellowship: Engaging with Musical Traditions of the World”: Alec Norkey, an ethnomusicology graduate student, will develop a fellowship program for students to study and create music with non-Western influences.
  • “Casas de Cartón”: Music graduate student Jesús Leonardo Flores will compose a chamber piece influenced by the militarization of children during the Salvadoran Civil War.
  • New Thread Quartet Residency: Music theory lecturer Noah Meites will lead a residency of the New Thread Quartet.
  • “Root Progressions: Classical and Jazz Encounters at the Herb Alpert School of Music and Beyond”: Program organized by music performance professor Gloria Cheng.