UCLA Chamber Ensemble

UCLA Gluck Jazz Combo: Julian Le

Copyright 2011 Pamela Springsteen


For the past three quarters, I have been a part of the UCLA Chamber Ensemble.
Sounds pretty fancy, huh?
But surprisingly, you don’t have to be a musical prodigy to be in it. It is actually a class that is open to UCLA students of any major. The only requirement is that you know how to read/play music, and that you have a love for music. Not many people know about it, and many of the non-music majors shy away from taking the class. But my experience has been truly valuable and enriching. It has been amazing to see how music can connect people of vastly different majors, interests, backgrounds, and beliefs. It is always a joy to come together as a group once a week to produce music that we love and to be able to share it with others at the end of the quarter through a performance.

The course is called “Chamber Ensemble,” and to enroll into the class, you have to first contact Professor Gary Gray and tell him that you are interested in taking his course. He usually asks students to make an appointment with him to hear you play. There is no need to be stressed about it, because he mainly wants to see if you know how to read/play music on your instrument!
So you music-lovers out there, join the UCLA Chamber Ensemble! When else will you get a chance to play music with fellow UCLA students? Take advantage of the opportunity.

More than just sites to see

Photo Credit: Jamie Campbell

One of my absolute favorite things I often take for granted about being in Los Angeles is the fact that if you have a favorite artist or band that is still alive and making music, they will likely come play live somewhere within an hour’s driving distance to this city.

From smaller places like The Troubador and The House of Blues for a personal setting, to large, sold out venues like The Hollywood Bowl or The Shrine Auditorium, these places are scattered all over Los Angeles and I’ve been to an uncountable amount of shows at them since high school.

This past weekend I saw one of my favorite artists, Childish Gambino, at The Shrine. I had previously missed him when he came to UCLA Bruin Bash my freshman year AND when he came to Los Angeles a couple of summers ago, so this performance was long overdue for me to see. As expected, he was SO amazing. And I didn’t even have to drive very far to admire him from the crowd, just a short 30 minutes (with a little bit of traffic) to downtown.

I also saw one of my other favorite bands, Blink 182, here a few months ago and I really want to go to Weenie Roast in Irvine this month. There really always is a performance to see here and I absolutely love it.




This weekend I got to cross to MAJOR things off my bucket list.  The first of which was my UCLA Bucket List and was planned…the second is my “Before I Die” Bucket List and was a complete surprise!

For those of you who have never been to the Hollywood Bowl, it is an experience! It is an entirely outdoor venue where LA Phil hold their events.  This weekend’s event was the music of John Williams played by LA Phil and conducted by the man himself- John Williams!  John Williams is a famous movie composer.  If you’ve never heard of him, maybe you have heard of his work which includes the famous Star Wars score, the Indiana Jones score, ET, Superman, Jaws, and Harry Potter.  Needless to say he is a legend!  It was awesome to hear him talk about what it’s like to work with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas throughout the years.  He even talked about his with with JJ Abrams on the new Star Wars!

As incredible as that experience was THAT was the planned event!  I bought my ticket to the Hollywood Bowl specifically to see and hear John Williams.  I’ve always wanted to go to the Hollywood Bowl and as it is my last year at UCLA I had to make it happen!  The surprise (to me anyways) was the woman narrating the event.

I had the absolute privilege of seeing the Queen of Genova at the Hollywood Bowl.  She greeted us with an elegant wave as she said “Hello, Hollywood Bowl People!”  If you haven’t picked up on it yet, the narrator was Julie Andrews! I was completely speechless when I saw her name on the marquee.  Speechless.  Julie Andrews is a movie legend and has starred in so many amazing movies (The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins to name two of my favorites).  She is elegant, beautiful, and amazing!  Seeing her not only made my day, but also made my year!

Portugal. The Man

Before I start let me just say that I usually do not like live music. It’s loud, it’s hard to understand, and it’s almost always stuff I don’t know the words to (the only songs I know by heart are Love the Way You Lie by Eminem and Rhianna and Glamorous by Fergie). The other night, though, I decided that I should give live music another chance (I had actually recently gone to CEC’s Bruin Plaza concert for Chairlift and had fun, so like, what the hey, why not?). The concert was put on by the Student Committee for the Arts, a group of students that is part of UCLA Live. SCA puts on art-related programs for students that range from things like concerts to recitals to film screenings.

The headliner for the show was a band called Portugal. The Man, and they got to play with the UCLA Philharmonic (which is totally cool, the UCLA Phil rocks!). My favorite part of Portugal’s show was their ~light show~. They had four big strings of spherical white lights about the size of  big softballs that hung from the ceiling and then about four or five “light trees,” which had the same sort of softballish lights. All of the white spheres lit up with the music in a bunch of different colors (it kind of reminded me of a lighting fixture I had seen at Limited Too (in a good way)). Besides the multi-color flashing spheres, there were also green lasers and spotlights from above – all very fun!

There were two other bands that opened for Portugal. The Man – the Ten Thousand and Haim. I actually recently saw the Ten Thousand perform in Spring Sing. I thought that they were great then, and I was blown away at the concert. Their songs were so fun! And to top it off, the band was from UCLA (if you hadn’t already gotten that from the fact that they performed in Spring Sing). The second band, Haim, was super good, too. One of the band members said she went to UCLA and all of the band members had just gotten back to US after being in the UK for a while. Like seriously they had only been in the states for 12 hours, and they said that their performance was a mix of “jet-lag and adrenaline.” That mix totally worked out for them, Haim was amazing! All four band members had drums and they finished up their set with the huge awesome (super loud) drum extravaganza. The singing was great, the attitude was great, all around was great.

Although historically I have been opposed to attending concerts, this one was pretty legit. Next week, the winners of Spring Sing, a band called Alto, will be performing in Bruin Plaza. With my recent track record in attending live shows, it seems like Alto is a good bet. Perhaps this is the beginning of my love for live music (or at least my like for it).

Music at UCLA

It is the time of year when a cappella groups are holding their annual end-of-year concerts!  Road to Damascus and Bruin Harmony have already held theirs this past week, and there are many more exciting ones to come, including YOUTHphonics, Medleys, Random Voices, ScatterTones, and more.

As a part of YOUTHphonics A Cappella, I understand the stress that goes into putting together a concert near the end of the quarter when finals, papers and projects are starting to roll in.  But, the dedication and passion that has gone into every rehearsal and meeting have been reminders and examples of how involved and devoted students are here at UCLA.  It is amazing how we take time out of our busy lives to come together each week to make music and organize ourselves until we are performance-ready.  For the concert this year, we have been able to recruit students from Fairfax High School (where we hold a weekly after-school program teaching music and a cappella singing) to come and perform one of our arrangements with us.  I am so proud of our progress throughout the year, and can only say the same for other campus groups that each have their own goals and achievements as well.  YOUTHphonics’ annual benefit concert will take place tomorrow evening in the Buenos Ayres room of Sunset Canyon Recreation Center, and I can’t wait until the time comes for us to sing our hearts out and have the time of our lives with our students.

For those who have interest in opera and choral music, the UCLA Choral Department is performing an Opera Gala on June 4th in the beautiful Royce Hall Auditorium, deemed a premier concert hall of the nation.  Two evenings prior, the Italian Consulate will be holding a national celebration of the Italian Independence Day on the West Wing of Royce Hall, during which I will join the UCLA Chorale in performing the American and Italian national anthems as well as selected Italian opera works for the ambassadors attending the ceremony.  This embodies one of my favorite things about being a student at UCLA, that endless opportunities present themselves to you when you are here, such as the opportunity to sing for the ambassadors of the Italian Consulate.  It is truly a privilege!

Spring Sing!!!

For the last four months I have had the amazing opportunity to work alongside some of UCLA’s most talented and wonderful comedians, as a fellow member of the sketch comedy writing and performance group, Company. All of our hard work and long hours finally paid off on Friday when we got to perform in front of the 7,000 person audience.

Company hosts one of UCLA’s oldest and most popular school traditions, Spring Sing. For one night, some of UCLA’s most talented performers from bands, dance groups, and solo musicians get to come out on stage and show us what they can do. Company performs in between every talent act in order to keep the audience laughing and entertained. Past Spring Sing student performers include Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles, and SNL’s Nasim Pedrad!!! The Spring Sing audience includes celebrity judges such as this years, Sean Astin (a UCLA Bruin and the hobbit Sam from Lord of the Rings), Josh Sussman (from GLEE), and Steve Callaghan (one of the executive producers and writers of Family Guy). Spring Sing also celebrates an influential member of the music industry with the Gershwin award. Past recipients include Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Richie, Tom Petty, Julie Andrews, and this years Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys.

It is an incredible experience and nearly impossible to put into words. As I stood on stage and listened to the sound of 7,000 people laughing and clapping because of something that I said, or written, or was even just a part of, it felt like a dream. Before coming to UCLA I had never thought of pursuing comedy as a career, but this experience has changed all of that for me. I love that in a community like UCLA where we are all running around with our busy lives and stressful studies, that we can all come together for one night to be a part of something positive and that I can have an impact on the people around me. I am so proud of my fellow Bruins, and I know that they are all going to do amazing things in their lifetimes, and I am honored to say I was a part of their beginnings. Spring Sing is just one of the many reasons why I love to be a Bruin and call UCLA a home. Check out some of the videos we made for this years show!

Click here to see more videos from last year and this year!

And these are all the live sketches from last year!