Illustration by Joe Lai.
Illustration by Joe Lai.

Music is working to shrink the gap between UC Santa Cruz and the city, one Friday night at a time.

Friday Night Live (FNL), a three part series of UCSC music faculty led performances, invites members of the Santa Cruz community to the campus as performers and audience members.

The series is a brand-new event that has changed the face of conventional faculty performances by introducing an innovative format.

Every night of the series, participating faculty members collect an ensemble of musicians to bring to FNL from outside of the university. The ensemble then organizes its performance around the instrument in which the faculty member specializes.

“Over the summer we decided that we needed to make the series more hip and interesting and make it three concerts in a row,” said Nina Treadwell, assistant professor of music and organizer of the series. “We’re hoping, obviously, that more people from outside [UCSC] will come. People come because they know the artist.”

The series opened Oct. 23 with a performance by music professor Barry Green and a carefully selected ensemble of his colleagues. The performance, entitled, “Bass Music That Moves and Grooves,” featured bass music from all over the world.

The opening performance featured YouTube videos and special background lighting. In between songs Green would share personal insight about what he played. He revealed the piece “The Cri de Venise” was written about Venice, Italy by his long-time teacher, Francois Rabbath.

Scott Jorgensen, one of Barry Green’s students, said he would definitely attend the rest of the concerts and appreciated his teacher’s performance all the more for knowing him outside the concert hall.

“Barry’s sense of humor extends into his performance,” said Jorgensen, a fourth-year music student from Porter College.

Last week, guest musicians Jennifer Cass and Michael McGushin accompanied the tenor voice of UCSC music lecturer Brian Staufenbiel at the Recital Hall on the harp and piano, respectively.

Friday, Nov. 6 marks the last week of the series for this quarter. Another ensemble from the Santa Cruz community will accompany Greer Ellison, flautist and lecturer in music.

Though the performing professors want to keep students who regularly attend performances coming back for more, they hope to broaden their audience base.

“We’re also pushing [FNL] to the new students who are coming in for the first time looking for something to do on a Friday night,” Treadwell said.

Unlike other faculty performances, which are common on the UCSC campus each year, FNL is a three series event.

“As long as I’ve been here, we’ve had a faculty recital series, but we’re trying to do it a little differently this time,” Treadwell said.“[The faculty recital series] has always been a bit more sporadic, a few months over the course of the quarter, but now we’ve got a tight, one-two-three in a row series.”

Dates for FNL next quarter are already set, and sceduling for Spring quarter performances is in the works.

Minor budget problems have forced the organizers to think differently and change the series from its original layout. Treadwell explained that the organizers are tapping into the resources they already have.

As faculty members invite colleagues not affiliated with the university to perform with them, links are forged with the greater Santa Cruz community, who, FNL’s musicians hope, keep them and students coming back for more.

“What we’ve tried to do is infuse it with a new look and new experience for people,” Treadwell said. “Actually, it should be more fun!”