Scroll down to browse through performances, lectures and other campus events open to the public.


Fall Jazz Concert Set for Dec. 5

Jazz trumpeterThe Cal Poly big bands and jazz combos will present their annual Fall Jazz Concert at 8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 5, in the Spanos Theatre. The student musicians will demonstrate how jazz is being reinvented by today’s jazz artists. In addition to jazz standards and original compositions by performers, the evening will include the infectious funk arrangement "Chicken Polo," which somehow translates the essence of chickens into sound for a big band. Tickets to the concert are $12 for the public and $9 for senior citizens, students and Jazz Federation members. For more information, visit the Cal Poly News website.

History Lecturer, Author to Discuss Her Work Dec. 5

Kathleen Cairns, a lecturer in Cal Poly’s History Department, will discuss her new book, “Hard Time at Tehachapi: California’s First Women’s Prison,” at 10 a.m. Friday, Dec. 5, in Kennedy Library, Room 111-H. Cairns will talk informally about her book and will discuss it with Sociology Assistant Professor Ryan C. Alaniz. A question-and-answer session about the book will follow. The talk is part of the Conversations with Cal Poly Authors series. The event is free and open to the public. Coffee and light refreshments will be served. For more information, visit the Kennedy Library website.

Annual Cal Poly Poinsettia Sale Kicks Off With Holiday Open House Dec. 5-6

PoinsettiasCal Poly’s annual poinsettia sale, with more than 2,800 plants and more than 30 different varieties and colors, will kick off at the Poly Plant Shop Holiday Open House Friday and Saturday, Dec. 5-6. The sale runs through mid-December. The flowering holiday plants are grown by students in the university’s Poinsettia Agriculture Enterprise Project. Sizes range from small plants in four-inch pots to large poinsettias reaching four feet high. Prices are $5 to $55. The Poly Plant Shop is located in Building 48 on Via Carta Road and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call the Poly Plant Shop at 805-756-1106 or visit the Poly Plant Shop website.

Cal Poly Choirs' 'A Christmas Celebration', December 6

A Christmas Celebration with a wreathThe Music Department presents the Cal Poly Choirs' "A Christmas Celebration" at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, in Harman Hall of the Performing Arts Center. The University Singers, PolyPhonics, the Early Music Ensemble, and the Cal Poly Brass Ensemble present their annual performance of music for the holidays. Works by Antonio Vivaldi and the best arrangements of popular carols will highlight this musical spectacle. A new Spanish carol, composed by Cal Poly Professor Antonio G. Barata, will be premiered. Annual favorites such as the "Christmas Cameos" and an audience sing-a-long will be featured, as well as the traditional "Silent Night." For more

Cal Poly Symphony Fall Concert: 'Symphony at the Opera', December 7

Symphonia with two guestsThe Music Department presents the Cal Poly Symphony's Fall Concert titled "Symphony at the Opera" at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, in Harman Hall, Performing Arts Center. The Cal Poly Symphony, joined by soprano Ciera Lamborn and tenor Christopher Campbell, kicks off its 2014-15 season with some of the greatest opera music ever written. In addition to presenting solo arias, our guest artists join forces — as Mimì and Rodolfo — for a concert performance of the first act of "La Bohème," from the moment when the two lovers meet. For more

A Cappella Group Take It SLO to Present Two Holiday Performances on Dec. 7

Take it SLOTake It SLO, one of Cal Poly’s a cappella ensembles, will present its annual Holiday Concert at 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7, in Room 218 in the Davidson Music Center (Building 45) on campus. The 17-member vocal ensemble will perform a variety of songs designed to raise the holiday spirit, plus some new works and old favorites, all arranged by students. The group’s members represent a variety of majors on campus. Tickets are $7 general admission and $5 for students. For more information, visit the Cal Poly News website.

An Irish Christmas, December 15

On December 15, Cal Poly Arts presents An Irish Christmas at the Cohan Center. The Irish Christmasshow starts at 7:30pm. This wildly popular show brings just about everything to the staged story – joy, hope, laughter, friendship and an exuberant celebration of life. Through bright storytelling, Celtic music and dance, seasonal song, and just a bit of “magic,” this holiday event will bring ear-to-ear smiles to audiences of all ages! More on the show


W. Terrence Spiller Piano Recital, January 9

The Music Department presents W. Terrence Spiller's Piano Recital at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9, in the Spanos Theatre on campus. Concert pianist and Music Department Spiller performs Chopin's Préludes, Op. 28, along with works by Haydn, Debussy and Albeniz. Proceeds will benefit the Music Department Scholarship Fund. For more

The Hot Sardines, January 14The Hot Sardines

On Wedneday, January 14 The Hot Sardines are coming to the Cal Poly campus. The show will begin at 7:30pm in Spanos Theatre. Move over Dixieland and let the Sardines play “hot jazz” from the bygone era when live music was king. Bop ‘til you drop to their unique repertoire tinged with a little glamour, a little grit, a bit of Parisian accent, a lot of passion – and even some tap dance! All coolly wrapped into one extraordinary evening. More on the concert

Samite, January 15

Originally from Uganda, Samité's smooth vocals – accompanied by the kalimba, marimba, litungu, and various flutes – have mesmerized audiences around the world. On January 15th, Samite will be coming to the PAC Pavilion at the Christopher Cohan Center for a 7:30pm performance. In the intimate Pavilion, Samité's East African music will touch everyone as he sings the songs of his people. More on the concert

Kathleen Madigan, January 16

Kathleen MadiganFor the past 25 years, Kathleen Madigan has been a top-rated comic voice on virtually every late-night TV show and the headliner in several Comedy Central stand-up specials. On Friday, January 16 Kathleen Madigan will be coming to the Cohan Center at 8:00pm. Understated, observational, and absolutely hilarious, Madigan proves why audiences adore her and fellow comedians like Ron White call her “the best.” (Adult content – may not be suitable for children under age 15). More on the show

Bach Week, January 20-24

Bach Week is devoted to the performance and exploration of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Presented by the Cal Poly Music Department, events range from chamber music performed on period instruments to the collaborative performance of large vocal and instrumental works by students and professionals.
— Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m.: Join directors Thomas Davies and David Arrivée for an in-depth look at the music in the context of Bach’s life and — in the case of cantatas — as it functioned in the religious context of the Lutheran church service. Musical examples and a bit of German included. The event will be held in the Davidson Music Center (Building 45), Room 218.
— Thursday, Jan. 22, at 11:10 a.m.: Guest artists Anthony Martin and David Wilson in a demonstration of Baroque performance practice and a discussion of this year's chamber concert. "The Baroque Violin" will be held in the Cal Poly Davidson Music Center (Building 45), Room 218.
— Friday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m., A selection of music by composers Bach valued and from whom he learned. Performed on period instruments by Mensa Sonora California: Anthony Martin, violin; David Wilson, violin; John Dornenburg, viola da gamba; and Charles Sherman, harpsichord. The chamber concert "Before Bach" will be held at Mission San Luis Obispo.
— Saturday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m.: Cal Poly's Early Music Ensemble, members of the Cal Poly Symphony and faculty join with professional guest artists to perform the music of the greatest of the Baroque masters, Johann Sebastian Bach. "Bach in the Mission V" will be held at Mission San Luis Obispo.
For more on Bach Week

Christian Elliott, January 25

On Sunday, January 25th, Cal Poly Arts presents Christian Elliott in the Cohan Center at 3:00pm. One of today’s most prominent concert organists, Elliott excels at authentic silent film accompaniment and promises great fun when he returns to the Forbes Pipe Organ, accompanying shorts by Buster Keaton and Laurel & Hardy and a feature film starring local silent screen star, Colleen Moore. More on the event

Cal Poly Student Piano Recital, December 2

The Music Department presents a free student piano recital at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, in the Cal Poly Davidson Music Center (Building 45), Room 218. For more

FebruaryRoberta Flack

Roberta Flack, February 4

On February 4th, Cal Poly Arts presents Roberta Flack in the Cohan Center at 7:30pm. The show will include “Killing Me Softly,” “The First Time (Ever I Saw Your Face),” “Where is the Love,” “Feel Like Making Love,” “The Closer I Get to You,” and more. Internationally hailed as one of the greatest songstresses of our time, this Grammy Award winner remains unparalleled in her ability to tell a story through her music, effortlessly traversing a broad musical landscape of pop, soul, folk and jazz. More on the performance

The Second City, February 8

On February 8th at 7:00pm, The Second City is coming to Cal Poly’s, Cohan Center. It is the 55th Anniversary tour and it includes Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Martin Short, Will Ferrell, and Ryan Stiles. All great comedians, all alumni of this famed improvisation troupe. Come see SC’s 55th Anniversary Tour, filled with the best comedy created by some of the biggest names in the business, mixed up with brand-new material – some written especially about San Luis Obispo – performed by the red-hot talent of today. More on the show

Memphis, February 9Memphis The Musical

Memphis the musical is coming to Cal Poly’s Cohan Center on February 9th at 7:30pm. From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis where rock 'n' roll was born, comes a hot musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. The 2010 “Best Musical” Tony Award-winner, Memphis is an incredible journey, filled with drama, laughter and roof-raising rock 'n' roll. More on the show


Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo, March 1Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo

On March 1, Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo is coming to Cal Poly’s Cohan Center at 7:00pm. The celebrated all-male “drag ballet corps” brings an evening of hilarity and awe back to SLO with its unique combination of ballet, parodies and physical comedy, along with true pieces designed to show off the performers' impressive dance abilities.
More on the performance

Nice Work If You Can Get It, March 11

On March 11 at 7:30pm, Cal Poly Arts presents, Nice Work If You Can Get It in the Cohan Center. Broadway's new Nice Work If You Can Get It is a sparkling, madcap tale that combines laughter, romance and high-stepping Broadway magic! Get ready for this 1920s-era feel-good musical, complete with extravagant dance numbers, glittering costumes and classic Gershwin hits like “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Fascinating Rhythm.” More on the show

HAPA, March 14

On Saturday, March 14th, Cal Poly Arts presents HAPA in Spanos Theatre at 8:00pm. The New York Times calls Hapa “the most successful Hawaiian music troupe in recent history.” The group’s mellow fusion of traditional Hawaiian sound and folksy rock combines with harmonies and fluid guitar, charming fans around the globe. More on the show

Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles, March 16Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles

Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles is coming to Cal Poly on March 16th at 7:30pm. The show will be held in the Cohan Center. Broadway’s multimedia spectacular is a stunning musical journey through the life and times of the world’s most celebrated band. This note-for-note theatrical event is filled with classic Beatles hits, such as “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” “Hard Day’s Night,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Let It Be,” “Come Together,” “Hey Jude,” and so many more. More on the performance

Ramsey Lewis & John Pizzarelli, March 19

On March 19th at 7:30pm Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli are coming to the Cohan Center on the Cal Poly campus. Master pianist Ramsey Lewis and guitarist/vocalist John Pizzarelli pay homage to Nat King Cole, whose smoky, smooth vocals spawned a long string of solid hits, starting with "Straighten Up and Fly Right" in 1943. Current jazz giants Lewis and Pizzarelli have crafted a tribute to the titan of 1950s vocal pop, his hits ("Unforgettable," "Smile," "Nature Boy," "Route 66"), and those singular tracks of sophisticated cool jazz that have influenced their own careers. More on the show


On Saturday, March 21, 2CELLOS are coming to the Cohan Center at 8:00pm for an unforgettable performance. Having toured with Elton John and collaborated with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among other popular artists, these two Croatian cellists have achieved sensational international success by taking the instrument to a new level. Their innovative, passionate style breaks down the boundaries between different genres of music – from classical and film music to pop and rock, re-imagining the music for the cello. This will be a performance you do not want to miss.
More on the performance

Altan, March 27

Cal Poly Arts will present Altan in Spanos Theatre on March 27th at 8:00pm. Come out to experience this memorable group. The Boston Globe has described them as “the hottest group in the Celtic realm!” For more than 25 years, Altan has been one of the most important live acts to play traditional Irish music on the world stage and remains a favorite of Central Coast Celtic lovers. More on the show


Mamma Mia, April 6

Mamma MiaOn April 6th, Mama Mia is coming to the Cohan Center for a 7:30pm show. A mother. A daughter. Three possible dads. And a trip down the aisle you’ll never forget! More than 54 million people around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story, and the music that make MAMMA MIA! the ultimate feel-good musical and the world’s No. 1 show! The story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship – where every night, everyone’s having the time of their lives! Don't miss your chance to experience this classic musical show. Pre-show lecture scheduled. More on the show

St. Lawrence String Quartet, April 9

Cal Poly Arts will present the St. Lawrence String Quartet on Thursday, April 9th. The show will begin at 7:30pm in Spanos Theatre. One of the world-class chamber ensembles of its generation, the SLSQ is known for its interpretive spontaneity and fierce musical commitment. The acclaimed musicians will perform their “Haydn Discovery Session" – an in-depth exploration of the famed composer’s extraordinary string quartets.
More on the show

IRA Glass: Reinventing Radio, April 12

Come out to the Cohan Center on Sunday, April 12th for an evening with IRA Glass. The creator of the public radio show, “This American Life,” talks about his program and how it's put together, mixing stories from the show – live onstage – and combining his narration with pre-taped quotes and music, re-creating the sound of the show as the audience watches. The presentation on Reinventing Radio will begin at 7:00pm. More on the speaker

Lila Downs, April 14Lila Downs

On Tuesday, April 14th, Cal Poly Arts presents Lila Downs. Theshow will take place in theCohan Center and will begin at 7:30pm. With a stunning, smoky voice and a multicultural vision, this Grammy winner has become one of the most innovative masters of Mesoamerican music on both sides of the border. Pre-show lecture scheduled. More on the show

Adonis Puentes, April 17Adonis Puentes

On April 17th at 8:00pm, Adonis Puentes is coming to Cal Poly’s Spanos Theatre. Adonis Puentes opens up the marvelous world of Cuban music to his audiences the second they hear his rich voice and all-acoustic orchestra. Puentes' vocals are surrounded by syncopated Cuban rhythms, deep bass lines, jazzy horn arrangements, and melodic piano and guitar when the other players kick in with their tight, multi-layered arrangements. (This is a high volume performance) More on the show

The Bobs, April 18

The Bobs will be coming to Cal Poly’s Spanos Theatre on Saturday, April 18th for an 8:00pm show. With their vocal mastery and an irreverent sense of humor, The Bobs are the pinnacle of a cappella music. Called “a band without instruments,” The Bobs use just their voices and body percussion to fill a room with an orchestra of harmonious sound and comedy, performing unique covers and original tunes. More on the show

Faculty Chamber Ensemble Concert, April 24

Members of the faculty will perform as part of the Faculty Chamber Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 24. The event will include masterworks of chamber music, including beloved gems and less-known works. The evening shows what is possible when faculty artists put what they preach into practice. Tickets are $5 at the door. The event was rescheduled from the original April 3 performance.

Paul Taylor Dance Company, April 25

Paul Taylor Dance CompanyPaul Taylor Dance Company will be coming to the Cohan Center for a performance on Saturday, April 25th at 8:00pm. Over his six decades as a world-renowned choreographer, Paul Taylor’s work covers an amazingly wide palette: from the lovely, warmly human to the terrifyingly grotesque to everything between those two poles. The range of emotions is extraordinary, full of vitality and often filled with wicked humor. Pre-show lecture scheduled. More on the performance

Gary Beard & Ryan Anthony, April 26

Cal Poly Arts will present Gary Beard & Ryan Anthony on Sunday, April 26th. The show will be held in the Cohan Center on the Cal Poly campus. This organ/trumpet duo will bring a unique and energetic blend of instrumentation to the PAC in this Forbes Pipe Organ Series afternoon concert, including music by Pachelbel, Mozart, Albinoni, and Faure, plus music by film composer Ennio Morricone, Duke Ellington and George Gershwin. More on the show


Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy: Visions of Cape Breton & Beyond, May 3

Natalia MacMaster & Donnell LeahyAt 7:00pm on May 3rd, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy are coming to Cal Poly for a performance. The show will be held in the Cohan Center. Electrifying Celtic fiddlers Natalie MacMaster and husband Donnell Leahy – each a much beloved musician – highlight the unique talents, influences and stories of the gifted Leahy clan when their children share the stage. Celtic dancers and singers from their hometowns of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and Lakefield, Ontario join the “First Family of Fiddlers” in a celebrated musical and personal journey. Pre-show lecture scheduled. More on the performance

The Assad Brothers: 50th Anniversary Tour, May 14

Assad BrothersThe Assad Brothers are coming to Cal Poly on Thursday, May 14th at 7:30pm. Celebrating their 50th anniversary, Brazilian-born brothers Sérgio and Odair Assad have set the benchmark for all other guitarists by creating a new standard of guitar innovation, ingenuity and expression. Their virtuosity has inspired a wide range of composers to write for them and invited renowned artists, such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to work with them. Don't miss out on this showcase of talent held in the Cohan Center at Cal Poly. A pre-show lecture is scheduled.
More on the event

“Whose Live Anyway?” May 28

Whose Live Anyway?Cal Poly Arts will present, “Whose Live Anyway?” on May 28th in the Cohan Center. The show will begin at 7:30pm. Stand-up is fun, improv is funnier! Following their two sold-out performances at the PAC in seasons past, Ryan Stiles and his band of madcap comic mischief-makers are back with a hilarious new evening of star-quality improvisation and plenty of audience participation. A perfect way to cap off the 2014-15 season! More on the show




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Music Dept. Performances