Get yo’ Jammies on

Word has it that the first half of this year’s inaugural Jammies, held on Saturday, May 31, at UC Davis’ Mondavi Center, succeeded admirably.

This writer, it should be noted, was not present, so he cannot tell you how knocked out he was by opening soprano Claire Plumb from Woodland High School, whose version of “The Willow Song” from Douglas Moore’s 1956 American opera The Ballad of Baby Doe wowed several people who commented on it later.

Angelo Moreno, who conducted the Davis High School Symphonic Orchestra on Saturday, also missed Plumb’s turn, but he managed to catch a few other acts. “I thought the Folsom High School Jazz Band was pretty phenomenal,” he said, “and I really liked the Woodland High School Chamber Singers. [Director] Lenore Heinson, she did a great job with her choir; they sounded really warm and full in there.”

Moreno’s orchestra played last. He was moved. “It was the best I’ve ever heard my group sound in three years,” he enthused. “I attribute that to, one, them rising to the occasion to play in that building; it was super-motivating for them to rehearse and work toward that. And then, just to play in that hall, man—it brought out every dynamic level and every articulation that we’d ever practiced but never had quite heard in our own rehearsal hall.

“The highlight of the show,” Moreno added, “was one of our cello members, Michael Leung, who did Haydn’s cello Concerto in C major. And I think his cadenza moment, when he was playing all by himself in the hall, just singing out, was beautiful. And the other great moment was the American folk hymn we did [Claude T. Smith’s Prelude on an Early American Folk Hymn] because it was just harp and strings, and that combination in that hall was super resonant and really wet and juicy sounding.

“I’d say it was a great experience,” Moreno concluded. “And for some of these high-school musicians, it was probably the highlight of their musical career, since many of them aren’t going to move on and be professional musicians. For that reason alone, it was a great experience—and it should keep going on. It needs to be a tradition. And I’m sure it will be.”

The second half of the Jammies will be a night that honors the less-traditional repertoire. The event will take place in the Mondavi Center on Friday, June 6.

“Less traditional” means amplifiers and loud music, as in a high-school battle of the bands. For information, go to The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets range from $8 to $14; they’re available through the Mondavi Center box office.