A Scholar Filled with Song

Christopher Reynolds at his piano

Chris Reynolds

Professor, Music

Recipient, 2013 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Research

Impact: Teaching students how to develop and apply critical thinking skills using a subject that inspires and engages them — great music

When Chris Reynolds received the UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Research in 2013, Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi interrupted his “History of Rock Music” class to notify him.

Reynolds, a professor of music, gets high marks whether he is lecturing about Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles or music from the Renaissance and 19th-century Germany.  And he gives high marks to the university and its students.

“I've had the privilege of teaching at a number of great universities, including Yale, Stanford and Berkeley, and I would compare our best students to the best students at any of those universities,” said Reynolds, who has been at UC Davis since 1985. “Sometimes it is just the joy of being a part of their intellectual growth, or even their awakening. Their excitement of participating in the discovery of why great music is great music is a remarkable gift I've been able to enjoy in this career.”

His students aren’t the only ones who are learning. The task of trying to explain a piece by Beethoven or Josquin des Prez to 19- to 22-years-olds has on a few occasions spurred him to make some exciting realization that he would not otherwise have made.

The son of a UC Riverside music professor and choir director, Reynolds at first shied away from an academic career in music. But music eventually won out and is woven through his life. He was choir conductor at the Church of St. Martin in Davis, and he has collected sheet music of 6,000 songs by women composers that he is donating to the university.

“I love teaching at a public university, and I love living in Davis. It's an extraordinary combination of one of the great universities in the world placed in a small but sophisticated town with amazing resources.”