Yesterday I marked the summer solstice by attending the Garden of Memory walk-through concert in The Chapel of Chimes in Oakland. The trip out was worth it for the building alone, a peaceful, Gothic-inspired columbarium designed by Julia Morgan. It's a rabbit warren of alternately cramped & airy spaces going on for 3 levels. Attendees randomly discover musical performances as they wander through the seemingly endless corridors & nooks, surrounded by the dead. An accordion player wearing goggles sang French songs to visitors in one room. The meditative chanting of the Cornelius Cardew Choir drifted down continuously from the upper floor. There were also scheduled performances, such as organizer Sarah Cahill fluidly performing a Terry Reilly piano duo with Regina Schaffer.
SFMike drew my attention to Cornelius Boots, playing a mesmerizing improvisation on the shakuhachi then displaying a wicked facility with circular breathing on the bass clarinet. Mike's friend Bill made sure we heard singer Amy X Neuburg, performing her own droll songs with lines like "Did I just sweep this or did I merely spread it around?" She has an easy, effortless sound that moves evenly from a low to an operatically high register. She accompanies herself using a looping machine & electronic samples. I came across Ken Ueno making subterranean, growling sounds that produced whistling overtones. It sounds scarily like he's tearing up his throat. The effort looks exhausting, & he clasps his microphone in both hands with elbows spread wide, as if to crush it.
The event is popular. I saw families with small children & even crying infants. Even though the building is large, it became too crowded to move in some areas. When I left after two and a half hours, people were still lining up to get in.
§ Garden of Memory
Summer Solstice Concert
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
5 pm - 9 pm
Chapel of Chimes, Oakland