Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer Solstice at the Columbarium



In the upscale section of the Oakland foothills, near the Claremont Country Club and three major cemeteries...



...a "new music" happening occurs annually on the evening of the Summer Solstice...



...in the Julia Morgan designed Chapel of the Chimes Columbariam...



...with its hothouse labyrinths...



...filled with the ashes of dead people...



...that looks straight out of a Harry Potter novel.



There were odd musical groups tucked away into strange corners...



...including a capella singing groups...



...and improvising musicians...



...using the great acoustics of the enclosed rooms with their vaulted ceilings...



...and marble walls.



The place was three stories tall and easy to get lost in...



...where you could turn a corner into a hallway filled with people...



...or turn another corner and find yourself at a literal dead end in front of a "Family Estate" alcove.



There were a couple of larger chapels being used for slightly more formal concerts...



...that included a great trio of composers/musicians called Oogog...



...along with the incomparable pianist Sarah Cahill who was rushing around the entire site helping to set up all the venues in between performing twenty-minute piano recitals.



Though the event proved to be the victim of its own success, with too many people showing up causing plenty of claustrophobic moments in small corridors, it was also fun to turn a corner and bump into celebrities such as my favorite living composer in the world, John Adams.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Sarah Cahill sent me the following note which is so complimentary that it's almost shy making:

"Good morning Michael- How in the world are you able to post such a dazzling blog entry at 9 am? Do you get up very early in the morning? To say that I am a huge fan of your blog is an understatement. I love how you never go for the obvious--you always take a more prismatic view of an event, giving us your own unique perspective, but truly capturing the heart and spirit of the whole thing through oblique angles of image and text.

I don't know quite what to do about the fact that there were 2400 people there, and it gets so crowded on those staircases, and hard to make your way into particular rooms to see and hear musicians. That's the reason for instance I hate going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium: I would go there more often if I could actually see the octopus without a crowd in front of it. If you have any suggestions, let me know."

--Sarah Cahill