Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chapel of The Chimes 1: I See Dead People

The Chapel of the Chimes is a sprawling columbarium in East Oakland...

...that sits next to acres of cemeteries separated by religious affiliation.

The place was designed in 1928 by the pioneering Bay Area architect Julia Morgan, one of the first women allowed in the architectural field.

She is best known for her design of a number of William Randolph Hearst buildings, including the Castle in San Simeon.

Since 1995, an annual summer solstice concert of "new music" has been presented in the complex by a group called New Music Bay Area.

According to this year's program, "Julia Morgan conceived the new[ly rebuilt] facility as a haven of peace and tranquility. From this vision, she designed an innovative array of gardens, cloisters, alcoves, stair wells, fountains and chapels that rose toward vaulted ceilings and were illuminated by soothing natural light. The project is considered by some as her masterwork."

The program also explained how the founding of the "Garden of Memory Summer Solstice Concert" came about.

"Sarah Cahill was writing a cover story for the East Bay Express about public bathrooms of the East Bay. In search of interesting bathrooms, she wandered into the Chapel of the Chimes and heard some distant organ music as she got lost in the maze of the building."

"Inspired by that combination of sensory stimuli, she pitched the idea of a concert to other board members of New Music Bay Area. They said yes, and were pleasantly surprised when the Chapel of the Chimes also said yes to a big wild concert of avant garde and experimental music."

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