Monday, October 31, 2011

Italian & Polynesian fireworks

Apollo’s Fire Baroque Orchestra, with Philippe Jaroussky, countertenor, presented baroque “fireworks” by Handel & Vivaldi in Hertz Hall In Berkeley. Indeed the first piece sung by Jaroussky was fire out of the gate, with “a lot of fast notes” executed in a pure clear voice. His demeanor was relatively calm, considering the work his body (diaphragm and vocal chords) was doing. Wonderful poise and presentation. Beautiful musicianship – he is relatively young and I can only imagine the depth that will develop in the future. Breathtaking technique that was on par with virtuoso string or wind playing. The vocal agility was matched by the baroque orchestra who, despite some tuning challenges, delivered tight ensemble playing through fast and furious passages throughout the concert.

Jeannette Sorrell, Music Director of the orchestra, mentioned that the collaboration with Jaroussky arose from mutual admiration of each other's You-Tube videos. Jaroussky was offering a free download through and his work can be found on

Although it is not the primary diversion that it was in the 18th century, and it does not attract the maddening crowds, there’s still nothing that compares to the drama, excitement, and transportive power of live opera. Or live music.

Or live music, singing, drumming and dancing. The rest of the day and evening was spent in rehearsal: playing instruments, dancing fast, dancing slow, singing, and further addressing love, rage, and sorrow.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Early music in a modern museum

This afternoon, while walking on my way from one place to another, I happened to enter the Berkeley Art Museum and heard vocal and instrumental music. The University Chamber Chorus with early-period instrumentalists were performing dramatic work by Henry Purcell written in the late 1600s. The acoustics in this concrete building are very live and suit this type of music. Sends chills up the spine.

The Berkeley Art Museum, designed by Mario Ciampi in the mid-1960s and located on Bancroft Avenue just west of College Avenue, continues to excite me. Every time I see the building, enter and experience the space and see the exhibits, I am invigorated. And the space - well, it is sculpture in itself, yet allows the art within it to be shown on its own merit.

Music, art, sculpture, architecture and structure - blew my mind.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shakeout 20Oct2011, 2:41pm, M4.0
October 20th was the Great California Shakeout Exercise.

The main goal of the ShakeOut is to get Californians prepared for major earthquakes, so use the ShakeOut as an opportunity to learn what to do before, during, and after an earthquake. Visit for tips on how to prepare, protect, and recover. Another excellent resource is 20Oct2011, 8:14pm, M3.8
Prepare: Anchor, plan, cache, assess and reinforce home

Survive: drop-cover-holdon

Recover: assess-triage, communicate. 22Oct2011, 00:45, M2.5
The Hayward fault decided to participate too.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What she said

If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all. Was that supposed to include things that I'm not happy with or expressing boundaries and rules that I can navigate in?

Not much being said, yet so much being said too. Too much tumult and noise these days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Grand Piano, Go Bears

Tonight, piano was played in the Grand style by Yefim Bronfman at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley. I have not heard a program of Brahms, Liszt, and Prokofiev played like this in many many years. Brahms' f minor Sonata and a selection of Liszt's 3 Transcendental Etudes provided a platform for Bronfman to show the broad range and stamina he has. His technique is incredible, his voicing poetic, and his strength is especially evident in the gossamer passages. The second half of the program was Prokofiev's 8th Sonata. Bronfman tossed out a few Chopin etude encores to the standing audience. Pity that the hall was not full - this is a reflection of the business of classical music and dwindling audience base, which is further diminished by the difficult economy. It was a privilege to hear Bronfman.

I emerged from the hall and saw a crowd of blue and gold striped rugby shirts, the flash of tuba bells, and trumpets waving side to side. Hands clapped overhead in unison and the band sudddenly broke into Dave Mathews' "ants marching". Saxophones ran around the building, cheerleaders danced, and the striped shirts cheered and danced. How can a body stand still with all that going on? The Cal Marching Band played a few more songs, then closed with the Cal Song as flag bearers on the student union balcony waved big Cal flags in dramatic swoops. The band wandered off as they sang their closing song, occasionally punctuating the song with phrases played on their trumpets, clarinets, or drums. The tuba choir started to play together - the standard oompa bass with a tune above it - I've always associated tubas with musical elephants. Brass sounds good.

The evening was warm and the moon was full. It was late but the night felt young. It was all good.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Steve Jobs, 1955 - 2011 (today).

We knew this would happen yet it is a shock: the real loss.

The loss of a peer in my generation. The loss of a peerless one who pursued a vision and eventually is known by his relentless pursuit of ideas. One who demanded commitment, rigor, and discipline to the level that he was committed. One who presented ideas and products in a compelling package and presentation. One who revolutionized the way information is conveyed in format and media, and remarkably, consequently transformed the way we now expect to receive and use information and data. He became (?!? it is difficult to think in the Past Tense) - he is the icon of realized vision.

Apple, Next, Pixar, Apple.

Data. Media. Products.

Design matters. Vision matters.