Performing in Vocal Ensemble: In Celebration of Robert Ashley, at Mills College, on November 1st

Robert Ashley

It is always a pleasure to perform at Mills College, in Oakland, California, which has a world renowned music department, including the Center for Contemporary Music, where many notable 20th and 21st Century composers have been on the faculty, performed, or held artist residencies.

On Saturday, November 1, 2014, at 8:00 p.m. PT, I will be performing in a vocal ensemble that includes Mills College students (from the Contemporary Performance Ensemble) and faculty, and members of the Cornelius Cardew Choir, which is part of a special program, In Celebration of Robert Ashley (1930-2014): A concert honoring the life and work of Robert Ashley, composer, performer, teacher, and Mills faculty (1969-1981), at Littlefield Concert Hall. The piece in which I’m honored to perform is: She Was A Visitor (1966-1967), for speaker and chorus, featuring Steed Cowart of the Mills College faculty as the speaker.

Tickets will be available at the door — tickets are $15.00 for general admission; $10.00 for seniors and non-Mills students; and FREE to Mills students, faculty, staff and alumni (with an AAMC card). For more information, and to buy advance tickets, please visit:

Mills College is located at 5000 MacArthur Blvd., in Oakland, California, and Littlefield Concert Hall is easily accessible from a parking lot near the security booth at the gate. Further instructions are available here.

Robert Ashley

Robert Ashley (1930-2014), one of the leading American composers of the post-Cage generation, is particularly known for his work in new forms of opera. In the 1960s, during his tenure as its director, the ONCE Festival in Ann Arbor presented most of the decade’s pioneers of the performing arts. With the legendary ONCE Group, he developed his first large-scale operas. Along with Alvin Lucier, Gordon Mumma, and David Behrman, he formed the Sonic Arts Union, a group that turned conceptualism toward electronics. Throughout the 1970s, he directed the Center for Contemporary Music at Mills College, and produced his first opera for television, the 14-hour Music with Roots in the Aether, based on the work and ideas of seven influential American composers.

In the early 1980s the Kitchen commissioned Ashley’s Perfect Lives, the opera for television that is widely considered the precursor of “music-television.” Stage versions of Perfect Lives, as well as his following operas, Atalanta (Acts of God), Improvement (Don Leaves Linda), Foreign Experiences, eL/Aficionado and Now Eleanor’s Idea toured throughout the US and Canada, Europe and Asia during the 1980s and 1990s. A new group of operas was begun in 1999 when Kanagawa Arts Foundation (Japan) commissioned Dust, which was quickly followed by Celestial Excursions and The Old Man Lives in Concrete. He wrote and recorded his performance-novel, Quicksand (released in novel form by Burning Books). And his final opera, Crash, was completed in December 2013 for premiere at the 2014 Whitney Biennial Exhibition.

Ashley’s book Outside of Time: Ideas About Music (2009), was published by MusikTexte, available from Lovely Music, and Kyle Gann’s biography of Ashley (2012) was published by the University of Illinois Press. Burning Books has published several of his librettos and a large part of his recorded work is available from Lovely Music. More about Robert Ashley: and


Excerpts from SHOOT THE WHALE (1971), a Film by Philip Makanna. Soundtrack composed by ROBERT ASHLEY with “BLUE” GENE TYRANNY and COSTANZO

in memoriam … CRAZY HORSE (symphony) (1963) for twenty or more wind or string or other sustaining instruments
. Fred Frith: conductor; Music Improvisation Ensemble II, and guests

She Was A Visitor (1966-1967) for speaker and chorus
. Steed Cowart: speaker; Contemporary Performance Ensemble, with members of the Cornelius Cardew Choir and other guests

Title Withdrawn (1976) excerpt, Music theater on video tape
. Robert Ashley: voice, electronics, and Polymoog; Mimi Johnson: voice; 
David Peterson and Donald Renzulli: signers; Philip Makanna: Director and Camera; Jerry Pearsall: Video Recordist and Technical Director

String Quartet Describing the Motions of Large Real Bodies (1971-1972) for string quartet with electronics
. Katharine Austin (Kathy Morton) and Wendy Reid: violins; Chris Brown: viola; Maggi Payne: cello; John Bischoff and James Fei: electronics

The Wolfman (1964) for amplified voice, tape and electronics Laetitia Sonami: voice; James Fei: electronics.

Pre-concert Events:

Ensemble Room 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. (PT):

Perfect Lives (1976-1983), an opera for television in seven episodes. 
Video by John Sanborn. Robert Ashley: solo voice; Jill Kroesen and David Van Tieghem: chorus; “Blue” Gene Tyranny: keyboards; David Van Tieghem: non-keyboard percussion; Peter Gordon: music producer; Paul Shorr: soundtrack producer; 
Dean Winkler: video synthesis and video tape editor; Mary Perillo: associate director/producer; Jacqueline Humbert: costumes; Mary Ashley: design collaborator; Carlota Schoolman: producer for The Kitchen.

Room 271 (Classroom 1) 7:15 p.m.-8:00 p.m. (PT):

In Sara Mencken Christ and Beethoven There Were Men and Women (1972-1973) for tape, voice and electronics 
by Robert Ashley and Paul DeMarinis; text by John Barton Wolgamot.

Foyer (of the Littlefield Concert Hall), 7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. (PT):

Slideshow: archive photographs of That Morning Thing, 1969 performance photography by Dennis Galloway; Music with Roots in the Aether: 1976 production photography by Patricia Kelley; Perfect Lives: 1981 performance photography and slideshow by Maggi Payne.

Special thanks to Mimi Johnson, Paul DeMarinis, Patricia Kelley, Philip Makanna, 
Katharine Morton, and Patrice Scanlon.

You may want to read the very interesting Program Notes, including some by Robert Ashley. You can find several video clips of his work at the bottom of the Program page.

For the rest of the upcoming 2014-2015 concert schedule at Mills College, please visit:

Watch, or better yet, subscribe to this blog and my e-letter for news about my upcoming concerts, books, and other arts activities!

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Performing at Composers in Curation — History of Meridian in Music, a Fundraiser for the Meridian Gallery, in San Francisco, on June 26, 2014

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, join us for a special, site-specific performance event:

Composers in Curation — History of Meridian in Music
A Fundraiser for the Meridian Gallery

535 Powell Street, San Francisco, California (Union Square area)
Thursday, June 26, 2014, 7:00-10:00 p.m. PDT
Benefit tickets are available at the door: $35 suggested donation (sliding scale)

This final concert of the June Benefit Series celebrates the history and creative spirit of Meridian Music: Composers in Performance, featuring several of its curators, past and present. Emphasizing a theme of bridging the gap between art and technology, several of the participating musicians specialize in computer music and improvisation, sound art, and invented instruments. This dynamic, site-specific concert will take place on all three floors of the historic Perine Mansion, highlighting the wonderful Victorian architecture of the Meridian’s longtime home.

Like many San Francisco Bay Area arts and nonprofit organizations, the Meridian Gallery was recently threatened with eviction, and their landlord suddenly demanded an entire year’s rent to be paid in advance (approximately $100,000), despite their long-term, responsible tenancy. Many supporters in the community have rallied to assist the Meridian Gallery staff and Board of Directors in extending their lease, but they still need additional financial support. By the end of June, the founders of the Meridian Gallery hope to negotiate a longer-term lease and maintain their wonderful programs for San Francisco Bay Area youth, including their notable internship program, as well as the gallery exhibitions, mural program, and other unique Fine Arts programs. The June Benefit Month has featured special lectures on art, plus other musical artists, such as John Santos; and in addition to the June 26th Composers in Curation — History of Meridian in Music event, it will culminate with a dinner and concert, featuring jazz artist Kitty Margolis, on Wednesday, June 25th.

The Meridian Gallery was founded and is managed by Anne Trueblood Brodzky and Anthony Williams (photo above). They established the Meridian Gallery under the umbrella of their nonprofit organization, The Society for Art Publications of the Americas, in a San Francisco building near Union Square in 1989, moving it the current location a few years later. They co-founded the ongoing music series with Bay Area musician, music teacher, and chef, Philip Gelb, in 1998. Meridian Music: Composers in Performance presents a wide range of original new music artists from the vital Bay Area scene and beyond, with monthly concerts featuring both established and emerging composer-performers. There is also a Meridian Dance Program, an incubator for new works by San Francisco Bay Area choreographers and dancers.

The Meridian Gallery has an elevator, enabling access for disabled audience members on all three floors. For questions or more information, please contact the Meridian Gallery staff:

Phone: 415.398.7229
Fax: 415.398.6176

Click here for directions and a map.

Here are the schedule and locations of the performances in the Meridian Gallery building:

7:00 p.m.
First Floor
Bob Marsh, performing his composition, The Visitor

Bob Marsh, composer, has over 40 years experience with solo and ensemble performances and public engagement projects. He holds a BFA in sculpture and MA in humanistic clinical psychology. He studied classical guitar and piano privately, taught himself other traditional instruments as well as inventing several of his own. He frequently blurs boundaries between art, performance, dance and music and is actively engaged in changing the relationship between performer and audience. He is currently combining sculpture, movement and music in a variety of wearable sculptures that make sounds when in motion.

7:15 p.m.
Third Floor
Andrea Williams

Sound Artist Andrea Williams composes immersive sonic environments with field recordings, laptop, small instruments, and room resonance.

7:45 p.m.
Second Floor
Bryan Day

Bryan Day is an instrument inventor and experimental musician based in Richmond, California. For this event, Day will be performing two-part piece using whiskerphones (amplified carbon-fiber filaments) and homemade radio transceivers.

8:15 p.m.
First Floor
Phillip Greenlief & Jon Raskin, performing their composition, 1+1

For more than 10 years, Greenlief and Raskin have been active in their celebrated 2+2 performance series, where the pair of saxophonists invite a pair of “like instruments” to join them in improvisations and graphic scores. The project has spurred more than 40 concerts, and as many recordings, working with numerous great musicians from around the United States. From time to time, the saxophonists pare the project down to a duo, where the same mix of improvisation and forward-thinking graphic scores (that are often referred to by others as works of art in their own right) are on the table to encourage dialogues between these accomplished Bay Area reed wizards.

8:45 p.m.
First Floor
David Samas

David Samas is a painter, poet, inventor, composer, philosopher, farmer and father of 4. A native San Franciscan, David performs, curates and catalyzes multidisciplinary collaborations which stem from a deep love of the natural world, a respect for the ancient ways and the profound sacredness of all life.He will perform on his sonic painting, The Dragon of Music.

9:15 p.m.
Third Floor
Tom Bickley (solo)

Tom Bickley, alto recorder and voice, performs his composition Basho (1996). This is a piece both noisy and meditative, an homage to the famous poet and the tradition of walking/wandering meditation.

9:30 p.m.
Beginning on the Third Floor, the Second Floor, and ending on the First Floor
The Cornelius Cardew Choir, performing:

Heart Chant, by composer Pauline Oliveros
Wind Horse, by composer Pauline Oliveros
7 Hums 7 Times, by composer/director Tom Bickley

The Cornelius Cardew Choir is a unique vocal ensemble that performs works by contemporary composers, which may include experimental musical scores, text, occasional instrumentation, improvisation, vocal sound effects, and movement. The choir was founded on May Day 2001, by Bob Marsh, Kattt Atchley, and Tom Bickley. Continuing under the leadership of Tom Bickley, the choir is a collaborative ensemble of vocalists and musicians, some of whom have composed pieces for the group. They have performed with Pauline Oliveros and the Deep Listening Band, and annually at the Garden of Memory event at Chapel of the Chimes, among many other notable performances and venues. The choir is named in honor of social activist and composer/performer Cornelius Cardew (1936-1981). I (Cathryn Hrudicka) will be performing as a member of the Cardew Choir.

The members of the Cardew Choir who will perform include (list may be updated):

Tom Bickley (Co-Founder, Director)
Bob Marsh (Co-Founder)
Nancy Beckman
Cathryn Hrudicka
Diane Caudillo
Brad Fischer
Katherine Setar
Ian Saxton
Marianne Tomita McDonald
Jed Holtzman
Sarah Rose Stiles
Joe Kuta
Aurora Mahassine
Derek Drudge
Kalonica McQuesten
Patti Deuter
Richard Morrison
David Samas

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, we hope to see you in the audience for this very special site-specific event, a fundraiser for a very worthy cause, the sustainability of the Meridian Gallery in its current Union Square home. To be updated on my upcoming arts events, please subscribe to this blog or ask to be added to the Creative Sage Arts e-letter list for news about other events, projects, books, and performances in which I’ll be participating.

The Cardew Choir will be presenting an upcoming performance at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, in Fall 2014 (date to be announced), where we’ll be performing a premiere of composer Silvia Matheus’s new work, Cage Fermata, along with other pieces. I’ll post more about that performance as soon as details are confirmed.

Please feel free to ask questions or comment below this post — and come say hello afterward, if you attend this performance. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Performing with the Cardew Choir at Chapel of The Chimes: Garden of Memory, on June 21, 2014 — A Summer Solstice Celebration and Sonic Adventure!

Laura Inserra 1
Photo by Michael Zelner, June 21, 2011 Laura Inserra

New Music Bay Area and Lifemark Group Arts present
Garden of Memory 2013: a Walk-Through Concert
to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Friday, June 21, 2013, from 5:00-9:00 p.m.

Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., in Oakland.

Admission is $15 general, $10 students and seniors, $5 kids under 12 (kids under 5 are free). Tickets are available in advance from Brown Paper Tickets, or at the door (cash or check only at the door.)

To avoid a line at the door, you can buy tickets online in advance:

For more information, contact New Music Bay Area.

Participating Composers and Performers:

  • Monique Buzzarte
  • Sarah Cahill
  • Cardew Choir
  • Luciano Chessa
  • Beth Custer
  • Matt Davignon and Gretchen Jude
  • Del Sol Quartet
  • Paul Dresher and Joel Davel
  • Thea Farhadian and Dean Santomieri
  • Wang Fei
  • Larnie Fox and Friends
  • Guillermo Galindo and Sangita Moskow
  • Gautam Tejas Ganeshan
  • Phil Gelb
  • Wayne Grim and Ronald Aveling
  • Laura Inserra
  • Jaroba and Keith Cary
  • Henry Kaiser and Brandy Gale
  • Kitka
  • Lightbulb Ensemble
  • Adam Fong, Living Earth Show, and Brent Miller
  • Stephen Kent
  • Juraj Kojs and Adrian Knight
  • Dohee Lee, Adria Otte and Donald Swearingen
  • Left Coast Chamber Ensemble
  • Amy X Neuburg
  • Orchestra Nostalgico
  • Maggi Payne
  • Tim Phillips
  • Dan Plonsey’s New Zombies
  • Eric Glick Rieman
  • ROVA Saxophone Quartet
  • Edward Schocker
  • Jason Victor Serinus
  • Kent Sparling and Jeffrey Foster
  • Carl Stone
  • William Winant Percussion Group
  • Wobbly and Thomas DiMuzio
  • Theresa Wong
  • Pamela Z
  • I have participated in the annual Garden of Memory event at the Chapel of the Chimes since its first year, in 1996, when Sarah Cahill founded this extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, site-specific concert. In the first few years, as a walking “audient,” I recorded audio, took photos and shot video of the who’s who of Bay Area musicians and other performers, and the audience members, a fascinating cross-section of Bay Area residents.

    The historic landmark columbarium, designed by architect Julia Morgan, contains elegant, winding staircases and passageways on each level that lead one through a labyrinth of over 110 chambers, replete with beautiful, tropical indoor gardens, water fountains and pools, and the quiet inner rooms where the deceased rest peacefully in “urns” that look like bound books in bronze and other elements. The lovely stained glass windows and roof skylights bathe the building in a remarkable light, even more magical during the late afternoon golden through sunset hours (5:00-9:00 p.m.), when the Garden of Memory event occurs on the Summer Solstice (June 21st) each year.

    In the early 2000s, I started performing there, usually with the Cornelius Cardew Choir. In 2005, one of the pieces we performed was a piece I had composed specifically for the location and occasion, with written text, entitled Wings of Silver Light. (I am currently writing an updated version of the piece, which now has jazz/gospel elements, much different and more complex than the original version.) In fact, many of the composers and performers have created works specifically for Garden of Memory. There are also a number of very creative electronic and computer-based musicians, as well as dancers, poets, theatre artists, and occasionally, a few video artists, who have performed or presented contemporary work at the event. Some musicians build their own instruments or use other technologies they have developed, including some that utilize ambient sounds from the flowing water fountains, ponds, or plants nearby.

    What is especially wonderful, for a walk-through audience participant, is the cross-blend of delightful sounds you hear in the passageways, between musical performers in different, adjacent chambers; and your sense of discovery, as you “find” a performer hidden away in a remote warren-like corner of the building. Children love the event, and I am sure that the deceased members of the audience must appreciate being serenaded in their quiet slumber by the annual collection of musicians performing next to their spaces of internment. Indeed, there are a number of prominent musicians and other Bay Area citizens who are interred at Chapel of the Chimes. When you enter the building, you get a map at the ticket table, so that you can find your way around, and locate any performer friends you may know at the event.

    For those who may not be able to walk for an hour of more at a time, or if you’re bringing small children, there are at least two concert spaces on the main floor, where a number of the musicians perform over the four-hour period. There are elevators in the building, so much of it is wheelchair accessible.

    There are vendors near the Piedmont Avenue entrance that sell food and beverages, and there are water fountains in the building, but you may want to carry bottled water with you and wear comfortable shoes. The event has become very popular, and seating is limited in some of the smaller chambers of the building.

    Although Garden of Memory is known as an interactive “New Music” event, you’ll actually find quite a diversity in musical styles among the performers, and sometimes, there have also been performing ensembles that have included dancers, text, video and other elements.

    Following are a few selected photos from previous Garden of Memory events, followed by other information about the Cardew Choir’s performance this year (below the photos).

    Eli Wirtschafter and Dylan Mattingly
    Photo by Michael Zelner, June 21, 2012 Eli Wirtschafter and Dylan Mattingly
    Luciano Chessa
    Photo by Michael Zelner, June 21, 2012 Luciano Chessa
    Ellen Fullman and Theresa Wong
    Photo by Michael Zelner, June 21, 2012 Ellen Fullman and Theresa Wong
    Miya Masaoka and Larry Ochs
    Photo by Michael Zelner, June 21, 2012 Miya Masaoka and Larry Ochs
    Chapel of the Chimes 2008
    Larnie Fox’s Timeharp, June 21, 2008. Photo by Cherri Lakey
    Randy Porter 1
    Randy Porter June 21, 2011. Photo by Michael Zelner

    The members of the Cardew Choir who will perform include (this list may be updated):

    Tom Bickley (Co-Founder, Director)
    Bob Marsh (Co-Founder)
    Nancy Beckman
    Cathryn Hrudicka
    Diane Caudillo
    Brad Fischer
    Katherine Setar
    Marianne Tomita McDonald
    Jed Holtzman
    Sarah Rose Stiles
    Aurora Mahassine
    Kalonica McQuesten
    David Samas
    Joe Kuta

    Several of the Cardew Choir members are also performing in other ensembles for part of the evening. Check for updates at the Garden of Memory web site.

    The audience is invited into our circle to sing composer Pauline Oliveros’s meditative piece, Heart Chant, which includes improvisation by audience and the Cardew Choir. Although we usually perform a repertoire of works at other performances, often composed by members of the choir, this piece has been performed at nearly every annual Garden of Memory Walk-Through Concert by popular demand, and is now a tradition at the event. The Heart Chant is followed by the sunset bell-ringing ceremony at approximately 8:30 p.m., when the entire chapel is filled with the echoes of song and bells drifting down all three floors, unforgettable in the rose and mauve sunset glow through skylights and stained glass windows.

    There are several sets of photos on my Flickr account of past Garden of Memory events, including of a previous year’s Heart Chant. There is also a set of YouTube video clips of Heart Chant, beginning with this one.

    In addition to the photos above, you can also view the Flickr photo pool for previous Garden of Memory events. A previous blog post about this event can be found here.

    Media coverage of past Garden of Memory events has been archived on their web site.

    Are you curious about what you’ll experience during the entire event? Want a sample preview? You can read more, and watch and listen to the video, at New Music Box: “Let’s see what this is!” — Garden of Memory 2013.

    Come join the Cardew Choir in singing the Heart Chant! Whether you sing or just listen, you’ll want to take photos, shoot video, or record some of the sounds you’ll hear in this magical environment.

    Please subscribe to this blog or ask to be added to the Creative Sage Arts e-letter list for news about other events, projects, books, and performances coming up in the next year, in which I’ll be participating. In fact, the Cardew Choir has two more performances scheduled in the next few months, at the Meridian Gallery in San Francisco, on Thursday, June 26th; and at the Center for New Music in San Francisco, in Fall 2014 (date to be announced), where we’ll be performing a premiere of composer Silvia Matheus’s new work, Cage Fermata. I’ll post more about the June 26th performance within the next few weeks.

    Please feel free to ask questions or comment below this post — and come say hello afterward, if you attend this event. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Come visit our historic studio building, as you tour East Bay Open Studios, June 7-8 and 14-15, 2014!

“One of the best forums around for Bay Area artists and art lovers to meet.”


June 7-8 and 14-15, from 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

East Bay Open Studios offers an extraordinary opportunity for art fans of all ages to meet artists, discover new neighborhoods and purchase affordable art. This year, June 7-8 and June 14-15, over 400 hundred artists open their studios to art adventurers across the East Bay. At many studios, the artists serve beverages and delicious snacks, such as wine, juice, bottled water, and artisan cheeses.

“East Bay Open Studios lets people dig deep to find remarkable and unexpected creative spaces,” says Margo Dunlap, Executive Director of Pro Arts, the non-profit organization that has produced East Bay Open Studios for four decades. “You can visit large industrial studio complexes and live-work spaces that are bursting with activity. Or you can find studio gems in people’s homes: a darkroom under a staircase, print room in a garage, or living room dedicated to drafting. The amazing thing about this event is every Open Studios adventure will be different.”

Conscientious art appreciators can plan their self-guided tours at the Preview Exhibition, on view at Pro Arts’ gallery in downtown Oakland. From April 29 – June 15, this exhibition features over 400 artworks by the artists participating in Open Studios, installed salon-style and arranged by neighborhood. Pro Arts is located at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. Admission is free. Gallery Hours: Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Saturdays, 11:00-4:00 p.m. Phone: 510-763-4361 for more information.

Plan Your Open Studios Experience!

  • Use the Directory (print version available at all locations) to view artist listings and maps of Open Studios locations… and start planning your self-guided tour.
  • View the expanded Artist Gallery and Maps.
  • Check out the Preview Exhibition in downtown Oakland at Pro Arts’ gallery (please see information below).

Share Live Open Studios Updates:

  • Facebook:
  • Twitter: @ProArtsOakland #BeProArts #EBOS2014
  • Instagram:

Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8, 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. PDT

Saturday, June 14 and Sunday, June 15, 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. PDT


A 40th Birthday Party was held on Friday, May 2, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Participants celebrated 40 years of Pro Arts, and the launch of the East Bay Open Studios 2014! If you missed it, you can still join us for the rest of the special events listed below.

From April 29 – June 15, this exhibition features over 400 artworks by the artists participating in Open Studios, installed salon-style and arranged by neighborhood. Pro Arts Gallery is located at 150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza, Oakland. Admission is free. Gallery Hours: Tuesdays-Fridays, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Saturdays, 11:00-4:00 p.m. Phone: 510-763-4361 for more information.

View over 400 artworks installed salon-style, an awesome display of individual treasures!

First Friday, June 6, 6:00-8:00 p.m., FREE
Visit the gallery to preview over 400 works, meet participating artists, and enjoy $2 beers!


Discover these showcases for critical new work by emerging and mid-career artists across contemporary art genres — visit these partner galleries and see a new perspective on Open Studios:

Berkeley Art Center, 1275 Walnut Street, Berkeley
May 31 – June 15, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday, May 31, 5-8pm
Phone: 510-644-6893 / Web site:
Juried Selections of East Bay Open Studios 2014, Juror, Aimee Le Duc, Executive Director, Berkeley Art Center.

Betti Ono, 1427 Broadway, Oakland
June 6 – June 28, 2014
Opening Reception: First Friday, June 6, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Phone: 510-473-5919 / Web site:
Open Studios satellite exhibition.

Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, 480 23rd Street, Oakland
June 6 – July 24, 2014
Artist’s Reception: Saturday, June 21, 3:00-5:00 p.m.
Phone: 510-260-7484 / Web site:
Featuring work by Brian Caraway.

“The fun thing about this event is that going here and there exposes things that are ordinarily invisible.”
— Leonardo Online

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 023

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 022

Our Creative Sage™ studio/office building, the Kawneer Building (also known as the Sawtooth Building, due to the jagged sawtooth shape of its roof), located in West Berkeley, is a central point in the East Bay Open Studios event. There are a number of prominent artists of all genres working there, including visual/fine artists, writers, musicians, composers, filmmakers, sound designers, photographers, web designers, graphic artists, illustrators, theatre artists, dancers, ceramicists, woodworkers, jewelers, and more. There are also a number of interesting, arts-related small businesses and nonprofits headquartered in our historic Berkeley, California landmark.

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 047

In fact, the entire neighborhood of West Berkeley, bordering on Emeryville, is an intriguing one, full of artist studios, cafes, unusual shops, tech and biotech companies, creative businesses, and the historic Fantasy Studios, part of what was formerly known as the Saul Zaentz Film Center, now Zaentz Media Center (photo above). It’s also a short drive from West Berkeley to Pixar and other Emeryville landmarks.

Cathryn's Sawtooth Pictures 072

You can see the entire set on Flickr.

If you plan to tour the East Bay Open Studios and want to stop by and meet me (Cathryn Hrudicka) in person, please contact our office first to arrange a date and time, as we’re not usually there for the entire Open Studio hours. You can email us, preferably at least 24 hours in advance, or call and leave a message, at: 1-510-845-5510 (PDT), and we’ll get back to you to arrange a visit! You can also make prior arrangements to visit our building at a time other than East Bay Open Studios by contacting us at least a week in advance.

We hope you’ll enjoy touring our historic Berkeley building, and the East Bay Open Studios!

Keep an eye on this blog, subscribe, and request to be on the Creative Sage Arts mailing list …we’ll be updating it with more performance and multidisciplinary arts news soon.

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Rotating Creative Crops

Please note: Since this is a very popular post that is relevant to creative process and managing your time and direction when you’re working on creative projects, I keep re-posting it each year so that new Creative Sage Arts readers can check it out. It was originally published on November 10, 2008.

Several years ago, I read an interview with artist/songwriter/performer Joni Mitchell, where she talked about “rotating creative crops.” In that context, she was speaking about the different eras in her artistic life, where she had focused more on her painting or music and songwriting, and how allotting her creative time that way had helped her process. Since then, I have spoken or written about rotating creative crops a bit differently, in the context of a single day, a week, a month, or a year, in terms of my own creative work. I have applied this principle to both my artistic and business pursuits, with interesting results. I now also use some of these ideas when I do creativity coaching with individuals or groups.

Earlier in my career, I worked with adults in a mental health agency, as an activities program director and arts therapist. I also worked in a group home with teenagers who had been runaways, or who had run into trouble with the law. In both situations, I was given the opportunity to design programs that involved rotating artistic modalities with the clients (I prefer to call them “clients,” rather than “patients”). I discovered that the order in which I had them rotate through different art forms affected the results we obtained and had an impact on the success of the therapy. For instance, I found that when I started with music or movement, the clients seemed to enjoy themselves and open up more, producing a different quality of writing when I later facilitated them in poetry or story writing processes. When I started out with writing, the clients’ work was (as a whole) not as insightful or deep, more stilted, and some clients were unable to write at all. I also found that taking them from music and movement to visual media, such as painting or collage-making, and then writing also produced more insightful results and a greater ability on some clients’ part to be playful with others as part of a group.

Although the results varied to a degree by individual and psychiatric diagnosis, as well as other factors, I found that these results were fairly consistent, and I began to keep a detailed log of the procedures, artistic modality rotation and results so I could observe patterns and correlations. Even though I was working with adult psychiatric clients or troubled teenagers, in these two separate contexts, I wondered if similar findings would apply to high-functioning adults who were not psychiatric clients, in a corporate creativity or business innovation training context. The answer was basically yes, although the processes and exercises were much different. Helping people to loosen up first through the use of music (listening, singing or playing instruments), movement or dancing enabled them to open up with each other more effectively later on, when we were doing teamwork or group exercises involving creative and strategic thinking, writing, storytelling and other methods to enhance innovative thinking. I have also used visual media and dramatic improvisation in business innovation programs, customized to the specific group or individuals involved. My business creativity and innovation training, consulting and coaching includes many other dynamic methodologies as well.

In my own work as an artist, I have applied the principle of “rotating creative crops” and have found that it significantly enhances my work in each artistic medium. It also helps me think and work more effectively in my business. For instance, on some work days, when my schedule permits, I begin the day with a walk outdoors or listening to music that resonates with my mood. Then, I might play music for an hour or two at a time. If I don’t have an hour that day, I’ll play or sing for fifteen minutes. I find that my mind is much more awake, and my creative thinking has been stimulated. It also enables me to feel less anxious and overwhelmed by the demands of my business.

Periodically through the work day, I will alternate 1-2 hours of playing music or singing, creative writing, or a visual medium with 1-3 hour time slots of work for my business. I also try to rotate that work as much as possible, designating specific times to check email, interact on social networks. return or make phone calls, do marketing outreach tasks, and work on client projects. Often I do have to accommodate the needs and schedules of my clients, but that’s fine—I simply adjust the “crop rotation” to a different time line. For instance, on days when I must do client phone conferences or call media people in a different time zone, I do that first, and take a walk, gardening, or music break later in the day. I find that this rotation of activities literally stimulates different parts of my brain, enhances both my strategic and creative thinking, and keeps my attention more focused. It also enables me to enjoy each day and retain a positive outlook.

On days or weeks when I have many business deadlines, it is harder to spend 1-2 hours at a time playing music during each day. Rather than completely skipping the music, I came to realize I can still do it, but for 15-30 minutes at a time, rather than two hours. That enables me to continue doing something I love, and yet still meet my deadlines.

Often we think we have “no time” to pursue our artistic or other beloved interests during a busy work day, but that’s because we think of it as an “either—or”; either I do my art or do my job. I’m here to tell you from practical experience that we can do both, if we think more flexibly and creatively about how we do it. We can write that novel, paint that painting or compose that music and hold a job or run a demanding business if we find some time-saving tricks and don’t think about it as an “either—or,” but instead, think about rotating creative crops throughout the day, or over a week or month. Some people are weekend composers, novelists, painters or actors, while devoting their week days to their job or business. It’s a matter of experimenting and finding a method that works for you.

I also rotate creative crops throughout the course of a year, sometimes by season, quarter or bimonthly, depending on what kinds of artistic projects I’m working on. If you’re a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary artist, you have probably developed a system that works for you, so that you can spend time developing in each of the art forms that you love. For instance, often in October through December, I write a new novel, timed with National Novel Writing Month, in which I have participated for [updated] nine years, from 2001-2008, and in 2011.

Although I perform at different times during the year, I often designate winter through spring as being a time when I kick off new musical compositions, or I take on a music or sound design project that has an endpoint or a deadline. At certain times of the year, I work on revising my novels, writing articles, or recording my new music compositions. It’s not always cut-and-dried by season, but I do make an annual calendar where I map out my priority artistic projects and assign each project or art form a color (on my computer, or with magic markers, if I’m making a large paper wall calendar). I find that prioritizing and organizing my creative projects this way enables me to stay focused on specific goals and feel that I’m accomplishing even small steps on the way to a larger goal.

Thinking strategically and creatively about my artistic projects has helped me think and act more strategically and creatively in my business as well. I find that I need to remain flexible and keep experimenting and shifting my methods as needed, depending on opportunities that I foresee, new projects that come my way, and to coordinate with the schedules of people I’m collaborating with. I often get new ideas, so I’ve needed to find ways of sorting through them and prioritizing which ones to work on first, which is a subject for another blog post. However, I’m convinced that my methods of rotating creative crops have enabled me to work more efficiently and with more joy, and I know I think better when I honor my own system of creative work.

What methods have you found that help you think or work creatively? How have you managed to integrate your life as an artist with another job or business? I’m eager to hear how other people work, so feel free to leave a relevant comment about your experiences.

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Using The Fifteen Minute Challenge™ When You Feel Overwhelmed by a Challenging Project

Please note: Since this is a very popular post that is relevant to meeting goals and managing your time when you’re working on creative projects, I keep re-posting it in the first quarter of each year so that new Creative Sage Arts readers can check it out. It was originally published on November 15, 2008.

Sometimes we all feel daunted by an overwhelming challenge, whether it’s getting stuck in the middle of writing a novel, or rolling out a new service or product for a business. To tackle big projects in any area, a technique I’ve found to be highly effective is “The Fifteen Minute Challenge™.” I’ve often used it with my Creativity Coaching clients who are tackling a substantial creative project, or with Business Innovation clients who are coping with an overwhelming task list or trying to figure out where to start with developing a new product, service, or innovation management process.

You may have noticed I’m even applying this idea to music, currently composing a series of 15 Minute Challenge Pieces™, which involves quickly improvising a 15-minute musical sequence, or Comprovisation, and recording it, on any instrument, for voice, or for a sound art work, using combinations of “found sounds.” This variety of speed composing enables me to get a musical idea or theme down quickly, and then later, I can hone it further, which may include expanding, arranging or orchestrating it. Of course, I often find that once I’ve gotten through the initial 15 ice-breaking minutes, I’ll then continue to go on composing, for 30, 60 or 120 minutes—but that initial 15 minutes to get over the hump of my fear and resistance is the most important and valuable use of my time.

As many of you know, I have participated for eleven years in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. I’m especially finding The Fifteen Minute Challenge™ technique to be helpful when I am feeling overwhelmed by a section of a writing project, like my eighth NaNoWriMo novel. It’s a great technique to overcome any kind of writer’s block or indecision about where to go next with the story or characters. It is much easier to think about simply writing as fast as possible for 15 minutes and not worrying about anything else but getting words down on a page. I repeat this technique for several 15-minute time periods, sometimes assigning each one to a specific character, chapter or just a page of the novel.

Often, I use The Fifteen Minute Challenge™ in tandem with another favorite technique, Rotating Creative Crops™. You may want to go and read my post on that process, and then apply both techniques in your own way, to any type of challenging project you’re working on.

By the way, I love to get feedback from people who try any of my techniques or creative processes, and I love to hear about whatever techniques you use! Please feel free to comment after this post and let me know how you’ve applied The Fifteen Minute Challenge™, and how it’s working for you. Thanks!

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Cardew Choir Collaborates with Orchestre dB in Concert at CSU East Bay, Thursday, March 6, 2014

On Thursday, March 6, 2014, I’ll be performing a program of music by contemporary composers with the notable San Francisco Bay Area vocal ensemble, the Cornelius Cardew Choir, in a unique collaboration with Orchestre dB, an instrumental ensemble of students from the Music Department at California State University East Bay, located at 25800 Carlos Bee Blvd., in Hayward, California.

The concert will take place in the Music Building Recital Hall, Room MB1055, at CSU East Bay, in Hayward. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. PST, admission is free, and it is open to the public. The distinctive round Music Building has a parking lot directly outside, and there is a diagram inside the main entrance that shows how to find the Recital Hall. The campus is a bit further than comfortable walking distance from BART, but there are shuttles from the Hayward BART station. If you drive, you can find the campus on Google Maps or Mapquest. You can park in Lot K (paid parking $2.00/hour).

Program and Composers:

Wind Horse, by Pauline Oliveros

Well I Like It, by Chris Luttrell

7 Hums 7 Times, by Tom Bickley

From Unknown Silences, by Pauline Oliveros

Ragtime, by Igor Stravinsky

Japan, by Karlheinz Stockhausen

The Cardew Choir and Orchestre dB will perform most of the pieces together, and a few of them separately. The entire program will be approximately 90 minutes long, with a brief intermission.

The Cardew Choir members who will be performing in this concert include:

Tom Bickley, Director
Nancy Beckman
David Samas
Cathryn Hrudicka
Dennis Aman
Jaime Robles
Dean Santomieri
Diane Caudillo
Laurie Polster

Orchestre dB will be conducted by Dr. Danielle Gaudry, who is Director of Bands at CSU East Bay (Hayward), and a professional percussionist.

Orchestre dB members include:


Chuyi Guo


Yi Zhu
Elizabeth Angell

Alto Saxophone:

Yinan Zhang


Caesare Drachen
Simone Lee


Matthew Payne


Nicholas Morales
Jin Wen
Hao Xia
Shuyi Xu


Yujun Xie


Ara Chang
Jia Xu


Xiuyuan Xu


Machiko Sakasai


Thomas Dreiman

This wonderful collaboration between the Cardew Choir and Orchestre dB has been very rewarding, an example of artistic community outreach in action! A significant number of the students in Orchestre dB are attending CSU East Bay as part of a classical music exchange program in China, which collaborates with the Hayward campus Music Department. For most of these students, we understand it is their first experience performing this genre of improvisational music by western contemporary classical, i.e. “New Music” composers. Some of the pieces do not have traditional, notated scores; instead, they have a page of instructions in text, along with a graphic score.

For the Cardew Choir, this is our first collaboration with students and a music professor at a regional college or university (other than a few past performances that some of our members participated in at Mills College, in Oakland, California). We have all enjoyed working together, we’ve learned from each other, and look forward to future community and educational collaborations.

We hope to see you there, if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area then, and can come to the CSU East Bay campus. Please come say hello during the intermission, or after the performance!

Keep an eye on this blog, subscribe, and request to be on the Creative Sage Arts mailing list …we’ll be updating it with more performance and multidisciplinary arts news soon.

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