Performing at Garden of Memory 2012, Magical Walk-Through Concert at Julia Morgan’s Chapel of the Chimes, in Oakland, California


(More photos by Cathryn Hrudicka or Richard Links are viewable here. The entire Flickr pool by different photographers can be found here.)

New Music Bay Area and Lifemark Group Arts present

Garden of Memory 2012: a Walk-Through Concert to Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Thursday, June 21, 2012, from 5:00-9:00 p.m., at

Chapel of the Chimes,

4499 Piedmont Avenue, in Oakland, California

Admission is $15 general, $10 students and seniors, $5 kids under 12
(kids under 5 are free).

Tickets are available from Brown Paper Tickets, or at the door.

There are elevators in the building, and it is wheelchair accessible.
If you are walking, there are many steps, so plan to travel light, especially if you are bringing young children. There are water coolers and drinking fountains in the building, but you may want to carry bottled water, as it can be warm at this time of the year.

Cameras, small video camcorders and recording devices are welcome, as long as they are not distracting to the performers, or blocking the view and passage of other audience participants. Please silence all beepers and mobile devices while you are attending the performance.

For more information, please contact New Music Bay Area.

SOS: Volunteers are needed to work at the event! If you are interested in volunteering, you can email Lucy, the Volunteer Manager, for more information. Volunteers will receive two free tickets for 1.5 hours of service!

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.

Finally, 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, in the Cardew Choir, and in other vocal or instrumental ensembles. 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.

It is truly a fascinating event! What is especially delightful, as 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, there are at least two concert spaces on the main floor, where you can listen to some of the musicians perform in each room, over the period of four hours, total. You can come and go as you please, and arrive any time during the four hours — but if you intend to walk through the building or take the elevator, I would strongly suggest you allow yourself at least two hours, as it’s a large building, and it tends to be crowded in some areas.

One of the pieces the Cardew Choir will perform — an improvised piece in which the audience members are invited to join in and sing with us — is composer Pauline Oliveros’ piece, “Heart Chant.” Every year, it is one of the most popular audience participation and co-creation events there, so we keep doing it by audience request. Audience participants have commented that participating in “Heart Chant” has been a very healing, calming, and mezmerizing experience. If you come and want to join us, or simply listen, just ask someone at the door to point out on the building map where the Cardew Choir will be performing. Often, we are located in a garden room on the top floor, where the marvelous sound can trickle downward through the corridor below, and we participate in the Sunset Bell-Ringing Ceremony shortly after 8:30 p.m. We will probably perform “Heart Chant” during each 45-minute set (with 15 minute breaks each hour), so if you miss it the first set, you’ll have three more opportunities!

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. I invite you to check out the list below, and the linked web sites and articles, to learn more about the variety of musical and other performances that you’ll experience. There are a few performing ensembles, in addition to the Cardew Choir, that encourage optional audience participation.

Here is a list of the featured Composers and Performers at the event:

Articles and Blog Posts about Past Garden of Memory Events:

Photos and Videos:

More Information Links:

. New Music Bay Area
. Chapel of the Chimes
. Directions
. Maps
. Press Release

Please come say hello, if you’re able to join us at Garden of Memory 2012! We would love to create music with you, whether you just listen or join us in singing “Heart Chant.”

Readers, please note: The Creative Sage Arts Blog™ will be on vacation until Fall, 2012, as I am busy working on some new business and arts projects during the summer, and will be writing a new novel. Stay tuned for more creative news!

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 27, 2012 at 5:19 am | Permalink

    Visitors were here for the great music composer or son of artist we can say that “Cornelius Cardew Choir”

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