Tuesday, June 21, 2016

concert review: Garden of Memory

The silver lining to the longest day of the year is that means it's time for the annual Garden of Memory walk-through concert at the Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland.

On all previous occasions that I've attended this, I've spent much of my time listening to Amy X Neuburg down in the Middle Chapel. But I've seen her twice in other venues in the past year, which I hadn't before, so this year I decided to focus my four hours' time elsewhere.

I began in the main chapel, with half-hour sets by three performers: the women's chorus Kitka, who sang some of their Bulgarian chorus music, this time with electronic looping echoes manipulated by the avant-garde composer Pamela Z; pianist Sarah Cahill, whose 20C American set included music by Ruth Crawford (Ruth Crawford fans please note) and an extremely early piece by an extremely young Lou Harrison, which sounded more like his teacher Henry Cowell than Henry Cowell does; and a pianist-composer named Andrew Jamieson, who writes works which are, as he puts it, "in dialogue with" Afro-American spirituals. Put him somewhere between Ives and Rzewski on the giant map of musical sensibilities.

Wandering around for an hour and change produced one winner in the form of a violin and acoustic guitar duo called Probosci which played quiet, intricate, absorbing music, enough to keep me there for the rest of the set. Unfortunately it was within earshot of an electric guitar down the hall.

Otherwise, too much of what I heard on my wandering was squawky. I retreated to the hidden room where always awaits my #2 favorite of the regular performers, Laura Inserra, actually found a chair I could use, and sat in contentment with her beautiful and hypnotic music for the last hour of the event.

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