The setting sun, and music at the close
June 20, 2019 8:49 AM   Subscribe

Each June 21, The Garden of Memory celebrates new music and the summer solstice at The Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, California, a historic columbarium largely designed by Julia Morgan. Visitors walk from room to room hearing dozens of performers creating music which pushes boundaries - avant garde, new approaches to World Music, experimental, electroacoustic, new classical, unusual jazz.

This year, more than 50 duos, ensembles, and solo performers will play in the chapels, rooms, and alcoves (map PDF), among them: Past celebrations have included performances by: At sunset, Brenda Hutchinson leads a bell-ringing ceremony as part of her Daily Bell project.

New Music Bay Area on the origin of the event:
The annual Garden of Memory summer solstice concert began in 1995 when 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.
Event goers are invited to wander the multilevel building which is built onto a hillside ... as the performers play simultaneously. Getting lost is part of the experience as guests climb up and down the three floors through a maze of gardens, cloisters, alcoves, stairwells, fountains and other architectural elements, which rise into vaulted ceilings. ... In the older section the complexity of chapels, columbaria, and mausoleum areas are adorned with murals, paintings, sculpture, mosaics, California tile and 16th century antiquities. All architectural and garden areas have excellent acoustics and are illuminated by gentle natural light, often through beautiful arrangements of stained glass.
Musicians have come together for the Garden of Memory concert every June 21st since 1996.
posted by kristi (7 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I'll be there! Love the event, but I'm always a bit scared to tell people about it because it gets pretty packed as it is... The space is absolutely amazing, but definitely wasn't designed for the number of people who come through for this.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:55 AM on June 20

It’s a stunning space to visit on a normal day. I’m regularly in that part of town but I don’t visit the chapel often enough. I wonder if it’d be weird to use as a remote work location?
posted by migurski at 9:08 AM on June 20

Yay Oakland!! the space is indeed spectacularly beautiful and the cemetery is a wonderful place for a walk.
posted by supermedusa at 9:34 AM on June 20 [1 favorite]

All four of my paternal great-grandparents (including this guy) are interred there. Give em a holler for me.
posted by theodolite at 11:15 AM on June 20

Sounds amazing. I'll have to put this on my calendar.
posted by Standard Orange at 9:24 PM on June 20

The show is a little overwhelming and it gets pretty hot in there because a lot of the rooms have greenhouse glass ceilings, but the building itself is really fantastic. My 3 year old and I walked about it for about 90 minutes last Sunday and had the place almost entirely to ourselves. The nearby Olmstead designed cemetery is great too, and I feel like both are a bit of a secret.
posted by vunder at 9:36 PM on June 20

I've been going every year for five or so years. It really is fantastic but I confess to the same jealous instinct kaibutsu mentions. (It gets real hot in there when it's crowded, too.)
posted by kenko at 9:52 PM on June 20

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