Back to Berkeley: The East Bay Offers Scores of Unusual and Intimate Concerts By BECKY O’MALLEY

Friday August 26, 2005

The Bay Area is home to an enormous number and variety of classical musicians. The Arts Calendar in every issue of the Daily Planet lists unusual small concerts by local artists, some with international reputations, which are easily accessible and affordable for music lovers in the Greater Berkeley area. One which is typical of the rich selection available will take place this Sunday afternoon at Oakland’s Chapel of the Chimes, part of the “Sunday Afternoon Musicale and Tea Series” presented this fall by the Oakland Lyric Opera organization. OLO’s goal is “to preserve the art form of opera by working with young, local, classically-trained performers who are on a career track and to make high-quality, affordable opera available to everyone.” 

Classically trained African-American vocalists Angela Dean-Baham (soprano) and Martin Bell (baritone) with accompanist Kristin Pankonin will explore a unique group of songs reflecting various facets of the theme of expressions of love in African-American culture. The concert title is “Love Songs and Lullabies.” It will include such diverse offerings as settings of Langston Hughes poems, “hush songs” (lullabies) and traditional spirituals, both solos and duets. I heard a preview of some of their choices at an open rehearsal. They were unusual, beautiful and meticulously sung by two talented young artists who already have impressive resumes. 

What’s more, the venue itself is fascinating. It’s a historic building, an official Oakland landmark, designed by Julia Morgan, California’s most famous woman architect, who also designed William Randolph Hearst’s San Simeon estate. Adjacent to Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery, the Chapel of the Chimes has traditionally been used for funerals and occasional weddings, but recently it has also been the site of intimate concerts like this one. On Sunday, there will be an artists’ reception and tea immediately following the performance, when docents will offer tours of the building’s “amazing labyrinth of fountains, pools and gardens.”  



“Love Songs and Lullabies,” Sunday, Aug. 28, 2 p.m., Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland. ?