On Faculty Glade, music lovers fly North! to Alaska

Luanne Katz came all the way from British Columbia to play in the golden near-summer light under a huge oak on the Berkeley campus early Monday evening. The percussionist and 20 other musicians — using drums, cymbals, bird calls, sirens, sandpaper and conch shells — raised a joyful noise on Faculty Glade, in the Bay Area premiere of composer John Luther Adams’ Inuksuit.

Percussionis Luanne Katz, from above

Luanne Katz (Michael Layefsky/Great Heights photo)

Members of the campus and local community, more than 300 in all, turned out for the free plein air concert, the kickoff event of Cal Performance’s four-day “Ojai North!” series, dedicated to new music. Some sat in lawn chairs, eyes closed, taking in ethereal sounds that emerged and faded over the glade for the better part of an hour; others wandered the site to check out the musicians and their instruments or snap closeups.

Inspired by the composer’s 30-plus years in Alaska, with its vast open spaces, Inuksuit was designed to be performed outdoors by up to 99 percussionists. For its Bay Area premiere, musician Steven Schick, who conducted Monday, and Cal Performances director Matías Tarnopolsky walked the campus last fall to select a site, settling on Faculty Glade and an ensemble of 21 musicians.

The concert ended precisely at 6 p.m., when the Campanile, which towered above the site, struck the hour and the audience broke out in applause.

Tickets to nightly Ojai North! concerts begin at $10 for campus faculty, staff and students ($5 with the campus discount). For details, see the Ojai North! website.

Related information:  Cal Performances Interview with percussionist Steven Schick (PDF)