Fall 2013 coming attractions: open data, giant frogs, Chinese painting and a new chancellor’s inauguration

“Fall Free for All,” Sept 29

From the role of technology in a democracy to painting in late imperial China, this season’s line-up of events covers the gamut from cutting-edge to traditional. Not-to-miss highlights include Cal Performances’ annual sampler “Fall Free for All,” the debut of the new Hertz Hall organ and an exhibit illustrating the timeless nature of cartoon art. The fall also holds a day of events celebrating the inauguration of Nicholas B. Dirks as the tenth chancellor of  UC Berkeley.

This short list only scratches the surface; events may change, and new events will be added daily. Visit the Critic’s Choice website for a full listing and to learn the latest.

People power

Can “Open Data” Improve Democratic Governance? examines the impact of open data on public policy and democratic governance in the digital age. California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will present the keynote, “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government” (Thursday, Sept. 12, 8:30 a.m., Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium).

Reclaiming our Democracy bookcover

Reclaiming Our Democracy, Sept. 17

The conference Spaces of Liberation brings together scholars to discuss the role of public space in mass social movements and political upheaval (Thursday, Sept. 12, 9 a.m., 340 Stephens, Sultan Conference Room).

Sam Daley-Harris — author, activist, and social entrepreneur — discusses how he has helped thousands of ordinary citizens transform hopelessness into extraordinarily powerful advocacy, in Reclaiming Our Democracy (Tuesday, Sept. 17, 6 p.m., Blum Hall, Plaza Level).

As controversy around fracking, coal and the Keystone pipeline continue, the 17th Mario Savio Memorial Lecture presents a panel discussion on New Strategies for Confronting the Climate Crisis. An annual event, the lecture this year features leaders of five national environmental organizations: the Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, 350.org, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project and the Ruckus Society (Tuesday, Nov. 12, 8 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center, Pauley Ballroom).

Think globally, educate locally

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks

Inauguration of Nicholas B. Dirks, Nov. 8

Harriet Mayor Fulbright — educator, philanthropist and wife of the late Senator J. William Fulbright — offers an intimate look into the origins of the Fulbright Program, founded in 1946 to foster exchange between American and international students. Her talk is entitled Fulbright and the Importance of International Education (Tuesday, Oct. 29, 4:10 p.m., International House, Chevron Auditorium).

Celebrate the inauguration of Nicholas B. Dirks as UC Berkeley’s tenth chancellor. This festive occasion will highlight the university’s illustrious history, current achievements and plans for a vibrant future, with Chancellor Dirks at the helm (Friday, Nov. 8, 9-11 a.m. symposia; noon rally; 2:30 p.m. procession, Lower Sproul Plaza; 3 p.m. ceremony, Zellerbach Auditorium).

East-west relations

As disputes between China and Japan sharpen, the Obama Administration struggles to “rebalance” its policies in Asia. Cui Liru, former president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, explores Current Challenges to U.S.-China Relations (Wednesday, Sept. 25, 4 p.m., Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium).

Ellen Tauscher

Ellen Tauscher, Oct. 30

Ellen Tauscher — former member of Congress and former under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs — assesses the prospects for future arms-control agreements between two nations that retain vast nuclear arsenals, in Negotiating Alone? The United States, Russia and the Prospects for Arms Control (Wednesday, Oct. 30, 4 p.m., Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium).

Digital disruptions

The Net: Utopia vs. Dystopia features prominent speakers with diverse viewpoints on the impact the Internet has had on business, entertainment and society. Speakers include: Larry Sonsini, chair of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Rick Finkelstein, vice chair and COO of Universal Pictures; whurley, co-founder of Chaotic Moon; Jeremy Howard, president and chief scientist of Kaggle; and John Riccitiello, private investor and former CEO of Electronic Arts (Friday, Sept. 27, 6:30 p.m., San Francisco City Hall).

Writing Wall by Greg Niemeyer

Creating Minds conference, Oct. 23

The Creating Minds conference aims to stimulate a discussion on the radical, surprising and unpredictable reorganization of cognition brought on by the revolution in the digital production of texts (Wednesday, Oct. 23, 9 a.m., Sutardja Dai Hall, Banatao Auditorium). The conference is part of a constellation of Bay Area events looking at the “Futures of the Book.”

Screenings

The Pacific Film Archive presents free outdoor screenings of two cult classics shot on location in the Bay Area: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Friday, Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m.) and Harold and Maude (Friday, Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m.). Screenings take place on the West Gate Crescent lawn, across Oxford Street from BAM/PFA’s future home in downtown Berkeley.

Still from

So Much Water, Nov. 6

The Center for Latin American Studies presents four films from four countries, all screened in 2060 Valley Life Sciences: Father’s Chair (Brazil) follows Theo, a workaholic doctor who takes to the road in search of his missing son (Wednesday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m.); No (Chile) is a smart political drama set during that country’s 1988 national election (Wednesday, Oct. 23, 7 p.m.); So Much Water (Uruguay) concerns a divorced dad trying to reconnect with adolescent daughter and bored young son (Wednesday, Nov. 6, 7 p.m.); Captive Beauty (Colombia) is an intimate portrait of four women, jailed for murder, kidnapping, revolution and con-artistry, brought together by a prison beauty pageant (Wednesday, Nov. 20, 7 p.m.)

Visual expression

Yang Fudong: Estranged Paradise, Works 1993-2013 — the first mid-career survey of the work of Yang Fudong — presents photographs, films and video installations by a leading figure in China’s contemporary-art and independent-cinema scenes (Wednesday-Sunday, through Dec 8, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum).

Rube Goldberg cartoon

Comics, Cartoons and Funny Papers: The Rube Goldberg, Phil Frank and Gus Arriola Archives at Bancroft, Sept. 25 – Feb. 24 (Click image to enlarge)

Painter Bill Dallas grew up surrounded by Kansas City blues and jazz. Imaginations: Paintings by Bill A. Dallas showcases his work, which he creates with a two-handed brush style almost exclusively while listening to jazz (Monday-Friday, Sept. 3-Jan. 3, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Geballe Room, 220 Stephens).

Olga Koumoundouros’ most recent body of work began when she took possession of an abandoned home in an L.A. neighborhood still reeling from the housing-market collapse. She will talk about the sculptural installation that grew from this experience (Monday, Sept. 23, 7:30 p.m., 105 North Gate).

Comics, Cartoons and Funny Papers: The Rube Goldberg, Phil Frank and Gus Arriola Archives at Bancroft highlights both the topical and the timeless nature of the cartoon, one of the oldest forms of visual art (Monday-Friday, Sept. 26-Feb. 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Bancroft Library Gallery).

Beauty Revealed: Images of Women in Qing Dynasty Chinese Painting proposes new ways of viewing and understanding the genre of later Chinese painting known as meiren hua (“beautiful women”) (Wednesday-Sunday, Sept. 25-Dec. 22, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum). Art History Professor Emeritus James Cahill will offer an illustrated talk on Qing Dynasty paintings of meiren (Sunday, Sept. 29, 3 p.m., Berkeley Art Museum Theater). Institute for East Asian Studies hosts an accompanying event, Perspective Painting in Late Imperial China: A Symposium In honor of James Cahill (Friday, Nov. 22, 3 p.m., Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton St., 6th floor).

Don’t Cry for Me Babey rediscovers Ernest Lowe’s groundbreaking 1966 multi-media exhibition, at San Francisco’s deYoung Museum, documenting the lives and labors of California farmworkers in the 1960s (exhibit: Monday-Friday, through Dec. 23, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., North Gate Hall; reception: Thursday, Sept. 12, 6 p.m., North Gate Hall).

Nederlands Dans Theater

Nederlands Dans Theater, Oct. 23-24

Dance

The Nederlands Dans Theater returns to Cal Performances with two West Coast premieres. Sehnsucht takes place in a surreal revolving cube, set to the music of Beethoven. In Schmetterling, dancers reveal their personalities against a score by the Magnetic Fields (Wednesday and Thursday, Oct. 23-24, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

The Shanghai Ballet presents its unique repertoire of folk-infused Chinese ballet and classical Western masterworks. The Butterfly Lovers — a poignant love story dating to the Tang Dynasty — follows a young couple’s ill-fated romance, through elegant choreography, splendid costumes and evocative sets depicting the natural (and supernatural) worlds (Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-2, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

New songs

Jessica Rivera, soprano, and Kelley O’Connor, mezzo-soprano, perform two newly commissioned song cycles: Monica Songs by Jonathan Leshnoff, who composes richly tonal, lyrical music, and That Time with You by David Bruce, known for colorful and lively works that infuse concert music with the character of world folk-music traditions. They are accompanied by pianist Robert Spano, music director of the Atlanta Symphony and Aspen Music Festival and School (Sunday, Oct. 13, 3 p.m., Hertz Hall).

Joshua Redman

Joshua Redman, Nov. 16

Jazz

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette share their telepathic chemistry and explorations of the classic jazz repertoire (Friday, Oct 4, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Homegrown saxophone hero Joshua Redman performs selections from his latest release, “Walking Shadows,” with longtime collaborators Aaron Goldberg (piano), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums) (Saturday, Nov. 16, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

World music

One of China’s oldest instruments, the guqin, is a seven-stringed, plucked zither long associated with literati culture because of its refined and contemplative nature. Dai Wei, associate professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, will perform and discuss the instrument, its music and history in Music of the Guqin (Tuesday, Oct. 1, 4 p.m., Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton St., 6th floor).

The Silk Road Ensemble

The Silk Road Ensemble, Oct. 27

Western string instrumentalists perform and collaborate with classical and folk percussionists and virtuosi of instruments like the gaita (Galician bagpipes), tabla (Indian hand drums), shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and kamancheh (Persian bowed lute) in The Silk Road Ensemble (Sunday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Romantic repertoire

A protégé of Alfred Brendel, Paul Lewis shares his mentor’s affinity for Austro-German repertoire. This program includes Bach, Beethoven, Liszt, Wagner and Mussorgshy (Sunday, Nov. 3, 3 p.m., Hertz Hall).

Birthday bash

The Bay Area’s Grammy-winning Kronos Quartet celebrates 40 years with next-generation guest artists and new works by eminent old friends. Highlights include the Bay Area premieres of Philip Glass’s Orion and Terry Riley’s Another Secret eQuation, plus George Crumb’s modern masterwork Black Angels (Saturday, Dec. 7, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Bach and friends

Named for the Greek god of music (and often mischief) and led by award-winning harpsichordist and conductor Jeannette Sorrell, Apollo’s Fire performs Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 3, 4 and 5, plus selections from the exuberant Dresden Concerti by Bac’s contemporary, Johann David Heinichen (Saturday, Nov. 9, 8 p.m., First Congregational Church, Berkeley).

Noack organ

Michel Bouvard introduces the new 3-manual Noack organ, Nov. 23

New pipes

French organist Michel Bouvard introduces the new 3-manual Noack organ housed in Hertz Hall, in a day of lectures, demonstrations and an inaugural recital (Saturday, November 23, lecture, discussion and demonstration: 1:30 p.m.; recital: 6 p.m., Hertz Hall).

Strange stage

A science-fiction comic book come to life onstage as a vintage-style radio play. The Intergalactic Nemesis is a theater production that single-handedly defines the new genre of “live-action graphic novel.” (Thursday, Nov. 14, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Kid Simple poster

Kid-Simple: a radio play in the flesh, Nov. 15-17, 22-24

Kid-Simple: a radio play in the flesh tells the story Moll, who invents a machine that hears sounds that cannot be heard. When the forces of evil threaten to steal it, she sets out on a quest to save all noise on earth, crossing a wilderness of sound and temptation in the process (Friday-Saturday, Nov. 15-16 and 22-23, 8 p.m. and Sundays, Nov. 17 and 24, 2 p.m., Dwinelle Hall, Durham Studio Theater).

Penguins in musical chairs, a cat trapped in a giant paper bag, huge frogs doing calisthenics, larger-than-life alligators taunting the audience — Frogz! is Imago Theatre’s signature work of illusion, puppetry and acrobatics (Saturday, Nov. 23, 2 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Seasonal observations

Cal Performances launches the season with its fourth annual Fall Free for All, a day of free performances, featuring a diverse line-up of more than 50 artists and companies (Sunday, Sept 29, 10:30 a.m.- 6 p.m.).

Regionally appropriate plants  — including California natives and plants from South Africa, Australia, the Mediterranean region and South America — are featured at the Fall Plant Sale (Sunday, Sept. 29, members: 9-10:30 a.m., public: 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., UC Botanical Garden).

Catapult with pumpkin

Creepy Happy Halloween, Oct. 26-27



Experience Creepy Happy Halloween at the Lawrence Hall of Science. Build a pumpkin catapult or visit the Animal Discovery Room to meet the slimiest, scaliest and hairiest critters! (Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 26-27, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Lawrence Hall of Science).

Join an early-morning viewing of Comet ISON (the “comet of the century”), learn about these flying balls of ice and snow in the Lawrence Hall of Science Planetarium, and make your own model comet (Saturday, Nov. 9, 4:30 a.m., Lawrence Hall of Science).