Coming Attractions Spring 2011: A season of delight and wonder

Spring semester is packed with rare treats for fans of the performing arts. Among the not-to-miss are the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Royal Danish Ballet, and a four-day music festival — Ojai North! The season’s notable events include, as well, a retrospective of the work of sculptor Eva Hesse, a talk by novelist Joyce Carol Oates, and a visit by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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.

Music on a grand scale

Vienna Philharmonic

The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra kicks off its residency at Cal Performances starting Friday, February 25, (photo Terry Linke)

In a performance that marks the start of a new orchestral residency program at Cal Performances, Maestro Semyon Bychkov leads the Vienna Philharmonic in Schubert’s Symphony No. 2 in B-flat major, D. 125, sharing the program with the Prelude & Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde and Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin. The following evening, the orchestra returns with Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C major, Op. 61 and Brahms’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73. The final concert features Mahler’s Symphony No. 6 in A minor (“Tragic”) (Friday-Saturday, Feb. 25-26, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 27, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Having recently completed a seven-year tenure as music director of the New York Philharmonic, Lorin Maazel brings his Castleton Festival Opera and The Britten Project to Berkeley. Maazel will conduct fully staged performances of Britten’s chamber operas The Rape of Lucretia and Albert Herring (Thursday-Saturday, March 24-26, 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 27, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Songs old and new

Want to be reminded about an event? Click the event title to set up a reminder sent from the event calendar.

Signup to receive the coming week’s event highlights emailed to you each Monday morning.

Soprano Jessica Rivera makes her Cal Performances debut, accompanied by pianist Molly Morkoski and the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble. Their program juxtaposes Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben, Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées, and Atash Sorushān (“Fire Angels”) by composer and Bay Area native Mark Grey (Sunday, April 3, 3 p.m., Hertz Hall).

Juan de Marcos González’s multigenerational Afro-Cuban All Stars plays a wide spectrum of Latin dance music — mambo, cha cha, salsa, rumba, son montuno, timba, guajira, danzón, abakuá and bolero (Tuesday, April 19, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Maria Schneider

Maria Schneider Orchestra is part of the Ojai North! Festival

The inaugural Ojai North! — a multi-year music partnership between the Ojai Music Festival and Cal Performances — includes the Maria Schneider Orchestra, a 21-piece jazz ensemble, (Monday, June 13, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall), a premiere of new work by Schneider performed by soprano Dawn UpShaw and the Australian Chamber Orchestra (Tuesday, June 14, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall), and a staged production of George Crumb’s cycle of American Civil War songs, co-produced by director Peter Sellars and featuring world-renowed soprano Dawn Upshaw (Thursday and Saturday, June 16 and 18, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).

Dance legacies

The Merce Cunningham Dance Company returns with two distinct programs — showcasing four works spanning four decades. The first program includes Pond Way (1998); both the original and this reconstruction were commissioned by Cal Performances.  Décor for this piece is by Roy Lichtenstein, the music by Brian Eno (Thursday-Friday, March 3-4, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). Program two features Roaratorio (1983), an evening-length, large-scale collaboration with John Cage (Saturday, March 5, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s annual weeklong residency at Cal Performances will be both celebratory and bittersweet, as Revelations turns 50 and Judith Jamison prepares to step down as artistic director after 21 years. The engagement will include Ailey classics along with new works by leading choreographers (Tuesday-Saturday, March 29-April 2, 8 p.m.; Saturday, April 2, 2 p.m.; and Sunday, April 3, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

Royal Danish Ballet

Royal Danish Ballet (photo Per Marten Abrahamsen)

The Royal Danish Ballet was founded in 1748 and is now under the direction of former New York City Ballet star Nikolaj Hübbe. The troupe will make its Berkeley debut with August Bournonville’s Romantic masterpiece La Sylphide and Flemming Flindt’s The Lesson, based on Ionesco’s absurdist play, on the first program, and the work of four contemporary Nordic dancemakers on the second program (Tuesday-Wednesday, May 31-June 1 and Friday-Saturday, June 3-4, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

All the world’s a stage

Canada’s actor-director Robert Lepage, dancer Sylvie Guillem, and choreographer Russell Maliphant present Eonnagata. This multidimensional dance/theater work explores the life of 18th-century Frenchman Charles de Beaumont, Chevalier d’Éon — who lived half his life as a man, half as a woman, and much of it as a spy (Wednesday-Thursday, Feb. 9-10, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall).

I Dream of Chang and Eng, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda’s newest work, is about the original Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker. Though their early lives were spent as a touring “freak”exhibit, these conjoined twins bought out their contract, traveled the world, wooed members of the English court, fought duels, became successful businessmen, settled down on a Southern plantation, married sisters and fathered 21 children (Fridays and Saturdays, March 4, 5, 11, and 12, 8 p.m. and Sundays, March 6 and 13, 2 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).

Gamelan Sari Raras performs with shadow master Midiyanto in a Javanese Shadow Play (Saturday, April 23, 7:30 p.m., Hertz Hall). Wielding dozens of beautiful rawhide puppets, carved and painted by hand, Midiyanto retells an episode from the Indian Mahabharata in its Javanese form.

Ireland’s Druid Theatre Company and Tony Award-winning director Garry Hynes return with their production of The Cripple of Inishmaan, a dark comedy by playwright and Academy Award-winning film director Martin McDonagh (Wednesday-Saturday, May 4-8, 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 7, 2 p.m.; Sunday, May 8, 3 p.m.; Tuesday-Saturday, May 10-14, 8 p.m.; and Saturday, May 14, 2 p.m., Zellerbach Playhouse).

Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates lectures on “The Writer’s Secret Life: Rejection, Woundedness, and Inspiration”

Novel words

Joyce Carol Oates, author of some of the most enduring fiction of our time, presents the Townsend Center’s Avenali Chair in the Humanities lecture, The Writer’s (Secret) Life: Woundedness, Rejection, and Inspiration (Thursday, Feb. 10, 6 p.m., Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center). A follow-up panel discussion with Oates will include Dori Hale. professor of English; Vikram Chandra, professor of English; and Wendy Lesser, editor of The Threepenny Review. Townsend Center director Anthony Cascardi will moderate (Friday, Feb. 11, 12 p.m., Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall).

The spring Lunch Poems series includes readings by Truong Tran, poet, visual artist, and visiting professor of poetry at Mills College (Thursday, March 3, 12:10 p.m., Morrison Library) and Geoffrey O’Brien, poet and assistant professor of English at UC Berkeley, who also teaches at San Quentin State Prison (Thursday, April 7, 12:10 p.m., Morrison Library).


The German-born, American artist Eva Hesse played a central role in the radical transformation of sculptural practice in the 1960s. The retrospective Eva Hesse: Studiowork includes a group of rarely seen sculptures that help illuminate Hesse’s studio practice (Wednesday-Sunday, Jan. 26-April 10, 11 a.m.-5p.m., Berkeley Art Museum).

James McNeill Whistler, the expatriate American artist, was a prolific and innovative painter, watercolorist, and printmaker. This exhibition, Indeterminate Stillness: Looking at Whistler, features works from Whistler’s most important print series, including The Thames Set and both major series of Venetian prints (Wednesday-Sunday, Jan. 26-April 17, 11 a.m.-5p.m., Berkeley Art Museum).

The exhibit Dislocated explores the conflict between where we live out our lives and where we are located politically, featuring work created by Lebanese-American artists in Jerusalem, Israeli and English artists in San Francisco and an American artist in the West Bank. Participating artists include Youmna Chlala and Jeanno Gaussi, Nomi Talisman and Dee Hibbert-Jones, Katie Miranda (reception: Wednesday, Feb. 16, 4 p.m.; exhibit: Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 16-March 5, 12-5 p.m., Worth Ryder Gallery, 116 Kroeber Hall).

12 Angry Lebansese

12 Angry Lebanese, winner of a 2010 Arab Film Festival Noor Award (photo Zeina Daccache)

Film, the long and short of it

The Pacific Film Archive presents the 25th-anniversary screening of the epic, nine-hour documentary Shoah. Living witnesses to Nazi extermination camps in Poland during World War II, the survivors, camp guards, and peasants recount their stories directly to the camera. (Sunday, Feb. 20: part one 11:30 a.m., part two 5:15 p.m., and a second showing Saturday, Feb. 26, part one 5 p.m.; Sunday, Feb. 27, part two 1 p.m , Pacific Film Archive Theater).

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies will screen two award-winning films from the 2010 Arab Film Festival Noor Awards: Sin Palabras (Without Words), which won Outstanding Short Narrative, and 12 Angry Lebanese, which won Outstanding Documentary (Tuesday, April 11, 5 p.m., 340 Stephens Hall).

New media

Fashioning Apollo

Astronaut Charles Conrad, Jr. simulates picking up lunar samples, while astronaut Alan L. Bean simulates their photographic documentation, five weeks before their launch in Apollo 12, October 6, 1969. (photo NASA, courtesy Johnson Space Center).

With the advent of sophisticated algorithms and computer programs such as Pandora and Apple Genius, what is The Future of Music Journalism: Computer or Curator? The Graduate School of Journalism hosts a panel discussion on ways that journalists can and can’t interface with new technologies to foster musical creativity and innovation. Guests include Tim Westergren, founder, Pandora,; Doug Brod, editor-in-chief, Spin; Joel Selvin, senior pop music critic, San Francisco Chronicle; Niema Jordan, executive editor, 38th Notes. The discussion will be moderated by Ben Manilla, lecturer in journalism (Wednesday, Feb, 2, 6 p.m., North Gate Hall Library).

In the Arts Technology Center lecture Fashioning Apollo — Spacesuits, Cities, and How to Dress for Tomorrow, Nicholas de Monchaux, assistant professor of architecture and urban design, touches on (among other things) 18th-century androids, Christian Dior’s New Look, Atlas missiles, cybernetics and cyborgs, latex, JFK’s carefully cultivated image, the CBS lunar broadcast soundstage, NASA’s Mission Control, and the applications of Apollo-style engineering to city planning (Monday, March 14, 7:30 p.m., Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall).

Information technologies are playing a significant role in human rights research and advocacy. The Human Rights Center hosts Advancing the New Machine: A Conference on Human Rights and Technology to discuss recent progress, successes, and challenges in this emerging field (Tuesday-Wednesday, April 26-27, 9:30 a.m., David Brower Center).

Paul Saffo

Pundit Paul Saffo speaks on Northern California’s future

Economic challenges

Panelists from across the political spectrum consider how California can put its fiscal house in order at this year’s Travers Conference on Ethics and Accountability, titled Financing California: Strategies for Fiscal Housekeeping, (Friday, Feb. 11, 9 a.m., Alumni House, Toll Room).

Climate change, the pressures of globalization, lingering effects of economic recession, and failed attempts in Sacramento to achieve meaningful reforms loom large over northern California. Paul Saffo, managing director of Foresight Discern Analytics, explains Why the Bay Area Needs to Act Like a City-State (Wednesday, Feb, 23, 4 p.m., Alumni House, Toll Room).

Robert Reich, professor of public policy, presents the Barbara Weinstock Memorial lecture Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future (March 16, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House). His recent book by the same name argues that the economy will not see real recovery until the buying power of the middle class is restored.

Beijing garbage dump

Wang Jiuli’s images shed light on the colossal problem of waste generated by China’s rapacious urban growth

The sleeping giant awakens

In China today, sex work cannot be disentangled from rural-urban migration, the entertainment industry, and state power. Tiantian Zheng, professor of anthropology at SUNY-Cortland, will discuss her new book Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China (Wednesday, Feb. 23, 4 p.m., 2223 Fulton Street, sixth floor).

As part of its globalization series, International House screens Frontline’s China: Jesus in China, which the current wave of Christianity in China and its potential to transform that nation at an explosive moment in its development (Tuesday, March 15, 7 p.m., International House).

In Beijing Besieged: Wang Jiuliang’s Urban Ecology Unhinged, photographer Wang Jiuli’s images shed light on the colossal problem of waste generated by a burgeoning population, expanding industry, and rapacious urban growth (Monday-Friday, March 10-June 10, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., IEAS Gallery). The Institute of East Asian Studies will also host a symposium to discuss The City Besieged by Garbage: Politics of Waste Production and Distribution in Beijing (Monday, April 11, 3 p.m., IEAS conference room, 2223 Fulton Street, 6th floor). Director Wang Jiuli’s documentary Beijing Besieged by Waste will follow the symposium at 5 p.m.

While China’s growing appetite for raw materials, and iron has played a role in restoring growth in Latin America, it is simultaneously out-competing Latin American manufacturers in world markets. Kevin Gallagher, associate professor of International Relations at Boston University, discusses The Dragon in the Room: China and the Future of Latin American Industrialization, as part of the Center for Latin American Studies’ ongoing U.S.-Mexico Futures Forum (Wednesday, April 23, 4:10 p.m., 554 Barrows Hall).

Asphalt to Ecosystems

Author Sharon Gamson Danks will discuss her new book on schoolyard transformation at the Botanical Garden

Taming nature

Sharon Gamson Danks, environmental planner, discusses her new color guidebook Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, on designing and building natural schoolyard environments that enhance learning and play experiences while providing connection with the natural world (Saturday, Feb. 19, 1 p.m., Botanical Garden).

Nathan Wolfe, visiting professor in human biology at Stanford University, will discuss how — by creating a global network at the interface of humans and animals — he and his research group are working to move viral forecasting from a theoretical possibility to a reality in Before it Strikes: Viral Forecasting for Pandemic Prevention (Thursday, April 7, 4:30 p.m., 101 Morgan Hall).

Sonya Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor (photo courtesy of the White House)

Top judge

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will preside over the final arguments in the Law School’s McBaine Moot Court Competition (Wednesday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m., Zellerbach Hall). Cases chosen for the competition involve cutting-edge issues of great public importance.

Around campus

The annual Brutus Hamilton Invitational sports meet attracts some of the top track and field athletes from around the country and honors one of the cal great Brutus Hamilton, who served as the Bears’ head track and field coach from 1933 to 1965 (Friday-Saturday, April 22-23, all day, Edwards Stadium).

Cal Day logoCal Day, the campus’ annual open house and preview day, offers visitors of all ages an inside look at the world’s leading public university. Admission is free to all — including youngsters eager to see a giant T. rex, families who want to explore campus museums, and prospective students looking for information on academic programs (Saturday, April, 16, 9 a.m., UC Berkeley campus).