When the voices of a choir come together, they produce a warmth and a power greater than the sum of their parts. "There is something special that happens when you bring people together in music in general—something about the power of the human voice," explains Oakland Youth Chorus Executive Director Keri Butkevich.
The Oakland Youth Chorus (OYC) helps children find that power. The chorus started in 1974 as an effort to unite youth from different neighborhoods of Oakland. It reached across racial, cultural, and socioeconomic barriers to teach musical-performance skills and foster friendships that might not otherwise occur. Today, it serves more than 600 students in 18 school and community sites. In addition to eight K–5 choruses, OYC directs a city-wide Concert Chorus for middle- and high-school students that has won several national awards at Heritage Festivals and sung at the White House.
The school and community choirs are open to anyone who wants to join. Choir directors assess students' current skills and help them grow from there. The students then showcase these skills in performances ranging from city-wide parades to local school recitals. These concerts present a repertoire that includes everything from the Beatles to Panamanian work songs. In addition to reflecting the community of Oakland, these diverse performances help to "extend people's knowledge of music of the world" by incorporating melodies from Russia and Bulgaria, says Keri.
The K–5 choruses, known as Miracle Choruses, frequently use their voices for good, performing at American Cancer Society events or promoting AIDS awareness and urban-farming initiatives. These performances in particular show what choral music can do. Not only can it transform shy children into musicians—it has the "power of bringing people together." And by using their voices for community service, Keri explains, the singers develop "an awareness and appreciation for being part of a movement for positive change."
As the father of a 2-year old, Tim Alley found himself running around to playdates scattered throughout the Bay Area, scooting to toddler-friendly lessons in art, gymnastics, and dance. While he loved the programming, he wished that he and his daughter weren't confined to such a tight schedule. So, he turned to his brother-in-law, Tom Limbert, head teacher at a local preschool, and they began to work on their own children's studio at Studio Grow—a supplementary preschool atmosphere with a focus on unstructured learning where children can play throughout the day.
True to its name, Studio Grow now welcomes tots at three area studios. Though programs and amenities vary by location, kids might frolic through a color-splashed dance room, construct crafty masterpieces from watercolors, play-doh, and crayons in an art room, or plunge into ball pits. At all three locations, kids can tinker in a room filled with puzzles, toy trucks, dress-up clothes, and lego building sets. in a slide-filled run room. Instructors stay on hand throughout each romp, ready to lead Berkeley guests through sing-alongs or immerse Concord’s small listeners in story time. Teachers may also balloon a giant primary-colored parachute over the playroom for kids to scurry under and use to shield themselves from sudden broccoli storms. Though staffers emphasize unstructured play, they also lead summer camps for children up to aged 6 with guided romps through the studio; as well as Friday-night babysitting sessions, where kids of all ages can play sans parents until 10 p.m.
Kenneth Donald Rogers—an American country-music star, photographer, producer, actor, and fellow with a nice beard—has won three Grammys and more than a dozen American Music Awards for his sweet, stirring crooning. Though he won't be toting his dozens of awards, Mr. Rogers will be bringing an impressive showcase of selections from his extensive collection of country hits. To prep the crowd for the main event, The Herndon Brothers—a local act lead by Ray Herndon, a country star known for livin' the dream—will layer the crowd in hometown vibes from their wide library of inspiring and honest tracks.
The Three Faces of Marrakech Magic Theater
Peter Morrison is the consummate performer. He's charismatic and charming, and his witty, but clean comedy makes his magic show something the whole family can enjoy. Peter's passion for magic shines through during his 75-minute shows, where, donned in a tuxedo, he performs everything from sleight-of-hand card tricks to cutting-edge illusions that leave viewers scratching their heads.
Pre-Show in Sultan's Oasis
The doors to Marrakech Magic Theater open one hour prior to every show. During this time, guests are invited to gather for cocktails and appetizers inside the Moroccan-style Sultan's Oasis lounge. But this isn't just any pre-show gathering—Peter visits with every group, getting to know his guests by name and performing magic tricks up-close-and-personal. It's a rare case of a performer doubling as his opening act, and it starts the evening on a friendly note.
Intimate Parlor-Style Theater
The theater’s intimate 45-person setup means there's not a bad seat in the house, placing all attendees mere feet from the stage. Subtle touches throughout make visits all the more enjoyable, starting with a candlelit entryway and continuing into the ornate, red-colored lounge. The elegant design might have you assuming the theater has been that way for decades, but think again: Peter did it all himself, right down to the chandeliers.
Five Things to Know About Artists’ Television Access
Artists’ Television Access cultivates the work of creatives who trade in film, photographs, paint, and other mediums. The nonprofit organization has thrived for over three decades, with roots that stretch back to a collection of artists coming together in 1983 to produce work for local television.
Here’s more on their creative collective:
They still broadcast weekly. Every Sunday at midnight, you can catch about 30 minutes of ATA’s original artist work on cable; you can even mail in your own submissions (though that makes it extra hard to avoid spoilers).
ATA also screens in person. Seating about 45, the screening room shows independent films and other media.
The screening room doubles as an art gallery. Photos, paintings, and other large-format works hang above the seats.
You don’t have to go inside to view art. ATA maintains a display space in its front window.
They’re always looking for volunteers. Commit at least four hours a week, and you can come to the shows for free.
Operating out of Washburn Studio, DJ Chucky Brown of The Art of DJing trains his students when to rock the party and when to recognize that the party is happening inside a lifeboat. ?You throw bait out,? he says, recognizing that different crowds, such as indie dance rock and Top 40 audiences, require different tunes. ?If you start with Azari and nothing happens, throw out some Datarock or LCD Soundsystem; or if you start with Daft Punk, then throw out some Usher, Calvin Harris, or Madonna.? Brown imparts this encyclopedic knowledge of music in private, small-group, and large-scale classes, where his charges learn how to mix, scratch, and reinvent on the fly. On Brown?s student mixes page, visitors can listen to mash-ups and mixtapes created by his former pupils. The DJ has even performed for several of the artists sampled by his students and himself, having spun at events thrown by Elton John, Missy Elliot, and Justin Timberlake.