Prokofiev! Like music? Enjoy darkness and anguish? How about celestas? If you answered, “Hells yes!” to any of the above (and even if you didn’t) you should support Berkeley’s music department by getting your depressed pre-Valentine’s Day hind parts to Hertz Hall this Friday or Saturday night at 8 to hear the University Symphony Orchestra pick some tunes that’ll be right up your alley.

According to Department of Music calendar, the Maestro David Milnes-helmed symphony will “kick off the Spring 2010 season with a collection of powerful, dark works.” As if the program–which includes Brahms’ “Tragic Overture” and something from Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” (the happiest opera of all time)–weren’t a dead giveaway.

And if you still need more convincing, just remember that as a student, your $5 tickets are literally one-third the price of general admission. Can you say, “MERE PITTANCE?!” Of course you can.

Department of Music [Calendar]

Take a break from life this weekend, sit back and relax for the “unique” sounds of Dmitri Shostakovich with the University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Milnes. The next night, roll on down to Wheeler Auditorium to watch a capella groups from up and down the coast perform, including groups from UCLA, UCSC, UC Davis, Stanford, University of Oregon and half a dozen groups of UC Berkeley’s own talent.

What: Dmitri Shostakovich, Symphony No. 1
Gyorgi Ligeti, San Francisco Polyphony [UC Berkeley Events]
Who: University Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Milnes
When: Friday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m.
Where: Hertz Hall
Cost: $15 General admission, $10 UCB faculty/staff, seniors, students, $5 UCB students with current ID

What else: 8th Annual West Coast A Cappella Showcase [Facebook Event]
Who: Various a capella groups (see event page)
Saturday, Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.
Where: Wheeler Auditorium
Cost: $10 General admission, $9 Non-UCB students, $7 UCB students

Rosy viewAfter discovering the latest omen of the world’s coming demise, the Clog encourages Berkeley students to put down their books and enjoy their short-lived time on earth.

If you’re the sort of person who relieves stress by burying your head in the sand and pretending everything will be OK, then consider this a spoiler warning and skip to the next paragraph. For those of you ready to accept the truth, here goes nothing: Everything will not be OK. Why? Because next Monday marks the end–of instruction. This also means that next week, we’ll all be irretrievably entrenched in the throes of those torturous tortures, borne of darkness and hellfire–finals. (The horror! The horror!)

Accordingly, here are a few ideas for wholesome use of your last-weekend-of-semi-freedom that won’t leave you with an untimely hangover and undone final papers: read more »

It seems that few Berkeley students take advantage of the campus arts scene, despite the plethora of Cal ID discounts available. We know, we know. You’re too busy studying, watching Cal lose, or perhaps you think protesting is more appropriate than indulging in the privilege of First World entertainment. Whatever your reason is, let it go and run to Hertz Hall–the University Symphony Orchestra is waiting!

The Clog, classy as we are, spent Friday night chilling in plush yellow seats for the University Symphony Orchestra’s last performance of the semester. The orchestra is the oldest performance ensemble at the University of California, auditions are cutthroat (according to a music department insider) and symphony-goers give it some pretty heavy compliments, according to their Facebook group:

Bold programming and high artistic standards have made this one of the country’s finest university orchestras. Not only a pre-professional training orchestra, but a major performing ensemble in the Bay Area as well.

Not too shabby. The Clog won’t disagree with those sentiments.

Now, we won’t pretend to be arts reviewers and use words like “overtones,” “bravura” and fancy metaphors to describe the concert. However, we will say that the performances were “enjoyable” and “impressive.” Conducted by David Milnes, the show started off amorously with Richard Strauss’ “Don Juan”, op. 20–a musically romantic piece that follows the exploits of the famous namesake. We felt the love in the liberal amounts of harp, triangle and head-bobbing flute players.

Our favorite piece of the night came second–a simulated film score recording session for “The Flyer” Suite, by music department lecturer and contemporary composer Yiorgos Vassilandonakis. The lights dimmed. The projector lit up to play a short film of the same name by UC Berkeley alumnus David Green. The combination of the visual work with the live orchestration was quite an immersing experience.

We were nodding off a bit by the time the final portion of the program took off, but we’ll blame it on our previous all-nighters. Still, there’s no doubt that the four movements of Symphony No. 4, “Romantic”–composed by Nazi favorite, Anton Bruckner–seemed like they were on a never ending loop.

By the end, there were more than few standing ovations.

Bravo, University Symphony Orchestra.

If you missed the symphony, don’t you fret. Deck the halls with another campus favorite–the UC Choral Ensemble will have its Holiday concert on Monday, Dec. 8 in Hertz Hall. It’s $6 with your Cal ID.

Image Source: Patrici Flores
University Symphony Orchestra [Website]