Solstice at Chapel of the Chimes

Every year on the afternoon and evening of the solstice, the Garden of Memory, at Chapel of the Chimes in Oakland, Julia Morgan’s amazing, labyrinthine columbarium, hosts a concert of eclectic music: didgeridoos, electronic music, strange machines that emit sound, improvisational choirs, instruments made of glass, metal, fiber, discarded dolls and toy trucks… If you can imagine it, it’s there. The place itself is many levels with little courtyards and niches, each one with a different performer, and some grand performance spaces. Steve Kent, pictured above, is one of my favorites. He has a radio show, Music of the World, on KPFA Thursdays at 11 am. Also Orchestra Nostalgico. They seem to play on the deck each year, which is a nice spot to hang out.

At sundown, if you remember to bring a bells (or a bell or a gong or even a set of keys) you can ring then along with hundreds of others. There is something inexplicably powerful about doing this. Probably it calls up ancestral rituals and our Jungian unconscious reverberates. In any case, I’ve gone for the last three years, and can’t think of a better way to celebrate the longest evening of the year.