Mad About Mahler & Gustavo Dudamel

Mozart and Vivaldi are the two classical composers who’s music touched my life. Among all the classical concerts our choir had, Mozart’s Requiem (we did both by Fauré and Duruflé) and Vivaldi’s Christmas Concert are two of my favorites. Next to that is the “7 Last Words” in Latin by Theodore Dubois.

Unity Choral Festival
Hungry Tourist at the 2011 Unity Choral Festival in LA.

Now that I saw Mahler 8, I’m officially Mad about Mahler! His music transcends me to another space and time. Part I is a tight symphonic setting of the Latin Hymn “Veni Creator Spiritus”. Part II a more rhapsodic setting of the final part of Goethe’s “Faust”. These two texts fuse religion and humanism together, with Faust symbolising mankind redeemed from wrongdoing through Love. The Symphony No. 8 in E-flat major by Gustav Mahler is one of the largest-scale choral works in the classical concert repertoire. Because it requires huge instrumental and vocal forces it is frequently called the “Symphony of a Thousand”.

Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel conducting Mahler No. 8 “Symphony of a Thousand”

Mahler 8 is a story about “Faust” a man that despite his scholarly eminence, is bored and disappointed. He decides to call on the Devil for further knowledge and magic powers with which to indulge all the pleasure and knowledge of the world. In response, the Devil’s representative, Mephistopheles, appears. He makes a bargain with Faust: Mephistopheles will serve Faust with his magic powers for a term of years, but at the end of the term, the devil will claim Faust’s soul and Faust will be eternally damned. The term usually stipulated in the early tales is 24 years.

During the term of the bargain, Faust makes use of Mephistopheles in various ways. In many versions of the story, particularly Goethe’s drama, Mephistopheles helps him to seduce a beautiful and innocent girl, usually named Gretchen, whose life is ultimately destroyed. However, Gretchen’s innocence saves her in the end, and she enters Heaven. In Goethe’s rendition, Faust is saved by God’s grace via his constant striving—in combination with Gretchen’s pleadings with God in the form of the Eternal Feminine.

Mahler 8

I was privilleged to see LA Phil’s music director Gustavo Dudamel at the concert rehearsal of Mahler 8. My friends, members of Chamber Singers in Los Angeles performed with the 1000 choirs and two orchestras gave me a ticket to see the show.

They said only once in a hundred year you will see a great conductor, and one of them is Gustavo Dudamel. I’m so lucky and blessed to see him, and humbled too.

Gustavo Dudamel
Gustavo Dudamel

If your picture of a music conductor is like that one of the terror professors, well he is nothing like that at all. He’s got a great sense of humor. I laughed so many times during the rehearsals. This video is from another hereasal but just to show you how funny he is. He uses a unique metaphor to explain to the orchestra how to play this particular passage from Mendelssohn’s “Scottish” Symphony.


I know not everyone is into classical music. So here’s a treat… “Mambo!” by Leonard Bernstein. This is FUN FUN FUN!
Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra Simón Bolívar and the Venezuelan Brass Ensemble. With Alexis Cárdenas & Ensemble.

Shrine Auditorium
Hungry Tourist at the lobby of Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, CA
Gustavo Dudamel Signature
Gustavo Dudamel’s autograph

Jingletown – Oakland Artist Community

The history of Jingletown begins with its name, originating from a habit of nearby mill workers, largely males of Azorean Portuguese background, who would jingle the coins from a week’s work in their pockets as they walked to display their prosperity. In 1998, the neighborhood began a massive redevelopment, becoming home to an award-winning affordable housing project that has helped to revitalize the community.

Jingletown Mosaic


Jingletown is thriving as one of the fastest growing arts districts in the San Francisco Bay area. An organization called the Jingletown Arts & Business Community (JABC) is the main representative of the art community. In 2003 a building boom began in Jingletown, with several local developers building approximately 150 condos, lofts and townhomes on and near the Estuary waterfront, creating a new character to the area with its mix of new and old homes, commuters and residential artists. The neighborhood is also home to the Institute of Mosaic Art, and walking through the neighborhood, you can see manymosaics displayed on buildings sprinkled throughout the neighborhood. Jingletown is also the location of Green Day‘s JingleTown Recording.

Institute of Mosaic Art



IMG_2733IMG_2734IMG_2735IMG_2736IMG_2737IMG_2738IMG_2739IMG_2740IMG_2741IMG_2743IMG_2744IMG_2745IMG_2746IMG_2747IMG_2748IMG_2749Jingletown is a pocket arts community adjacent to the Oakland Estuary, bounded by the Park Street and Fruitvale Bridges which connect Oakland to the City of Alameda. It is part of the area called Fruitvale (formerly, Brays and Fruit Vale) in East Oakland. There are a large number of working artists living in the converted lofts that predominate in the area. It is located about two miles southeast of Lake Merritt.

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Japanese Garden

Photos from my visit to Earl Burns Miller, Japanese Garden in Long Beach, CA.

The garden is a hybrid art form that combines typical elements of Japanese garden design within the context of its Southern California location, and the vision of its founder. Earl and Loraine Miller shared a passion for the outdoors, and gardening in particular. Their belief in the importance of education to self development and their health and wellness-centered philanthropy continues through the CSULB International House, the EBM Japanese Garden, Miller Children’s Hospital and other projects supported by the Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation. To learn more about the garden and its history, visit their website at