This week's A&E events

Stanford music reaches into community, a collection of 'Luminous Essays'

This week, Stanford University invites the community to play and listen to classical music with two concerts and a local photography collective presents "Luminous Essays."

Music: Conducting community

Just because you aren't a student at Stanford, or a professional musician, doesn't necessarily mean you aren't talented enough to perform on one of the university's world-class stages.

At least that's the opinion of Jindong Cai, the music director and conductor of the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, and Anna Wittstruck, his assistant conductor. This Friday, July 11, Cai will lead the Stanford Youth Orchestra in a performance of works by Edward Elgar, Anton Bruckner, Giovanni Gabrieli, Friedrich Kuhlau and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The following day, July 12, Wittstruck will lead the Stanford Summer Symphony Orchestra in performing a program titled, "Mostly Made in America," featuring compositions by Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, George Gershwin and Mozart.

The two performances are noteworthy due to the makeup of each group of musicians. The Stanford Youth Orchestra is, as the name notes, composed of young boys and girls in middle school and high school. However, Wittstruck notes, the players in the orchestra are extremely talented, and the series of performances that the Youth Orchestra give this summer will be about as high caliber as can be expected from such a group.

As for the Stanford Summer Symphony Orchestra, while it is made up entirely of amateur players, Wittstruck says she sets the bar for admittance into the orchestra incredibly high and that many in the group could potentially have been professional musicians, but they chose different paths in life.

"These are people who have been playing at a high level for their entire life and they want to keep playing, so they come here," she explains, noting with some levity that this year's Summer Symphony has many players from one of Silicon Valley's largest employers. "This year I'm joking that we should call it the Stanford Google orchestra."

In this way, the two programs are win-win -- both for the community and the players themselves. Concertgoers get a top-notch experience, and the performers get to play in front of a crowd at Dinkelspiel Auditorium and the new, state-of-the-art Bing Concert Hall.

"I like to think of it as a place where people come together through music in a very special way," she says. "This is a way of building a community."

The Stanford Youth Orchestra's chamber music performance is Friday, July 11, at 7:30 p.m. at Dinkelspiel Auditorium. Tickets are $10 and proceeds go to the financial aid fund for the Youth Orchestra. The Stanford Summer Symphony Orchestra's performance, "Mostly Made in America," will be held Saturday, July 12, at 7:30 p.m. in Bing Concert Hall. Tickets are free for Stanford students, $10 for other students and $20 for the general public. For more information on these two events, go to events.stanford.edu.

Photography: 'Luminous Essays'

"The common thread is light," says Linda Barsotti, the Discovery Bay-based photographer behind the upcoming exhibit, Luminous Essays. "The one thing we always look for is light."

The show, which is currently open at the Hall of Justice in Redwood City, features photographs -- or "light writings," etymologically speaking -- from a collection of local amateur fine art photographers, who together form the Peninsula Photographic Arts Guild.

Barsotti formed the group two years ago, inviting friends and former classmates whom she had met at the College of San Mateo to come together and share their love of photography.

The upcoming exhibit gathers the work of most of the collective, including her own, some of which she produces using unorthodox methods.

Three of the pieces Barsotti is displaying at the Luminous Essays exhibit were created using a scanner and the photo editing software program Photoshop. Barsotti, took multiple scans of various objects -- including crumpled up plastic bags, pages from a journal, and what appear to be curled sheets of paper -- and then layering the resulting images on top of each other, or placing them side by side in a row.

The result is at once abstract and aesthetically intriguing. In "Detritus," which is nothing more than a series of 10 black and white images of crumpled up and tattered plastic bags, Barsotti turns trash into treasure. The bags take on ghostly, fluid shapes, and the longer you stare, the more the eye begins to assign familiar shapes and characters to the abstractions, which pop in vivid grays and whites against the stark black backdrop.

Also on display at the exhibit are images taken by Barry Fleisher of Menlo Park and Jerry Barrack of Redwood City.

Luminous Essays runs through September 3 on the first floor of the San Mateo County Hall of Justice, located at 400 County Center, Redwood City. The gallery is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission is free. For more information go to cmo.smcgov.org/arts-commission.


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