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UC Berkeley Web Feature

 Ira Glass, Isabel Allende, the National Ballet of China, Al Young, and Hilary Hahn will all perform at Berkeley this fall. (**Photo credits)

Sneak preview of coming attractions this fall

– The new semester at Berkeley is off to a flying start, with September and October jam-packed with events the campus community won't want to miss.

Following is a highly subjective shortlist chosen in consultation with departmental managers across campus. Details may change, and events will be added - the Journalism School, for one, had not yet finalized its roster - so to stay up to date, bookmark the Critic's Choice website.

Top tickets


Sir David King
The United Kingdom is one of America's staunchest allies, but there is one issue on which its top ministers have very publicly broken ranks with the Bush administration: climate change, which is "a far greater threat to the world than international terrorism," according to Sir David King, Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief science adviser. King will discuss global warming in a hotly anticipated free event with Michael Pollan, an award-winning science writer and Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley. Sept. 15, 6 p.m., 315 Wheeler Hall



Randy Cohen, aka The Ethicist (Kate Weiman photo)
We can all use a little nudge to our moral compass from time to time, and New York Times Magazine writer Randy Cohen, better known as The Ethicist, provides that service to millions in his Sunday column. Cohen will discuss "how to be good," then field a few questions from the audience. Nov. 19, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

Ira Glass, host of the popular public-radio* program "This American Life," and comix artist Chris Ware (author of "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth") will discuss the art of storytelling in an appearance for Cal Performances' Strictly Speaking series. Glass's last event here sold out well in advance, so buy tickets ASAP. Nov. 12, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

Need a break from feeding your mind? Feed your sweet tooth instead at the Hearst Museum's The Culture of Chocolate: Tracing the Mystique and Worldwide Journey of Cacao event. Explore the journey of chocolate from its ancient roots to its role in contemporary popular culture through scholarly presentations and tasting of artisanal chocolate. Oct. 9, 1 p.m., 112 Wurster Hall & Hearst Museum | Ticket info

Isabel Allende, much-loved author of "House of the Spirits" and 11 other books, will discuss her latest novel, "Zorro," a swashbuckler about how Diego de la Vega became the familiar masked man. Allende will talk to Sandy Curtis, author of seven Zorro novels, in a conversation moderated by Harley Shaiken, chair of the Center for Latin American Studies. Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House, 2299 Piedmont Ave.

There are two big birthdays to note on campus this year: Cal Performances is celebrating its 100th anniversary, as is the Music Department. Among CalPerfs' special centennial events is a visit by frequent guests The Mark Morris Dance Group, which will perform the world premiere of "Candleflowerdance," set to Stravinsky's Serenade for Piano in A Major. Sept. 22-24, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets In addition to many events during the semester, Music will celebrate its centenary with a free evening devoted to the department's history, people, facilities and feats, including presentations by music faculty Joseph Kerman and Benjamin Brinner and performances by University Organist Davitt Moroney and the University Chorus. Oct. 21, 4 p.m., Hertz Hall

The annual Cal vs. University of Southern California football game is the most anticipated athletic event of the semester: entering this 2005 season, the Bears were the last team to defeat the Trojans, the two-time defending national champions, which they did in a 34-31, triple-overtime thriller in 2003. Nov. 12, 12:30 p.m., Memorial Stadium

The China pattern

 Swimmers prepare to plunge into the Songhua River to commemorate the second anniversary of Mao’s swim in the Yangtze.
Swimmers prepare to plunge into the Songhua River for the second anniversary of Mao’s swim in the Yangtze. ("Red-Color News Soldier," Li Zhensheng; Phaidon; ©Li Zhensheng/CONTACT Press Images)  
With China poised to become perhaps the United States' first real rival in the superpower club, this semester is tailor-made for those who want to know more about its culture and history. Start with the Red-Color News Soldier photography exhibit already on view at the Graduate School of Journalism: this selection of prints from Li Zhensheng's stunning history of the Cultural Revolution provides a rare inside look at the era. Through Oct. 21, North Gate Hall The exhibit closes with a panel discussion of this devastating period in China's history. Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m., North Gate Hall | More Info Learn more about the lingering effects of Mao's revolution when Harvard history and political science professor Roderick MacFarquhar lectures on "Mao's Revolution: What Remains?," followed by a discussion with China expert Orville Schell, Journalism Dean. Oct. 20, time to be announced, Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center

For a slice of modern Chinese life, check out photojournalist Mark Leong's China Obscura exhibit, a stunning portrait of contemporary China - from rock musicians to strippers - unlike any you've seen before. Sept. 8-Oct. 11 and Nov. 1-Dec. 9, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2223 Fulton St., 6th Floor


Sheng Xiang
In step with China's growing power comes growing tension over the fate of neighbors such as Taiwan. Composer, musician, and activist Sheng Xiang, one of Taiwan's most passionate champions of social causes, will combine both modern and traditional instruments, Western rock and Taiwanese music in this evening for Cal Performances and a host of other campus sponsors. Sept. 9, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall | Tickets The concert will be followed by a film and panel discussion of Sheng Xiang's music, community politics, and environmental justice in Taiwan. Sept. 10, 12 p.m., 145 Dwinelle

China's lesser-known neighbors - Turkmenistan, Tadjikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan - may be commonly referred to as "the 'stans," but each has its own rich culture. In Along the Silk Road: Central Asian Cinema, the Pacific Film Archive will present 15 films from all five of the Central Asian republics, plus Afghanistan, in conjunction with the Modes of Contemporary Central Asian Culture conference. Sept. 1-30, Pacific Film Archive | Schedule

Remember Zhang Yimou's award-winning film, "Raise the Red Lantern"? The National Ballet of China, one of the world's foremost ballet ensembles, will perform a uniquely Chinese adaptation of the film in its American premiere - and attendees will be the first to try out Zellerbach Hall's brand new seats. Sept. 16-18, times vary, Zellerbach Hall | Tickets Later in the semester, the Beijing People's Art Theatre - the first Chinese drama company to tour internationally - makes its Cal Performances debut with an undisputed masterpiece of world theater, Lao She's "The Teahouse." Nov. 5, 8 p.m. and Nov. 6, 3 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

More events to watch:
Lectures
| Music | Films | Performing Arts | Exhibits | Conferences

Lectures and panel discussions

  • Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature: Reading and editors' panel discussion of this compilation of short stories, extracts from novels, and poetry by more than 50 writers from three generations. Sept. 8, 5 p.m., Sultan Room, 340 Stephens Hall

  • Howard Rheingold, author of the seminal book "Smart Mobs," looks into whether "cooperation studies" might be the beginning of a new narrative about human social behavior. Sept. 14, 4 p.m., 202 South Hall

  • In her lecture "Modern Girls (Unless They're French) Don't Wear Kimono," Liza Dalby will consider historical precedents in Japan for the very notion of fashion, and how the Japanese themselves reincorporated the West's fashion of "japonisme." Sept. 25, 3 p.m., Museum Theater, Berkeley Art Museum

  • In conjunction with the world premiere of "Doctor Atomic" at the San Francisco Opera, and to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars will discuss J. Robert Oppenheimer's role in the creation of the first atomic bomb as well as examine the historical, scientific, and musical background of their new opera. Includes an exclusive musical preview of "Dr. Atomic." Sept. 26, 8 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium | Ticket info

  • To accompany the "Yosemite in Time" exhibit, writer Rebecca Solnit (hailed as California's heir to Joan Didion) will join a multidisciplinary group of scholars and photographers to explore how contemporary "re-photography" reveals the evolution of our attitudes toward nature. Oct. 9, 2 p.m., Museum Theater, Berkeley Art Museum


  • Mitch Kapor
    Nobel Physics Laureate Dudley Herschbach will give this semester's Hitchcock Lectures. Herschbach, currently the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, will talk about "Taming Molecular Wildness" and "Breaking and Making Chemical Bonds." Sept. 28 & 29, 4:10 p.m., Chevron Auditorium, International House

  • Learn more about the Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia created by tens of thousands of volunteers, in this SIMS Distinguished Lecture by software pioneer Mitch Kapor, president of the Open Source Applications Foundation. Nov. 9, 4 p.m., 202 South Hall

MusicBack to top

  • Ten years after Grateful Dead singer-guitarist Jerry Garcia died of heart trouble, the Jerry Garcia Estate is putting on Comes A Time - A Musical Tribute to Jerry Garcia to benefit the Rex Foundation, a grassroots organization. Among the many musicians performing are Trey Anastasio, Hamza El Din, Mickey Hart, Warren Haynes, The String Cheese Incident, Bob Weir, and Ratdog members. Sept. 24, 5 p.m., Greek Theatre | Tickets


  • Mariza.
    Mozambique-born vocalist Mariza sings Portugal's fado, the emotional cousin of the blues, tango, and flamenco. Oct. 21, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

  • Versatile 25-year-old violinist Hilary Hahn gives a solo recital Oct 29, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

  • Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant," a cultural touchstone of the 1960s antiwar movement, with a musical jamboree by Guthrie, The Mammals, his son Abe on keyboards, and Gordon Titcomb on mandolin and banjo. Oct. 30, 7 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

  • As part of Music's centenary celebrations, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players will present Richard Feliciano's "An American Decameron," based on oral historian Studs Terkel's interviews with Americans from all walks of life. There will be a pre-concert talk at 7:15 p.m. with the composer and conductor David Milnes. Nov. 7, 8 p.m., Hertz Hall | Ticket info


  • Youssou N'Dour
    The Cairo Orchestra joins Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour for an amazing evening of traditional percussion, griot singing, and Afro-Cuban and indigenous dance rhythms. Nov. 11, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

  • Latin American superstar Tania Libertad will sing the passionate boleros and infectious rancheros of her current home, Mexico, as well as the spirited Afro-Peruvian songs of her youth. Nov. 17, 8 p.m., Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

FilmBack to top

  • SUPERB will screen the award-winning documentary Born into Brothels, about the children of Calcutta's red light district. Sept. 9, 7 and 9 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium


  • Rob Nilsson's "Security"
    World premiere of Security: A collaboration between renegade filmmaker Rob Nilsson and a group of UC Berkeley students assembled for Nilsson's residency at the PFA in 2002, this bold and challenging work looks at political and personal vulnerability in dangerous times. Sept. 11, 5:30 p.m., Pacific Film Archive

  • A screening of Zhang Yimou's Raise the Red Lantern, followed by discussion, will provide context for the dance performance by the National Ballet of China (see above) the next day. Sept. 15, 7 p.m., Wheeler Auditorium

  • Alternative Requirements, an evening of short, avant-garde films by Bay Area students, offers haunting family histories, '80s nostalgia, and provocative takes on work. Oct. 25, 7 p.m., Pacific Film Archive

Performing artsBack to top

  • The Cradle Will Rock, Marc Blitzstein's pro-union musical about the 1930's labor movement. The Oct. 8 performance will be followed by a discussion with the directors and designers. Oct. 7-16, Zellerbach Playhouse | Tickets

  • Piccolo Teatro di Milano will perform Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni's 18th-century classic work of commedia dell'arte. Oct. 26-30, times vary, Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

  • California Poet Laureate and Berkeley resident Al Young will read from his current work for the Lunch Poems series. Nov. 3, 12:10 p.m., Morrison Library, Doe Library

  • The English department will host this year's Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, a daylong event featuring former Poet Laureate Robert Haas, Robert Bly, Joanne Kyger, Diane di Prima and many more. Sept. 24 12-5 p.m., North Lawn, Valley Life Sciences Building

  • U.K. director Edward Hall and his all-male Propeller company will perform a unique interpretation of Shakespeare's dark play A Winter's Tale. Nov. 9-13, times vary, Zellerbach Hall | Tickets

  • Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, founder and owner of San Francisco's venerable City Lights Bookstore, will read from his current work for the Lunch Poems series. Dec. 1, 12:10 p.m., Morrison Library, Doe Library

ExhibitsBack to top


  • Big Dinos Return
    The Taisho era, Japan's version of the Roaring Twenties, was characterized by Western Jazz Age mores and styles bumping up against traditional Japanese values of harmony and tranquility. The Berkeley Art Museum will display scroll paintings, folding screens, woodblock prints, kimono, and other works of decorative art in its Taisho Chic: Japanese Modernity, Nostalgia, and Deco exhibit. Sept. 14-Dec. 23, BAM | More info

  • Following a monthlong closure for renovations, the Lawrence Hall of Science reopens with Big Dinos Return. The exhibit's giant robotic dinosaurs will challenge imaginations with evidence that adaptations in theropods, the family that includes T. rex, led to birds. Oct. 2-Jan. 16, LHS | More info

ConferencesBack to top

  • Discovering the New Legal Landscape for Digital Media: Panel of IT, venture capital and legal experts will discuss the far-reaching implications of the Grokster case on conducting business in the digital media domain. Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m., Wells Fargo Room, Haas School of Business (For more info call 642-4255)

  • Amazing Light: Visions for Discovery: Many of the greatest minds in physics and cosmology, including 18 Nobel Laureates, will gather in honor of Berkeley physicist Charles Townes' 90th birthday, the 100th anniversary of Einstein's "miracle year," and the World Year of Physics. The three-day symposium explore the extraordinary challenges of 21st century physics and cosmology. Oct. 6-8 | Event website

*Photo credits for top images: Ira Glass by Richard Frank; Isabel Allende by Lori Barra; National Ballet of China courtesy of the company; Al Young by Nancy Jacobs; and Hilary Hahn by Kasskara/Dg.

**We stated incorrectly that "This American Life" was a National Public Radio show. It is produced by WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio and distributed to public radio stations nationwide by Public Radio International (PRI).