Last night we landed in Greece. Yes, Greece! We flew into Athens around midnight, seeing the merest hint of this 8-million person city, just a smattering of city lights surrounded by a sea of blackness. We arrived at our hotel around one o’clock in the morning while locals were flocking to nearby bars to watch the World Cup game between Greece and Japan, but we were ready to collapse after 24 hours of grueling travel and turned in for a scant four hours of sleep. We rose before the sun in order to catch our transport to the ferry, and while driving to the terminal the sun peeked over the low slung hills as we caught our first real glimpse of the city and the gorgeous blue water surrounding it. Now, as I type this, we are soaring across the Aegean Sea on a ferry the size of the Love Boat, on our way to the island of Naxos. You hate me, right?
We’re here for the marriage of our dear friends who are tying the knot on this mythical Greek island on the eve of the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. Our attendance is mandatory since Tim is serving as the ceremony officiant, responsible for the hefty task of ritualizing their union, just as his friend did for us nearly a year ago. I can’t think of a more wonderful favor to return. We know it will be a truly magical event and feel incredibly blessed to be invited to participate.
It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that I’ll be missing one of my favorite solstice events: the Garden of Memory concert in the Chapel of the Chimes, one of my favorite places in Oakland. The building is one of the most beautiful and historic in Oakland, originating in the early 1900’s and largely redesigned in 1928 by the amazing Oakland-based architect Julia Morgan, one of the first major female architects. The building features a labyrinth-like maze of Moorish and Gothic-inspired rooms, each adorned with unique and ornate stonework, statues, gardens, fountains and mosaics. Needless to say, these rooms make for some amazing acoustics, which is why the chapel and columbarium serve so well as the home for this magical musical experience.
My hope is that some of you will go in my stead, to experience this unique celebration. The concert takes place from 5-9pm this Saturday, June 21st. Parking will be limited so carpooling or public transportation is suggested. You can get a sneak preview on the Garden of Memory website below which includes program and schedule information for this year as well as archives of past years dating back to the first concert in 1996, nearly two decades ago. I also wrote a post about my last visit in 2010 (despite my love for this event, without fail I seem to be out of town on the solstice).
Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue
Saturday, June 21st 5-9pm
So I’ll be away from Oakland for a little over a week, but do please stay tuned because I’m planning to get some fun posts up while I’m gone, including several mystery location photos to test how well you really know Oaktown…