You don’t have to be knowledgeable about classical music to enjoy “Dark Blue Sky Dream,” the latest multimedia and musical performance at Oakland’s Chabot Space & Science Center this Friday evening. All it takes is an imagination.
The event, held in the center’s Ask Jeeves Planetarium, combines an outer-space light show with music performed live by violinist Julia Ogrydziak and pianist Elaine Chew. The music came first for the two Bay Area musicians, who met while studying at MIT and have been collaborating since 1992. “We designed everything from the ground up,” Ogrydziak says. “This is part of a larger series of performances. I picked out the music and then the visuals were designed to go with it. I wanted it to be contemporary, but not too contemporary, for people who weren’t familiar with the music.”
Arvo Pärt’s Fratres, written by the Estonian composer in 1980, is one of Ogrydziak’s favorite pieces, not coincidentally because she is half-Estonian herself. American composer William Bolcom’s Sonata No. 2, in common with several of the evening’s other pieces, is heavily jazz-influenced, Ogrydziak explains.
“On the surface it says all is well, but there’s a surrealism at work,” she says.
She plays solo violin on Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho’s Nocturne (1994), which is imbued with lots of colors from playing near the violin’s bridge. Hika, which translates as “Elegy,” is a work for violin and piano by Toru Takemitsu. “It’s similar to a Japanese garden, extremely controlled, but natural, that is made to seem completely natural,” she says. Finally, Maurice Ravel’s 1927 Sonata has a middle movement called “Blues.” Ravel is probably the last composer one would call bluesy, but hey, this patch of outer space is in Oakland.
“Dark Blue Sky Dream” takes place one night only, Friday, January 31, 8 p.m., at Chabot Space & Science Center, 10000 Skyline Boulevard, Oakland. Tickets are $15 general from www.ticketweb.com or 510-336-7373.