Arts + Letters

All That Jazz: Conservatory Is Nation’s First Independent Degree-Granting Institute Devoted to Jazz

Some early New Orleans jazz trumpeters performed with a handkerchief draped over their fingers, to prevent anyone from stealing their hottest licks. Other musicians more generously shared their hard-won knowledge, but for most of the music’s history, aspiring jazz players picked up information wherever they could, observing more experienced players at work on the bandstand and memorizing solos by wearing out the grooves on treasured recordings.

Ambitious Plan for a Captive Readership: Berkeley MBA Students Advise Inmate Newspaper

It was an early fall day when the gates of San Quentin State Prison clanged shut behind the unusual team of consultants on its way to meet the equally unusual team of clients.

“I was apprehensive,” admits Laura Tilghman, an MBA student at UC Berkeley who had never stepped into a prison before. “It was such different circumstances and territory.”

The clients, most of them serving life sentences, didn’t know what to expect either. Why would students from one of the top business schools in the state want to visit inmates at the state’s oldest prison?

A Voiceless Opera Based on French Literary Theory? Berkeley’s Got That

For a young composer, it can be difficult not to seem derivative. The problem is getting beyond one’s background and influences. Caroline Shaw, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for musical composition, faces this dilemma head-on. In her composition notes  she often explains which work formed the grounding of a piece. She acknowledges when inspiration for a piece came from Chopin or Hayden.

Creating Art Piece a Day in 2013, Business Lecturer Discovers the Art of Everything

Clark Kellogg, a lecturer in innovation and design thinking at the Haas School of Business, had an epiphany on New Year’s Day 2013. Actually, a friend of his had the epiphany, and he co-opted it.

“With her consent, of course,” Kellogg says. “She told me she planned to post a photograph a day on Instagram. And when she said that, it came to me: I wanted to do the same thing, but with art, not photos.”

The Road Not Taken: A Berkeley Bard from the 60s Became Rare Breed—the Trucker Poet

There are cowboy poets, of course—so many that cowpoke poesy conferences, or “gatherings,” are held regularly in most of the western states. But while there are plenty of country and western song lyrics about truckers (“I got ten forward gears and a Sweet Georgia overdrive;  I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide”), trucker poets are a scarcer breed.

Cal Performances Explores Why World War I Coincided With Feverish Artistic Creativity

The First World War was an early preoccupation of Cal Performances’ director Matias Tarnopolsky, who lately rediscovered a book of poems he treasured as a child in England. At age 11, he had written his name inside.

“I was profoundly impacted by the British war poets—Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon,” he said, speaking in his office in UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall on a recent chilly afternoon. As a music student, he would soon learn that the cataclysm of war accompanied a period of feverish experimentation in all the arts—in fact, the birth of modernism.

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