NEXUS “a pleasure to see and hear” in California

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NEXUS with David JohnsonNEXUS had a great time at California Lutheran U. where they performed and presented a workshop. They are pictured here during the bows following Steve Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood. David Johnson (centre) performed the piece with them. David is a composer and percussionist who is a faculty member at the nearby California Institute of the Arts.   Also in attendance was percussionist Aaron Smith who teaches at California State University – Northridge. Aaron has written to say of the concert: “It was a pleasure to see and hear. One of the best parts of the concert was watching the faces of my students from Cal. State Northridge. For many of them it was the first time to see anything remotely like that in person. YouTube cannot offer the same experience.”

[p.s. See Bob Becker’s comment below for other percussion notables in the audience. And thanks to everyone, both old friends and new, who came out!]  One of the many pleasures of CalLuth is performing in the Samuelson Chapel.   The Historic Campus Architecture Project tells us that the Samuelson is named for the late Raphael Adolphus Samuelson, a CLU Regent. The building was designed by  Inslee, Senefeld and Puchlik, of Pasadena.  Behind NEXUS in the photo you can see one of the carved mahogany sculptures by Ernst Schwidder. There is a clearer view of it below. The sculpture represents a cross and an oak tree (related to the surrounding natural landscape of Thousand Oaks, CA). The cross is six feet wide by nine feet high. Schwidder is an artist from Tacoma, Washington, and in 1991, when the chapel opened, he was chair of the art department at Pacific Lutheran University, the “sister school” of California Lutheran University.

When the Samuelson Chapel opened, Josef Woodward wrote about it in the Los Angeles Times:
“From an architectural standpoint, the chapel is one of the more intriguing and unorthodox additions to the county’s structurescape. The chapel is a pleasing spatial puzzle. …Sweeping irregularity of form governs the chapel inside and out. Right angles are avoided, and the hillside terrain is more of a role model than is any campus building. ..Inside the chapel, the odd angles and asymmetrical volumes of the design create a pleasantly disorienting spatial illusion. ..Vague floral imagery marks the stained-glass work [see photo below] of Mark Gulsrud, a ’72 graduate of the university. ..Another important addition to the chapel is the custom-built organ by renowned Louisville, Ky., organ builders Steiner-Reck. Once the installation has been completed, this instrument will be the only such organ on the West Coast…Set into a ceiling-high frame of lightly stained white oak, the organ has more than 2,500 pipes of copper, brass, tin and zinc, all arranged in a colorful array. “I like to play with color,” Reck said. “That’s one of my trademarks.” Pipes called “horizontal trumpets,” more common in Spain than the United States, jut from the mostly vertical design. Reck notes that, sonically, “they have quite a lot of punch.”

Enjoy a few more photos of the Samuelson Chapel of California Lutheran University, below. Next stop for NEXUS: Arkansas!

Samuelson Chapel"Stained glass in Samuelson
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Bob Becker
8 years ago

Other notables in the audience last night were: Wade Culbreath, timpanist with the LA Chamber Orchestra; Mitch Peters, former percussionist and timpanist with the LA Philharmonic; Bill Platt, former principal percussionist with the Cincinatti Symphony; and Norm Weinberg, Professor of Percussion at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

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