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Arts & Culture

Where Artistic Inclinations Flourish


From art galleries to movie houses and theaters, the East Bay has it all.

Classical Music Companies

American Bach Soloists (415-621-7900, AmericanBach.org) specialize in music of Bach's era.

AVE/Artist's Vocal Ensemble (Ave-Music.org) is a professional choral ensemble directed by Jonathan Dimmock.

Berkeley Opera (510-841-1903, BerkeleyOpera.org) surprises with sometimes brilliant, sometimes bizarre productions.

Berkeley Symphony (510-841-2800, BerkeleySymphony.org) is often adventurous but not quite polished.

Cal Performances (510-642-9988, CalPerfs.berkeley.edu) is UC Berkeley's performance series that offers the finest assortment of classical, jazz, dance, and world-music concerts you will find west of the Hudson River.

Chanticleer (415-252-8589, Chanticleer.org) is a world-famous men's choral group.

Composers, Inc. (415-512-0641, ComposersInc.org) presents concert series of contemporary American music.

Del Sol String Quartet (415-374-0074, DelSolQuartet.com) is an award-winning new music ensemble.

Earplay (415-585-9776, Earplay.org) is an ensemble that performs new music.

Kronos Quartet (KronosQuartet.org) is a world-renowned new music champion.

Left Coast Chamber Ensemble (415-642-8054, LeftCoastEnsemble.org) is an ensemble that performs new music.

Magnificat Early Baroque (800-853-8155, MagnificatBaroque.org) often programs rare fare.

Mills College's Center for Contemporary Music (510-430-2171) is always on the cutting edge of thought-provoking electronic and new music.

MusicSources (1000 The Alameda, Berkeley, 510-528-1625, MusicSources.org) has a concert series that features local and international artists, plus a library of 16th- to 19th-century works, a collection of antique keyboards, and children's events.

Oakland East Bay Symphony (510-444-0801, OEBS.org), led by Music Director Michael Morgan, programs with the community in mind.

Oakland Opera (510-763-1146, OaklandOpera.org) surprises with sometimes brilliant, sometimes bizarre productions.

Other Minds (415-934-8134, Otherminds.org) presents concerts of innovative music from composers from all over the world.

Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (415-252-1288, Philharmonia.org), led by buoyant Music Director Nicholas McGegan, showcases some of the finest soloists and guest conductors on the planet.

Pocket Opera (415-972-8934, PocketOpera.org) is in a class by itself, offering the indefatigable octogenarian Donald Pippin's witty translations and priceless spoken commentary.

Quartet San Francisco (215-885-6400, QuartetSanFrancisco.com) is a Grammy-nominated ensemble that performs new music.

San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (415-278-9566, SFCMP.org) is an ensemble that performs new music.

San Francisco Early Music Society (510-528-1725, SFEMS.org) puts on early music concerts.

San Francisco Symphony (415-864-6000, SFSymphony.org) is an internationally acclaimed organization.

San Francisco Opera (415-864-3330, SFOpera.com) has all the star power, glamour, and cheap standing room one could ask for.

San Francisco Performances (415-398-6449, Performances.org) also offers the finest assortment of classical, jazz, dance, and world music concerts you will find west of the Hudson River.

UC Berkeley's Center for New Music and Audio Technology (510-643-9990, CNMAT.berkeley.edu) is always on the cutting edge of thought-provoking electronic and new music.

Volti (415-771-3352, VoltiSF.org) is a cutting-edge choral group of new music specialists.

Dance Companies

Axis Dis/Abled Dance Company (1428 Alice St., Ste. 200, Oakland, 510-625-0110, AxisDance.org) makes ethereal dance out of the struggle to achieve grace; on crutches, in wheelchairs, or able-bodied, they epitomize the indomitable spirit of humanity.

Mary Armentrout (510-289-5188, MilkBar.org), a Dadaist choreographer, hosts avant-garde dancers doing strange things with the furniture in her monthly Milkbar series at studio #223 in the old Sunshine Biscuit Factory (81st Ave. off San Leandro Blvd., Oakland).

Diamano Coura (1428 Alice St., Oakland, 510-733-1077, DiamanoCoura.org) is a first-rate troupe that does classic dances of West Africa.

Oakland Ballet Company (510-465-6400, OaklandBallet.org) dances the Ballet Russes classics as if they were Shakespeare — with heart, soul, passion, and grace.

Omega West (OmegaWest.org) is the foremost liturgical dance company in the United States, based at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.

Savage Jazz Dance (510 490-6068, SavageJazz.org) fields sexy, high-energy musical movers in a big range of moods, from haunting melancholy to hilarious.

Movie Theaters

Alameda Theatre and Cineplex (2317 Central Ave., Alameda, 510-769-3456, AlamedaTheatres.com), a rehabbed 1937 historic theater and megaplex, has a certain charm — namely, its fifty-foot screen, balcony, and Art Deco architecture courtesy of Timothy Pflueger.

Grand Lake Theater (3200 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-426-3556, RenaissanceRialto.com), a restored movie palace from the 1920s, features a Wurlitzer organ performance prior to movies shown on Friday and Saturday nights, a dazzling marquee, and retro elegance in its 900-seat main auditorium.

Landmark Shattuck Cinemas (2230 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-464-5980, LandmarkTheatres.com) plays first-run movies on ten screens, with auditoriums decorated in faux-Egyptian, ersatz-Arabian, and late-period Plex Moderne.

Orinda Theater (2 Orinda Square, Orinda, 925-254-9060) is an art deco gem in the Orinda Village center.

Pacific Film Archive (2575 Bancroft Way, UC Berkeley, 510-642-1124, BAMPFA.berkeley.edu) is a world-class repository of films and cinematic lore since 1966.

Rialto Cinemas Cerrito (10070 San Pablo Ave., El Cerrito, 510-273-9102, RialtoCinemas.com) is an attractively renovated 1937 art deco duplex that plays a mix of mainstream, first-run movies and more obscure titles.

Rialto Cinemas Elmwood (2966 College Ave., Berkeley, 510-433-9730, RialtoCinemas.com), a bite-sized miniplex, shows art and foreign films — the ideal mix for globally minded college town auds.

AMCTheatres.com, BrendenTheatres.com, Cinemark.com, RegMovies.com are the corporate plexes you'll want to check out if it's uniformity, a giant box of candy, and the latest Hollywood blunderbuss you crave.

Museums — East Bay

The African American Museum and Library (659 14th St., Oakland, 510-637-0200) houses an archive of 160 collections of diaries, newspapers, oral history, and video recordings focusing on the Bay Area and Northern California; a 12,000-volume reference library; and a museum featuring changing exhibits.