Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Noye's Fludde: Prepare for Embarkment

 Saturday, March 29th, 2014, the San Francisco Girls Chorus gave a wonderful performance of Noye's Fludde composed by the great Benjamin Britten. This was their 35th anniversary season and benefit gala performed at the Temple Emanu-El. The San Francisco Girls Chorus was founded in 1978 and is currently a "regional center for music education for girls and young women, ages 5-18".

The Voice of God was spoken by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. She is celebrating her 20th year as artistic director at A.C.T. Noye (Noah) was sung by bass-baritone Joe Damon Chappel. Being a native of Nashville, Tennessee and a graduate of Eastman School of Music, Mr. Chappel is the principle bass soloist with Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity. His singing displaced the audience into the world as it was for Noah. Silvie Jensen, the fabulous Mrs. Noye, did an excellent job at depicting the skeptical and mocking Mrs. Noye. Ms. Jensen engulfs herself into lots of different music genres: contemporary music, opera, musical theatre, and ethnic, improvised, and experimental music.

Silvie Jensen
In this children's opera, the parts of the animals, sons of Noah, and friends of Mrs. Noah are all played by children. The orchestra also consists of children musicians! The children singers also form a chorus of "Gossips". These are people with whom Mrs. Noah sits and drinks while laughing at her husband frantically building the ark. Mrs. Noah's joy ends when her sons grab her and drag her into the ark by force, leaving the "Gossips" to drown in their drunken state. The storm and flood to follow are depicted by troublesome music and the chorus sings the hymn Eternal Father, Strong To Save. 

After forty days and forty nights the flood ends and a rainbow comes out. The music depicts this beautiful and luminous scene of joy with bright sounds, while the animals and Noah with his family rejoice and sing The Spacious Firmament. The hymn ends this luscious opera with hosannah!
Elizabeth Avakian

A little background information about me: I was part of the wonderful San Francisco Girls Chorus in 2008-2009, and I found it to be a rewarding and fun experience! I am very grateful that I had the chance to be part of this musical community, but I found myself jealous that when I was there I never had a chance to run on stage with a wooden elephant on a stick in my hands...I did, however, perform at the San Francisco Symphony twice and that was super fun.

Joe Damon Chappel
Round of applause to Artistic Director Lisa Bielawa and to Music Director and Principle Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe. Biewala wrote in her letter to the audience:

This event is particularly special for me because I get to bring some superb colleagues into our midst - two enchanting singers that I have sung with for years, one of whom - Silvie Jensen - is already know to you as a fellow alumna, and the other, Joe Chappel, who may be familiar to some of you who came to see us perform side by side in "Einstein on the Beach" in Berkeley last season.

Music Director and Principal Conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe wrote in her letter to the audience:

Emanu-El Temple from the inside

Without making any compromises in his language, "Noye's Fludde" is perfect for the San Francisco Girls Chorus and its 300 young singers. In our performance, each level of SFGC will have the opportunity to participate, surrounded by professional singers and instrumentalists.   

I would like to thank Elizabeth Avakian, Director of the SFGC, for preparing the young singers for these splendid concerts. I can say, as someone who has been part of this community, that she provides family-like environment for the girls at the chorus, producing collectively expressional music.

For more cool music reviews and articles, go to The Freako Diva! You can find us on Facebook as well as on Zhibit!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Chamber Music Concert

                                            C'étaient des fous, mais ils avaient cette
 petite flamme qui ne s'éteint pas. 
(They were madmen; but they had in them 
that little flame which is not to be snuffed out.)

-Pierre Renoir 

On Thursday, March 27th, 2014 (at 7:30 p.m.), I was lucky enough to make it to the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts chamber music concert, produced under the direction of Ava Soifer, artist-in-residence. Students from the SOTA Piano Department and Instrumental Department were part of this memorable night.

The first piece on the program was Invierno Porteño by Astor Piazzola(1921-1992), performed by violinist Raina Christeson, cellist Jesse Jenks, and pianist Cristina Rey. This piece was very emotionally performed, and the great skills of the musicians added on to the inspirational experience produced upon the listener.

The second piece was not written into the program, but what I got from Mrs. Soifer's announcement was that it was a Shostakovich String Quartet performed by the Dragon String Quartet. This piece was fun to listen to, but the violins did not seem loud enough. Last time, at the Concerto Concert, I blamed the seat I was sitting in; but this time I had to strain myself to hear the violinists again, so I came to the conclusion that probably the acoustics in the theatre were not favorable toward violins.

The next two pieces were Sonata by Jacob Avshelomov(1919-2013), performed by violist Rafael Chinn and pianist Katalyn Tan, and Piano Trio by Carl Reinecke(1824-1910), performed by French Hornist Avery Roth-Hawthorne, clarinetist Rain Talosig, and pianist Iven Feng. Both of these pieces struck me as being very well performed. Ms. Tan's performance reflected her sweet and hardworking personality. Mr. Chinn was a very laudable violist. Mr. Roth-Hawthorne and Ms. Talosig had a mutual grasp on the emotional background of the piece. Mr. Feng is not a personality you would call precarious. He was foregoing in his dazzling interpretation of the piece.

The last piece in the first half was the Piano Quartet Op.25 by Johannes Brahms(1833-1897), performed by violinist Shaleah Feinstein, violist Gabriel Anguiano, cellist Oliver Herbert, and pianist Rachel Ng. Personally for me, this was one of the best pieces on the program. First of all, I have a weakness for big ensembles. I love it when there are a lot of people playing at the same time, but not a full orchestra.

Fugue in Eb Major by J.S. Bach(1685-1750) was performed by a wind ensemble including trombonists Lonnol Bay, Kieran Briden, Ruben Sandoval, and Johanne Williams-Baron; bass trombonist Scott Thornton (guest artist); euphonium Kiana Moody. This piece was very exciting. It was arranged by Wilbur Sudmeier for the wind ensemble. It was very interesting to hear Bach performed in such an arrangement.

Sonata by Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), performed by flutist Hansen and pianist Jeremy Wei-Rosenstock. Mr. Wei-Rosentsock and Mr. Hansen (the program doesn't show his last name) insnared the audience in a net of beautiful music.

Violinist Anju Goto, cellist Federico Strand-Ramirez, and pianist Angela Rey stunningly performed Piano Trio by Bohuslav Martinu (1890-1959). This piece had so much inspiriting energy and alluring tone that the listener was struck dumb by the beauty of the music produced.

The next two pieces were performed by Matt Cmiel on guitar and Brad Hogarth on trumpet and flugelhorn. They performed Piece en forma de Habanera by Maurice Ravel(1875-1937) and Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 by Heitor Villa-Lobos. These pieces were performed enthusiastically and with humorous introductions in between. (Mr. Cmiel, I didn't know you play the guitar!) What I found lacking in this wonderful concert were jokes in between the performances. Maybe not in between all of them, but some sort of verbal entertainment was lacking at some parts of the concert.

Trumpet player Jordon Lee, trombonist Hannah Williams-Barron, and pianist Jennica Li perfectly completed each other in the performance of Duet for a Ceremony by Eric Ewazen(b.1954).

Last, but not least, was Sonata from Diebankelsangerlieder by Anonymous and Suite from West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein(1918-1990). It was performed by trumpet players Jordan Lee and Janis Stuurman, Avery Roth-Hawthorne on French Horn, Hall Goff (Artist in Residence) on trombone, and Eitan Spiegel on tuba. I enjoyed this piece as the conclusion to this so vigorously mesmeric concert.

Some after notes:

I would love to hear some silly gags in between the pieces. I enjoyed it very much when Mr. Cmiel and Mr. Hogarth spoke in between their two pieces while the other was getting set up.

The program was well arranged and interesting for the listener. The piece following the preceding piece never was too similar, and therefore keeping the audience interested.

The program did not mention the flutists full name in Sonata by Francis Poulenc. I also found it quite surprising that the brilliant Theatre Tech Crew involved in the backstage work of this concert was not mentioned anywhere in the program, let alone their names. They did a great job.

I also was hoping for some time-period clothing on the performers. I know that traditional dress is important, but it would be very fun for the performers and the listeners if a musician in old-style dress came onstage. You, grown-ups, don't forget that we're still teenagers and like to dress-up.

I went to this concert with my granny, and she told me after the performance that she was surprised by the professional level and quality of the young musicians; and I can tell you that she's rather picky about that (take my word for it).

Overall, I think that the concert was well organized and that Mrs. Soifer did an excellent job at preparing the musicians. Round of applause for Ava Soifer!
Special thanks to the following coaches, artists, and faculty: Matt Cmiel, Brad Hogarth, Victoria Ehrlich, hall Goff, and Scott Thornton.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hillwood videos ready for review — and Mom & Dad!

Below is the video that Mr. Clarke worked and The Hillwood Herald worked to put together:

Students, please review and look for ways we can improve it.

Also, click here for the link to the We Day K-TV story.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Researchers at Houston Methodist Research Lab are trying to print cells. They are using ancient Chinese wood blocks for there inspiration. They begin by pouring liquid filled cells grown from a petri dish onto mold- that looks like a Chinese wood block- the liquid  flows across the surface gets drawn in through strategically placed holes. When the mold is lifted the cells stay firm in the desired configuration- something that's never been done before.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 7 Assignments

  1. Everyone, warm up with 10FastFingers.
  2. Who still needs to do the yearbook survey? Check out these excerpts from the past at blurb.com
  3. Nicole: What's for dinner in space? You may help Asiana get ready for the yearbook.
  4. Natasha: What went into Frozen? What's the role of the music?
  5. Sophia: Animal astronauts: the unsung heroes of space exploration. Here's more from NASA.
  6. Oliver: What are these World War II posters trying to tell us? What can we learn from primary sources? Any interest in the Battle of Gettysburg, and what does the Civil World mean to us today?
  7. Finn: Fountains of chains? In what way? Check out these angry birds?
  8. Kasama: Walking in space — how might it feel? Or check out these angry birds?
  9. Natasha J.: What do we know about elephant empathy? And what is empathy and why might we need it? 
  10. Claire: What about these wonder dogs?
  11. Samuel: Who is John Glenn and why might he matter to us today? Fountains of chains? In what way? How do we get aggressive flies?
  12. Asiana: Let Ms. Moorhead set you up on reviewing the story ideas for the Hillwood Herald yearbook 
  13. Mia: What went into Frozen? What's the role of the music??
  14. Consider a story to write about from Newsela or check out your other options below.
  15. ChronoZoom is an educational tool for students who want to put historical events in perspective. Use ChronoZoom to get a perspective of the extensive scale of time and historical events relative to what happened around the world. Pick a topic and explore.

Friday, February 21, 2014

What Do You Know About Beluga Whales?

Did you know that Beluga whales are the smallest specimen of whale? How about that they are related to the Narwhals, the whale with a horn? Well, if you did not know that, I will tell you some more interesting things about Beluga whales. Baby Belugas are called calves, and they are not white, they are usually gray or even brown. They fade into their white skin around 5 years old. Belugas are the size of large dolphins, and they are 13 to 20 feet. Belugas live in small groups called pods. Belugas are very social, and can mimic a variety of sounds. They are usually seen in the Arctic Oceans. Some of them get trapped from the ice bergs and die, but that becomes food for polar bears, killer whales and Arctic people. Belugas have also been overly hunted by fishermen in the Arctic, and that has decreased their population a lot. Belugas eat fish, crustaceans, and worms.

Did you know that the scientific name for belugas is Delphinapterus leucas? Did you know that Belugas are mammals and are carnivores because they like to eat meat? Did you know that they have bulbous foreheads called a melon? Did you know that a Belugas heart can weigh up too 12 pounds? Did you know that Belugas live 35-50 years in the wild? Did you know that the largest male Beluga weighs up too 3,000 pounds, and females weigh up too 1,900 pounds? Well, if you did not I just told you.


Lions live in groups of 15 or more. This is called prides. Prides can be as small as 3 or as big as 40 animals. In a pride, lions hunt prey, raise cubs, and defend their territory together. In a pride females do most of the hunting and cub raising. Usually all the females in a pride are related. A pride usually has no more than two adult males. The females stay in there pride for life and the males stay in for two to four years. When the males leave the pride, they either lead their own or do everything themselves.

 A males load roar,usually heard after sunset,can be heard from five miles away. The roar warns off intruders and help round up the lions of the pride. Hunting is usually done, in the dark, by the lionesses. They often hunt in groups of two or three. To catch the prey they use teamwork to stalk, surround, and kill their prey. Lionesses are not the most successful hunters,because they usually only kill only one thing after several tries. The males eat first, then the females, and then finally the cubs eat.Males and females try to defend their pride if a lion from a different pride tries to attack their pride.

Lions once roamed Africa, southern Europe, and parts of Asia.  Today lions usually live in Africa.  Unlike most cats, lions are excellent swimmers.  After lions eat, they may not hunt until two weeks later.  Lions can run at a top speed of 36 miles an hour.

This is a pride of lions.

Longest Song on the Top 100's Chart

This week, the rock band Imagine Dragons set a record for the longest run on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart — 77 weeks, since it debuted in August of 2012. The song is Radioactive; it might ring a bell. Some pop critics say this song has religious meaning in it. This might be true because the members of the band are currently practicing at a Mormon church. Also another band that has a song currently in the top 10 is One Republic and their song Counting Stars, that song is currently pegged as a religious song. 

How Much Can Chocolate Hurt a Dog?

How much can chocolate actually hurt dogs?  It really depends on how much they eat and what their wieght is.  A dog can eat 1/10 of their body wieght and we did the same thing, we both would have the same problems.  Those problems can very.  Dogs eating chocolate can lead to vometing, diarrhea, and in extreme cases, herat rates can go up which leads to siezures.

If your dog eats dark chocolate, it can be a lot more toxic.  9 pounds of of milk chocolate can cause siezures to a 20 pound dog can cause siezures.  It only takes 1.5 ounces of bakers chocolate to do that.  Chocolate poisoning shows after 6 to 12 hours after they eat it.

The siezures don't stop unless they are treated.  If this happens, you need to head to an emergency veternarian.  You should also doi this if you your dog is repeatedly vometing.

These are some things that you should look out for if/when your dog eats lots/some chocolate.

Written By:  Claire P.

Ice and snow festival!!!!!!!!

People in northwest China made cool sculptures made out of ice and snow. The had to cut threw18,000 meters of ice and snow. There are replicas in New York and Rome

The Black Death

Warning: Kind of disgusting... Sorry about that.

The Black Death was an extremely deadly disease that infected people nearly 1500 years ago in 1348. It was a bubonic plague, which means that it gave the victims large bumps on their skin that sometimes would pop and ooze pus and blood*. Luckily, The Black Death can no longer be found and will not infect anybody anytime soon. But back then, people would try to avoid getting the disease by breathing herbal leaves and pomander. The worst idea was probably soaking themselves in sewer water*, because the Black Death was coming from diseased animals that were getting into their drinking water.

Oh, and fun fact here: The nursery rhyme "Ring Around the Roses" is actually about the plague. People without the Black Death would put lavender around their children's beds, and the line "ashes ashes, we all fall down" is a nice way to say that people burned the victims that got the Black Death. Whoops.

The Black Death spread all across Europe (Except a place called Cracow, as well as Milan.) in just seven years. As mentioned above, this plague is caused by diseased animals that get into people's water. Now for the science. A species of flea call the rat flea that are infected with a certain type of bacteria called Yersinia pestis. This bacteria travels through the animal, and it dies from being intoxicated, but the creature is still inside the wells that people will drink from. Y. Pestis will then get into the water, and everyone who drinks that water will get the Black Death, then they will give their disease to another person, and then there's a huge chain, spreading rapidly.

There is an estimated death toll that is around 75-200 million people, as told by historian Philip Daileader. Even though this disease was incredibly awful, we can learn from it. Obviously, we don't
want to get anything similar to it, so we can remember to do things to avoid anything like this. No dirty water. Bad, bad dirty water.

*Ew gross.
(Also, I don't really want to include pictures...)


Scientists have discovered flying snakes.  These snakes don't really fly they jump of a surface and get some really good distance and they go farther when they glide in the air.  snakes are scary the way they are but now snakes have become more intellegent that they are flying so now.

imagine one day your walking in the forest and a snake jumps out of a tree and glides towards you while you are running away and lands on you, that would be scary.  i think this is really
interesting and scary because snakes can glide though the air. 
here the snake is getting ready to start jumping of the tree to glide.
hurray the snake is flying.

Friday, February 14, 2014

How to Take Better Pictures

Nowadays, almost any camera can deliver flawless quality imaging if you know how to operate it. Moreover, you can even create the illusion of professional photos with just a few tips and settings. 

1. Adjust Shutter Speed

One of my favorite features is shutter speed time. The shutter speed is how long it takes for the camera to capture a picture. This is useful for action shots; you can take clear, still pictures without blurring using 1/2000 of a second. 

Or, you can do the complete opposite and exaggerate motion with 1/4 second.

2. Use Focus For Emphasis

Although the focus adjustment feature is helpful for enhancing clarity, it can be used to capture a clear focus point while ignoring everything else. This is not possible on cameras with only autofocus, but on DSLRs, focus can be manually adjusted. It is actually one of the easiest tricks, and can make extreme close ups look like art. In this case, blurring is no unfortunate mistake, rather a way to improve a photo.

3. The Miniature Effect

To make any scene look like it belongs in a diorama, the miniature effect is a very fascinating setting to try out. It focuses on one main point in the image and slightly blurs the rest, resulting in the picture looking like a toy, scaled down version. However, this works only with buildings, vehicles, and scenery captured from a higher point. This is actually an optical illusion.

4. Star-burst Light

Notice all the lights in the image are radiantly shining with rays encircling them. This is the starlight, also known as the star-burst effect. A camera can achieve this effect with simply adjusting the size of the aperture, or opening to let light through, to a larger size. This can be achieved at daytime, as well.

5. Silhouetting Figures

Silhouettes are created by placing the subject between the photographer and the light source. Focus should be on the background and a minimum of light should be let in. This will create a dramatic effect that focuses on the outline of the subject while ignoring the colors and textures.

6. Vivid Coloring

To make photos even more colorful, the vivid effect can exaggerate the pigment brightness of a photo. It results in beautiful, full-color images which have a wide spectrum of hues. 

Those are just a few tips that make everyday photos look spectacular. Remember, photography is art and it is important to be creative with your images. The average picture may be worth a thousand words, though with enough innovation and some editing, it is worth a whole novel.

How a man makes a Iron man suit made of balloons!

A man named Jeff Wright made a iron man suit made of balloons. He is 28 years old and lives in Cleveland. You are able to fit inside the balloon suit. Other people made Teen Age Mutant Ninga Turtles,  Super Mario, Buzz Light Year that you are able to fit inside. He is the first person to make an Iron Man suit. It took him 10 hours and 346 balloons. Peoplethink that it would make a great Halloween costume.


Do you want to make your own game?

Have you ever wondered what it would it would be like to make your own game? Well now you can with Sploder. Sploder lets you make and create your own game with 5 platforms to choose from:

  1. retro arcade game creator
  2. platform creator
  3. physics puzzle creator
  4. 3d adventure creator 
  5. classic creator
The easiest one to make is probably the retro creator because it helps you choose backgrounds and other cool stuff.
I interviewed Natasha and she played it with her brother when she was 6 and said it was really fun.

Dudley the Duck gets a 3D prosthetic leg

Action video games help dyslexic people pay more attention.

Scientists have discovered that action games help dyslexic people pay more attention.  How it works is that action games makes the players attention shift constantly. Dyslexic people are still slow to react but little by little the process is working.  I think that this is interesting and I always new video games were good for you.
When dyslexic people are playing the game it takes them a few seconds to react scientists say that dyslexic people are faster to react then way they hear something.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Divergent, as good as the hunger games

Imagine you're 16 you are going to the hub with your faction, abnegation, the abnegation are selfless and they like to  help people. Today your going to decide your fate there are 5 factions:
  1. Candor the candor bathe in the rivers of truth and honesty.
  2. Dauntless the brave go here but be warned, there not afraid to kill.
  3. Erudite the erudite are intelligent people.
  4. Amity the amity try to keep the peace they farm and grow.
  5. Stay with your faction.
Now that you know about the factions I can tell you about Divergent. Divergent is a book that follows a girl who lives in abnegation when she takes the test to figure out which faction she should be in she finds out that her results are inconclusive and that she is divergent. Being divergent means that you could be in multiple factions. The erudite leader wants to kill all the divergent and that's why the story is so good.

The Update on the Elections in Hillwood

You may know how about the election, but there has been an update.

Sophia is running against Asiana and Mia. She has done some posters and kids are voting for her. Who will win?

Asiana is running against Sophia and Mia. She has some good ideas.

Mia is putting up posters and is really waiting for the answers of who won.

Finn is running against Oliver and he is coming hard. He is making posters and is really hoping to win.

Oliver is telling children to vote for him and he is hoping to crush Finn.

Claire is running for president, she is going against two very smart girls, Natalie and Natasha k. Is she going to win.

Natasha K is running for president too. She has drawn pictures of herself and put then around the school. She is fighting to win.

Natalie is very smart and she has some great ideas about the school and the fun activities.

Natasha J. is going to win as secretary thats because no one is running against her!