OLLI Outlook
The Monthly Newsletter of OLLI @Berkeley
April 2011
Spring Lecture Series
Lafayette Lectures
The Energy Challenge
Faculty Profile: Jason Victor Serinus
Symposium: Silk Road Nexus
Tahéima Program
OLLI Faculty News
The Lunch Bunch
OLLI Community
Member Benefits and Partner News
2011-12 Academic Calendar
Gift Certificates
Join Our Mailing List!
OLLI Website

Donate to OLLI

Find OLLI on Facebook
OLLI @Berkeley Staff
Susan Hoffman

Program Coordinator
Aileen Kim

Program Assistants
RJ Bruno
Satya Levine

OLLI @Berkeley
University of California
1925 Walnut St #1570
Berkeley, CA 94720-1570
tel. 510.642.9934
fax  510.642.2202


OLLI Announcements



Please be sure to check the OLLI @Berkeley website before your first day of class for course location updates as well as syllabi and reading materials. Up-to-date information will be on the course page.


There will be no OLLI @Berkeley classes on Monday, April 18. 



Summer 2011 offerings begin in May and will include auditing on campus, lectures, courses, and interest circles. Stay tuned for a detailed announcement in the coming week.


Spring 2011 Lecture Series

Wednesdays from 3:30-5:00 pm
Freight and Salvage
2020 Addison St, Berkeley
$10 general admission
$5 if accompanied by an OLLI member
Free for OLLI members

More info | Reserve a place 


April 20
Stormy Monday: The Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement

Leon Litwack, Professor Emeritus of History, UC Berkeley

April 27

Key Issues for Muslim Women Worldwide  

Shahnaz Taplin Chinoy, Co-founder, Muslim Women's Fund, writer, and social activist


Spring 2011 Lafayette Lectures

Thursdays, 1:30-3:00 pm

Lafayette Library and Learning Center

3491 Mount Diablo Blvd, Lafayette

$10 at the door

More info | Reserve a place 


May 19, 2011

A Republic, If You Can Keep It!

Dariush Zahedi, UC Berkeley


June 16, 2011

The King and I: Autobiography, King Lear, and Australian Cultural Identity

Philippa Kelly


The Energy Challenge: Balancing
Resources and Policies


What does our energy future look like?


Solar? Wind? Biofuels? Nuclear? What is energy security? Examine the issues from both a scientific and policy perspective with 6 weeks of lectures from world-class scientists. Developed by OLLI @Berkeley and Dan Kammen, UC Berkeley professor, and Chief Technical Specialist for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency at the World Bank, in partnership with The New York Times and science journalist Matt Wald, "The Energy Challenge: Balancing Resources and Policies" provides an authoritative survey of the field of energy resources and policy. The course includes access to a custom archive of New York Times articles organized by subject to correspond with the topic of the week.


*   *   *   * 

The Energy Challenge: Balancing Resources and Policies is an online course created by UC Berkeley Professor Dan Kammen and New York Times writer Matt Wald for OLLI @Berkeley in partnership with The New York Times. Learn more... 



Faculty Profile: Jason Victor Serinus

by Edith Gladstone


A week ago, Jason Victor Serinus and I sat in his living room-lined with records, CDs, and DVDs. As we faced his audiophile sound system, Jason spoke about his background as a musician and music critic. Adding to the lively atmosphere was his half-Jack Russell terrier, Daisy Mae Doven, whom he and his husband affectionately refer to as their daughter. Here are edited excerpts from the interview.


Edith Gladstone (EG):  Did you choose the Puccini aria you whistled in the Emmy-nominated Peanuts cartoon, She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown?


Jason Victor Serinus (JVS): No, I didn't. After an open audition for a TV show, an acquaintance who taught drama classes for kids suggested I contact producer Lee Mendelson. She thought he could use my whistling in a children's cartoon.


Months later, I phoned him in Burlingame. I had no idea who he was at the time. He was very polite, but I heard nothing more. I later learned he thought I might be nuts.


Some months later, I came home to discover the little red light on my answering machine flashing. The voice on the phone said, "Hello, Jason  Serinus? This is Lee Mendelson. Look, Charles Schulz and I were thinking of using you as the voice of Woodstock in a Peanuts cartoon. Do you know the aria 'O mio babbino caro'? If you do, could you send us a tape?"


Charles Schulz? Of Peanuts fame? "O mio babbino caro"? I'd been whistling it for years. Excited, I hung the microphone over a hot water pipe in the front room of my two-room hovel, played the accompaniment in the background, and whistled my heart out. They hired me right away.


EG:  That is the loveliest moment in the cartoon. And the many interviews you've done with artists show great technical understanding of vocal artistry involved. Do you sing? Or did you?


JVS: I did sing, but you wouldn't pay me to do it! I used to be a first tenor. Then sometime in college, my voice tightened up, and whistling became my medium.


When I attended Amherst College many many many years ago, I studied with a voice teacher voice for about a year. Every time I started to sing in the little practice room, I'd break into a cold sweat because I was afraid someone would hear me doing scales. I went from being terrified of someone hearing me through insulated walls to whistling Puccini on national television. I can't explain that.


EG:  How did you go from whistling to writing music criticism?

JVS:  That's another one of those only in California leaps. I used to stay up until one thirty in the morning listening to LP recordings of different singers performing art song. I recall that I once bought the LP, The Art of Gerald Moore. Looking at some of the selections, I realized that my collection contained other versions of the songs sung by Lotte Lehmann, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Aksel Schiøtz, Kathleen Ferrier, Christa Ludwig, Hans Hotter, Elisabeth Schumann, and other greats.


I'd listen to everyone's version of the same song, paying special attention to what each singer was doing. What mattered most to me was whose interpretation touched my heart on the deepest levels. In the process, almost unconsciously, I began to develop my own criteria for what constitutes great vocal artistry.


Skipping ahead a mere thirty years or so, when pianist and radio host Sarah Cahill called to say that the East Bay Express was looking for a classical CD reviewer and would I be interested, I leapt at the opportunity. As I was writing my first review, I suddenly realized I'd been training for my new career as a music critic for many decades.


I'd always go to the new and used record stores and look through all the vocal LPs. (I was weaned on acoustic recordings of Caruso, Tetrazzini, and Galli-Curci). I discovered Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and Lotte Lehmann that way - I was intrigued by their photos on the covers, and befriended clerks who always gave me starving artist discounts. I learned a lot of my whistling repertoire from the vocal recordings I bought at Moe's and Tower in Berkeley.


I recall bringing my first Lehmann LP home and playing her recording of "Dich, teure Halle" ['Dear hall, I greet thee) from Wagner's Tannhãuser. I was astounded. It was some of the most thrilling singing I'd ever heard.


EG:  Was that the first time you heard Wagner?


JVS:  No. But Lehmann's "Dich, teure Halle" was the first Wagner that excited me. It shattered my conceptions of Wagner as heavy, dull, and ponderous.


It is true that there's a lot of dark stuff in Wagner. There are long sections where men do "men's things": scheme, plot, murder, and manipulate women, among other acts, all for the sake of money, power, and lust. It's ugly, albeit no different than what happens behind the closed doors of today's multi-national corporations and government headquarters. Men playing men's games, much to the detriment of those around them. 


Wagner and Verdi both nail the dark atmosphere of men really well-Wagner perhaps even more because he doesn't try to make it sound pretty or give them melodies. He's very, very good as a dramatist. But we'll probably spend more time listening to the rapturous, lyrical parts of The Ring in the places, and focus on the places where gods and humans either express their deepest feelings of love or give voice to their emotional conflicts.


EG:  You'll include the Lehmann arias?


JVS:  Her recordings from The Ring? Oh, will I ever! That includes two or three versions of "Hinweg! Hinweg!" ['Away! Away!], from the second act of Die Walküre, when Sieglinde and Siegmund are fleeing Hunding and she's hysterical. The live version from  San Francisco Opera, 1936, has to be heard to be believed.


EG:  What about orchestral passages?


JVS:  From the first act of Gõtterdämmerung, after Siegfried and Brünnhilde say good-bye, I'll probably play Siegried's Rhine Journey in the Furtwängler recording. There's so much great music that it will difficult to choose.


Ultimately, what I want to help develop in the class is a set of critical standards. I plan to have a contest: If you were to risk your life trying to go through a ring of fire to rescue a maiden who's been asleep for twenty year, and you've never even seen a woman before, which soprano would you risk your life for? Of course the contest will be based on the sound of voices alone, because you can't do it based on looks. But voices, certainly great voices, say so much about the soul of the person producing them.


EG:  Fascinating prospect! One last question: if you could sing any role in the Ring, male or female, what would it be?


JVS:  For depth of humanity, it'd have to be Wotan. The second choice would be Sieglinde, because she also is so human and so moving. To go from her plight as a captive woman of this awful man to a state of utter rapture when she falls in love with a man who just happens to be her brother, all in the course of one phenomenal act, is  an enormous transition.


Brünnhilde is the third, of course: she's a god who becomes mortal. The curious thing about Wagner's gods is that they have human emotions. How do you sound like a god and express the heart, the emotions of a human being? That's a question I plan to ask San Francisco Opera's forthcoming Brünnhilde, Nina Stemme, when I interview her for the UK's Opera Now.


Jason Victor Serinus's "Voices that Touch the Heart: The Ring and Beyond" will be meeting on Wednesdays from 1:00-3:00 pm starting April 6. 


Symposium: Silk Road Nexus
A panel discussion exploring musical connections worldwide. Envisioned by Silk Road Ensemble founder cellist Yo-Yo Ma: "When we enlarge our view of the world, we deepen our understanding of our own lives," speakers include The Silk Road Project Program Director Isabel Hunter, composer Gabriela Lena Frank, Silk Road scholar Sanjyot Mehendele, and musicologist Francesco Spagnolo. Presented in conjunction with Cal Performances and in association with UC Berkeley's Institute of East Asian Studies, Buddhist Studies, and the Department of Music and also San Francisco Performances.

Wednesday, April 6, 3:30-5:00 pm
Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St, Berkeley, CA
Open to the general public
More info

Tahéima Program

The news from the Tahéima Writing Retreat:  


"Tahéima is absolutely delightful. The lectures were excellent, and they provided great motivation to pursue writing activity. The whole group was convivial and supportive."


"A safe and tranquil setting, Tahéima wellness resort was the perfect environment for a writing retreat. With the nurturing encouragement of the knowledgeable OLLI @Berkeley faculty, each writer, whether a novice or beyond, seemed to find inspiration here. I look forward to returning!"


"I loved it! The large group meetings were excellent. The way we broke up into smaller groups worked well most of the time. The readings went well. I learned a lot, actually more than anticipated. The group was warm and non-judgmental. I especially appreciated the added stimulation afforded by having an international group. It worked wonderfully having them."


Visit our Facebook page to see photos by a Writing Retreat participant.  


OLLI Faculty News

Harvey Smith's San Francisco exhibit, "Art and Activism: The New Deal's Legacy Around the Bay," runs through April 25, 2011. For more information, visit http://www.canessa.org/.


Join Lauren Carley, OLLI's "Joy of Singing" instructor, at a singing retreat at The Bishop's Ranch in Healdsburg in August. Lauren also offers private voice lessons, continuing vocal workshops, and sight singing classes. For detailed information or to reserve space, go to http://www.lcarley.com, email Lauren at lacarley@gmail.com, or call 510.652.1298. 


Richard Lichtman will be delivering a workshp titled "The Authoritarian Personality" on Saturday, April 16, 2011 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm. For more information, see http://www.wi.edu/continuinged.html.


Kathryn Roszak's Danse Lumiere performs "Pensive Spring: A Portrait of Emily Dickinson" at the Berkeley City Club. A singer, a dancer, and an actress all portray Emily Dickinson in vignettes illuminating the poet's life. Sunday, May 1, at 2:00 p.m. For more information, see www.berkeleycityclub.com or call 510.848.7800.


Dan Kammen and Robert Reich weigh in on nuclear energy in op-eds in the Atlantic and SF Chronicle. See Why Small Nuclear Reactors Could Make Sense, but May Not Get Built by Dan Kammen and Scrimping on regulators puts public safety at risk by Robert Reich.


The Lunch Bunch

by Lucile Poskanzer


Razan's Organic Kitchen

2119 Kittredge St. between Oxford St. and Shattuck Ave.




You have probably passed this hole-in-the-wall storefront many times, and wondered whether you should try it. Not to fear--the food is delicious, all organic, with many vegan and vegetarian choices, and it's inexpensive. The menu leans toward the Mediterranean, with some Mexican touches. The soups, wraps, and burritos are uniformly delicious. There are a few outdoor tables and cozy inside tables. The overall vibe is cheerful and funky--a very Berkeley place.


OLLI Community

Want to spend a couple of really fun and interesting hours on the Berkeley campus this spring and help your OLLI program in the process?

Here's the deal: Each year on a Saturday in mid-April the UC Berkeley campus sponsors "Cal Day" and opens its doors to the community and prospective students and their families. The campus becomes a busy place with thousands of visitors making their way to literally hundreds of open houses, events, lectures, information tables, etc. sponsored by various campus departments and organizations. It's a very popular event! This year's Cal Day is on Saturday April 16, 2011, 9am to 4pm. See: http://calday.berkeley.edu/

OLLI will have an information table alongside many other campus organizations and we need your help by taking a shift of about 2 hours to help between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm. The rest of the time you can avail yourselves of the many, many activities taking place at various locations on campus.

Please let Jane and me know of your availability by e-mailing
billmclean8300@sbcglobal.net. If you have a particular time of day that you prefer, please tell us. We will put together a schedule so we will have a couple of OLLI students at the table throughout the day. All of the information you need will be sent via e-mail before the event. Free parking, too!

OLLI Members Bill McLean and Jane Ellison



Hosted by the OLLI Membership Committee, brown bag lunches are an opportunity to gather informally and get to know fellow OLLI members. Look for the "OLLI @Berkeley Lunch Zone" sign.

12:00-1:00 pm
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays
at Freight and Salvage

Consider stopping by the School of Public Health Library to take a break between classes. The library is located on the north end of University Hall on the ground floor, near the OLLI classrooms. For library hours, see http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/PUBL/hours.html.

Member Benefits and Partner News




50% Discount at Berkeley Arts and Letters

Berkeley Arts and Letters offers a 50% student discount to OLLI members. Visit http://berkeleyarts.org for more information.

Jazz Cafe: 10% Discount for OLLI members
Ongoing through the Spring term, show your OLLI student card and get 10% off on food and non-alcoholic beverages. The Jazz Cafe is located at 2087 Addison Street, just across the street from Freight and Salvage Coffee House.




Playwriting class for seniors at Berkeley Rep School of Theatre - Fact Creates Fiction / Finding the Form
Take the heart of your stories and put them into the mouth and mind of characters! In this class, we will form a creative think-tank in which students help each other develop ideas in a supportive environment. The goal is to move the works forward in whatever shape they take-be it a monologue, short story, poem, or song. The class meets Mondays, 1:00-3:00 pm, April 4-June 13 at Berkeley Rep School of Theatre (2025 Addison St., downtown Berkeley). Tuition is $225. For more information or to register, call 510.647.2972 or visit http://www.berkeleyrep.org/school.     

2011-12 Academic Calendar
FALL 2011
Open House: Tuesday, September 13
Term dates: September 26-November 4

Open House: Tuesday, January 17
Term dates: January 30-March 12
Holiday (no classes): February 20

Open House: Tuesday, March 20
Term dates: April 2-May 11

SPEAR - Summer Program for 6th graders

SPEAR is a unique six-week summer program specifically designed for students entering 6th grade. The program will focus on developing students' critical reading and writing skills, honing their conceptual understanding of mathematics, and building effective study strategies. SPEAR will provide a supportive and engaging learning environment where students can discover their love for learning, sharpen their skill sets, and make a successful transition into middle school. For more information, see http://summer.berkeley.edu/spear.  


Gift Certificates Available
Encourage a family member or friend to experience OLLI. Gift certificates are available for OLLI memberships, courses, and workshops. Download the order form or contact the OLLI office (510.642.9934) to purchase a gift certificate.