This week, discover rare 19th and 20th century gadgets at the Museum of American Heritage; hear Stanford's St. Lawrence String Quartet play Bach and Telemann; and check out films, drumming, dancing and more at the Silicon Valley African Film Festival in Mountain View.
Museum of American Heritage A to Z
Do you own a "zapper?" How about an "embalming pump?" Chances are slim, which is why the new exhibition at Palo Alto's Museum of American Heritage is such a marvel. On view starting Friday, Oct. 10, will be an assortment of familiar and little-known historical inventions, from mechanical devices to electrical gadgets. The artifacts will be organized alphabetically, in a whimsical nod to the sheer randomness of the museum's vast permanent collection of unrelated objects. Visitors are invited to hunt for everything from "Addressograph" to "Zapper" as they make their way through this array of unusual artifacts. The exhibition, "Museum of American Heritage A to Z," runs through March 15.
Located in the heart of downtown Palo Alto in the historic Williams House (351 Homer Ave.), the Museum of American Heritage is among the city's gems, and houses more than 5,000 technological inventions dating from 1750-1950. The museum is open Friday to Sunday only, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. To learn more, go to moah.org or call 650-321-1004.
Daniel Pearl World Music Days
It's been nearly 13 years since Stanford graduate, avid amateur violinist and Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, but Pearl's memory remains vibrantly alive. Here in Palo Alto, there's an annual celebration of the life of this gifted journalist and musician (and former Weekly intern). Next Tuesday, Oct. 14, Stanford Live and Music at Stanford once again honor Pearl's legacy with a free concert at Memorial Church on campus.
This year's concert features faculty and students from Stanford's music department, including the university's prized ensemble-in-residence: the St. Lawrence String Quartet. On the program are Telemann's Concerto for Oboe in E Minor featuring oboist James Austin Smith, Bach's Suite No. 1 in G Major for cello with Christopher Costanza of the St. Lawrence as soloist, and Bach's church cantata, "Ich habe genug" (meaning, "I am content") with baritone Kenneth Goodson.
Daniel Pearl World Music Days exists to promote tolerance and cross-cultural understanding through the arts and communication. To learn more about the concert, go to live.stanford.edu or call 650-724-2464.
Silicon Valley African Film Festival
Mountain View's Community School of Music and Arts (230 San Antonio Circle) plays host to more than 25 films from Africa next weekend when the Silicon Valley African Film Festival opens its fifth year. The festival runs Oct. 17 to 19, and embraces many countries and cultures, from Ethiopia and Eritrea to Nigeria and Ghana. On Friday evening, catch the rousing opening ceremony complete with dancing, drumming and a parade of flags before settling in for the opening night feature film, "The Mice Room," which centers on life in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Also on the schedule are a number of animated films and shorts. But the festival isn't all movies: SVAFF also features live performances, post-screening Q&A sessions with filmmakers, discussion forums and an African marketplace with crafts and food for sale.
Opening night attendance is $15. Day passes for Saturday and Sunday range from $20-$25; a two-day pass is $30-$35. For tickets and a complete festival schedule, go to svaff.org or call 415-774-6787.