Noe Valley Voice April 2001

Short Takes

Join a Hawaiian Chorus


Musician John Lehrack, who moved to San Francisco from Honolulu eight years ago, often finds himself missing the culture and music of Hawaii. So last July, to bring a little of the Big Island to the City by the Bay, he started Na Leo Nahenahe (translation: Sweet Voices), a Hawaiian community chorus for the Bay Area.

The chorus is now 22 voices strong, but still seeking singers. The group, which Lehrack hopes to expand to 100 members, practices every Monday from 7:30 to 9 p.m., at Bethany Methodist Church at the corner of Clipper and Sanchez.

Music is sung in four-part choral arrangements, without instrumental accompaniment, in the tradition of the choral singing of the Kamehameha Schools, a private school system in Hawaii for children of Hawaiian descent.

Although Na Leo Nahenahe sings in Hawaiian, Lehrack emphasizes that most members had not spoken or sung a word in Hawaiian before joining the group. "An ability to read music or speak Hawaiian is not required to be part of the chorus--just a love of Hawaii and the desire to make beautiful music in a group setting," says Lehrack, who also serves as pianist at Bethany's Sunday service.

Lehrack says the group has yet to perform before an audience, but he plans to schedule a concert sometime this summer. He encourages all interested singers to come to one of the Monday rehearsals.

For more information, check out the group's web site at www.naleo.homestead .com, or contact Lehrack at 701-7011 or by e-mail at Singers in the chorus pay a $15 monthly fee.





The San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG) is offering five classes on four Saturdays in April on topics ranging from composting to starting a mushroom garden. "Spring is a really exciting season for us," says Sarah McCarthy, outreach coordinator for SLUG. "We're limited about what we can offer in the winter because of weather. But this month, we've got some great classes that teach people tangible, necessary skills, as well as some more specialized things."

On April 7, "Spring Composting" will be offered at SLUG's Garden for the Environment, located on Seventh Avenue at Lawton Street. Amateur gardeners will learn the techniques of composting and how to use it for healthy plants and hardy vegetables and fruits. The class is free and will be held from 10 a.m. to noon.

Also on April 7, "Composting at Alemany Farmers Market" will be taught in both Cantonese and English at 101 Alemany Boulevard. The class is free and will be held from 8 a.m. to noon.

Mushroom fans can learn how to grow culinary and medicinal mushrooms by enrolling in "Starting Your Own Mushroom Garden," taught by Ken Litchfield from the San Francisco Mycological Society on April 14. This class will be held at SLUG's Garden for the Environment, 2 to 4 p.m. The cost is $10 for SLUG members; $15 for non-members.

On April 21, the 21st Century Academy, located on the corner of Revere and Rankin (one block west of Silver Avenue), will be the site of a model school garden, as SLUG explores "School Gardening with Children." The class will cover fun methods for getting children interested in gardening, and will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon. The cost is $10 for SLUG members; $15 for non-members.

Finishing up the month will be "Community Composting," taught in Cantonese and English on April 28 at SLUG's Garden for the Environment from 10 a.m. to noon. The class is free.

To sign up, call SLUG at 285-7584.

Award-Winning Poets


April is National Poetry Month, and to celebrate, the Noe Valley-Sally Brunn Library will host two readings by award-winning Bay Area poets.

Marin County poet Kay Ryan, a recent recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and author of five poetry collections, will read at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18. Ryan's collection Flamingo Watching was a finalist for the Lamont Poetry Selection and the Lenore Marshall Prize, and her poems have been published in the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Paris Review, and New Republic.

On Wednesday, April 25, Chana Bloch, a professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program at Mills College, will read at 7:30 p.m. Bloch is the author of three books of poetry, and her latest, Mrs. Dumpty, is the winner of the 1998 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry and a 1999 California Book Award. Bloch is also co-translator of Selected Poetry of Yehuda Amichai and a recipient of a National Endowment fellowship.

The Noe Valley­Sally Brunn Library is located at 451 Jersey Street. For more information, call 695-5095.

'American Song' Recital


Noe Valley classical singers Natasha Hoehn and Jennie Ellis, who also happen to be roommates in a Sanchez Street flat, will perform a joint recital of "20th Century American Song" at the Noe Valley Ministry on April 20 at 8 p.m.

Hoehn, 26, and Ellis, 28, both grew up in the East Bay and have been lifelong friends. They met 20 years ago as singers in the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Ellis now works full-time as a soprano, singing with such orchestras as the American Bach Soloists, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, and the Charlotte, North Carolina, Symphony Orchestra.

Hoehn, a mezzo-soprano, is attending the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she will receive her master's in May. She has performed in operas and recitals at the San Francisco Conservatory, Yale University, and North Bay Opera.

This will be the first time the roommates have sung together professionally, and they selected the American song theme "because we want the music to be accessible to the audience," says Hoehn. "It's also a repertoire neither of us do enough. We spend so much time singing in other languages."

The singers will be accompanied on piano by Susan Soehner, the primary accompanist for the San Francisco Girls Chorus. The recital will include Hoehn and Ellis singing poetry by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Paul Bowles, and Tennessee Williams.

In addition to spending a month rehearsing for the recital, Ellis and Hoehn spent several weeks selecting songs for the performance, conducting most of their research at U.C. Berkeley's Music Library, where they plowed through volumes and volumes of sheet music.

"We're really excited about performing at the Ministry," says Ellis. "We only live three doors away, and it has such a nice acoustic. It's fun for us to do something so local at a place that has such a nice casual feel to it."

For more on the recital, contact Natasha Hoehn at 648-6939. Suggested donation for the concert is $10 per person.

Drag Queens Sing for Church


The San Francisco singing group the Kinsey Sicks, which describes itself as "America's favorite dragappella beauty shop quartet," will perform a concert to benefit the Noe Valley Ministry (Presbyterian Church) on Sunday, April 22, from 7 to 9 p.m. Price of admission is $15.

The Sicks' four drag queens--Winnie, Rachel, Trixie, and Trampolina--actually sing rather than lip-synch their songs. Their act combines Jewish humor, political savvy, and satire with some "deliciously tasteless schtick." Among the numbers on their 1999 CD Boyz 2 Girlz are the theme from Titanic ("Why Must Celine Go On?"), "Where the Goys Are," and "Gay Sera Sera," a send-up of Doris Day's message song from the 1950s.

In addition to the show, the church will host a silent auction, offering participants a chance to bid on some tasteful items. Desserts and champagne will be served.

The entire evening will help support programs hosted by the Noe Valley Ministry, including the senior lunches, Noe Valley Coop Nursery School, 12-step meetings, and numerous dance and bodywork classes. The Noe Valley Ministry is located at 1021 Sanchez Street, near 23rd Street. To purchase tickets, call 282-2317.

Rummage for Alvarado


Want to get rid of that Nordic Track gathering spider webs in a corner of your bedroom? What about that crockpot or spare game of Yahtzee?

Alvarado Elementary School is looking for hunters, gatherers, and spring cleaners to support its annual rummage sale, to be held Saturday, April 28, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Alvarado cafeteria, located in the school at 695 Douglass Street.

Alvarado parent Mary O'Grady, who is coordinating the sale, invites neighbors to drop off any items they'd like to donate on Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., or on Saturday, April 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Alvarado cafeteria. "Instead of throwing stuff out, bring it to Alvarado," she says. "Furniture, books, rugs, clothes, garden equipment, computers, kids' toys--you name it, we'll take it."

Proceeds from the sale, which last year netted $3,500, go toward supporting Alvarado's art, music, and theater programs and school field trips.

For more information about the sale, contact Mary O'Grady at 642-9824.

Healing with Flowers


The Scarlet Sage Herb Co., a local purveyor of medicinal herbs, is kicking off spring with a series of evening classes on topics ranging from plant spirit medicine to herbs for pregnancy and childbirth.

"Our store is all about having a passion for the healing properties of herbs and a desire to educate and empower people through self health care," says co-owner and Noe Valley resident Dino Lucas.

All classes will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Scarlet Sage, 1173 Valencia Street. Cost is $10 per class, and a non-refundable prepayment is required to hold a space.

"Flower Essences from the Alaskan Wilderness" will be taught by Jane Bell, a flower essence practitioner for 17 years, on Thursday, April 5. Bell will present a slide show of the Alaskan wilderness and talk about the unique qualities of Alaskan flowers, plants, and gems.

On Thursday, April 12, herbalist Suzanne Elliott will offer a class, "Gifts from the Garden," in which participants will learn to make flower-infused body oils, facial toners, and dream pillows.

San Anselmo aromatherapist Julia Fischer discusses "Aromatherapy for Women's Health" on Wednesday, April 18. Topics will include menstrual imbalances, vaginal infections, and oils to enhance sensuality.

The following Wednesday, April 25, the topic is "Herbs for Pregnancy and Childbirth." Cindy Belew, a nurse midwife and herbalist, will talk about herbs that can alleviate the discomforts of pregnancy, labor, and delivery.

The class series closes on Wednesday, May 2, with "Herbs for Liver Health," presented by clinical herbalist Donna Odierna. Odierna will explain how nutrition and herbs play a part in keeping a person's liver at optimal function.

For more information about the series, call the Scarlet Sage at 821-0997.

Earth Day at the Zoo


Have you got a passion for snakes, lizards, and other scaly, slippery reptiles? Are you interested in learning more about conservation and maybe even finding out how a rhinoceros digests food? Then check out these two events at the San Francisco Zoo: the Zoo's first-ever Reptile Festival on Saturday, April 14, and a special Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 21.

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 14, the Zoo will present a cornucopia of reptilian activities--including Wildlife Theater presentations, crafts, musical entertainment, and close encounters with lizards, turtles, tortoises, and snakes. The Reptile Festival also marks the formal debut of the Zoo's new 121/2-foot-long anaconda in its new underwater quarters at the South American Tropical Forest Building.

On April 21, the Zoo will host the annual Earth Day celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The main attraction will be an environmental par course, where visitors can learn about endangered animals, seek out colorful "pop-up" conservation facts throughout the Zoo grounds, visit activity booths focusing on both flora and fauna, and meet the animals and their keepers.

Another special attraction that day will be the Zoo's Avian Conservation Center, which will host a booth providing information on its conservation programs, including the Bald Eagle Recovery Project, which has seen 39 bald eagles successfully released into the wild. Children will have the opportunity to meet one of the live chickens used to incubate eagle eggs.

The San Francisco Zoo is located along Sloat Boulevard at the Pacific Ocean. For more information, call 753-7080 or check out the Zoo's web site at

This month's Short Takes were written by Kathy Dalle-Molle and Karol Barske.