Mardi Mertens, longtime BCCO bass player, discusses the origins of the BCCO. It was a time of idealism and a time of conflict, right after the Free Speech movement and right before the anti-Vietnam demonstrations. Eugene Jones, BCCO’s founder, wanted to be a part of this spirit of openness and inclusiveness and make great music, free to the public. Jones wanted to do Brahm’s Requiem in People’s Park, which was then a parking lot. When the university barricaded it with fences and the National Guard, members of the BCCO and others took to the streets of Berkeley. An innocent bystander, James Rector, was shot and killed; the BCCO honored him with a requiem.
Thanks to Denise for contributing the text to this story.
Below is an excerpt from the film “Berkeley in the Sixties” in which you can see footage from the People’s Park protests.