August is typically the slowest of seasons for Oregon classical music, but at Jacksonville’s Britt Classical Festival, energetic young conductor Teddy Abrams may be changing all that with his adept programming, infusing Oregon orchestra music with a much-needed dose of 21st century vision. Other highlights include the William Byrd Festival, Oregon Festival of American Music, Classical Revolution PDX, ARCO-PDX, and more. As always, please be sure to let us know of other worthy musical events in the comments section below, and stay tuned to our weekly updates, which usually contain added listings.
“The Elixir of Love”
July 30-August 1
Portland Opera, Newmark Theatre, Portland.
Read Daryl Browne’s ArtsWatch review of the closing weekend of Gaetano Donizetti’s fizzy 1832 ode to intoxicants and placebos, which tells the story of Nemorino, who tries to fulfill his lust for the abundantly endowed (financially, that is) and polyamorous Adina, with help from a spurious potion (not a date rape drug, but rather the 18th century equivalent of MDMA) that allegedly will make him irresistible to women, supplied by the huckster Dr. Dulcimara. Antics and reversals ensue, and the real aphrodisiac is revealed to be something more noble (as well as something else less so — money) than a magic cocktail. Conducted by Nicholas Fox and directed by Ned Canty, this version, like Eugene Opera’s production last year, is set in America’s late 19th century Wild West. The August 1 performance is preceded by a daylong, family-friendly Street Fair beginning at noon, followed by a free outdoor simulcast of The Elixir of Love that evening.
“Fine & Dandy”
Oregon Festival of American Music
July 31-August 16
Jaqua Concert Hall, John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts, 285 E Broadway, Eugene.
Read my Eugene Weekly preview of the festival’s annual summer musical, “Whoopee!” and its first week of shows.
Unistus Chamber Choir
Milwaukie Lutheran Church, 3810 S.E. Lake Road, Milwaukie.
The excellent chorus continues its devotion to the music of the choral hotbed of Estonia. Read my ArtsWatch feature about the choir, and my Wall Street Journal story about its appearance at the world’s largest choral festival last year.
Portland Festival Symphony
August 1, Laurelhurst Park, August 2, Peninsula Park, August 8, U.S. Grant Park, August 9, Washington Park, Portland.
Begun in 1981, Lajos Balogh’s annual free, family friendly orchestra concerts in Portland parks continue with Saturday and Sunday performances of music by Bartok, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
Britt Pavilion and Performance Garden, Jacksonville.
Music director Teddy Abrams, one of the country’s hottest young conductors, leads a terrific show August 1 that includes Stravinsky’s 20th century blockbuster The Rite of Spring, the great American composer John Adams’s Absolute Jest (featuring the Dover Quartet) and his son Samuel’s Radial Play. The August 2 concert stars one of the country’s great young choirs, the San Francisco Girls Chorus. Britt orchestra musicians give a free chamber music concert August 5. A superb all-American program August 7 includes an Abrams world premiere, American classics by Ives, Copland and George Antheil, and a fascinating original song cycle collaboration with the intriguing singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan (who’s worked with jazzer Dave Douglas as well as cultivating a fine rock career) and songwriter/violinist Jeremy Kittel setting words by Oregon Poet Laureate Peter Sears. The next day, the energetic Abrams merely leads Berlioz’s Fantastic Symphony, another American classic by Samuel Barber, and performs with his own Sixth Floor Trio. The great violinist James Ehnes joins the band for the August 14 concert in Barber’s stirring Violin Concerto, and the orchestra also plays a strong, electronically enhanced piece by the great young hope of American orchestral composition, Bay Area-based composer Mason Bates, plus a Brahms symphony. The August 15 closing concert gets all Frenchified with classics by Dukas (hint: brooms, buckets, mouse), Ravel and Debussy (music for ballets performed in Paris in 1912-13), and still another contemporary work, Guillaume Connesson’s exuberant Aleph.
Tale in the Telling Trio
Turn Turn Turn, 8 NE Killingsworth, Portland.
Two of Portland’s most promising young jazz-oriented composers, Douglas Detrick (banjo, cornet, electronics), and Barra Brown (drums) join a couple of Classical Revolution PDX’s emerging stars Mike Gamble (guitar) and Patrick McCulley (saxophone) in what should be an intriguing exploration of the territories between contemporary classical composition and jazz improvisation.
William Byrd Festival
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Holy Rosary Church, and St. Stephen’s Church, Portland.
Cantores in Ecclesia, conducted variously by its director, Blake Applegate, British organist and longtime festival participant Mark Williams, and the acclaimed British choral conductor Jeremy Summerly, from the Royal Academy of Music, continues its complete traversal of the music of England’s greatest Renaissance composer. After various lectures, a series of masses and other sacred services, and an organ recital by Williams, the festival culminates in Cantores’ August 23 choral concert at St. Stephens, featuring music by great English composers of the period, including John Taverner, Byrd’s colleague Thomas Tallis, and of course the festival’s namesake himself.
“Grand & Glorious: Opera’s Greatest Arias, Duets, and Ensembles”
Portland SummerFest, Washington Park Amphitheater, Portland.
Keith Clark returns to conduct the annual Opera in the Park, starring veteran sopranos Angela Meade and Amy Hansen, mezzo-soprano MaryAnn McCormick, tenor Cameron Schutza, and baritone Luis Ledesma plus chorus and orchestra. Instead of presenting a concert version of a single opera, this time the free outdoor concert features some of opera’s greatest hits.
Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Septet
Penner-Ash Wine Cellars, 15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Rd., Newberg.
In this PDX Jazz concert, the venerable New York-based NEA Jazz Master and bandleader, one of America’s most important contributors to Afro-Cuban jazz, brings his scorching septet (and a personally selected a la carte food menu) to the Willamette Valley’s scenic Dundee Hills, in a benefit for Salud, an organization that provides access to healthcare for Oregon’s seasonal vineyard workers and their families.
August 8, Cozmic Pizza, Eugene. August 9, Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison, Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the electrified — and electrifying — chamber orchestra’s powerful program of 20th and 21st century music, including works by Oregonians Ernest Bloch and Kenji Bunch.
Montavilla Jazz Festival
Portland Metro Arts, 9003 SE Stark St. Portland.
The rising young festival is becoming one of the summer’s finest, this time convening baker’s dozen of Oregon’s finest jazzers, including Darrell Grant, Alan Jones Sextet, David Friesen’s Circle 3 Trio, George Colligan Quartet, Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, Rich Halley 4, Joe Manis Trio, Tim Willcox’s Superjazzers, and more.
“Summer on the Green”
Lajos Balogh Performing Shell, Marylhurst University, 17600 Pacific Highway (Hwy 43), Marylhurst.
Along with some theater performances, the university’s summer series includes classical guitarist Peter Zisa on the 19th, Portland jazz eminence Thara Memory on the 20th, Portland Festival Symphony on the 21st, the great unclassifiable chamber trio 3 Leg Torso on the 23rd, Klezmocracy on the 24th, viola de gamba Fretlandia Duo on the 26th, pianist Michael Allen Harrison and singer Julianne Johnson on the 28th, Imperial Columbia Brass playing Renaissance, Baroque and contemporary music on the 29th, and Memory’s national award winning Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra on the 30th.
Classical Revolution PDX, Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St. Portland.
Nearly a century after his death, the great French composer’s music still sounds timeless, but this show also contains Debussy-influenced new works: one by guitarist Mike Gamble that summons Debussy’s sound world via music and visuals, another by Portland composer/pianist Beth Karp that accompanies a silent short film, and still another by Canadian composer Emily Doolittle, performed by Eugene’s Sound of Late collective, which will also play excerpts from La Mer. Visual imagery will also accompany a performance of Debussy’s songs by the fine Portland singer Valery Saul. The show also includes versions of other Debussy classics played on 21st century electronic instruments, and a performance of his great Antique Epigraphs by the excellent Portland piano pair, XX Digitus Duo, accompanied by dancers from Agnieszka Laska’s Dance Company.
“Up the Fall”
PHAME Academy, Artists Repertory Theatre, 1515 SW Morrison, Portland.
For its first commissioned original musical, the academy that creates opportunities for artists with developmental disabilities enlisted playwright Debbie Lamedman and nationally renowned singer-songwriter Laura Gibson to take myths from various cultures and turn them into musical theater, directed by Matthew B. Zrebski and with musical direction by Matthew Gailey.
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