Oregon’s streets and arts are finally thawing, just in time to greet a chilling new national political reality that will doubtless provoke plenty of artistic responses. For now, Oregon arts can transport us to other, less immediately discouraging worlds, from the 17th century to the 21st, that summon a spirit of transcendence. If you know of other musical balms for, escapes from, or challenges to our impending political apocalypse, please note them in the comments section below.
Radcliffe Choral Society, Portland State Chamber Choir
Lincoln Recital Hall, Room 75, 1620 SW Park Ave. Portland.
Harvard’s top women’s choir, now over a century old, joins one of Portland’s, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary.
Third Angle New Music, Alberta Rose Theater, 3000 NE Alberta Ave. Portland.
Multimedia is the message of much contemporary classical music, written by and for artists who grew up experiencing music as part of larger works of art. Portland new music ensemble Third Angle brings one of today’s multimedia music stars, French-American composer and electronic musician Daniel Wohl, to town to team up with visual artist Daniel Schwarz and Third Angle’s own string quartet and percussion trio in his multi-movement, multimedia Holographic. Commissioned by two major art museums, a Minnesota chamber orchestra, and Baryshnikov Arts Center, it’s a trippy, evening-length amalgamation of abstract and concrete images, acoustic and electronic music, a great temporary escape from this weekend’s political madness. Note: Wohl’s scheduled, beer intensive casual show on January 18 at Lagunitas Community Room has fallen victim to the weather.
Pablo Sainz Villegas
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland.
“Spanish” goes with “classical guitar” like “catastrophe” goes with “2016 Presidential inauguration,” at least this year. Part of a long tradition of superb Spanish classical guitarists, Villegas has won his country’s top classical music awards, and whatever he plays on Friday — neither of the presenters had announced the repertoire 48 hours before showtime — it’s likely to sound bueno.
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 147 Northwest 19th Ave. Portland.
At 7:30 a.m. — no typo— the veteran Portland organist’s “recital before the inaugural” includes powerful music by JS Bach (a prelude and fugue), Jehan Alain (Three Dances), and Samuel Barber’s famous American lament, a setting of the Adagio movement from his string quartet.
Beaverton Symphony Orchestra
January 20 & 22
Village Baptist Church, 330 SW Murray Blvd, Beaverton.
Music director Travis Hatton continues to demonstrate the orchestra’s commitment to Northwest composers with Portland eminence Tomas Svoboda’s Festive Overture (apparently programmed before election results were known), Brahms’s second piano concerto, and Tchaikovsky’s sunny Italian Caprice.
Keller Auditorium, Portland.
Now on its 20th anniversary tour, Jonathan Larson’s Tony- and Pulitzer-winning rock musical adaptation of Puccini’s La Bohème was for the previous generation almost what Hamilton is for this one.
“The Desire for the Sacred”
Cascadia Composers, Resonance Ensemble, Agnes Flanagan Chapel at Lewis & Clark College, 0615 SW Palatine Hill Rd. Portland.
Our locavore contemporary classical music composer organization’s collaborations with local choirs (The Ensemble. Choral Arts Ensemble, etc.) have produced splendid results. Now they’re back with their another collaboration with another fine Portland choir, Resonance Ensemble, plus three leading Portland organists (Gregory R. Homza, Dan Miller and Cheryl Young) and other instrumentalists in a program of original music by some of the state’s finest composers: Lisa Ann Marsh, Daniel Brugh, Jeff Winslow, Nicholas Yandell, Jennifer Wright, and others. Much of it reflects the desire for spiritual — not necessarily religious — transcendence. Jah knows we’ve got plenty to transcend these days.
Leaven Community, 5431 NE 20th Ave. Portland.
The Creative Music Guild’s fascinating new quarterly series, focusing on quieter, more conceptual sound expressions, continues with a quintet of new experimental works by Switzerland’s Jurg Frey and Germany’s Eva-Maria Houben (two of the Wandelweiser group Alex Ross recently chronicled in The New Yorker), Australian percussionist/composer Vanessa Tomlinson, Corvallis composer Dana Reason, and Canadian composer Daniel Brandes. Performers include some of the city’s top creative musicians, including Lee Elderton (clarinet), Sage Fisher (harp), Mike Gamble (nylon-string guitar), Catherine Lee (oboe), Dana Reason (piano), Andre St. James (double bass), John C. Savage (flute), and Jonathan Sielaff (bass clarinet). Read Matthew Andrews’ ArtsWatch review of the series’s previous installment.
The Ensemble of Oregon, Musica Maestrale, Canonici, January 21, Central Lutheran Church, 1857 Potter Street, Eugene, and January 22, Saint Stephen Catholic Church, 1112 SE 41st Ave. Portland.
Portland’s cream-of-the-crop small vocal ensemble has embarked on a series of fruitful collaborations with other musicians. This one teams them with Tacoma-based early music vocal consort Canonici and Portland’s own Baroque specialists Musica Maestrale (performing on archaic instruments like the big guitar-like theorbo and viola da gamba, which superficially resembles a cello) to perform famous music by the first great Baroque composer, Claudio Monteverdi, and other not so famous Italian composers of the period: Chiara Margarita Cozzolani, Grandi, Arrigoni and Castello.
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Skyview Concert Hall, 1300 NW 139th St, Vancouver, WA.
Rising conductor Marcelo Lehninger leads the band in Bach’s most famous orchestral suite (the airy one with the skimpy attire), one of Beethoven’s undeservedly least famous symphonies (the one between the two great triumphs, #7 & #9), and Brahms’s second piano concerto, with soloist Orli Shaham.
First Presbyterian Church, 1200 SW Alder Street, Portland.
The always intriguing and now free Celebration Works series presents the disabled artists of Pacific Honored Artists, Musicians, and Entertainers in an afternoon music, art, and spoken word, in collaboration with local artists including The Bylines, jazz bass legend Andre St. James, pianist Randy Hoboson, trumpeter David Chachere, and drummer Rob Smith.
Prince of Peace Episcopal Church, 1525 Glen Creek Rd NW, Salem.
The excellent Eugene-based quartet goes traditional in music by J.S. Bach, Joseph Haydn, Beethoven, and Charles Ives.
Reel Music Festival
Northwest Film Center, Portland Art Museum.
The annual series of films about musical subjects continues with flicks about David Byrne’s new color guard music project (which has a Portland connection), Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the music of Mali (wellspring of the blues), the intersection of the civil rights movement and the blues, the late great Leon Russell, the influential but too little known early rock music impresario Bert Berns, and more.