Friderike Heuer

 

Comment: Our Bodies Our Doctors

An Oregon-made film about abortion providers premieres at the Portland International Film Festival. Friderike Heuer looks at the issues.

Story and photographs by Friderike Heuer

The Portland International Film Festival, which opens Thursday, March 7, and continues through March 21, has a long (42 years and counting) and honorable tradition of focusing on controversial subjects. This year is no exception. On March 8, International Women’s Day no less, it features the world premiere of Our Bodies Our Doctorsa documentary film by Janice Haaken exploring the experiences of contemporary abortion providers.

The team: Director Jan Haaken front center; from left to right: Katrina Fairlee, Sound Recordist, Timothy Wildgoose, Photography, Caleb Heyman, Co-director of Photography, Samantha Prauss, Assistant Director. Not featured: David Cress, Producer.

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Art on the Road: Au Naturel, Astoria

The Royal Nebeker Art Gallery's evocation of the contemporary nude in international art reveals the human, unadorned

Story and photographs by FRIDERIKE HEUER

We have this thing in our household about language. Well, someone has a thing in our house about my language – more specifically, my usage of the verb to love as applied to something other than a human being. Don’t devalue such a strong emotion, I am told, by wasting it on things, not persons! (That from the same Beloved who still despises split infinitives…)

Jay Senetchko, Sleepwatcher at the End, oil on wallpaper, detail

I can’t help it. Here I go again: I love this state. I love finding out new, beautiful things about it, even after 33 years since our arrival from New York City. You turn around and face surprises, in the natural as often as in the cultural landscape. Case in point was a recent visit to Astoria. I have written here before about this small former fishing and cannery town at the mouth of the Columbia river. I’ve described the increasingly vibrant art community, the diversity of what is on offer, from music to photography, from the perspective of a visitor as well as from that of an exhibiting artist.

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Photo First: Nrityotsava 2019

Ways to preserve: Friderike Heuer takes her camera to Kalakendra's showcase of 11 Indian dance groups and records how they keep traditions

Photo Essay by FRIDERIKE HEUER

Kalabharati School of Dance

I could have kicked myself. Here I am friends with one of the most formidable dance critics around, ArtsWatch’s own Martha Ullman West, and yet it did not occur to me to drag her with me to the dance performance I saw last Saturday. Just as well, though, since no matter how learned a tutorial I’d have gotten, it would have been but a drop in the vast sea of my ignorance about dance.

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Cappella Romana: Straddling Worlds

The superb vocal ensemble's "Christmas in Ukraine" was ancient and modern and a breath of life. Next up: The Lost Treasures of Armenia.

Story and photographs by FRIDERIKE HEUER

Cappella Romana opened its 2018/19 season announcement with the words, “Prepare to be engaged, moved, and inspired.” Consider it done. You could add an occasional “made breathless” by the sheer beauty of the singing. One of the main themes of the glorious vocal ensemble’s Saturday concert Christmas in Ukraine at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Portland was the notion of breath. Breath as the source of life handed down from above, and breath as the source of praise sent back up.

Cappela Romana, in full voice.

Presence and absence of breath was just one of the many dichotomies that came up at St. Mary’s (the program had played the night before in Seattle, and repeats in San Francisco on Jan. 5) while listening to and thinking about this chorus, its guest conductor Marika Kuzma, the music on offer, and the thoughts evoked by any mention of Ukraine these days.

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Bach for Christmas: Jubilant

In the audience for Portland Baroque Orchestra and Trinity Cathedral Choir's Christmas Oratorio: For a music lover, it's pure pleasure

Story and photographs by Friderike Heuer

There are limits, but also advantages, to being a moderately educated music lover – like yours truly – rather than a professionally trained music critic. Good music critics bring an ear, lots of analytic skill, attention to detail, a huge memory bank and the ability to make connections to the table. Their verdicts help listeners to decide what music to listen to and what to be alert to; their feedback also helps orchestras, choirs, soloists to improve performance.

The richness of their experience is undeniable. But their experience is also focused and informed in ways that make their experience distinct from that of the average concert-goer. When professional critics attend concerts,  they need to get all of the performance details right, and their task to assess the performance induces a cognitive load which can be at odds with emotional immersion. They sit at the outside looking (or listening, as the case may be) in while the rest of us have the chance to experience a whole that is comprised not just of the performance but many other interacting factors.

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Cappella Romana: unexpected sounds

Moving performance of 'All-Night Vigil' sparks a romance with Rachmaninov

Story and photos by FRIDERIKE HEUER

“On second thought, maybe I should go to the concert. Even if it is church music played in a church. Or maybe because it is church music played in a church – time to stretch yourself.”

Thus were my musings after a friend urged me to attend Cappella Romana’s The Vigil this weekend. Am I glad I did. I cannot even remember the last time I had goosebumps like this while listening to live music. Which tells you a) I had never before heard Cappella Romana, b) it was an unusually profound piece of music, sublimely performed all the way through (hard, because it is long and technically quite difficult) and c) I probably don’t go out to concerts often enough.

Cappella Romana performed Rachmaninoff’s ‘All-Night Vigil’ and other Russian Orthodox sacred music at Portland’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

And so I sat on a Sunday afternoon in a church attempting to hold back tears and racking my brain trying to remember what I knew about Sergei Rachmaninov, about his choral work All-Night Vigil, op.37 just so the emotions wouldn’t overwhelm me.

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PHAME: The Dignity of Risk

The innovative school of arts and performance for adults with developmental disabilities embarks on new horizons with Portland Opera

“I used to voice a tentative I’d like; now it is a firm I want.” This statement, told to me by Anne-Marie Plass during a conversation about the challenges of living with developmental or intellectual disabilities, registered deeply. The difference in wording might appear slight to you and me. The distinction is a world apart for people whose daily experience is governed by fear of being judged, deemed insufficient, and being rejected. The young woman credits her shift from hesitant hopefulness to assertive requests to her 10-year exposure to the education and demands by PHAME, an organization that exposes adults like her to arts and performance, and where she now serves as a member of the board.

Anne-Marie Plass, PHAME student, performer, and board member. Photo: Friderike Heuer

I first met Anne-Marie during rehearsal and performance of a concert that marked the beginning of a collaborative effort between PHAME and Portland Opera. The 18-month-long collaboration is geared toward teaching all aspects of creating a rock opera, from writing librettos for this subgenre of opera, to costume and prop design, to creating music with an iPad orchestra and, most importantly, performing the piece themselves, with choir and soloists trained all year long.

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