YAMHILL

Newberg professional theater goes beyond “The Hamlet Show”

Penguin Productions offers Shakespeare and Wilde. Also on tap: Wildwood MusicFest in Willamina, da Vinci Days celebrates the intersection of art and science

There are surely stretches over the year when not much is going on in Yamhill County, artistically speaking. Those lazy weeks will afford opportunities for deep dives into our scene, with in-depth interviews and profiles of individual artists. But July is not one of those times. So grab a pen, or fire up the calendar app on your phone — whatever you’re using these days to organize your life — and get ready, because we have a lot to cover.

Nathaniel Andalis and Patricia Alston of Penguin Productions rehearse a scene from Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband,” which opens July 19 in Newberg. Photo by: Kris Klancy

This is especially true in Newberg, where a remarkable thing has happened. A small group of talented and endlessly energetic young people have joined forces to launch a theater company — a professional theater company. Penguin Productions was formed in 2017 by Chris Forrer and fellow Pacific Conservatory Theatre (PCPA) alums Daphne Dossett and Garrett Gibbs, on whose family property the outdoor productions are staged. Their mission to create “classical theater for a contemporary world” began last summer with gender-fluid productions of As You Like It and Macbeth.

This week, they kick off the 2018 season with what Forrer promises will be a brisk Hamlet (around 2 hours and 40 minutes) and Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband, in which politics with a capital “P” plays out in contemporary Washington, D.C. (thanks to a 1895 script that falls well within the public domain). Shows start Thursday, July 19, and run through Aug. 4, with four performances of each. Tickets are $8 to $15 and may be purchased at the website.

Hamlet, directed by co-founder Gibbs, sounds particularly interesting. The company’s take, basically, is that Claudius, Gertrude and Polonius have, in their own way, been painted into the corner of caricature over the years in ways that are not necessarily supported by Shakespeare’s text. The play, Forrer told me, is much more interesting with a charismatic and even likable Claudius. Gertrude isn’t necessarily cold and distant, and Polonius (played here by a woman) is not an idiot. Forrer thinks the text supports Gibbs’ direction and makes for a much more exciting story than what all too often becomes “The Hamlet Show.” Sure, it is that, but you know what he’s saying.

Continues…

Summer concerts: from opera to outlaw country

Performances in Yamhill County offer something for all musical tastes

Now that the sound and fury of the Fourth of July is behind us, let’s talk live music. There’s an abundance of it in Yamhill County this summer, literally anything you yearn for: pop, blues, 70s dance rock, Latin jazz, gypsy jazz, Celtic, soul, Scottish, blues, bluegrass, folk, retro, Louisiana zydeco from the Pacific Northwest … see what I’m saying? If you live here, you don’t need to head to Portland for outdoor summer concerts, and if you live in Portland, you might check out this list to ensure that your trip to wine country aligns with great music.

Before we get to lawn-chair summer fare, let’s zero in on opera. McMinnville’s music scene this month has an 800-pound gorilla, the Aquilon Music Festival, an ambitious project organized by Anton Belov. Linfield College, where Belov has taught 11 years, serves as the center ring in an event that features two fully staged operas and a multitude of lectures, recitals, and concerts, including some at area wineries.

Portland Opera’s Opera a la Cart will serve up operatic specials du jour at Ponzi Vineyards and Argyle Winery this summer. Photo: Jonathan Ley.

Belov has assembled an impressive team of opera pros from around the United States., and many names will be familiar to aficionados: Daniel Helfgot, Byron Schenkman, Barbara Day Turner and Richard Zeller.

But many may not be — the more than 30 young artists Belov invited who are poised at the dawn of their musical careers. Some are local, while others are from beyond Oregon and have already appeared on the boards in the U.S., Europe and South America.

Continues…

Suddenly, a major music festival

The new Aquilon Music Festival, a three-week feast of "delightfully affordable" opera, recitals, lectures and more, sets sail in McMinnville

McMINNVILLE – When I agreed this spring to come aboard as the Yamhill County correspondent for Oregon ArtsWatch, the first thing I did was to create a calendar. I’m a wordsmith by trade, but I like my information visualized so I can literally see the big picture. I wrote down every arts event I knew about, and then looked up ones I didn’t know about. Having lived out here in wine country since the mid-1990s, I have a good sense of the year’s cultural rhythms, so it came together quickly.

Then I got a note from Bob Hicks, one of ArtsWatch’s editors, referring me to possible “fodder” for my column, something called the Aquilon Music Festival.

He didn’t know anything about it; I’d never heard of it. I didn’t even look it up for a few days. How big a deal could it be?

Aquilon Music Festival logo, detail from Sandro Botticelli’s late 15th century painting “The Birth of Venus,” in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. Aquilon in myth is the God of Northern Wind.

Pretty freaking huge, it turns out. And I can be forgiven (this time) for not having heard about it, because it’s new. This summer’s Aquilon Music Festival is the brainchild of Linfield College music professor Dr. Anton Belov, and he’s swinging for the fences with an artistic project that, if successful, could join the ranks of Oregon’s finest cultural events.

Continues…

“The Thaw” preview: A transitional journey

World premiere of Oregon composer's new work culminates a collaborative creative process

by GARY FERRINGTON

Editor’s note: The course of a new composition from conception to concert performance can be meandering. Here, in the words of those involved, is a diary of the creative voyage that concludes May 28, when the Oregon Wind Ensemble, led by Rodney Dorsey, and University of Oregon Singers, led by Sharon J. Paul, perform Oregon composer Andrea Reinkemeyer’s The Thaw. Update: we’ve added a streaming recording of the performance to the end of this story.

1_Header Photo: 618px wide. Caption: Composer Andrea Reinkemeyer. Courtesy A. Reinkemeyer. 

Composer Andrea Reinkemeyer.

A native born Oregonian, Reinkemeyer studied with Robert KyrJack Boss and Harold Owen while earning her bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon in 1999, and with University of Michigan faculty members Michael Daugherty, Bright Sheng, and others while working on her master’s (2001) and doctoral degrees in composition (2005).  She’s now Assistant Professor of Music Composition and Theory at Linfield College in McMinnville.

Andrea Reinkemeyer: Composing has always been a part of my training, so it seems strange to me when I meet musicians who don’t compose. As an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, I joined the Pacific Rim Gamelan on a whim, wrote a little piece for the ensemble, and Dr. Robert Kyr  took me aside one day to ask, “Why aren’t you a composition major?” I have been pursuing that path ever since.

Rodney Dorsey conducts the UO Wind Ensemble. Photo: UOSOMD.

Dr. Rodney Dorsey conducts the UO Wind Ensemble. Photo: UOSOMD.

Continues…

As the title suggests, John Brodie’s exhibit, “Versus Artifacts” at Linfield Gallery in McMinnville, presents a challenge to the viewer, a call to decipher what may be contrary/adversarial within this elegant display.

The gallery itself is a well-lit, big cube with generous wall space. A white couch, white coffee table and white stool, all arranged on a large oriental-style rug, sit at the back and remind me of a very modern living space one might see in an “Architectural Digest” spread. I could imagine a pleasant fundraiser being held here, or keeping with the likeness to a private residence, a cocktail party where I would find myself out of my league. All because of the very white furniture.

In fact, the furniture arrangement was listed as “The Lounge,” and while the couch, stool and rug were the real objects, the table was a fabrication by Brodie. Had things been different, I might have then asked, “Now, who’s out of place?”

Placement plays a big part in this show. It creates a syntax that exists within and between pieces. The vocabulary is fairly restricted in the repetition of materials and motifs, but there is a certain generosity toward the viewer in this, meaning I was able to develop a story Brodie might be trying to tell us.

Continues…