Once upon a time, summer used to be a dead zone for Oregon classical music, with a few big exceptions like the Oregon Bach Festival and Chamber Music Northwest. Now, classical music resounds at summer festivals and concerts around the state — too many to cover here comprehensively. (For more listings, consult All Classical Portland radio’s cultural events calendar.) Here’s just some of the June music we’re looking forward to hearing. We’ll be updating the festival info to focus on specific concerts in our Weekend MusicWatch posts. Be sure to let ArtsWatch readers know about more in the comments section below, and keep watching our weekend MusicWatches for updated info throughout the month.
Chamber Music Amici
Wildish Community Theater, Springfield.
The ensemble plays its final concert of the season and bids adieu to its outgoing founding artistic director and violinist Sharon Schuman. Some of Eugene’s top classical musicians will play delicious music by Prokofiev and Dvořák, and I hope the audience will reward Schuman with applause for creating one of the area’s most valuable classical music institutions.
“Drama! Dance! Drums!”
Lincoln Recital Hall , 1620 SW Park Ave, Portland.
Taiko drumming, Kabuki theater, dance, and more highlight the fourth annual Portland State multimedia production, in a play written by PSU students.
Improvisation Summit of Portland
Creative Music Guild, Disjecta, 8371 N Interstate Ave., Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the annual convocation that brings together musicians, dancers, and visual artists from Portland and beyond in creative interactions. Check out the videos below of some of this year’s performers.
“In a Time of Extinctions, a Call to Life”
Kathleen Dean Moore and Rachelle McCabe, Central Lutheran Church, 1820 NE 21st. Ave, Portland.
While pianist McCabe plays Rachmaninoff’s “Variations on a Theme from Corelli,” the renowned Oregon philosopher/writer/nature advocate Moore interpolates her words about how humans can avoid extinction from our environmental destruction. Their recital benefits 350PDX, the local branch of a diverse national grassroots movement to address the challenge of climate change.
“EKSTASIA: Pursuing ecstasy and the search for the divine”
The Esoterics and Skyros String Quartet, First Christian Church, 1314 SW Park Ave., Portland.
The superb Seattle choir adds strings in contemporary music by Aaron Jay Kernis, acclaimed British composer Tarik O’Regan, Charlie Leftridge and the group’s music director, Eric Banks.
Metropolitan Youth Symphony
Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland.
The orchestra closes its 41st season with a major 20th century monument: Shostakovich’s Symphony #5, plus Brahms’s popular Hungarian Dances and Concerto Competition winner Renée Zhang soloing in Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto #2.
St. Anne’s Chapel, Marylhurst University campus, 17600 Pacific Highway, Marylhurst.
Alistair Donkin, an award-winning British director of Gilbert & Sullivan productions and former member of G&S’s own D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, directs this Marylhurst University production of one of the team’s finest satirical operettas.
“The Rake’s Progress”
Portland Opera, Keller Auditorium, SW 3rd & Clay, Portland.
The Portland premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s only opera features the great English Californian artist David Hockney’s dazzling sets and visuals, in conjunction with the Portland Art Museum’s Hockney exhibit. Stravinsky based his sly, 1951 deal-with-the-devil tale on a series of famous 18th-century paintings by William Hogarth, so it’s only fitting that it really came alive in Hockney’s 1975 vision, which is still delighting audiences. This production stars tenor Jonathan Boyd as Tom Rakewell, soprano Maureen Mckay as Anne Trulove, Portland’s Angela Niederloh as Baba the Turk, and David Pittsinger as Nick Shadow. Read Bob Hicks’s ArtsWatch story about the opera and exhibit.
“Astoria Music Festival Portland Preview”
The Old Church Concert Hall, 1422 SW 11th Avenue, Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of this benefit for the valuable Portland music venue. Violinists Martin Chalifour and Sarah Kwak, concertmasters of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Oregon Symphony, respectively) cellist Sergey Antonov, and pianist Cary Lewis will repeat the program the following night in Astoria (see below).
“War and Peace”
Resonance Ensemble, Lincoln Recital Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Ave., and June 14, 2 pm., First Presbyterian Church, 1200 Alder St., Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the first-rate choral ensemble’s performance of music on the themes of war and peace.
“Love’s Labors Lyric”
ViVoce, St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, 1704 N.E. 43rd St., Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of this performance by the Portland Revels’ women’s a cappella ensemble.
Astoria Music Festival
June 13 – 28
Various locations, Astoria.
The 13th annual festival can stake a strong claim to being the state’s most diverse classical music affair, encompassing chamber music (the Hermitage Trio, Enso String Quartet, and more), two operas (Mozart’s The Magic Flute from the Classical era and a concert performance of Donizetti’s Romantic Maria Stuarda, a Baroque choral-orchestral masterpiece (J.S. Bach’s glorious St. John Passion), a symphonic concerto (Beethoven’s mighty Violin Concerto, starring LA Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour and Triple Concerto, featuring the Hermitage Trio, and Tchaikovsky’s first Piano Concerto, featuring prizewinning pianist Ilya Kazantsev). AMF’s ambit stretches back to Renaissance sounds (courtesy of Oregon Renaissance Band founders Gayle and Phil Neuman, Portland lutenist Hideki Yamaya, Eugene organist Julia Brown, and more) and forward to contemporary Oregon new music (courtesy of Astoria native Israel Nebeker, son of the famous artist Royal Nebeker and founder of the indie rock band Blind Pilot). There’s even live accompaniment to classic film score (1927’s first Academy Award winner, Wings, in the ideal location of Astoria’s gorgeous Liberty Theater, with organist Bob Salisbury), and much more. Plus when you’re not listening to the music, there’s that ocean just down the hill….
Jason Robert Brown
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Portland.
The Tony Award-winning songwriter of popular musicals like The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County, Honeymoon in Vegas, and the song cycle Songs for a New World was the subject of a tribute concert in Eugene a couple weeks back. Now one of contemporary Broadway’s hottest composers (two shows and a film this year) returns to Portland with a solo concert and conversation sponsored by Staged!, which has carried his torch in Portland for years now, and a master class at Artists Repertory Theater the next day.
“ABBAQueen: A Royal Celebration”
Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland, and
“ABBAQueen: The Party Edition,” PGMC, June 19, Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark Street, Portland.
To celebrate its 35th anniversary and Pride Weekend, the 100-plus chorus reprises one of its most popular shows, a “choral rock concert” featuring music by two 1970s legends, original choreography bySara Mishler Martins, dance by The Locomotions, costumes, lighting effects, audience participation (dress glam!), especially in the Rev Hall show, and a happily decadent party vibe.
Portland Piano International Summer Festival
June 18 – 21
Lewis & Clark College, Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of this season’s edition of the annual summer celebration, which spotlights the legacy of the great Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997) in his centenary year.
First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Ave., Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the French classical guitarist / composer’s recital.
“How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying”
June 19 -28
Jaqua Concert Hall, The Shedd Institute, Eugene.
Read my Eugene Weekly preview of this new production of Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows’ Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning 1961 classic.
Oboe and Bassoon Festival
First Christian Church, SW Park and SW Columbia Streets, Portland.
Musicians from Musica Maestrale, Tafelmusik, and Portland Baroque Orchestra highlight this series of free early music concerts.
Oregon Music Festival
June 20-July 1
First Baptist Church and Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland.
This year’s edition focuses on the music of Bohuslav Martinû, Astor Piazzolla, and Franz Schubert, and also includes works by Dvorak and Weber, performed by Orpheus Academy students and resident artists from the Seattle Symphony and elsewhere.
Alfredo Muro & Nancy Curtin
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Portland.
The estimable guitarist and singer are joined by smooth jazz piano star Tom Grant and bassist Brian Healey in sambas and other music by some of Brazil’s most famous composers, including Jobim, Baden Powell, Pixinguinha and more. Next week we’ll tell you about another treat for Brazilian guitar music fans.
“Make Music PDX”
Various venues and performers, Portland.
Portland joins more than 725 cities around the world to celebrate Make Music Day. In the local version of a worldwide event that originated in France in 1982, musicians of every genre and those beyond category, amateur and professional alike, will be playing free solstice shows in parks, stores, and other places around the city.
Chamber Music Northwest Summer Festival
June 22-July 26
Various venues, Portland.
The annual festival, a highlight of Oregon’s summer music season, again brings renowned classical musicians to Portland. The June shows feature a tribute to Brahms, a collaboration with Northwest Dance Project, contemporary tango music, a collaboration with the Oregon Bach Festival featuring Portland Baroque Orchestra violinist Monica Huggett in a Beethoven tribute, and the young Jasper String Quartet performing the West coast premiere of award winning American composer Aaron Jay Kernis’s new string quartet, “River.”
The Assad Brothers with Romero Lubambo
Winningstad Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway, Portland.
The famous Brazilian guitar bro duo celebrate 50 years of performing together (not to mention with musicians like Yo Yo Ma, Dawn Upshaw, Astor Piazzolla, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and more) with a concert of music by some of Brazil’s most famous composers, including Villa Lobos, Egberto Gismonti, Baden Powell and more, including fellow guitarist Lubambo.
DUO Stephanie and Saar, Blue Sky Gallery, 122 NW 8th Ave., Portland.
The duo pianists, frequent visitors to Portland, join local musicians (including members of Third Angle and FearNoMusic) to perform the first two parts of the great American composer George Crumb’s masterpiece Makrokosmos for Amplified Piano, music by Portland’s own Kenji Bunch, two-piano works including a world premiere by Crumb’s former student Gerald Levinson and music by George’s son David Crumb (a University of Oregon professor) and more.
Piano! Push Play!
Portland Art Museum.
The summer event that invites the public to play pianos outdoors returns. The organization devoted to putting music making in everyone’s hands sponsors this free, all day kickoff event featuring ten pianos (and many more pianists) arrayed outside the Art Museum. Among the many pieces performed will be an original composition from PSU composer Richie Greene for five pianos. The instruments will then be distributed throughout the city for performances all summer.
Oregon Bach Festival
June 25-July 12
Various venues, Eugene.
The major highlight of June’s concerts in the venerable festival: the debut of an exciting new Oregon music institution, the Berwick Orchestral Academy that teaches the art of historically informed performance, with OBF music director Matthew Halls leading them in music by Beethoven. Berwick faculty early music stars also get their own chamber music showcase. Another Portlander, rock-star-turned-all-purpose diva Storm Large reprises the Seven Deadly Sins she committed with the Oregon Symphony a couple years ago, one of the great collaborations between Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht. The festival opens with Haydn’s mighty oratorio The Creation on June 25. Halls, OBF founding music director Helmuth Rilling and Edward Maclary lead the fascinating Discovery Series, devoted this year to Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and the festival offers many, many more concerts, talks, free shows and more, with further highlights coming in July.
Irvington neighborhood, Portland.
For the past two summers, one of the best mixes of new music and alfresco Oregon beauty has been Third Angle New Music’s preview of its upcoming season, with listeners strolling between venues in several groups to hear music performed outdoors at five of Portland’s most beautiful homes.
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