MusicWatch Weekly: exploratory opportunities

Relatively quiet opening week of 2019 offers chances to check out music beyond the comfort zone

Like the rest of our post-holiday recuperation, the first week of Oregon’s 2019 concert season starts relatively sluggishly. But there are a few good shows that you might have missed during a busier time of the season. Each offers a great chance to fulfill that New Year’s resolution to explore new and different experiences.

• Two of the city’s major classical music directors were born in Latin America, including Metropolitan Youth Symphony’s Costa Rican-born conductor Raúl Gómez. With help from Pacific Youth Choir, the young musicians will perform broadly appealing but too often neglected (by terminally Eurocentric adult American orchestras) classics by Mexico’s ​Arturo Márquez and José Pablo Moncayo, Costa Rica’s Carlos Guzmán and more. As Oregon grows more demographically diverse, so should its classical music concerts, and this show offers not only a chance to encounter some excellent music we should all be hearing more often on classical concerts, but also these accomplished young musicians and their visionary conductor.
Sunday, Newmark Theater, Portland

Raúl Gómez leads Metropolitan Youth Symphony Sunday.

• The Oregon Symphony starts the year off light, with this weekend’s light classical program of excerpts and classical greatest hits (Bernstein’s ebullient Candide overture, Barber’s Adagio for strings, hits by Bach, Beethoven, Grieg, Rachmaninoff, Rossini, Mozart and more, including the inevitable Taco Bell Cannon) that make a nice musical tapas menu to introduce those lingering visitors and family members to classical music.
Saturday & Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland

• Portland jazz, like the long-contracting national jazz scene, was looking bleak not long ago, what with several long time clubs closing, including the venerable Jimmy Mak’s. But plenty of good jazz news (not to say a golden age) is emerging, from new venues for Portland jazz, to the genre’s embrace of other musical forms, to the creative revival led by millennial and younger jazz artists, especially those in one of Oregon’s most vital musical generators, Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble. All converge in the welcome news of a new partnership between PJCE (which also presents concerts and runs a diverse record label) and The 1905, one of the city’s hottest new spots for jazz. The free-admission (read: low-risk) series opens with a quartet led by PJCE’s Ryan Meagher, a protean guitarist whose wide-ranging music draws on a diversity of traditions from post-bop to Brazilian and other traditional and classical forms. Depending on the context, his shows might feature floaty spontaneous improv to concise indie-rock tinged melodicism to laid back, relatively straightahead explorations. That’s the point of a series, a venue, and a creative generator like those arrayed here, and really of jazz itself: anything can happen.
Sunday, The 1905, Portland

Portland guitarist, composer and teacher Ryan Meagher.

• Another font of improvisatory energy, Portland’s Creative Music Guild,  presents a monthly local laboratory for experimental sounds, the Outset Series, at northeast Portland’s Turn! Turn! Turn! Wednesday’s show features John Chap’s one-man Doom Country act WESKE, which deploys “painful poetry with shred guitar and Floydian Steel” — pedal and lap steel guitars, acoustic and electric guitars, and electronic loopers. The show also features the new band Wind Chimes: Maxx Katz, Dan Sasaki, Nick Bindeman, and Jesse Carsten.
Wednesday, Turn! Turn! Turn! Portland

If you know of other worthy musical performances in Oregon, this relatively slow week would be an excellent chance to let ArtsWatch readers know about them in the comments section below.

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