The ArtsWatch Calendar, March 16-29: Music Moderne and Kronos, PBO, Portland Playhouse, more

Portland Playhouse returns to church

As we’ve pointed out, March is modern music month in Portland, or rather it’s “March Music Moderne,” which means that if you have any hint of an inkling to get involved in art music written in the past few decades, you have a great chance this week.

Composer/impresario Bob Priest has gathered strands from various parts of the city’s music scene to produce an invigorating festival of contemporary music, including Eugene’s Cherry Blossom Musical Arts (a dance collaboration) and Portland’s Arnica String Quartet, Friends of Rain new music ensemble, Classical Revolution PDX pianist Maria Choban. Click the link to get the full schedule.

A few of the concerts are among the top events in the city the next two weeks:

Kronos Quartet

Kronos Quartet, March 21, Kaul Auditorium, Portland — Friends of Chamber Music brings the foremost new music ensemble of our time to perform Steve Reich’s 10th anniversary commemoration of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks, and music by some of the hottest young composers of the moment.

East Coast Chamber Orchestra, March 28, Kaul Auditorium, Portland — Music Northwest brings this aggregation of members of major orchestras (Boston, Philadelphia) and string quartets (Borromeo, Jasper) to perform music by Portland’s Kenji Bunch, Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue, Stravinsky’s beautiful Apollo and more.

And we should probably mention two more:

Liminal Performance Group, March 22-24, Liminal space, 340 SE 6th Ave. – Celebrate the great 20th century American writer Gertrude Stein’s poetry, musical collaborations, and theater works in a come-and-go-as-you-please extravaganza.

Hildegard Westerkamp, March 26, The Old Church  — The Canadian composer uses environmental sounds, voices and electroacoustic instruments to  create compelling soundscapes.

Dance you won’t forget

Kidd Pivot, March 16-17, White Bird, Newmark Theatre, 1111 SW Broadway — Crystal Pite is among the top choreographers in the world at this point, and her company, Kidd Pivot, performs the demanding “Dark Matters” with brilliance.

Portland Playhouse goes home

“The Brother/Sister Plays,” March 29-May 13, Portland Playhouse, 602 NE Prescott St. — Portland Playhouse returns to its rightful home in the old church on Northeast Prescott, after a brush with the city’s zoning codes, for this trilogy of plays by Tarell Alvin McCraney, divided into two separate programs. The plays are set in a housing project in Louisiana and have been hailed by critics for their gumbo of dance, mythology, autobiography and narrative power.

Five more promising concerts, music old and new

Stuttgart Chamber Choir, March 16, First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Ave., Portland — Frieder Bernius directs one of the world’s finest choruses in music by Bach, Brahms, Bruckner, and 20th century composers Arvo Part, and Gyorgy Ligeti, including the latter’s ethereal music used in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Kirill Gerstein, March 18, Newmark Theater, Portland Center for the Performing Arts — Portland Piano International brings one of the most acclaimed contemporary pianists to play music by Schumann, Mozart, J.S. Bach and a recent work by Oliver Knussen.


The period-masters, Portland Baroque Orchestra

Portland Baroque Orchestra, March 23-24, First Baptist Church and Kaul Auditorium, Portland — Violinist Monica Huggett leads the historically informed ensemble, including pre-eminent oboist Gonzalo Ruiz and star clarinetist Eric Hoeprich in music by Vivaldi, Albinoni, Telemann and more.

Portland Chamber Orchestra, March 23-25, Venetian Theater, Hillsboro; Kaul Auditorium, Portland; Liberty Theater, Astoria — Veteran New York pianist and jazz authority Dick Hyman, who arranged so many Woody Allen soundtracks, joins violinist Lindsay Deutsch in arrangements and originals for jazz trio, violin, and orchestra — including Rhapsody in Blue.

Portland Taiko, March 23-5, Winningstad Theater, Portland Center for the Performing Arts — The Asian American dance and percussion group looks to its Japanese heritage, incorporating the traditional koto (a tingly-sounding plucked zither) and shakuhachi (haunting bamboo flute), plus dance courtesy of Fujinami Kai troupe.

Theater and modern dance, on the edge

Luciana Proano, March 16-17, Conduit, 918 SW Yamhill — “Chaski” is a multi-media performance that celebrates the spirit of the inexhaustible Incan messengers and continues Proano’s deep investigation of movement and myth.

“Fire Island,” March 23-April 28,  defunkt theatre, The Back Door Theater, 4319 SE Hawthorne —  Chuck Mee’s twisty play is about love and sex (or is it sex and love?), a central point of investigation for Mee, whose plays should be done here far more frequently than they are.

“Jardin de Suenos,” March 23-April 14, Miracle Theatre, 525 SE Stark — Miracle likes to play the myths of central America against the backdrop of contemporary life, and that’s what happens in this brand new play created in a group process.

Yasmeen Godder, March 29-31, White Bird, Lincoln Hall, PSU — Israeli-American choreographer Yasmeen Gooder’s “Love Fire” explores identity and relationships through the medium of the waltz.

“The American Pilot,” Theatre Vertigo, March 30-April 28 — David Greig’s political allegory starts when a pilot parachutes into an village in the middle of a guerrilla war in which the U.S. is involved. Matthew Zrebski directs.

“Vincent River,” March 29-April 21, Sowelu, Theater! Theatre! 3034 SE Belomont — Sowelu is back after taking some time off to do some movie work, and it’s taking on Philip Ridley’s dark two-actor drama, starring Lorraine Bahr and Clayton Schnell.


Brett Campbell and Barry Johnson are the calendar compilers this week.

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