Several of the most attractive classical music events are available at no charge this weekend, the freshest Chamber Music Northwest festival in years winds down with a last burst of new music, along with old music and dance, and Oregon’s outdoor music season continues with the opening of a venerable series in Portland parks. Not bad for a relatively slow weekend in Oregon music! Other classical events are listed on All Classical Portland’s cultural events calendar, and please let our readers know about any others we may have missed via the comments section below.
Chamber Music Northwest
Read my Willamette Week preview of the summer festival’s closing week, which begins with a pair of highly recommended shows on July 22 featuring BodyVox dancers and music of Igor Stravinsky and new works written in the past couple of years, including a premiere by John Steinmetz, at the dance company’s studios. The festival’s long tradition of commissioned new works, especially by Reed College’s own David Schiff, another of Oregon’s finest composers, continues with his new Nonet alongside music by Shulman and Schubert on Thursday night and with another new work by John Steinmetz on Friday at noon. A free community concert July 24 at Mt. Hood Community College featuring the Akropolis Reed Quintet also offers music from this century and the last. The festival closes with July 25-26 performances of immortal concerti by J.S. Bach and Mozart, starring piano legend André Watts.
“The Elixir of Love”
July 17, 19, 23, 25 & 30; August 1
Portland Opera, Newmark Theatre.
The company closes its 50th anniversary season with Gaetano Donizetti’s fizzy 1832 ode to intoxicants and placebos, which tells the story of Nemorino, who tries to fulfill his lust for the abundantly endowed (financially, that is) and polyamorous Adina, with help from a spurious potion (not a date rape drug, but rather the 18th century equivalent of MDMA) that allegedly will make him irresistible to women, supplied by the huckster Dr. Dulcimara. Antics and reversals ensue, and the real aphrodisiac is revealed to be something more noble (as well as something else less so — money) than a magic cocktail. Conducted by Nicholas Fox and directed by Ned Canty, this version, like Eugene Opera’s production last year, is set in America’s late 19th century Wild West.
Portland Art Museum courtyard
One of a series of free, family friendly outdoor concerts sponsored by the organization that’s pushing pianos all over Portland features two of the city’s most audience friendly and new music oriented ensembles, ARCO-PDX and the Mousai, playing music by Oregon’s greatest composer, Lou Harrison, Portland’s own contemporary classical star Kenji Bunch, Ravel, Stravinsky, Gorecki, Shostakovich and other music from the 20th and 21st centuries — all performed in the shadow of the art museum’s Ai Wei Wei sculpture exhibit. As Friday is also the monthly free admission day after 5 pm, the evening would make for a lovely family friendly art excursion.
Portland Festival Symphony
July 25, Cathedral Park, Portland and July 26, Foothills Park, Lake Oswego
Lajos Balogh’s annual free, family friendly orchestra concerts in Portland parks resume with Saturday and Sunday performances.
Oregon Coast Music Festival
Marshfield High School Auditorium, Coos Bay
Conductor James Paul’s terrific American music program includes Aaron Copland’s Quiet City, Walter Piston’s Symphony No. 4, longtime Oregon coast resident Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo (Solomon) with cello soloist Dennis Parker, and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story Symphonic Dances.
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