Weekend MusicWatch: A Feast of Fests

Bach's music leads the flood of summer festivals in Oregon this weekend.

Along with the sunshine, one of Oregon’s main summer attractions for music lovers is the Oregon Bach Festival, which opens this weekend in Eugene and Portland. But it’s only one of many festivals this weekend as Oregon celebrates summer with music.

Matthew Halls wields the big stick at the Oregon Bach Festival this summer.

Matthew Halls wields the big stick at the Oregon Bach Festival this summer.

Oregon Bach Festival, Thursday-Wednesday, Eugene. The venerable Oregon music institution’s new era begins this weekend under new artistic director Matthew Halls, and you can read my Eugene Weekly interview with him, and a feature I wrote about the transition from founding music director Helmuth Rilling. Long a Eugene-only fixture, the festival has in recent years has begun to live up to its name by reaching out to other Oregon cities. We’ll list those performances separately, but even so, we can only hit some of the highlights here because the hometown events are just so numerous and attractive. You can read my Eugene Weekly festival preview for the top picks, including Thursday’s Monteverdi Vespers of the Blessed Virgin, Sunday’s New Soundings concert, and Tuesday’s performance of Halls and Dominik Sackmann’s reconstruction of Bach’s lost last passion, based mostly on his great funeral cantata BWV 198. But there’s plenty more worth catching. Saturday night’s Hult Center concert, for example, features the Canadian Brass, which has been making glowing music from across the ages for more than four decades now.

BachFest PDX, Friday and Saturday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and Tuesday, Newmark Theatre. Read my Willamette Week previews of Monteverdi’s Vespers, His Majestys Sagbutts and Cornetts, and Gabriela Montero.

Chamber Music Northwest, Saturday-Tuesday, Kaul Auditorium, Reed College and Lincoln Hall, Portland State University. Read my Willamette Week previews of this weekend’s concerts.

 Agnieszka Laska Dancers' Chopin Project highlights the Astoria Music Festival's closing weekend.

Agnieszka Laska Dancers’ Chopin Project highlights the Astoria Music Festival’s closing weekend. Photo: Chris Leck.

Astoria Music Festival, Friday-Sunday, Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center and Liberty Theater, Astoria. The first coast festival closes this weekend with Friday and Sunday’s fully staged version of Mozart’s delightful opera Cosi Fan Tutti, performed by the festivals apprentice vocal artists. Saturday’s afternoon chamber music concert sports music of Milhaud, Korngold, and Chausson featuring LA Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour, pianist Cary Lewis, cellist Sergey Antonov, and San Diego Symphony concertmaster Jeff Thayer. Saturday night’s multimedia spectacular brings Portland’s Agnieszka Laska Dancers and pianist Alexandre Dossin with their lovely Chopin Project, plus J-Walt’s animated improvised movie, including music from Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.

Siletz Bay Music Festival, Friday-Wednesday, various venues, Lincoln City. Under the direction of Portland Chamber Orchestra conductor Yaacov Bergman, the festival features veteran classical players from Portland and beyond. One of J.S. Bach’s great keyboard cocnertos, Richard Strauss’s E flat violin sonata, and Hummel’s Piano Quintet in E highlight Friday’s show. For Saturday’s soiree, which is also at Lincoln City Cultural Center, the great American jazz historian, arranger (on many of Woody Allen’s films), and former Oregon Festival of American Music jazz advisor Dick Hyman arrives for the premiere of his new Duet for Violin and Piano featuring Haroutune Bedelian and Lorna Griffitt, and program also includes Dohnanyi’s popular piano quintet in c and Schubert’s familiar “Trout” Quintet. Sunday’s chamber music concert at Eden Hall ranges from music by Mark O’Connor to Britten to Albeniz to Marin Marais to Rachmaninoff. Monday’s show continues to Rach out, plus music by Debussy and Mozart’s chamber arrangement of his Piano Concerto #11. Tuesday’s show at Salishan Resort is heavy on the Brahms and Schumann, while Wednesday’s concert there features two terrific Portland theater performers, Mary McDonald-Lewis and Leo Daedalus, plus other excellent Northwest musicians in more music by Hyman, O’Connor and William Walton’s fun, percussion-propelled Facades.

World Beat Festival, Saturday and Sunday, Riverfront Park, Salem. The 17th annual extravaganza of music, dance, food, and more from around the world features the Willamette Falls Symphony, traditional Indian music, Afrobeat, Eugene’s Gamelan Sari Pandhawa, Scottish bagpipes, Irish, Japanese and Bollywood dance, and much more.

Chintimini Chamber Music Festival, Friday, Sunday, Wednesday, Congregational Church, Corvallis. Friday’s all-French concert features music a piano trio by Chausson and two of the greatest works of 20th century chamber music, Ravel’s String Quartet and Debussy’s Sonata for Violin and Piano. Sunday’s show includes American composer Amy Beach’s 1916 Variations for Flute and Strings, Brahms’s c minor Piano Quartet and the world premiere of Canticle and Caprice, a new string trio by Houston-based Canadian-American composer Karim Al-Zand commissioned by the festival. Wednesday’s concert features, appropriately, American music (Joplin, Gershwin, Lukas Foss, Vermont’s Gyneth Walker, and original polymatch Benjamin Franklin) along with an American themed works by Vieuxtemps and a J.C. Bach piece written in 1776.

Oregon Music Festival, Saturday, Lincoln Hall, PSU. The orchestral training academy’s civic orchestra performs the most familiar music (Beethoven’s Fifth) and an intriguing 20th century rarity, Russian composer Alfred Schnittke’s Gogol Suite, which has nothing to do with search engines or futuristic eyewear.

Quiet Music Festival, Friday and Saturday, Disjecta Art Center, Portland. The performers come from all over the country, including Portland (like sound artist Jonathan Sielaff and the Von Trapps), and play a variety of styles, from ambient to rock based to folky to electronic and more, but it all has one thing in common: it’s vewy, vewy quiet. Here’s an interview with QMF founder Chris Johanson on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s State of Wonder.

Mock's Crest's Iolanthe @ University of Portland.

Mock’s Crest’s Iolanthe closes Sunday.

Iolanthe, Sunday, Mago Hunt Theater, University of Portland. Last chance to see Mod’s, er, Mock’s Crest’s Swinging London-style production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s comic opera, featuring an outstanding cast led by John Vergin, Alexis Hamilton, Beth Madsen Bradford, and Brian Tierney.

Elliott Sharp, Saturday, Secret Society, Portland. The much admired avant grade downtown Manhattan composer/improviser/guitarist, who’s worked with everyone from Kronos Quartet to Debbie Harry to famous choreographers, filmmakers and orchestras plays his solo electric guitar/laptop epic Haptikon then, after sets by Battle Hymns & Gardens (members of Blue Cranes and Tim DuRoche) and the Boodlers,  joins the other musicians for a performance of his graphic score, Foliage, which will be projected as a film.

Rocky Blumhagen and Ron Spivak, Monday, Jimmy Mak’s, Portland. In this benefit for Portland Chamber Orchestra, the two baritones, accompanied by pianist Rick Modlin, sing Broadway tunes by Sondheim, Lloyd Webber, Jerry Herman, and others.

Krishna Das, Sunday, Crystal Ballroom, Portland. The yoga singing master combines Hindu kirtan style with Western melodies and modern instruments.

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