Weekend MusicWatch: Beyond Bach in the Bars

Christopher Corbell's music is on tap at The Waypost Sunday night.

Christopher Corbell’s music is on tap at The Waypost Sunday night.

Since its founding in San Francisco in 2006, Classical Revolution has been best known for putting old music in clubs and cafes, but the plucky Portland chapter has also increasingly emphasizing contemporary sounds, especially in its annual composition competition. Since taking the helm at Classical Revolution PDX earlier this year, Portland composer/songwriter/pianist/guitarist Christopher Corbell has upped the already energetic organization’s activity level, adding a couple of monthly chamber jams to the always-packed original Sunday night fiesta at the northeast Portland cafe The Waypost, and intensifying the organization’s connection to contemporary music by encouraging participants to bring 21st century music to the party. These days, it’s not unusual for much or most of a jam to be devoted to new, original music, much of it born in Oregon.

Part of that new thrust is CRPDX’s new, annual showcase, Cult of Orpheus, an evening devoted to the works of a single Oregon composer. Sunday’s inaugural concert at the Waypost features Corbell’s own chamber music for voices and instruments, and those voices include some of Portland’s finest, soprano Catherine Olson (so impressive in her work with Northwest New Music), mezzo Hannah Penn (likewise with Portland Opera), tenor Justin Meyer (of Resonance Ensemble and Britain’s Academy of Ancient Music), and baritone Benjamin Bell (Opera Theater Oregon). They’ll sing Corbell’s settings of texts from the Dhammapada, Rilke, Millay, Catullus, Baudelaire, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Hopkins. Other Oregon classical music presenters, including Cascadia Composers and Celebration Works, have sponsored such single-local-composer shows recently; let’s hope more follow suit.

Also on Sunday, at northwest Portland’s Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, the annual summer William Byrd Festival continues with its new music director, English organist Mark Williams, playing organ music by composers who span the centuries, including Sweelinck, J.S. Bach, Herbert Howells and more.

And Sunday night at the Gerding Theater at the Armory in Portland’s Pearl District, jazz fans can welcome the return of one of Oregon’s top new musical stars, composer/singer/ bassist Esperanza Spalding, while also boosting the educational organization that has benefited the triple Grammy winner and many other Portland musicians: Portland jazz master Thara Memory’s American Music Program. Sponsored by PDXJazz, this 3rd Annual benefit concert also includes another of its prominent alumnae, rising young saxophonist Hailey Niswanger, plus Portland singers LaRhonda Steele, Andy Stokes and Tahirah Memory. The show benefits a worthy cause: AMP’s Pacific Crest Jazz Orchestra has won national renown for educating young people, grades 7-12, in American classic jazz. Last spring, the AMP orchestra won second prize in the Conglomerate Big Band division at the Next Generation Jazz Festival in Monterey, California. Spalding’s fame has taken her beyond Oregon, to the White House and more, but as her Grammy winning song, “City of Roses,” and appearances like this one attest, she hasn’t forgotten her hometown, or her old teacher.

Portuguese cellist Jed Barahal, who performed last year with Springfield’s Chamber Music Amcici, is back at Oakland’s MarsAmmne Landing Saturday night with fellow Portungese musicians Ana Barros (soprano) and pianist Christina Margotto to perform works by Brazilian composers Claudio Santoro and Heitor Villa-Lobos and Portuguese composers Antonio Pinho Vargas and Fernando Lapa. Advance reservations, obtainable at gregnfran@hughes.net, are required.

Eugene's Kef plays Festival Romani Saturday.

Eugene’s Kef plays Festival Romani Saturday.

This weekend again offers the chance to avoid the difficult choice between outdoor experiences and musical adventures. For a little longer, at least, we Oregonians can have it all. Saturday’s all-day Festival Romani in southeast Portland’s Sellwood Riverfront Park offers a panoply of gypsy-tinged sounds from Middle Eastern band and belly dancers Ritim Egzotik to gypsy brass from Eugene’s Kef and many other local and visiting bands and dancers, tracing the ethnic group’s musical migrations from their origins in India through Eastern and southern Europe, the Middle East and beyond. Along with the music, there’s dance galore, both onstage and in the audience. And you can bring the kids!

On Sunday, Beaverton Symphony conductor Travis Hatton leads Portland Festival Symphony‘s long-running summer series, this time at Peninsula Park, in music by Aaron Copland, the great Brazilian jazz/bossa nova composser Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Leroy Anderson.

The Britt Festival’s classical music under the stars is always a highlight of Oregon summer, and Sunday’s pops concert features more Bernstein, plus fine works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Enesco, and music from films and musicals, including an arrangement of movie themes by Oregon Symphony pops conductor and composer Jeff Tyzik, and the fun young flute-cello-bass threesome Project Trio.

2 Responses.

  1. I missed this write-up when it posted but thank you! I just wanted to make a correction – Cult of Orpheus is not a CRPDX annual concert, it’s my own artistic vehicle and will always feature my work.

    CPRDX does have an annual composer event which will happen next in May 2014 and include several local composer showcases.

    The Cult of Orpheus concert was funded privately by a kickstarter; CRPDX only provided free online promotion, which we’ll provide for any independent classical/new-music artists in alternative venues.

    The first Cult of Orpheus show was a blast, looking forward to next year!

    • Thanks for that clarification. We hope to see many more similar showcases in future. And we look forward to telling ArtsWatch readers about the May event, which already looks very exciting.

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