Weekend MusicWatch: Far flung fests

The Julians sing in Portland Sunday.

The Julians sing in Portland Sunday.

Oregonians love to explore our beautiful state during its sunniest (and loveliest) season, and it’s nice to know that that doesn’t mean giving up the chance to hear classical music after the sun sets at various festivals.

Portland

On Friday, the 16th annual William Byrd Festival  opens at northeast Portland’s All Saints Episcopal Church with a concert featuring some of the great English Renaissance composer’s anthems, motets and Easter works, all sung by one of the Northwest’s finest choirs, Cantores in Ecclesia, conducted by England’s David Trendell. The festival continues with various sacred services, concerts and talks over the next couple weeks.
On Saturday, former Portland singer-songwriter Alan Singley continues his transformation into a contemporary classical composer with another concert at downtown Portland’s historic Old Church. Like his maiden effort there last year, Singley’s new nine-movement genre-fusing, avant-garde, future-funk symphony” (co-composed with Papi Fimbres) will feature “classical” (trombones, flute, trumpets, organ, piano) as well as modern (electric bass, synthesizers, drum kit) instruments.
On Sunday, Portlanders or visitors can also hear Portland Festival Symphony bring its annual family friendly summer tour of the parks to northeast Portland’s Grant Park on Sunday, where they’ll play music by Sibelius, Fasch, Johann Strauss, Weber, and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #4.
Also Sunday, more of the city’s finest singers convene in a much more intimate setting, the Pearl District’s Ivories Jazz Lounge, when the lively indie classical quartet The Julians (who all sing in the city’s top choirs) unleashes their peppy combination of old (Palestrina, Purcell, et al) and new (Bjork, Beatles, Tom Waits etc). The three cuts I heard them sing at last week’s Classical Revolution PDX chamber jam definitely whetted my appetite for more.

Anyone can play the piano, thanks to Push Piano Play! this week outside the Portland Art Museum.

Anyone can play the piano, thanks to Push Piano Play! this week outside the Portland Art Museum.

And speaking of CRPDX, Portlanders who’ve been noticing all those pianos being played outdoors around downtown can hear some fine performers from that spunky indie classical organization tickling the ivories outside the Portland Art Museum beginning at 7 pm Friday. It’s part of the valuable Piano! Push Play! 
project that we’ll be telling you all about next week.

Jazz fans and devotees of Native American sounds are celebrating one the state’s greatest jazzers at the first annual Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival at Parkrose High School Performing Arts Center,12003 NE Shaver St. One of the country’s finest Native American musicians, Pepper, who died in 1992, was best known for  “Witchi Tai To,” his jazzy adaptation of a Comanche chant covered by his buddies in the great jazz fusion band Oregon, but he also led the Free Spirits, a 1960s jazz rock band that featured the great Seattle jazz guitarist Larry Coryell, who’ll be there Friday and Saturday nights with other members Bob Moses, Chris Hills and Chip Baker, along with Native American performers John Trudell, Pura Fe, Keith Secola, Joy Harjo and more.

Central Oregon

Tucson Symphony conductor George Hanson leads the orchestra in the 36th Sunriver Music Festival’s opening weekend, with cowboy music on Friday (courtesy of the Bill Ganz Western Band), and dance tunes by Leonard Bernstein (“On the Town” dances), Lutoslawski (Dance Preludes), Dvorak (Slavonic Dances), Ravel (the transcendently beautiful “Tombeau de Couperin”), Verdi and Rossini. Wednesday’s all-Mozart concert at Bend’s Tower Theatre includes a symphony, concerto, overture, and dances.

Southern Oregon

In Jacksonville, the Britt Festival’s first classical concert offers a superb lineup: John Adams’s rollicking “Lollapalooza,” George Gershwin’s bustling Concerto in F (featuring the rising young Chinese pianist Yuja Wang), and Bartok’s dazzling Concerto for Orchestra. Saturday’s concert throws the solo spotlight on youngish Italian violinist Augustin Hadelich in Stravinsky’s brilliant Violin Concerto, and the concert also includes one of the 20th century’s orchestral masterworks, Shostakovich’s Symphony #5.

Oregon Coast
Before zillions of Burners mystifyingly head to the broiling southwest desert in the heat of summer, saner music lovers can escape to the Siuslaw National Forest’s cool coastal verdancy for the second Beloved Sacred Arts and Music Festival, near Tidewater. Along with yoga, holistic healing workshops and a variety of spiritual practice seminars, the three day festival, which opens Friday, teems with superb global sounds, including Zimbabwean singer-songwriter Oliver Mtukudzi (who’s also playing in Portland next week), Belize’s Garifuna Collective with Canadian folkie Danny Michel doing the Paul Simon “Graceland”/ “Rhythm of the Saints” thing, singer-mbira master Chris Berry and his trio, Portland Indian music guru Michael Stirling, and many others. We Oregonians are fortunate to live in a fabulously diverse state that really blossoms in spring and summer, and our rich music scene reflects that bounty and beauty.

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