The last big weekend of the spring music season brings an avalanche of new music, much of written right here in Oregon, and a good deal of it emanating from the state’s universities, along with Indian music concerts, vanguard jazz, some excellent choral concerts, and more. It’s also the last big weekend for orchestral music, with several terrific concerts featuring Northwest composers. As always, feel free to tell ArtsWatch readers about other worthy concerts in the comments section below.
Oregon State University Wind Ensemble and Wind Symphony
Austin Auditorium, LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th Street, Corvallis
The band premieres Heart of a Forest by Paul D. Miller. Wait, let’s rephrase that. The band premieres Heart of a Forest by one of the 21st century’s most creative artistic mixers of media, composer/multimedia artist/writer DJ Spooky. Inspired by Thoreau and scored for turntables and wind ensemble, the neoclassical piece explores “the collision of data, sound and new ways to think about the absence of origins.” The fascinating program also includes music by Alfred Reed, Ronald Lo Presti, Howard Hanson, Frank Ticheli, Michael Gandolfi, John Adams, David Biedenbender and Percy Grainger.
Raphael Spiro String Quartet
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Portland
The ensemble of current and former Oregon Symphony members plays World War II-era quartets by Britten and Shostakovich, and one of Beethoven’s Op. 18 quartets, written during an earlier European war.
MYSfits String Ensemble
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Portland
The Metropolitan Youth Symphony classical string group re-plays contemporary New York composer Cornelius Dufallo’s A Late Walk, which they performed at this month’s FearNoMusic concert, plus one of the great 20th century oboe concertos, by Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Tchaikovsky’s delightful musical postcard, Souvenir of Florence. The MYS jazz ensemble plays classics by Lee Morgan and Gigi Gryce as well as David Hazltine’s “Pentimento.”
Peter Brötzmann Quartet, CATFISH
Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi Ave. Portland
One of the living legends of European free jazz returns to Oregon, preceded by the warm music of the low key offshoot of Oregon’s Blue Cranes, CATFISH.
May 20, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, 1114 SE 41st Ave. Portland, and May 22, Proto-Cathedral of St James, 218 W 12th St. Vancouver
The fabulous women’s vocal ensemble sings Renaissance music by Binchois, Dunstable, Bisnois, Ciconia, and one of the era’s greatest composers, Guillaume Dufay, who was doing what composers like Lou Harrison did half a millennium later: integrating musical elements from diverse cultures of his time (Italian, French, English) to create a rich new hybrid sound.
Dougherty Dance Theatre, University of Oregon
The UO’s African music/dance ensemble performs traditional African drumming, dance, singing and storytelling.
Unistus Chamber Choir
May 20, First Christian Church, Portland, and May 22, Milwaukie Lutheran Church, Milwaukie
One of the state’s hidden musical treasures, the choir performs the world premiere of A Choral Calendar, with the Los Angeles composer/poet Carol Worthey reading the original poetry she wrote for the piece. A jazz quartet joins the show, too.
Marshanne Chamber Players
May 20, MarshAnne Landing Winery, and May 22, Wildish Community Theater, Springfield
Eugene Symphony concertmaster Searmi Park, Oregon Symphony clarinetist Louis DeMartino and pianist David Riley play a sweet program of trios by Giancarlo Menotti and Aram Khachaturian, Francis Poulenc’s lovely clarinet sonata, and Jascha Heifetz’s arrangements of tunes from Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess for violin and piano.
“A Finale of Firsts”
Portland Chamber Orchestra, May 21, Nordia House, 8800 SW Oleson Rd. and May 22, Lewis and Clark College, Agnes Flanagan Chapel, Portland
The season-ending show presents the first symphonies of Beethoven and Prokofiev, along with Mendelssohn’s ever popular Violin Concerto in e minor and the superb Portland composer Kenji Bunch’s liltingly lush Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, starring the acclaimed rising national star violinist Tim Fain, whose performances you might have heard in recordings by Philip Glass or in the soundtracks to films like Twelve Years a Slave and the ballet-world melodrama Black Swan.
May 20 & 21
Skyview Concert Hall, 1300 NW 139th St. Vancouver
The orchestra closes its season with performances of Shostakovich’s first (1925) and final (1971) symphonies — extremely different orchestral statements befitting the extremes of the composer’s eventful life.
May 20 & 22
Village Baptist Church, 330 SW Murray Blvd, Beaverton
Alone among Oregon orchestras, the Beaverton Symphony displays a commitment to the music of its homeland with an annual, affordably priced ($10) performance by a composer from the area via its Northwest Composers Project. This spring’s entry is Washington composer Ryan Hare’s Maracanzo, an again-timely 2011 composition inspired by an (in)famous 1950 World Cup championship game. The concert also includes Beethoven’s stirring third symphony and performances of movements from famous classical concertos by the winners of the orchestra’s also admirable young artists competition.
Consonare Chorale, First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1126 SW Park Ave. Portland
The wide-ranging choir celebrates its tenth anniversary with Tesfa Wondemagegnehu’s ‘A Dream within a Dream,’ Gwyneth Walker’s ‘An Hour to Dance’ and the Alleluja from Mozart’s ‘’ from Regina Coeli, along with its usual selection of solos and small ensemble performances of pop, folk, and classical pieces.
Ben Kunin and Doug Scheuerell
Yoga West, 3635 Hilyard Street, Eugene
Read my Eugene Weekly preview of this Indian music concert.
“Remembering Charleston with Ellington”
Resonance Ensemble, May 21, St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church, 17435 NW West Union Road, Portland, and May 22, Bethel A.M.E. Church, 5828 NE 8th Avenue, Portland
The top-notch choir joins forces with jazz and cabaret singers including Marilyn Keller, Jessica Israels, Marianna Thielen, and Brandon Michael, plus the Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra, tap dancer Tony Palomino FitzGibbon, and more to perform sacred and secular music by Duke Ellington and other standards. The admirable concert benefits worthy causes including the Black United Fund for underserved Oregon communities and a memorial to the victims of the horrific racist massacre in a South Carolina church last June.
May 21, 23, and 24 Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway Ave. Portland
The orchestra’s closing classical concert includes only a single work, but it’s a big one: Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 3, with vocal assistance from Pacific Youth Choir, Portland State University’s choir, and soprano Susan Platts. The May 24 show is a different kind of epic, with a rock band joining the orchestra in music of Queen, although true Mahler maniacs will be zooming up/down to Corvallis’s La Sells Stewart center to hear the Corvallis-OSU orchestra play his seventh symphony.
“And You’ll Live Happily Ever After”
Cascadia Composers and The Mousai, May 22, First Presbyterian Church, 1200 SW Alder, Portland
Read my Willamette Week preview of this Celebration Works concert featuring new music by Oregon composers.
“Horizon to Horizon”
Portland State University Chamber Choir, St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1716 NW Davis St. Portland
Read my Willamette Week preview of the exemplary choir’s 40th anniversary concert. We’ll have some more big news from the PSUCC RSN.
“400 Years of Shakespeare”
May 22, Lake Oswego United Methodist Church, 1855 South Shore Blvd. Lake Oswego
Wonderfully wide-ranging Bard-related music from across the centuries, from Baroque-era composers like Holborn to contemporary composers including Ned Rorem and the new _Witches Dance_ by Oregon composer Linda Woody with narration from _Macbeth_ by Portland actor Brian Allard.
NXT Industries, 222 NW Davis St., Loft 301, Portland
Thollem Electric and AC Villa’s “moving stills” depict the 48 states of America in the months leading up to the next national election, which the artists travel through and document via film and live original soundtrack.
“The Strange and the Beautiful”
Oregon Percussion Ensemble
Aasen-Hull Hall, Frohnmayer Music Building, Eugene
Concert showcases new percussion music by University of Oregon composers.
Oregon Composers Forum
Beall Concert Hall, Frohnmayer Music Building, Eugene
Free concert features premieres of contemporary music for flute by UO composers.