The University of Oregon School of Music and Dance’s live-streamed Eugene premiere of Ethan Gans-Morse and Tiziana DellaRovere’s chamber opera Tango of the White Gardenia marks a modest milestone in Oregon live music webcasting. (Read Angela Allen’s ArtsWatch review and click here to stream at 7:30 pm tonight, Monday, October 1. ) This fall, the UO, Portland State University, and Lewis and Clark College have upped their streaming games, bringing to audiences near and far not only old and recent sounds, but also freshly composed music just off the engraver’s press.
Live from Eugene
The University of Oregon is at the forefront of live streaming in the state with its professional quality multi-camera webcasting of concerts live from Beall Concert Hall and single camera student originated webcasts from Aasen-Hull and Thelma Schnitzer concert halls.
This year, as in the past, the School’s event calender continues to add webcast concerts with possible performances by the University Symphony, Oregon Wind and Jazz Ensembles, Future Music Oregon, Oregon Chamber Choir, Track-Town Trombones, Tuba-Euphonium Ensemble and more. Many of these performances often lean to the contemporary side of the repertoire, as in this Beall Hall performance of UO Faculty member Pius Cheung’s Tesla’s Harmony for mallet quartet performed by the UO Percussion Ensemble.
Many of the school’s concerts emerge from the Oregon Composers Forum. For example, the upcoming OCF webcast special at 4 pm November 4, will feature Grammy Award winning soprano Estelí Gomez performing music composed for her by Forum members.
OCF’s student-managed ensembles (TaiHei, sonos domum, Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and more) also premiere new works by UO composers and others. And the school’s biannual Music Today Festival is entirely devoted to new music by living composers. Distinguished visiting guest artists frequently premiere new pieces, as in this Music Today performance of former OCF composer Noah Jenkins’ Transfuse by the PRISM Quartet.
Live from Portland
Portland State University offers a diverse program of Thursday concerts at noon, which are live streamed on Facebook and auto-archived for later viewing. Two recent new music webcasts were The Earthly Femme: Women Composers of PSU, and this past May, Portland State’s composition studio showcased an hour of new solo and ensemble music as introduced here by Dr. Bonnie Miksch, director of the School of Music.
The newly published 2018-2019 schedule indicates 29 hours of noon programming will be live streamed from PSU’s Lincoln Hall. Two highlights include an October 25 Music from China concert featuring the pipa (Chinese lute) and guzheng (Chinese zither) sponsored by PSU’s Confucius Institute, and a PSU Chamber Choir Gender Bender preview concert that precedes an evening performance on November 9. This spring, look forward to music by the various performance studios (brass, vocal, piano, Jazz, string, woodwind, and percussion).
From atop Portland’s Palatine Hill, the Live at Lewis and Clark concerts are programmed throughout the year, although not as frequently as other institutions. Lewis and Clark College’s calendar offers concerts featuring music by the classical masters as well as contemporary composers as in this tribute by the Palatine Trio (Inés Voglar, violin, Nancy Ives, cello, Susan DeWitt Smith, piano) that featured the music of Portland composer Tomas Svoboda. It was webcast live from the school’s Agnes Flanagan Chapel, from which most Lewis and Clark concert streaming takes place.
This fall’s Live at Lewis and Clark programing includes includes; Lewis and Clark Orchestra Concert October 21; Faculty Chamber Players November 7; Chamber Music Salon December 5; Winter Choral Concert, December 7; Lewis and Clark Orchestra, December 9; Jazz Night, December 11 and Palatine Trio, December 14. All are webcast at 7:30 pm.
Getting the Most from Live Streaming
For many, viewing a live webcast concert at home provides an alternative to distant travel or other circumstances that might limit one’s attending performances in person. For others, it opens new opportunities to explore today’s global diversity of music given the international nature of the Internet.The home digital concert hall is probably a new experience for most readers. Knowing what to expect will help you get the most out of the webcast experience.
What’s On? There isn’t a “TV Guide” to the Internet so finding out what is available is often difficult. Live Streaming: Music is a helpful blog site linking users to music event calendars. If a listed concert is webcast, it is usually marked as “live streamed.” Some institutions may invite you to join a mailing list and then email you a program event notice just a few minutes before a show is to start. Others, like those from Lawrence University and the University of British Columbia will email you a few days in advance. Note that some institutions like the UO have a difficult time keeping their webcast calendars updated given any number of factors such as needing copyright clearance before an event can be webcast or some form wasn’t submitted until the last minute. Some venues are very good at providing information. Others need serious improvement.
Technical Quality: Most concerts are produced using high definition video and broadcast quality audio transmitted over professional streaming services. On the other hand, the quality of the increasingly popular student ensemble and recital webcasts depends upon the type of cell phone used as a camera and audio device, the strength of the WiFi connection, and the selected streaming service. Not all webcasts have the look, sound and feel of a professional TV production.
Viewing Options: Using a large screen monitor with external speakers is the best option for viewing webcasts. A tablet with headphones is a workable option. But viewing a concert on a cell phone screen is probably the least satisfactory given the device’s size and audiovisual quality.
Program Notes: Knowing what music you’re seeing and hearing onscreen is a real problem with many webcasts. Some sites provide a link to the same program notes on-site audiences receive. Some will provide informative on-screen text just as a piece is being performed. Others provide no program notes at all
On-Demand Viewing: The option of viewing a webcast later depends upon the resources an institution has for archiving video. Those schools, like PSU, that use Facebook Live automatically save their webcasts on a Facebook page. Some upload their videos to YouTube or Vimeo. Others that pay for streaming services, like Lewis and Clark, have archived videos online as part of their streaming benefits. Still others have no archive.
Universities and other venues are rapidly expanding their live stream capabilities (see short list). If you are aware of other regular live Oregon music streams of interest to ArtsWatch readers, please let us know in the comments section below. Oregon’s digital concert halls are growing busier, and their music growing fresher, all the time.
Gary Ferrington is a Senior Instructor Emeritus, Instructional Systems Technology, College of Education, University of Oregon. He is an advocate for new music and serves as project coordinator for Oregon ComposersWatch.