CMNW Summer Festival SB FIXED #1, TP, Top

Let there be music (and tractors, too)

On a balmy July evening on a Beaverton farm, The Concerts at the Barn kicked off their summer season. For audience and musicians alike, the sights and sounds were delicious.


As evening began to fall on opening night of The Concerts in the Barn 2023, the crowd gathered in and out of the open barn, all attention on the stage.

The moon was out. The wildflowers and the tractor, too. And the musicians, husband-and-wife cellists Trevor Fitzpatrick and Marilyn DeOliveira and violist Amanda Grimm. And of course, the audience, which on this balmy July evening was so intent that … well, if you’d heard a needle drop, it might’ve been in a haystack.

On this final Wednesday in July everyone was gathered at the Butler Barn at Hoffman Farms, a 200-acre berry farm in rural Beaverton, for the opening night of this summer’s Concerts at the Barn. In its second season, the series of classical-plus-jazz-and-a bit-more concerts, the brainchild of the veteran percussion virtuoso and conductor Niel DePonte, has rapidly claimed a spot for itself on the Greater Portland summer musical calendar. Three more concerts remain, through Aug. 30.

The long and the narrow of it: a panoramic view of musicians and crowd.

Wednesday’s concert was called “You Had Me at Cel-Lo!,” and that was the order of the evening: Headliners were Fitzpatrick and DeOliveira, both cellists in the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, who were joined by Grimm, the symphony’s principal violist. A lot of other classical musicians will be on hand in the coming concerts, plus a few others, among them jazz legend Mel Brown.

The opening-night music was, of course, invigorating, ranging from Barriére to Beethoven, Popper to Wiancko to Kenji Bunch, with a liberal dash of John Lennon, Henry Mancini, Coldplay and more. But then, so was the entire evening, which took place, after all, on a working farm. The open skies, the birds and flowers and rustic barn and farm equipment and scents of berries and other growth all combined to create almost a sensory overload of pleasure, like playing a pipe organ with all the stops out. And this year the Concerts at the Barn musicians are performing on one of Oregon’s newest cultural curiosity/attractions, the mobile stage SoundsTruck NW, which can pretty much take itself anywhere it wants and set up for a show.

Photographer Joe Cantrell was on hand for opening night, capturing a sense of the place and the sounds and the enthusiasm of musicians and crowd. “Excitement was in the air, witness the aerial congestion above,” he said, referring to the light plane hanging above the moon in the photo below. “The Farm was only heightening the excitement.”

— The Editors

Everyone, it seemed, wanted in on the musical action, including the moon gazing down from the evening sky and the plane semingly hovering above the lunar surface.
Cellist Marilyn DeOliveira, leaning into the music.
Did we mention that the concert was happening on a farm?
Husband-and-wife cellists Trevor Fitzpatrick and Marilyn DeOliveira performed both solos and duets on the stage of the mobile SoundsTruck NW.
Not all of the beauty came from the musical stage. A floral chorale burst out, too.
… and then, above the field of flowers, a brightly speckled sky.
… the sky, indeed, could be the limit.
… and as the sun set over the farm and surrounding hills, the light began to disappear with the music in a softening glow. Time to call it a night, until the next concert.



All Classical Radio James Depreist

Coming up at The Barn

  • Wednesday, Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m.: “Around the World in 80 Minutes.” A grand tour (though not in a balloon) of music by some of Europe’s great composers, plus a quick zip across the ocean for a few Broadway tunes. With Martha Long, Maria Garcia, and Zach Galatis.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 23, 7:30 p.m.: “Shakespeare in Love.” Yoko Greeney and Susan Dewitt Smith perform an original multimedia version of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, plus dual-piano arrangements from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, with Niel DePonte joining on percussion.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 30, 6:30-9:15 p.m.: Outdoor Spectacular Double Concert. A season-concluding double concert: jazz master Mel Brown and his B3 Organ Group featuring vocalist Arietta Ward; and opera arias from Lark Opera.
  • Where: The Butler Barn at Hoffman Farms, 22242 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road, Beaverton.
  • Ticket and other information here.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

I spent my first 21 years in Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Oklahoma, assuming that except for a few unfortunate spots, ‘everybody’ was part Cherokee, and son of the soil. Volunteered for Vietnam because that’s what we did. After two stints, hoping to gain insight, perhaps do something constructive, I spent the next 16 years as a photojournalist in Asia, living much like the lower income urban peasants and learning a lot. Moved back to the USA in 1986, tried photojournalism and found that the most important subjects were football and basketball, never mind humankind. In 1992, age 46, I became single dad of my 3-year-old daughter and spent the next two decades working regular jobs, at which I was not very good, to keep a roof over our heads, but we made it. She’s retail sales supervisor for Sony, Los Angeles. Wowee! The VA finally acknowledged that the war had affected me badly and gave me a disability pension. I regard that as a stipend for continuing to serve humanity as I can, to use my abilities to facilitate insight and awareness, so I shoot a lot of volunteer stuff for worthy institutions and do artistic/scientific work from our Cherokee perspective well into many nights. Come along!


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