PPH Passing Strange

Music News & Notes: Good Tidings

Recent moves and kudos about 45th Parallel Universe, Third Angle New Music, Friends of Chamber Music, Cappella Romana, Tomas Cotik, and other figures in Oregon classical and jazz music.


Coty Raven Morris singing at an All Classical event. Photo by Phillip Pasteris.
Coty Raven Morris singing at an All Classical event. Photo by Phillip Pasteris.

On the Move

45th Parallel Universe named Lisa Lipton as its new executive director. Lipton brings an extensive and diverse new music advocacy resume to the position, including, since 2017, serving as executive director of the current new music-oriented incarnation of Opera Theater Oregon and of the Newport Symphony. The Portland State alumna also co-founded an earlier new music group, Contemporary Portland Orchestra Project, with Justin Ralls, and worked with the fascinating Filmusik project that paired new music with classic films. As Portland’s go-to new music clarinetist, she’s performed with various orchestras and ensembles in Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival, PDX Pop Now!, Music FestNW, Astoria Music Festival, and more. And she owns Mendelssohns classical music pub in Portland, which provides a cozy home for still more contemporary classical music.

Lipton’s full-time position, a first for 45th Parallel, is funded by a major grant from the Murdock Trust. She succeeds Ron Blessinger, who after five productive years in the position will continue to participate in programming and to perform on violin with the organization.

Lisa Lipton

• Last spring, ArtsWatch broke the story about All Classical Portland’s impending move across the Willamette River from Hampton Opera Center to downtown Portland tower. Looks like one of the radio station’s current sublessees, Friends of Chamber Music, will be going along for the ride. “They invited us to join them at KOIN Tower, continuing to sublease from them, and basically made us an offer we couldn’t refuse!,” FOCM executive director Pat Zagelow wrote in an email. “We will have about the same square footage as we have now, but the new space will be laid out more efficiently for our needs. And some of our offices will actually have windows to the outside — not something we have had for the last 10 years! We’re excited about contributing to the revitalization of downtown in this way, plus, we’ll be even closer to our main concert venue at Lincoln Hall. [All Classical Radio] have been great landlords and we’re looking forward to continuing our relationship with them in the KOIN Tower.” 

• Carissa Burkett has resigned as Third Angle New Music Executive Director to take the same role at North Pole Studio. In a statement, 3A Board of Directors Interim Co-chair Chritine Liu said Burkett “led the growth of financial support from increased state and national granting organizations and brought support from several foundations new to Third Angle including a recent grant from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust funding a new production manager position.”

Burkett came to the new music organization two years ago from the visual arts world, and will be returning to that world with the Northwest Portland studio, which provides “supported art studio space for neurodiverse artists to connect and create.” 

Eugene Symphony named Dave Moss as its new Executive Director, succeeding Scott Freck. Moss, also a freelance classical and pop music violist, comes from the top leadership position at the Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra, and before that, Chicago’s Haymarket Opera.

• The great Portland-based Irish fiddler Kevin Burke has been spending a lot of time in his other home, a 120-year-old traditional cottage in County Mayo in the West of Ireland. One result is a new video series, Music from an Irish Cottage, featuring the erstwhile Bothy Band fiddler jamming and jawing with some of Ireland’s leading traditional musicians, including members of Solas, the Waterboys, Lunasa, and Dervish. 


Portland Opera Puccini

• Portland State University music prof and award-winning violinist Tomás Cotik is spending his sabbatical year in Spain, courtesy of a Fulbright Grant, where he’s “exploring a repertoire of folk-and popular-inspired classical works from the wider Hispanic sphere,” according to a story form the University of Miami, where he received his doctorate. He’s teaching master classes at universities and conservatories in Madrid, Barcelona, and Zaragoza, while learning new repertoire from the region and creating new projects stemming from his interests in Baroque music and the works of the late fellow Argentinian musician Astor Piazzolla. 

One of those projects, Música AR 3D, “an augmented reality, three-dimensional musical performance available to anyone with a smartphone,” he wrote in an announcement, allows “the audience to walk around and see the presentation from different angles and distances. Check it out:

• Cotik’s faculty colleague Hamilton Cheifetz has been named the university’s inaugural Florestan Professor of Cello, a new faculty position funded by an anonymous donor/admirer. Cheifetz co-founded (in 1977) and continues to play in the eponymous trio. He also created and teaches in Friends of Chamber Music’s Inside Chamber Music, a popular history/explanatory class for anyone interested in the subject, and the school’s String Ensemble Community Outreach (SECO) program, in which student chamber music ensembles perform for communities who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience live classical music, such as people who are incarcerated and those living in retirement communities.

• Acclaimed and very busy composer Damien Geter has left Portland for a new home in Chicago, but remains deeply involved in Oregon music in his roles as Co-Artistic Advisor of Resonance Ensemble and Interim Music Director & Artistic Advisor of Portland Opera.

• Grammy winning trumpeter Chris Botti may hail from bikeable, walkable Portland, where he got his start as a teenager in the city’s jazz clubs and Mount Hood Community College. But now that he’s in LA, the Blue Note recording artist has become a car guy who owns two Porsches and a McLaren, and a home in a “private racetrack community.” Playing with pop stars like Sting, Lady Gaga, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell, topping the jazz charts four times, and selling out shows around the world will pay for a lot of gas. Unfortunately for Oregon fans, the closest his next tour comes to Portland is an eight-show January run in Seattle.


• Lakeridge High School sophomore Elaina Stuppler has been selected as a YoungArts 2024 winner in two categories: Voice/Singer-Songwriter & Classical Music/Composition. She was selected from among more than 9,000 applicants for awards in ten categories. The 42-year-old national foundation provides space, funding, mentorship, professional development and community throughout artists’ careers.

Earlier this fall, Stuppler performed on trombone at Australia’s iconic Sydney Opera House after she was chosen from among nearly 10,000 applicants for the High School Honors Performance Series. Along with that award for performance skills, she’s also placed first in songwriting competitions sponsored by the Music Teachers National Association (Oregon state winner for her composition, “Mode Midnight”) and National Federation of Music Clubs. 


PPH Passing Strange

Stuppler was also one of six young American composers named a Luna Composition Lab Fellow. The prestigious program (which in 2017 also chose another Oregon musician, Caleb Palka) offers a year-long mentorship from prominent composers, including workshops and participation in a week-long music festival, which featured the world premiere of Stuppler’s composition, “Waluga,” at the Mannes School of Music. A recording is available on New Moons I: Music From Luna Composition Lab 2023.

Currently co-principal trombonist of the Portland Youth Philharmonic (which she’ll be performing with in its annual, highly recommended Dec. 26 Concert-at-Christmas), Stuppler has also participated in FearNoMusic’s Young Composers Project, Oregon All-State Jazz Band (which she’ll perform with at Eugene’s Holt Center January 13) and All-Northwest Honor Band, and Metropolitan Youth Symphony. Third Angle New Music flutist Sarah Tiedemann will premiere Stuppler’s Inferno at her January 25 solo recital.

 “I am appreciative of the amazing music programs offered in school and through the Portland Youth Philharmonic, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and the Young Composers Project,” Stuppler says. “These organizations provide so many incredible mentors and ways to connect young musicians!”

• Speaking of All Classical Portland, new station on-air host Coty Raven Morris has been named a top-10 finalist (out of more than 2,000 nominees) for the Music Educator Award, presented by the Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum. The prize “recogniz[es] those who have made a significant and lasting contribution to their field, and have demonstrated a commitment to the cause of fostering music education in the schools.”

The former choir director is also (deep breath here) featured author for All Classical Radio’s Arts Blog, contributor to ICAN Radio, All Classical’s 24-hour arts and music network for children, their families, caregivers, and educators, and Hinckley Assistant Professor of Music Education and Social Justice at Portland State University. She is the Northwest Choral representative for the National Association for Music Education, Community Choir Chair for the Northwest region of the American Choral Directors Association, and founder of Being Human Together, a community rooted in music education striving to normalize difficult topics – like mental health, systemic oppression, diversity, and inclusivity – through conversation and connection. Somehow she also finds time to sing with Mirabai, “a professional women’s ensemble that aims to enhance the artistic expectations of women’s choral singing by connecting powerful music of women, past and present.” 

• Portland vocal ensemble par excellence Cappella Romana received the Archon Sophia Award for Excellence, presented at a New York conference by the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate “in gratitude to Cappella Romana which passionately connects new Rome-Constantinople, and its Slavic Commonwealth as well as the medieval Greek concept of the Roman Oikoumene, embracing Rome and Western Europe,” according to CR, which performed at the conference in October.

The organization also recently published two books by longtime member, cantor and educator John Michael Boyer. Sun of Justice: Byzantine Chant for the Nativity of Our Lord collects all the Christmas season’s music, in English, for the first time in one hardcover volume, just in time to stuff a (capacious) stocking. Boyer’s Byzantine Chant: The Received Tradition – A Lesson Book  is a “manual for the notation, theory, terminology, and repertoire of the historic ecclesiastical music of the Greek Orthodox Church.


Seattle Opera Barber of Seville

Finally, in this season of giving, consider a contribution to Cadence magazine, one of the most valuable chronicles of jazz and other improvised music since its birth in 1976, which is published by Portland pianist, jazz musician and author David Haney. The magazine just reached its modest pandemic-debt-relief fundraising goal on, appropriately, Thanksgiving Day, but could certainly use more help to keep telling stories about contemporary creative music. Contribute here.

Information mostly supplied by the subjects. Got more news about Oregon music? Let us know at music@orartswatch.org.

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Brett Campbell is a frequent contributor to The Oregonian, San Francisco Classical Voice, Oregon Quarterly, and Oregon Humanities. He has been classical music editor at Willamette Week, music columnist for Eugene Weekly, and West Coast performing arts contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal, and has also written for Portland Monthly, West: The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Salon, Musical America and many other publications. He is a former editor of Oregon Quarterly and The Texas Observer, a recipient of arts journalism fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (Columbia University), the Getty/Annenberg Foundation (University of Southern California) and the Eugene O’Neill Center (Connecticut). He is co-author of the biography Lou Harrison: American Musical Maverick (Indiana University Press, 2017) and several plays, and has taught news and feature writing, editing and magazine publishing at the University of Oregon School of Journalism & Communication and Portland State University.

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