Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Portland Oregon

Music to see otters by

Coast calendar: Cellists perform for aquarium residents; online talk about Rick Bartow; Andean music.


If 2020 has revealed anything, it’s that strange times call for creative minds, and sea otters and the symphony are certainly that. It’s a bright spot once again born out of disappointment.

Melody Lavrakas was making final plans for a youth concert with Newport elementary school students when she learned the concert, like so much else, was canceled. A day later, Lavrakas, a volunteer at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and a member of the Newport Symphony Orchestra board, began pondering how the two nonprofits might help each other. Her idea: video a pair of musicians performing at the aquarium.

It took some time to put together, but two videos of cellists Adrienne Welsh and Vicki Strauss playing Handel’s Variations on Water Music Themes outside the sea otter pool are now available: a short one (below) and a longer version here.

Hard to tell by watching what the sea otters think of the free entertainment, but aquarium marketing director Julie Woodward assures me they soaked it up.

“The sea otters really did enjoy it,” she said. “They came up and were very curious. Our curator of marine mammals was standing right next to me when they recorded it. She could tell they were very interested.”

The aquarium also has had a great response from viewers, who find the videos soothing, Woodward said.

Woodward said the symphony sent three pieces as options. “The first two were a little too slow for the otters,” she said. “I just knew if we were in front of the moon jellies, something very slow would be great. I chose that one because it had a little more to it, and I also loved that it was very water themed.”

ALSO IN NEWPORT, THE VISUAL ARTS CENTER continues its 13-week online series, Oregon Coast Art Talks. The program is presented in conjunction with the Oregon Coast Online Art Show, which has been extended indefinitely beyond its scheduled closing on Labor Day. Online events air at noon Sundays and are free. Coming up on Oct. 11, Rick Bartow: In Context, a panel discussion by Bartow estate members. Talks continue through Nov. 15.

Alex LLumiquinga will give a virtual performance of Andean music on Oct. 11.

THE NEWPORT PUBLIC LIBRARY celebrates the power of storytelling to unite communities at 3 p.m. Oct. 11 on the Newport Public Library Facebook page and the Newport Public Library YouTube channel. In Noche de Cuentos, Alex LLumiquinga will share the ancestral music, dance, and culture of the indigenous people of the Andes. The event occurs during Latino Heritage Month and is free and open to all ages.

UP THE ROAD, THE LINCOLN CITY CULTURAL Center presents a fiber arts exhibit, No Shrinking Violets, by High Fiber Diet. The exhibit in the Chessman Gallery opens with a live video tour at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, on the center’s Facebook page with Executive Director Niki Price leading the way.

THROUGH OCT. 25, MANZANITA’S HOFFMAN Center for the Arts presents 24 collaborations from this year’s Word & Image project, pairing 12 North Coast artists with 12 writers who were invited to create original work, each in response to the other. The exhibit is on display in the Hoffman Gallery, which is also offering for sale a book including each broadside and notes about the contributor’s experiences.


This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

Lori Tobias is a journalist of many years, and was a staff writer for The Oregonian for more than a decade, and a columnist and features writer for the Rocky Mountain News. Her memoir “Storm Beat – A Journalist Reports from the Oregon Coast” was published in 2020 by Oregon State University press. She is also the author of the novel Wander, winner of the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award for literary fiction and a finalist for the 2017 International Book Awards for new fiction. She lives on the Oregon Coast with her husband Chan and rescue pups Luna and Monkey.

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