Chamber Music Northwest Lincoln Recital Hall Portland State University Portland Oregon

MusicWatch Monthly: Dog days in and out of doors

Waterfront festivals, touring jazz giants, and local musicians transmute summer into fall.

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We’re just about through the dog days of summer and students of all ages are preparing to go back to school. This also means that the many classical ensembles are preparing to begin their seasons. The initial excitement for the emerging summer has long faded into a renewed desperation for the sun to stay out as long as it can.

Thankfully September is for the most part still summer in this state, so there is still plenty of time for long bike rides, beach days and outdoor concerts, our favorites. 

The great outdoors

The biggest one of these is the Oregon Symphony’s annual Waterfront concert this Saturday. This will be Danzmayr’s second year on the makeshift outdoor stage, with a program of classics and bangers. They end with the obligatory 1812 Overture after proceeding through a whirlwind of famous pieces: Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Sibelius’ Finlandia, Brahms’ Hungarian Rhapsody. The lesser-known pieces deserve some attention too: I’m excited to hear them tackle the Four Dances from Ginastera’s Estancia and Celebration by Adolphus Hailstork, who’s had a few performances in Portland over the last few years.

There isn’t just the Oregon Symphony at the festival, however. Performing alongside the Oregon Symphony are musicians from Portland Youth Philharmonic, one of our most treasured institutions for the development of young musicians (alongside PYJO and MYS). Vanessa Isiguen and Tony Kalil join the symphony to sing the number “O Soave fanciulla” from Puccini’s La Bohème, both of whom are experienced in their respective roles as Mimì and Rodolfo. For Isiguen this is a preview of her upcoming performance as Mimì in Eugene Opera’s La Bohème coming up in early 2023. 

There is also a showcase of some of Portland’s best local artists from across the musical landscape. It’s always a treat to hear the loud and raucous Portland Taiko, along with the prolific cumbia group Orquestra Pacifico Tropical. The MYSfits string ensemble from the Metropolitan Youth Symphony also makes an appearance. There are also some great vocalists on the program you should know, including LaRhonda Steele and Alonzo Chadwick

I would normally say “get your tickets now!” but one of the great things about the Waterfront show is that it is free as long as you can find a decent seat. The Oregon Symphony goes on at 7 pm, but it will fill up fast so get there early and hear some great music while you wait for the main event. 

The great indoors

This weekend’s Lose Yr Mind festival signals our annual move towards the season of indoor festivals. The latest from music editor Matt Andrews goes though the best the weekend-long festival has to offer. In the meantime, check out their Spotify playlist of the artists to get a primer. 

There is also the massive and always impressive TBA Fest, hosted by PICA from the 8th to the 18th. Lindsay Costello over at VizArts Monthly has a preview of some of the goings-on. 

For our jazz heads out there, I wouldn’t miss the chance to see Billy Cobham at the Winningstad on the 15th. Cobham is one of the pioneering fusion drummers: he recorded with Miles Davis during the trumpeter’s electric period, performed in Mahavishnu Orchestra’s original lineup, and in 1973 went solo with Spectrum (still considered one of the first great fusion albums).

We are lucky to have some of the giants of jazz still touring, alongside our already-great jazz scene. Speaking of, you should also check out impressive saxophonist Steve Carrington’s quartet at the 1905 on the 16th and 17th, as well as Mike Horsfall and Dan Balmer playing at the Hoxton on the 29th

Indies and openers

While the headliners may get us out of our homes and into the clubs, the opening acts can also be a large draw. I’ve discovered some great bands opening for various bigger artists–such as my first time hearing local duo Sea Moss live when they opened for Lightning Bolt last year. So for this final section we’d like to give some shouts to the great opening acts in addition to the larger artists that are getting us hyped this month. 

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Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Portland Oregon

The Midnight Society on SE Belmont has an impressive lineup of local artists every week, providing a great opportunity to hear up-and-comers over some classic cocktails and vegetarian tapas. Some of this month’s standouts include: Tragic Lovers and Risley on the 2nd; The Hugs and Luna Vista on the 3rd; Alien Boy and Mare on the 7th; and Hollow Sidewalks on the 17th.

One of the best bands ever, Boris, comes to Revolution Hall all the way from Japan to support their incredible new album NO. Opening for them are Philly shoegaze band Nothing.

Hip-hop Week may have come to an end, but there are still plenty of great shows to attend, such as Seattle collective All Star Opera at Kelly’s Olympian on the 11th. Opening for them are Spokane rapper Jango and local emcee Mat Randol. Check out Randol’s latest album, last year’s What Are You Afraid Of?, right here: 

Mississippi Studios brings some heat this month too. On the ninth, queer indie rock band No.2 releases their third album, First Love, playing on a bigger stage once again after playing in basements and such for years–indie rock in the truest sense, not just corporate marketing speak for “pop music with guitars.” Local noise rockers Gaytheist headline for a change, performing on the 16th.

Later on in the month, on the 26th, Austin-based screamo band Portrayal of Guilt comes to Mississippi. They are a must-see if you are into the harsher side of metalcore–and yes, screamo is a real genre, a more aggressive take on emo (which itself is a more sensitive take on hardcore punk), not just a term older folks use to dismiss any music with harsh vocals.

We leave you with two of our favorite local electronic artists, Dolphin Midwives and Crystal Quartez, taking the stage at Polaris Hall on the 9th

Charles Rose is a composer, writer and sound engineer born and raised in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from Portland State University with a degree in Sonic Arts and Music Production in 2019. His piano trio Contradanza was the 2018 winner of the Chamber Music Northwest’s Young Composers Competition. He releases music on BandCamp under various aliases. In addition to composing, he is a sound engineer for chamber music group FearNoMusic and is an editor of the Portland State music journal Subito. You can find his writing at Continuousvariations.com.

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