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MusicWatch Monthly: With courage and determination

Reser Center marches forth in Beaverton; Black music still matters; "Ladies’ Night" with Third Angle.

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The big news this month is–

Okay, well, the big music in Oregon news this month is the opening of the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton. The Portland suburb has always been easy picking for jokes about its supposed cultural paucity, even if it does have a thriving Indian music scene and the coolest public library in Oregon. But now the bridge-and-tunnel crowd has turned the tables on the stodgy old Schnitz contingent with a beautiful, airy, potato-salad-funded, wood-and-glass affair on Beaverton Creek. No need to even drive: just hop on the Max Blue Line, skip the dreaded Beaverton Transit Center, and get off at the Beaverton Creek stop.

The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton opens in March. Photo by Joe Cantrell.
The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton opens in March. Photo by Joe Cantrell.

The Reser celebrates its grand opening this month with a variety of neato concerts featuring touring musicians, local talent, and in some cases both. Let’s start with the latter: a collaboration March 17-19 between Chamber Music Northwest, local dance troupe BodyVox, and Portland-loving Detroit-based wind ensemble Akropolis Quintet.

The NINETEEN*TWENTY extravaganza–four performances across three dates–celebrates the music and dance of The Roaring ‘20s (which, of course, directly preceded the Unfortunately Very Memorable ‘30s–an repeat of which we are currently enduring). Akropolis has Marc Mellits on the program, a welcome Living Composer whom they just play the hell out of, but the rest is nicely era-specific: Gershwin, Ellington, Poulenc, Satie, even a little Irving Berlin.

There are two international acts you can get excited about at The Reser. The all-women Zimbabwean a cappella quintet Nobuntu inaugurates the Center’s opening on the 8th, with the first public PRCA concert quite appropriately celebrating International Women’s Day. And Zakir Hussain–the world’s Greatest Living Percussionist (fight me, Danny Carey apologists)–performs on the 27th as one third of the trio Triveni, with “singing violinist” Kala Ramnath (a student of the great singer Pandit Jasraj) and Jayanthi Kumaresh on “Saraswati veena” (the sitar’s Southern great-grandmother).

Two beloved Portland institutions–Portland Baroque Orchestra and Portland Gay Men’s Chorus–go west for the Reser’s opening month. On the 21st, bass-baritone HIP master Jonathan Woody will shepherd PBO through cantatas by J.S. Bach and composers-who-aren’t-Bach in their Spring-Equinox-appropriate Voices Out of Darkness concert. And on the 25th and 26th, PGMC’s Learn to Fly concert features the chorus’ usual assortment of pop songs and “explores the ways in which we might feel held down and need a release.” Sounds perfect, right?

And of course it doesn’t get more local than the Beaverton Symphony Orchestra, performing their spring concert March 13. Led by maestro Travis Hatton, the BSO will perform Berlioz and Mozart and–unless they decide that it’s too problematic–a Tchaikovsky symphony. You should never pass up a chance to hear a live performance of Tchaikovsky’s fatalistic and resolute fifth–even if the second is rather obviously more appropriate.

Masks off

The other Oregon music news this month is the lifting of the indoor mask mandate, set for March 12–just in time for The Reser’s Shine The Light community celebration on the 13th. While you reflect on what a long and grueling decade the last two years have been, you might want to check on specific covid requirements for any shows you plan on attending. Every venue has its own attendance policies–boosters, negative tests, masks, hazmat suits, whatever–and in some cases these policies have been requested by the artists themselves. If in doubt, keep a mask in your pocket and remember your ABC’s: Always Be Cool.

We’d like to express our gratitude and admiration for local musician and math tutor Jordan Vale, who broke kayfabe to reveal that he is, in fact, a member of Kulululu–the greatest masked Oregon band since King Ghidora. Vale’s own project–the “theatrical funk band” Mr. Vale’s Math Class–isn’t hitting Polaris Hall in Portland until April, but you can catch them at Sam Bond’s Garage in Eugene March 19. Meanwhile, enjoy MVMC’s latest video, “Math SOS,” from their upcoming full-length We Can Help You Out, scheduled for April 8.

Six-degrees bonus: you may remember MVMC bassist Stefan Jarocki from superstar drummer-saxophonist-producer Machado Mijiga’s trio, who you can hear for free at Kelly’s Olympian on the 8th. Also at Kelly’s this month–tonight, actually, if you’re reading this on Thursday, March 3–is the long-running hit hip-hop showcase The Thesis. Headlining this month: “high femme multi-disciplinary artist” Maarquii.

If you’re in Grants Pass while reading this on Thursday, March 3, you can get a jump on all the squares and catch the March Fourth Marching Band bringing their “joy-inducing, foot-stomping, booty-shaking, soul-stirring journey that defies categorization” to the Rogue Theatre. The rest of you need to wait until the actual fourth to catch the beloved puntastic marching band at Crystal Ballroom, as the crew gets ready to head out on its 19th anniversary tour.

Black music still matters

You have two chances to hear William Grant Still’s music this month. Portland Youth Philharmonic will perform Still’s Threnody for Jean Sibelius on their, um, Russian Winter concert, which will feature one of Prokofiev’s astounding piano concertos (the first) and a Tchaikovsky symphony (once again, it’s the fifth–blame fate). Depending on how world affairs are shaping up by this Saturday, March 5, that might end up being kind of an awkward time at the Schnitz–not that such quotidian matters should keep you from supporting local young musicians. And consider this statement from PYP director David Hattner:

Sponsor
Portland Center Stage Rent Portland Oregon

The musicians, conductors, staff and board of the Portland Youth Philharmonic wish to express our sympathies and solidarity with the people of Ukraine in this moment. We are shocked and appalled by Russia’s ongoing aggression.

On March 5th, PYP will perform music by Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev. This concert was programmed nearly one year ago and has been in rehearsal since the beginning of January. The music of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev long ago became a part of the artistic heritage of the world. These works were not composed to further any political or nationalistic agenda.

PYP stands with all free people and nations as well as those striving for freedom.

The next day, Metropolitan Youth Symphony will perform more of Still’s music–his Symphony No. 1, Afro-American–at the In Characters of Fire concert on March 6. Also on the MYS program: a new work by Authentic Voice composer, recent Sunset High graduate, and current Juilliard student Rohan Srinivasan; a bit of Mozart; and local composer Andrea Reinkemeyer’s forest-fire evocation Smoulder.

Meanwhile, Ashland-based Anima Mundi Productions presents We Cannot Walk Alone, premiering seven new compositions “commissioned by Black, First Nations/Indigenous, Asian, and Latinx composers.” The seven composers: Regina Harris Baiocchi, Barbara Assiginaak, Carolina Calvache, Jasmine Barnes, Yuan-Chen Li, Miguel del Águila, and Damien Geter. The concert series consists of two different recital programs, each performed thrice up and down Interstate 5.

The first of these recitals features soprano Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas and pianist Artina McCain in Maternità, a song recital celebrating motherhood, and will be performed Thursday, March 10 at Seattle Opera Center; Sunday, March 13 at Portland State University; and Sunday, March 20 at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. The concert will be available for livestream on March 20. And watch out for the return of Imani Winds, performing the second recital in April and May at familiar venues in Portland, Ashland, and Eugene (as part of OBF).

And for four dates starting March 18, Portland Opera brings the Pulitzer-winning opera The Central Park Five to Newmark Theatre. You probably know the original story already (here’s a recap); you probably haven’t heard the music of Anthony Davis, who has also brought the infamous Amistad case and the life of Malcolm X to the stage (also his gamelan-inspired piano concerto is amazing). PO has been nailing it lately, and if this one’s anything like last year’s Geter-curated Journeys to Justice and last month’s When the Sun Comes Out then we’re probably in for another overwhelmingly compelling time.

Another world is possible

Saturday, March 6th is “Ladies’ Night” for Third Angle’s System as Object installation at Oregon Contemporary in North Portland’s notorious Kenton neighborhood. This gonzo installation can only be properly described by its creators:

The installation is the creation of Portland sound and installation artist Crystal Cortez (Quartez), sound and intermedia artist Francisco Botello, audio/visual artist Benjamin Johnson, and AAPI multi-disciplinary artist General Qu and is a complex emergent entity, slowly generating and replacing its parts over the course of a month. While the system may appear to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior, digital and real, the room contains its whole self, and is irreducible to its parts. Independent of intervention, the object transforms on its own timelines, both perceptible and imperceptible, demonstrated by various forms of audible and visual decay over this iteration of its existence. Its development in this activation is dependent on its specific location and the time it has been allowed. The object is not knowable by the sounds it generates or by its technological components, but can only be suggested indirectly by those qualities.

If you want to know what the hell all that means, hop on the Max Yellow Line and head north towards the Paul Bunyan Statue to check it out for yourself. This Saturday at 7:30, flutist (and 3A Artistic Director) Sarah Tiedemann and cellist Valdine Ritchie Mishkin celebrate International Women’s Day a bit early, with music by Reena Esmail, Lisa Neher, Linda Woody, Allison Loggins-Hull, Caroline Shaw, and Yuko Uebayashi. Go back on the 13th for percussionist Chris Whyte’s solo show Reminiscence, and again on the 20th for closing night and the installation’s “Live Deactivation.”

Also this weekend, the newly expanded Portland Percussion Group joins Ashland-based duo Caballito Negro–half of which, Terry Longshore, is part of that recent PPG expansion–for their Hammers, Sticks, Wind & Stones program, performed in Newberg (March 5, George Fox University) and Eugene (March 6, First Methodist Church). The concert’s centerpieces are two works for flute (Tessa Brinckman, the other half of Caballito Negro) and percussion: Jeff Herriott’s mythic The Stone Tapestry and Loggins-Hull’s Hammers. Yes, that’s right dear reader–you can hear music by this terrific contemporary flutist-composer twice in one weekend.

And on the same damn weekend, you should try and squeeze in Resonance Ensemble’s Abya Yala concert, March 5 & 6 at the venerable Cerimon House in Northeast Portland. Even if this were just a Nancy Ives solo concert–the composer-cellist is performing works by Mari Esabel Valverde and Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate–that would be reason enough. But no, you also get Gabriela Lena Frank’s Hombre Errante and the Abya Yala Choral Suite by Chilean-born local composer Freddy Vilches. We make no secret of our enthusiasm for this particular vocal ensemble, and for bonus points Vilches is bringing along his whole band, Matices Latin Ensemble. (Read more about the concert in Daryl Browne’s recent preview).

Post-postponement
We leave you with a reminder that the FearNoMusic Locally Sourced Sounds concert you missed in January is happening for real (knock on wood) this month. On Monday the 21st, the FNM crew will return to The Old Church for the seventh in their series of concerts showcasing composers rooted in the distinctive terroir of the good old Pacific Northwest. These are always a treat, and the usual drawback–having to go out in goddamn January–has been conveniently removed from your list of excuses.

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Editor / Correspondent | Website

Music editor Matthew Neil Andrews is a composer, writer, and alchemist specializing in the intersection of The Weird and The Beautiful. An incorrigible wanderer who spent his teens climbing mountains and his twenties driving 18-wheelers around the country, Matthew can often be found taking his nightly dérive walks all over whichever Oregon city he happens to be in. He and his music can be reached at monogeite.bandcamp.com.

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