MusicWatch Weekly: across the ages

Concerts span the centuries from Renaissance to 21st century sounds

Oregonians today are lucky to be able to hear live performances of music from several centuries, not just the narrow 150 year swath of Central European music that once dominated classical concerts. This week’s concert schedule includes music from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and contemporary eras—- sometimes in the same show.

Big Mouth’s Emily Lau

Big Mouth Society  has added a wonderful, welcome wild card to Oregon music. Headed by accomplished early music performer Emily Lau, the group combines theater, performance art, Renaissance, Baroque and contemporary music, and modern social concerns into singular shows that transcend standard concert format. In King of Monster Island: A Wild Memoir, Lau and another nationally renowned early musician, Tina Chancey, use viol solos, medieval music by Guillaume de Machaut, Irish hornpipes, Bosnian Sephardic tangos, “as well as juvenilia, parody, satire and a shameless reworking of tunes by Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Tom Lehrer and Flory Jagoda” to tell an eventful autobiographical tale.
Friday & Saturday, The Hallowed Halls, 4420 SE 64th Ave. Portland.

• Another ensemble that mingles ancient and modern, Dreamers’ Circus, came together, as so many happy combinations do, in a pub. Jazz pianist Nikolaj Busk had repaired to a Copenhagen bar after a concert and spotted a fiddler (Rune Tonsgaard Sorensen) and Swedish cittern (a Renaissance lute) player, Ale Carr, jamming on traditional Danish tunes. Busk joined on in the bar’s piano, and over the next decade, the trio found itself not only winning folk music awards but also working with classical music bands like Copenhagen Philharmonic and the renowned Danish String Quartet — Sorenson’s other band. His classical background, Busk’s jazz influence and Carr’s long roots in traditional folk music give the band a unique and musically vibrant place in the folk music world, as evidenced by the fact that this show is presented by Portland’s venerable classical organization Friends of Chamber Music.

Along with “classical” piano and violin, they’re liable to bust out accordion, cittern, kokle, ukulele, stomp board, clog fiddle and synthesizers. Their splendid new Rooftop Sessions album shows the band at its best. Here’s a clip of them performing with another great Swedish band, Väsen, which performs at The Shedd in Eugene next Wednesday, April 10. Read Daniel Heila’s ArtsWatch feature about their previous Oregon visit.
Sunday, The Old Church, Portland.

• Despite their name, the Tallis Scholars are far from musty or academic. Long recognized as one of the world’s finest choirs, the award-winning singers make sacred Renaissance music come alive with transparent, soaring performances that move today’s listeners. Over four decades, they’ve toured the world many times over, and won loyal audiences in previous Portland performances. This one is a greatest hits of Renaissance choral music, including Gregorio Allegri’s famous Miserere, and church classics by Josquin Des Prez, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, and Cristóbal de Morales.
Sunday, St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1716 N.W. Davis, Portland.

• In Guitarology, the latest concert in the valuable (yet free of charge!) Celebration Works Series, Portland Guitar Duo also crosses the centuries in music, tracing the development of the guitar over half a millennium of music on a collection of historic lutes and guitars.
Friday, First Presbyterian Church, 1200 SW Alder, Portland.

Monica Huggett plays French music with Portland Baroque Orchestra musicians.

Baroque

• The most familiar Baroque music is either Italian (Vivaldi, Corelli) or German (Bach, Handel). But 18th century French music has its own elegance and charm. In Leclair, Rameau, and the Age of Enlightenment, Portland Baroque Orchestra’s new chamber music series brings two superstars of Baroque music, guest harpsichordist Byron Schenkman and PBO artistic director and violinist Monica Huggett, to join veteran PBO viola da gamba master Joanna Blendulf and violinist Toma Iliev, in graceful, spirited sounds by François Couperin, Jean-Philippe Rameau, and tragically short-lived Jean-Marie Leclair.
Saturday, First Baptist Church, 1110 S.W. Taylor St. Portland.

Jefferson Baroque’s spring shows showcase the splendid music of Dresden master Jan Dismas Zelenka. University of Oregon prof Marc Vanscheeuwijck leads JBO orchestra, chorus and soloists in secular instrumentals and sacred vocal music.
Saturday, Newman United Methodist Church, 132 NE B Street, Grants Pass, and Sunday, First United Methodist Church, 175 North Main Street, Ashland.

Classical & Beyond

microphilharmonic’s concert at The Shedd includes an arrangement of Mozart’s music for his magnificent opera The Marriage of Figaro for wind ensemble. It’s one of many such arrangements made during and after his time, no doubt because the composer’s immortal melodies were too irresistible to be confined to the expensive opera stage. That’s evident in the other piece on the program, Mozart’s Serenade in c minor, composed expressly for wind instruments. Serenades at the time were often written as background music for social occasions like garden parties. But the mature Mozart was incapable of triviality even in such functional music, and this nearly symphonic score presents one memorable tune — sometimes dark and dramatic, sometimes cheery.
Sunday, The Shedd, Eugene.

• Mozart’s buddy Joseph Haydn’s sparkling keyboard concerto in D is featured in Oregon Symphony’s concerts this weekend, though played on a modern piano (by the great Emmanuel Ax) and other instruments. Going from Classical to neo-classical, Ax also stars in a rarely played 1929 Stravinsky score, Capriccio. The shows opens with a French Auber-ture, and closes with contemporary American composer John Corigliano’s first symphony, which drew much attention at its premiere for its expression of “rage and remembrance” over friends he’d lost to the then-rampant AIDS outbreak.
Saturday-Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

Portland Opera’s Thomas Cilluffo sings Tuesday.

• And if you missed hearing actual arias in the Mozart arrangement, you can compensate by attending Portland Opera resident artist tenor Thomas Cilluffo’s recital, featuring songs by Schumann, Duparc, and Neapolitan and French pieces.
Tuesday, Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Avenue, Portland.

Choral/Contemporary

Eugene Vocal Arts celebrates spring and Earth Day with contemporary songs about our environment by two of today’s hottest and most performed choral composers, Beaverton native Morten Lauridsen and California’s Eric Whitacre, plus the next generation’s most acclaimed stars, Latvia’s Eriks Esenvalds and Minnesota’s Jake Runestad, and one of Oregon’s own finest composers for voice, Portland’s Joan Szymko. The words they’ll be singing come from Sierra Club founder John Muir, the ever-amusing Ogden Nash, the great American novelist James Agee, poet Sara Teasdale, and the writer whose words about nature have inspired so many, Wendell Berry. The concert, accompanied by pianist Camilla Carter, repeats next Friday, April 12, at the UO’s Beall Concert Hall.
Sunday, Wildish Theatre, Springfield.

• The Shedd’s annual Vocal Arts Festival again features Honey Whiskey Trio: California music teachers Courtney Gasque, Ann Louise Jeffries Thaiss, and Christina Wilson. Friday’s show includes folk, bluegrass and their own original tunes, delivered with their signature ebullience. On Saturday, the group hosts local vocal ensembles Inspirational Sounds, Mind the Gap, Great Eugene Chorus, and Eugene Gleemen in an even wider-ranging songfest. The trio also runs a Thursday workshop that invites locals of any experience level to join them in shape note singing and body percussion.
Thursday-Saturday, The Shedd, Eugene.

Streaming

Portland State University: Noon concert featuring the PSU Percussion area performing their annual spring recital. Thursday, 12 noon.

Lewis And Clark College: A Choir Concert to Make Everything Better. Lewis & Clark combined choirs concert featuring Cappella Nova and Voces Auream. Katherine FitzGibbon and Brandon Brack, conductors. 3 pm Saturday.

Live From Beall Hall: Abendmusik: Samuel Kalcheim’s Doctoral Composition Recital featuring the Delgani String Quartet. 8 pm Saturday.

There’s more ageless music from across the ages happening in Oregon this week, and it’s up to you readers to tell us all about it in the comments section below.

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One Response. Have your say.

  1. bob priest says:

    I can’t possibly recommend John Corigliano’s shatteringly powerful 1st Symphony highly enough.

    A rousing thanx to the Oregon Symphony for giving us the opportunity to experience this masterpiece live.

    Don’t miss it – trust me!

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