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MusicWatch Weekly: female gaze

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Women: bad, deceptive, must be tamed. Seeking knowledge: bad, dangerous to entrenched power. Blind obedience: good.

That’s how a certain sexist serial Twit might regard the Adam & Eve myth, which describes original sin, all right — by a misogynistic patriarchy against half the human race. And it does go a long way to explain why we’ve struggled for millennia in a culture that demeans both women and the pursuit of knowledge. A concert on Friday at southeast Portland’s TaborSpace resists Adam & Eve myth-ogeny via San Francisco composer Jake Heggie’s 1996 song cycle Eve Song , which retells the tale from Eve’s modern, feminist perspective. Heggie, best known for his opera Dead Man Walking, sets Philip Littell’s variously angry, funny, joyous texts to a half-hour of diverse music ranging from lullaby to operatic aria, ballad, and Kurt Weill parody.

Image from forthcoming “Eve Songs” film. Photo: Diana Powe.

EveSong Project’s show raises funds (you can help!) for an original, made-in-Oregon film version of Eve Song produced by Disability Arts and Culture Project, Inclusive Arts Vibe Dance Company and Divergent Opera, which strives to make opera more accessible through diverse casting and rethinking traditional performance practices. Classical singers Jena Viemeister and Vakare Petroliunaite sing in dialogue as Eve and Lilith, Adam’s first wife/demon. Pianists Kira Whiting and Rebecca Stager accompany them in Heggie’s songs as well as music by Eugene composer Susanna Payne-Passmore, and Prayers from the Ark, Vermont composer Gwyneth Walker’s charming 2011 mini-opera setting poet Carmen Bernos de Gasztold’s ten little requests from various animals (cat, bird, goldfish, et al) aboard Noah’s Ark.


The 3rd Annual SHOCK OPERA TEASER (2018) from Guignol Fest on Vimeo.

Speaking of gender-bending singing (which we will do much more of next week in this space), how about an opera based on the career of OG cock-rocker Alice Cooper? Shock Opera: An Alice Cooper Story happens this weekend at Portland’s Paris Theater.

And speaking of women rewriting stereotypical female roles, check out  the Ingenue’s Revenge, which ArtsWatch’s Marty Hughley describes as “a cabaret revue that puts forward a classic character type but asks the potent question: What happens when that sweet young thing starts to lose her innocence and reclaim her power? Answering through an array of classic and contemporary showtunes will be Sarah DeGrave, Caitlin Brooke and the ever-dynamic Cassi Q. Kohl.”

Still another female-centric original opera, Tango of the White Gardenia, premieres this weekend at Lincoln City Cultural Center. Read Gary Ferrington’s ArtsWatch preview of this Cascadia Concert Opera production.

Think “DJ” or “sound artist” and many will assume “dude.” TBA Festival’s SI performance (in partnership with that valuable Portland arts space) Friday night featuring sound artists The Creatrix ( from San Francisco), Isabella (Boston), and Decorum (PDX), proves otherwise, with S1 DJs adding to the vibe.

Hunter Noack performing outside. Photo: Joseph Ash.

This time of year, we Oregonians often choose outdoor landscapes over indoor soundscapes. But with Hunter Noack’s In a Landscape: Classical Music in the Wild, we don’t have to! You can hear him play classical and contemporary music on his Steinway, with wireless headphones to make it feel more intimate if you like — in a number of alluring alfresco locales around the state this week, including Smith Rock State Park Wednesday, Sunriver Resort Thursday, and Eugene’s Mount Pisgah Arboretum Tuesday. Read my ArtsWatch profile of Noack and his peripatetic pianistic project.

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If you trusted the Force to guarantee you tickets to the Oregon Symphony performing John Williams’s score to Star Wars: A New Hope in Concert Saturday, fahgeddaboudit. Tickets remain for Friday and Sunday’s shows at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, but who knows for how long.

Speaking of sellouts, the unique Mexican classical guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela’s signature blend of nu-flamenco, rock, and even unplugged metal (including epic Led Zep covers) appeals to wide variety of music fans, which explains why Wednesday’s Portland show is sold out. But at this writing, next Tuesday’s show at Eugene’s McDonald Theatre still has tickets available for the duo, who reached stardom by 2007, selling out arenas from Sydney Opera House to the Hollywood Bowl to the White House (back when Mexicans were allowed there), scoring films like one of the Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, and reaching wide audiences way beyond flamenco fans.

There’s other Latino music available at Saturday at Portland’s Milagro Theater when Costa Rican singer/songwriter Humberto Vargas plays ballads, boleros, tambitos, tangos, South American zambas, joropos and more, accompanied by Metropolitan Youth Symphony music director Raúl Gómez on violin, and at Friday’s downtown Eugene Fiesta Cultural, with Los Cumbiamberos at 6 pm and Son de Cuba at 7:30. And the ethereal Argentine chanteuse Juana Molina brings her mesmerizing, electronics-driven Bjork-meets-Sade grooves to Portland’s Revolution Hall on Tuesday.

Across the big river, on Sunday at Vancouver’s Kiggins Theatre, chamber music mavens can catch pianist Dimitri Zhgenti and Vancouver Symphony Orchestra musicians playing Symphonic Etudes by by Schumann, preludes by Sergei Rachmaninoff, bagatelles by Finzi, and virtuoso selections for violin and piano.

And if you’ve been itching to apply your newly acquired knowledge of Indian music gleaned from Matthew Andrews’s recent Kalakendra story/primer, you’ll have your chance Sunday when the Indian music presenters bring Hindustani classical music masters Chiradip Sarkar (santoor), Pankaj Mishra (sarangi) and Abhishek Basu (tabla) to Portland’s Old Church Concert Hall, a chance to hear stringed instruments not often encountered on this side of the planet.

Surely we missed something musically compelling on this week’s Oregon music schedule. Let us know in the comments section below.

Want to read more about Oregon music? Support Oregon ArtsWatch!
Want to learn more about contemporary Oregon classical music? Check out Oregon ComposersWatch.

About the author
Senior Editor | Website

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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One Response

  1. The Oregon Symphony performed Gabriel Kahane’s “emergency shelter intake form” for recording on Friday, August 31 — house looked to be 97% full. Standing ovations.

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