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MusicWatch Weekly: females in the foreground


Women’s History Month just passed, but fortunately, times are changing enough that Oregon performers and presenters are no longer confining half the human race’s creative accomplishments to only one-twelfth of the calendar year. Several concerts this week focus on women’s voices and stories.

Preview: The Passion According to an Unknown Witness from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Vimeo.

The Ensemble of Oregon commissioned one of Oregon’s most nationally recognized composers, University of Oregon prof Robert Kyr, to create The Passion According to an Unknown Witness. The hour-long composition retells the famous Passion story set by Bach and many others — from the point of view of the women who journeyed with Jesus in the myth, including Christ’s mom and Mary Magdalene. Musicians from 45th Parallel and Trinity Choir join Portland’s all star small vocal ensemble, featuring some of Oregon’s finest singers in this world premiere. Pre concert talk at 4 pm, concert 5 pm Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 147 NW 19th Ave, Portland.

Shirley Nanette, back in the day.

Shirley Nanette has been a prominent singer on Portland’s jazz and soul music scene for decades, with performances at national festivals, regional clubs, even with the Oregon Symphony. But like so much of the city’s African American cultural heritage, her breakthrough 1973 album, Never Coming Back, featuring some of the historically black Albina neighborhood’s top musicians of the day, sank into obscurity. Now, DJ/producer/record collector/radio host/ writer Bobby Smith, the African-American arts nonprofit World Arts Foundation, and their Albina Music Trust, are refuting the album’s title by bringing back this lost music in a live performance of the album by Nanette and the Albina Soul Revue Band, starring some of today’s top Portland soul men, who’ve played with everyone from Wynton Marsalis to Prince to Bootsy Collins to Ages and Ages.
Saturday, Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St. Portland.

Chamber Music Amici contributes to redressing American classical music’s long-standing gender imbalance with first-rate music from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, featuring music by one of today’s leading American composers, Pulitzer winner Jennifer Higdon. Her colorful 2003 Piano Trio’s movements reflect their respective titles: the beautifully placid, Aaron Copland style “Pale Yellow” and the incendiary “Fiery Red.” The concert, which includes some of the Eugene area’s top classical players, also features an absorbing 1834 string quartet by that other Mendelssohn, Fanny, whose brother Felix regarded as a talent equal to his own, and Amy Beach’s ardent, late Romantic 1938 Piano Trio.
Monday, Wildish Community Theater, Springfield.


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Spire Duo (soprano Emma Lynn and pianist Andrew Pham) kick off their Northwest tour in Astoria with songs featuring words by Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, Robert Frost and other poets, set to music by composers Benjamin Britten, André Previn, Dominick Argento, and more.
Friday, Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center, Astoria.

Spire Duo is touring the Pacific Northwest. Photo: Dominick Barbero.

Third Angle New Music plays an extended 2017 work by one of America’s leading composers, Pulitzer winner and erstwhile Northwesterner John Luther Adams, Everything That Rises, with Adams’s own lighting design. It’s a pretty otherworldly piece already, and should be even more so in the OMSI planetarium. Unfortunately both shows Wednesday and Thursday are sold out, but you can check the website for info. You can also console yourself by reading the most recent entry on 3A’s blog, featuring the concert’s cellist Avery Waite, who did a bang up job at last week’s Cascadia Composers concert on a wonderful Jack Gabel solo cello composition. Waite has a good story about more than playing music.


Contemporary music also highlights Eugene Vocal Arts’s celebration of spring and Earth Day with 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.
Friday, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon.

Chanticleer performs at Reed College.

• Of course, some concerts do put the guys front and center. Founded in San Francisco four decades ago, Chanticleer, the world’s most renowned male vocal ensemble, is celebrating its 40th season with a wide-ranging touring program of some its greatest hits, from Renaissance classics by William Byrd and Orlando di Lasso to contemporary compositions by Mason Bates and Steven Stucky and arrangements of pop and folk tunes from Ireland, Appalachia and beyond. In keeping with a forward thinking group that’s premiered more than 100 new works, this program includes a world premiere by one of America’s hottest young composers, Matthew Aucoin.
Friday, Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, 3203 SE Woodstock Boulevard.

Portland Gay Men’s Chorus again performs its “Audacity to Hope” concert, which we told you about in last week’s MusicWatch, Saturday at Newman United Methodist Church, Grants Pass.


Portland Piano International brings award winning young Italian-Austrian pianist Jonathan Ferrucci to play free recitals with music by Bach, Schubert and Ravel.
Saturday, Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, 1535 NE 17th Ave, Portland; Sunday, Pendleton Center for the Arts, 214 North Main Street.


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Sunriver Music Festival’s Piano Showcase: From Bach to Boogie to Jazz mixes rising New York jazz pianist Adam Birnbaum, boogie and blues pianist Arthur Migliazza, a member of the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame, and American classical pianist Sean Chen, a Van Cliburn competition medalist.
Friday and Saturday, Tower Theatre, Bend.

• Another Cliburn medalist, South Korean pianist Yeol Eum Son, plays preludes by Chopin and Rachmaninoff Sunday afternoon at Corvallis’s LaSells Stewart Center.

ArtsWatch’s Angela Allen had high praise for pianist Sullivan Fortner when he accompanied nonpareil jazz singer Cécile McLorin Salvant in Portland last year. Now you can hear the award winning New Orleans native with his own trio.
Thursday, The Old Church, Portland.

Teaming Up

A fascinating double bill: erstwhile Seattleite and now Montana-based trombonist-composer Naomi Moon Siegel brings her band featuring the incomparable Seattle keyboard master Wayne Horvitz plus Portland’s Tale in the Telling: Douglas Detrick on trumpet, clawhammer banjo, and voice, Mike Gamble on electric guitar and Mike Lockwood on drums.
Monday, Turn! Turn! Turn! 8 NE Killingsworth St, Portland.


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• The Oregon Mandolin Orchestra teams up with the internationally renowned Wiesenekker-Lysov Trio in a varied program that ranges from baroque and classical faves, including a Vivaldi concerto, to a contemporary Japanese piece to blues, polkas and klezmer, plus original compositions.
Saturday, The Old Church, 1422 S.W. 11th Ave., Portland.

• Percussion and flute duo Caballito Negro (flutist Tessa Brinckman and percussionist Terry Longshore) pairs up with Control Voltage (improvising electronic musician and longtime Oregon Shakespeare Festival composer Todd Barton and visual artist Bruce Bayard). The performance will take place in front of Bayard’s projected video and animation installation Triptychs as part of the exhibition Apocalypse.
Friday, Schneider Museum of Art, Ashland.

• The cheerfully undefinable world chamber music trio 3 Leg Torso joins forces with Tabor Wind Ensemble Sunday afternoon at Warner Pacific University’s Mcguire Auditorium, 2219 SE 68th Ave. Portland.

• The Oregon Symphony’s admirable annual free Concert for the Community pairs the band with Hillsboro’s Mariachi Una Voz in music of South, Central and North America, but that Saturday too is, alas, sold out, or whatever the equivalent is for a free concert that has no tickets remaining. So is Sunday’s Peter and the Wolf concert.

Väsen (nyckelharpa player Olav Johansson, guitarist Roger Tallroth and violist Mikael Marin) perform their fizzy, danceable blend of traditional and original Swedish power folk music, no doubt including tunes from their potent 2018 album Brewed. Read Daniel Heila’s ArtsWatch story about the trio’s 2017 Oregon visit.
Wednesday, The Shedd, Eugene, and Thursday, Alberta Rose Theater, Portland.


Oregon Cultural Trust


LIVE FROM BEALL HALL: TaiHei Ensemble – world music, Wednesday, April 10, 7:30 p.m. (PDT)

PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY: Noon Concert featuring the PSU Woodwind area performing their annual spring recital. Thursday, April 11, 12 noon (PDT).

LIVE FROM BEALL HALL: Eugene Vocal Arts, Friday, April 12, 7:30 p.m. (PDT)

LEWIS AND CLARK: Chambe Music Saturday, April 14, 6 p.m.  (PDT).

Got more sounds from and by musicians of any gender to recommend to ArtsWatch readers? The comments section below is open for your recommendations.

Want to read more cultural news in Oregon? Support Oregon ArtsWatch!


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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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