MusicWatch Weekly: hearing the future

Family friendly and youth-oriented concerts nurture tomorrow's musical artists -- and audiences

Music, like any other art form, must prove itself to each generation if it’s going to last. That’s why classical music and jazz organizations increasingly sponsor shows suited to kids and families, like Oregon Symphony’s Sci-Fi at the Pops shows Saturday and Sunday, OSO musicians’ free Classical Up Close concerts around the metro area this week, Eugene Concert Choir’s family friendly version of its American Style concert (see below) Saturday, and Eugene Symphony’s Sunday family concert that allows the kiddos to explore symphonic music with help from a virtually reincarnated Ludwig van Beethoven himself. And Eugene’s The Shedd offers a free jazz student ticket program to shows like Sunday’s Jazz Heritage Project concert covering tunes by Duke Ellington, Horace Silver, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Miles Davis, Harold Arlen, Billy Strayhorn, and George Gershwin, just in time to close out Jazz Appreciation Month.

FearNoMusic’s “Hearing the Future” concerts showcase music by emerging composers.

But for an art form to really remain alive and creating, we need to invest not just in teaching kids to passively “appreciate” old music — but to create new music in the classical tradition. I can’t think of a better way for the public to support music. That’s the value of FearNoMusic’s Young Composers Project, which offers Portland area students coaching from the new music ensemble’s musicians and composers to help them realize their own unique visions. FNM’s latest Hearing The Future concerts showcase 30 new works by the next generation of Oregon composers.
Sunday, Portland State University Lincoln Hall.

• Arvo Pärt’s shimmering, bell-like sacred music has won listeners far beyond contemporary classical insiders, making him the most performed living classical composer since 2010. The Estonian master’ shimmering “tintinnabuli” (bell-like) style can sound both soothing and stirring, often with an astringent quality that avoids the gooey saccharinity of much contemporary choral music, leading some to dub him a “mystical minimalist.” Since turning 80 in 2015, he’s been the subject of many tributes around the world, including Portland. In White Light: The Music of Arvo Pärt, Oregon Repertory Singers contributes its own with a performance of several of Pärt’s greatest hits: the 1990 Berlin Mass (which the choir recorded in 1993), his 1985 Te Deum (which includes string orchestra and prepared piano), and the brief a cappella work The Woman with the Alabaster Box.
Saturday and Sunday, First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson St. Jefferson St, Portland.

Oregon Repertory Singers sings music by Arvo Pärt. Photo: Allison Silverberg.

Eugene Concert Choir presents a different kind of American classical music — big band jazz and Broadway show tunes from the last century, pairing the 100 voice choir with a barbershop quartet and well known Eugene performers Vicki Brabham on piano, Evynne Hollens and her fellow Broadway singer Calvin Orlando Smith.

Portland Baroque Orchestra embarks on one of its occasional ventures outside its core early 18th century comfort zone and into the later Classical period with an all Mozart program featuring two of the composer’s greatest achievements, plus his E flat Serenade, which unleashes one memorable tune — sometimes operatic and dramatic, sometimes cheery— after another. Employing a fortepiano similar to what the composer himself might have used, specialist Eric Zivian stars in Mozart’s dark, passionate 24th piano concerto, one of the greatest of all concertos. (Read Alice Hardesty’s ArtsWatch story about the instrument.) And in his magnificent final symphony, Mozart’s final movement somehow weaves five major preceding themes into a spectacular thrill ride that’s never been equaled. Though performed here in a church and a college rather than the (perhaps) originally intended casino, this is a rare chance to hear one of humanity’s grandest artistic achievements on a relatively intimate scale and instruments similar to those the composer intended.
Friday and Saturday, First Baptist Church and Sunday, Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, Portland.

• One thing that makes Mozart’s mature music so powerful is his discovery of the music of J.S. Bach, facilitated by Bach’s youngest son Johann Christian. JC’s music along with that of his BFF Carl Friedrich Abel is the subject of Oregon Bach Collegium’s concert featuring another expert forte pianist, Margret Gries and Ann Shaffer on viola da gamba.
Sunday, United Lutheran Church, 22nd and Washington, Eugene.

PSU Guitar Series brings acclaimed guitarist Connie Sheu to play music by female composers Clarice Assad, Athenais Paulian, Ida Presti, and Annette Kruisbrink plus works by Joaquin Rodrigo, Lennox Berkeley, and Isaac Albéniz.
Saturday, Portland State University: Lincoln Hall 75.

Spire Duo features superb Eugene soprano Emma Rose Lynn and pianist Andrew T. Pham performing settings of poetry by Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, W. H. Auden, Robert Frost and more by 20th and 21st century composers composers such as André Previn, Dominick Argento (both of whom died this year), Benjamin Britten, Ned Rorem, and others. Local poet Jorah LaFleur will also read original work at the show.
Friday, Tsunami Books, Eugene.

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• Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra play glamenco fusion music Thursday at Portland’s Alberta Rose Theater.

• Buena Vista Social Club founder Juan De Marcos González’s Afro-Cuban All Stars, a dozen crack Cuban-born expatriate musicians who performed with the original BVSC members or other stars (e.g. James Brown), play danceable Cuban classics and contemporary Cuban-influenced jazz.
Saturday, the Shedd, Eugene.

Streaming

PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY: Noon Concert featuring the Jazz Studies area performing its annual spring recital. Thursday, April 25, 12 noon (PDT).

LIVE FROM BEALL HALLInternational Tuba Day. Thursday, April 25, 7:30 p.m. (PDT). Premiere performance of Sonata for Tuba (2018) by Andrew Lewinter.

LIVE FROM BEALL HALLOpera Light! Romantic Scenes from Operettas. Friday, April 26, 7 p.m.  and Sunday, April 28, 3 p.m. (PDT).

LEWIS AND CLARK:  Lewis & Clark Orchestra and Community Chorale, Voces Auream, and Cappella Nova choirs concert. Sunday, April 28, 7:30 p.m. (PDT). 

LEWIS AND CLARK:  Lewis & Clark Jazz Combos. Tuesday, April 30, 7:30 p.m. (PDT). 

LIVE FROM BEALL HALLOregon Wind Symphony (music by Yagisawa, Hisaishi, H.Arlen, Michael Daugherty) & UO Trombone Choir. Tuesday, April 30, 7:30 p.m. (PDT).

Got more Oregon live music recommendations? Tell ArtsWatch readers about them in the comments section below. You can alert us about upcoming events at music@orartswatch.org.

We’ll wave buh-bye with a dramatic excerpt from last night’s made-in-Oregon performance art by Portland rap artist and sometime hoopster Dame Dolla.

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About the author
Senior Editor | Website

Brett Campbell has been classical music editor at Willamette Week since 2008, music columnist for Eugene Weekly since 1996, and West Coast performing arts contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal since 2000. He is a frequent contributor to San Francisco Classical Voice, Oregon Quarterly, and Oregon Humanities and has also written for The Oregonian, 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. He is co-author of the biography Lou Harrison: American Musical Maverick (Indiana University Press, 2017) 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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