PPH Passing Strange

MusicWatch Weekly: winter light


Welcome to the light edition of MusicWatch! Like everybody else, our New Years resolutions included slimming down both spending and girth. You could trim down your musical meanderings and expenses this week by confining them to the campus of Portland State University, which offers several rewarding shows, some offering free admission.

Some are part of the Portland Winter Light Festival happening around town and centered this year on the PSU campus Feb. 7-9, and including Classical Revolution PDX, Portland Opera singers, a geodesic dome, dance, vaudeville performers, and much more.

The shadows of PSU faculty musicians will be projected in the Winter Light Festival’s Ombra Musici performance

• PSU prof and violinist Tomas Cotik plays some of the most beloved Baroque hits: some of JS Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and the Winter concerto from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Thursday’s performance will be live streamed. Saturday’s performance is part of Cotik’s shadowy new project Ombra Musici, in which the colossal shadows of Cotik and other PSU faculty musicians will be projected on the walls of the PSU library as they play. He writes:

Ombra Musici is an example of something I like to call massive media: it’s a combination of architecture and media that together transform our perception of space…. The medium is video and sound, the moving image. These aspects add an element of change, of contingency, which serves to capture attention. Architecture that is normally consumed in a passive state of attention becomes a focal point…

Furthermore, the content of the projection mimics some of the earliest and simplest examples of the projected moving image, the shadowplay. Ombra Musici harkens back to the earliest beginnings of cinema and looks forward to a future of expressive architectural surfaces and a mass spatialization of cinema in urban environments.

Noon Thursday and 7 pm Saturday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University


Cascadia Composers May the Fourth

Lisa Ann Marsh’s music highlights Portland’s Winter Light Festival.

• Friday’s festival show, The Light of Music, features the music of one of Portland’s most broadly appealing composers, PSU prof Lisa Ann Marsh, plus lights, night sky images, illuminated dancing, and ice instruments. Ten guest performers and five guest artists will join Marsh on stage for a retrospective of her favorite compositions.
7:30 pm Friday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University

BRAVO Youth Orchestras annual Benefit Concert at PSU’s Lincoln Hall, features a pair of Venezuelan born musicians, Oregon Symphony and FearNoMusic fiddler Inés Voglar and cuatro (four-string guitar) master Freddy Vilches, leading performances of Venezuelan music. One of the world’s greatest Irish fiddlers, Kevin Burke, joins fellow fiddler Betsy Branch in traditional Irish music, and Portland neo-soul songwriter Blossom unleashes steel drums from her native Trinidad and Tobago, accompanied by BRAVO students. The Oregon Supreme Court’s first African-American Justice, Adrienne Nelson, will speak.
4 pm Saturday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University

• Opera-heads got all excited when soprano Audrey Luna sang the highest written note (a stratospheric A) on the Metropolitan Opera stage last year. Let’s hope that striking but gimmicky feat doesn’t define her career, because her performance in the American premiere production of Thomas Adès’ new opera The Exterminating Angel as well as in the British composer’s previous The Tempest also displayed impressive vocal versatility, compelling acting skills, and eagerness to take chances on new music rather than merely repeating the usual coloratura classic roles as so many opera stars do.

Audrey Luna teaches and sings at PSU.

Oregonians should also hope that Luna’s ascent (vocal and career) doesn’t overshadow the fact that before she sang at the world’s leading opera houses (the Met, Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera House, Lyric Opera of Chicago et al) and with major orchestras (Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic) Audrey Luna sang her first opera role right here at Portland State University: Pamina in The Magic Flute. The Salem native got her bachelor’s degree here in 2001 before moving on to conservatory, apprenticeships at US opera companies, and on to world renown. She’s returning to her alma mater to present a master class and sing a recital that features late Romantic music by Richard Strauss, symbolist sounds by Debussy, and American composer Samuel Barber’s ravishing, nostalgic Knoxville: Summer of 1915, based on James Agee’s novel.
3 pm Sunday, Lincoln Recital Hall.

• Luna is also singing arias with Portland Concert Opera next Wednesday, Feb. 13 in Agnes Flanagan Chapel at Lewis & Clark College.

• Portland Piano International recitals often happen at PSU, too, but this time, 22-year-old Italian pianist Filippo Gorini plays Bartok, Beethoven and Chopin at Resound NW, 1532 SW Jefferson St. Portland Saturday, Hood River Columbia Center for the Arts, 215 Cascade Ave, Hood River Sunday, and Providence St. Vincent Hospital, 9205 SW Barnes Rd. Portland Monday. The two PDX performances are free.

• The Oregon Mozart Players bring another piano prodigy, multiple prize-winning 21-year-old pianist Eric Lu, who’ll play Beethoven’s powerful ​Piano Concerto No. 4 with the band. The show also includes some of Mozart’s zesty German Dances and a too-rarely heard 1942 score by Igor Stravinsky, Danse Concertantes, which shows the composer in a jolly, wryly lighthearted mood. Speaking of prodigies, the Mozart Players also offer free admission to Sunday afternoon’s Young Soloist Competition at the UO’s Aasen-Hull Hall, featuring a dozen young Oregon musicians.
7:30 pm Saturday, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon


Seattle Opera Barber of Seville

Kelly Kuo leads Oregon Mozart Players Saturday.

• Still another free show in the always-free Celebration Works concert seriesintroduces the new Meadowlark ensemble featuring veteran Portland chamber musicians Janet Bebb, flute, Ann van Bever, oboe, Betsy Goy, cello, and pianist Colleen Adent. The program ranges from Baroque to contemporary, with works by Quantz, Hurnik, Dvorak, Douglas, and the premiere of a new composition by Nicole Buetti (whom ArtsWatch’s Matthew Andrews recently wrote about), The Meadowlark Begins to Sing.
Sunday, First Presbyterian Church, Portland

• Eugene’s Jazz Station hosts one of the region’s most accomplished and diverse jazz composer/keyboardists Seattle’s Wayne Horvitz. While he rose to fame on New York’s avant grade downtown music scene (along with fellow now-Seattleite and colleague Bill Frisell), Horvitz’s many musical meanderings since have been widely appealing and sometimes inspired by Northwest landscapes. This time, he’s joined by Brooklyn bassoonist (!) Sara Shoenbeck, a member of his stellar Sweeter than the Day ensemble. She’s turning her unlikely instrument into a vehicle for improvisation, bringing it a new prominence and versatility not seen since its Baroque era heyday.
Thursday, Jazz Station, Eugene.


LIVE FROM BEALL HALL: Oregon Wind Ensemble. Wednesday, February 6 at 7:30pm (PST).

PSU NOON CONCERTS: Violinist Tomas Cotik. Thursday, February 7 at 12:00pm (PST)

LIVE FROM BEALL HALL: Oregon Wind Symphony. Thursday, February 7 at 7:30pm (PST). Theme “Angels and Demons.”

Lewis and Clark College: (Anti) Valentine’s Concert with L&C choirs and cappella groups in an evening of music for lovers and haters! Friday, February 9 at 7:30pm (PST)

TAIHEI ENSEMBLE:  UO ensemble performs new music inspired by Portland’s Lan Su Chinese gardens. Tuesday, February 12 at 7:30pm


Portland Opera Puccini

There’s way more music happening in Oregon than we ever have time to mention here. Classical music fans can check out All Classical’s calendar and be sure to let our readers know about your recommendations in the comments section below.

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

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Photo Joe Cantrell

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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