Portland Playhouse The sounds of Afrolitical Movement Portland Oregon

News & notes: Haikus, radio, fringe fest

A Columbia Gorge haiku challenge. An interim leader for Portland Baroque Orchestra. Damien Geter and the Oregon Symphony go bicoastal. Classical jams. Oregon Fringe Festival.


View to a haiku: balsamroot and lupine at sunrise, Rowena Crest. Photo: Sharon Philpott, courtesy of Friends of the Gorge

April, in case the news slipped past you, is National Poetry Month. And April 17 is International Haiku Poetry Day. (No, ArtsWatch does not know who decrees such things, but in these cases, at least, we’re more than willing to accept them.)

Happily, Friends of the Columbia Gorge – and who along the great waterways of the Columbia River isn’t? – is springing into action to celebrate the celebrations with its third annual Spring Gorge Haiku Challenge. Anyone can enter, and in its brief life, many have. Begun in 2020 during the height of coronavirus shutdowns to keep people at least virtually in touch with the natural wonders of the Gorge, the first challenge brought 223 responses in less than a week, from as nearby as Gresham and as far away as Germany. This is how traditions begin.

So: Think Gorge, think poetry, pull out your pen, start writing. Just remember: Three lines; five syllables in the first, seven in the second, five in the third. The rules to the Challenge are pretty simple:

To submit your haiku in the challenge, you can post it on:

  • Facebook (please tag @gorgefriends)
  • Instagram (tag @gorgefriends with the hashtag #HaikuPoetryDay)
  • Twitter (tag @gorgefriends with the hashtag #HaikuPoetryDay)
  • Email it to friends@gorgefriends.org
  • All entries are due by 5 p.m. Pacific time on Thursday, April 14.

On the 17th, Friends of the Gorge’s Kassy Delgado writes, “we will share several of our favorite submissions on our website and social media channels in celebration of International Haiku Poetry Day.”


New leadership at Portland Baroque Orchestra. Veteran nonprofit leader David Pearson will join the acclaimed Baroque ensemble on April 18 as interim executive director, the orchestra announced Wednesday afternoon. Pearson’s term is expected to last up to twelve months as the orchestra conducts a search for a permanent executive leader.

Pearson is an alumnus of the Museum Leadership Institute at The Getty Museum and has held leadership posts at The Historic Trust in Vancouver, Wash., the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, and World of Speed Motorsports Museum in Wilsonville. He steps into a post held most recently by  Abigail McKee, who was PBO’s executive director for five years. She’s the new President & CEO of the Britt Music and Arts Festival, in Jacksonville, Oregon.


Dr. S. Renee Mitchell (left), writer and performer of parts of “An African American Requiem,” and composer Damien Geter. Photo: Rachel Hadiashar

Portland composer Damien Geter’s An African American Requiem is going bicoastal. At 5:50 p.m. Pacific time (8:50 p.m. Eastern time) on Saturday, May 7, All Classical Portland radio 89.9 and New York City’s WQXR 105.9 will simulcast the world-premiere performance of Geter’s work at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, by the Oregon Symphony and the African American Requiem Choir, made up of singers from Resonance Ensemble. The broadcast will also be available worldwide on allclassical.org.

The dual broadcast will be co-hosted by All Classical Portland’s Suzanne Nance and WQXR evening host Terrance McKnight. The requiem, commissioned by Resonance Ensemble, includes African American spirituals, texts from civil rights activists, poetry by Antwon Rose, and words written and performed by Portland writer and educator Dr. S. Renee Mitchell. “As a Black composer in today’s America, I feel like I’ve been writing this my entire life,” Geter said in a prepared statement. “I was hoping there would be a time we wouldn’t need this piece, but I think we always will. I hope An African American Requiem leads to important action that affects change.”


The revolution is back in business. After a two-year break because of coronavirus restrictions, Classical Revolution PDX is bringing back its indoor chamber jams – live events where anyone might drop in to play a little something classical at the open mic, maybe do some sight-reading, run through a piece thy’ve been working on, then settle back in for a brew with the crowd. It’s all very casual, yet committed. And things get rolling again 6-9 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at The Waypost, 3120 N. Williams, Ave., Portland.


Cascadia Composers A Ligeti Odyssey The Old Madeleine Church Portland Oregon
Marimbist and percussionist Jonathan Sharp will be at the Oregon Fringe Festival in Ashland to perform Ivan Trevino’s 2018 electroacoustic piece “The Warning Lights Are Blinking Red.” Photo courtesy Oregon Fringe Festival

Living on the fringe. There’s the Edinburgh Fringe festival, the Valhalla of such happenings, which takes over the streets and stages and taverns of the Scottish city every summer. There was, deep in another century, the media spectacle of “fringies,” shaggy people beyond ordinary college age who nevertheless hung around campuses in Berkeley and elsewhere, fomenting strange subversive actions and ideas among the impressionable bloom of American youth. Somewhere in Oklahoma is a surrey with a fringe on top. Peter Cook and his comedian compatriots even dared to go Beyond the Fringe. And coming up in Ashland later this month and into next is this year’s version of the Oregon Fringe Festival.

The festival, produced each spring by the Oregon Center for the Arts at Southern Oregon University, runs April 27-May 1 this year, both live and online. Its goal is to celebrate “outrageous creativity in the arts,” covering everything from improv to music to visual art to creative writing workshops. Check the link for details.

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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