Literary Arts Presents the Portland Book Festival Portland Oregon

Rattling the rafters in the barn

The Oregon Symphony's Zach Galatis and friends raise the roof in the kickoff show of this summer's Concerts in the Barn.


Performing in a barn gives “packed to the rafters” a whole new twist. Onstage: pianist Maria Garcia, soprano Audrey Sackett, flutist and vocalist Zach Galatis.


ON A WARM JULY EVENING in a rustic barn on a berry farm in rural Washington County, a joyful noise reached up to the darkening sky. It wasn’t mooing or neighing or the bleating of sheep. It was the ringing of a piano and flute and piccolo, and voices raised in song. And the crowd, gathered at tables scattered beneath strings of lights, was lending a happy collective ear.

The concert, on the evening of Wednesday, July 27, was the first of the second season of The Concerts at the Barn, the summer series conceived by Niel DePonte, music director of Oregon Ballet Theatre and longtime, recently retired principal percussionist of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra.

Summer concerts such as this series and Yamhill County’s Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival, which hops from winery to winery, tend to be relaxed affairs, even while the music’s taken seriously. This one, in the country setting of Butler Barn at Hoffman Farms, 22242 S.W. Scholls Ferry Road, Beaverton, was all of that. The barn will host three more concerts in the series, through August 31.

As the music soared, so did the birds, against a spray of irrigation water and a reddening sky.

This summer’s kickoff concert featured Zach Galatis, flutist and piccolo player for the Oregon Symphony, along with pianist Maria Garcia and sopranos Avery and Audrey Sackett. It was a nimble program, blending Galatis’s flute and piccolo repertoire with a touch of Broadway: The Sacketts joined Galatis singing tunes from shows by the likes of Jason Robert Brown (Songs for a New World; Parade; The Last Five Years), Pasek & Paul (Dear Evan Hansen; La La Land) and Stephen Sondheim.

“For his encore, Zach covered Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,’ again quite beautifully,” said photographer Joe Cantrell, who was on hand taking pictures from every which angle. “Meantime, that sunset, the irrigation, the crows with the flying water, it was breezy but not windy and the air there felt 15 degrees cooler than my house with its broken air conditioner.

“Niel’s hosting of the event was so charming and pleasant, it deserved mention, too. This felt down home, thoroughly professional, very high art and fun. What a lovely event! And everyone is looking forward to Nancy Ives in a couple of weeks. So, of course, am I.”

The remaining three concerts:

  • Nancy Ives, Aug. 10. The concert will feature Ives – principal cellist of the Oregon Symphony, composer, chamber music stalwart – and friends.
  • Ben Kim, Aug. 24. Kim, the pianist and Portland native who’s performed worldwide, from the Seoul Philharmonic to the Bavarian Radio Orchestra to the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, will be featured in a recital.
  • Outdoor Spectacular Double Concert, Aug. 31. Held outdoors on the lawn outside the Butler Barn, this pair of concerts will feature the Arcturus Wind Quintet in the afternoon and vocalist Susannah Mars headlining an evening show of song and jazz.

Festival founder Niel DePonte, hosting the evening.
Pianist Maria Garcia, a mainstay of the evening, with flutist Zach Galatis and an intent audience.
Galatis on piccolo.
Faces in the crowd: an evening for relaxing, sipping …
… and listening intently.
Time for singing, from left: Avery Sackett, Audrey Sackett, Zach Galatis.
Soprano Audrey Sackett, singing from the Broadway songbook.
Audrey Sackett and Galatis, sharing the microphone.
Galatis at the keyboard, in full voice.
Hail hail, the gang’s all here. From left: Avery Sackett, Maria Garcia, Audrey Sackett, Zach Galatis, Niel DePonte.
… and over the farm, the sun set on a glorious musical evening.

I spent my first 21 years in Tahlequah, Cherokee County, Oklahoma, assuming that except for a few unfortunate spots, ‘everybody’ was part Cherokee, and son of the soil. Volunteered for Vietnam because that’s what we did. After two stints, hoping to gain insight, perhaps do something constructive, I spent the next 16 years as a photojournalist in Asia, living much like the lower income urban peasants and learning a lot. Moved back to the USA in 1986, tried photojournalism and found that the most important subjects were football and basketball, never mind humankind. In 1992, age 46, I became single dad of my 3-year-old daughter and spent the next two decades working regular jobs, at which I was not very good, to keep a roof over our heads, but we made it. She’s retail sales supervisor for Sony, Los Angeles. Wowee! The VA finally acknowledged that the war had affected me badly and gave me a disability pension. I regard that as a stipend for continuing to serve humanity as I can, to use my abilities to facilitate insight and awareness, so I shoot a lot of volunteer stuff for worthy institutions and do artistic/scientific work from our Cherokee perspective well into many nights. Come along!

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