Shifrin ♥ Portland

Chamber Music Northwest artistic director David Shifrin

Clarinetist David Shifrin has been artistic director of Portland’s Chamber Music Northwest for 31 years. The New York city native, Yale prof, and Connecticut resident, one of the world’s greatest classical musicians, spends five weeks here each summer and returns for several performances throughout the year. Apparently, the thrill isn’t gone.

Portland is a great city, and the program has grown along with the city. The city is substantial, but not overwhelming. It’s always been a good fit. It has the highest quality music that is very sophisticated, with a great symphony and opera. There is wonderful chamber music in the area that has been there all along. Chamber music is so flexible and adaptable to different venues. With that tradition, you know you can have an artistic end result.

OK, David, but what do you really think about Portlanders?

Our audiences are wonderful. They love the music, and they’ve been waiting for months for winter to end. It’s a winning combination. Fifteen concerts are at Reed College, so people can picnic outside…. It’s a good bet. Everyone should come visit.

Shifrin’s Portland praise appears in an interview in this week’s San Francisco Classical Voice [disclosure: I’m a frequent contributor], in conjunction with his first appearance as a guest artist at the Music at Menlo summer festival. Just what we need: more California refugees, drawn by fabulous tales of streets paved with classical music, streaming north to drive up our property values, clog our highways, and snag the best seats at the symphony. At least he added the obligatory Tom McCall closing line.

CMNW continues through July 24. The ever-affable clarinetist, who was showcased in top form in a clarinet-centric CMNW concert last week, will perform in the festival’s closing concert.

Thanks, David. The feeling is mutual.

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