Summer concerts: from opera to outlaw country

Performances in Yamhill County offer something for all musical tastes

Now that the sound and fury of the Fourth of July is behind us, let’s talk live music. There’s an abundance of it in Yamhill County this summer, literally anything you yearn for: pop, blues, 70s dance rock, Latin jazz, gypsy jazz, Celtic, soul, Scottish, blues, bluegrass, folk, retro, Louisiana zydeco from the Pacific Northwest … see what I’m saying? If you live here, you don’t need to head to Portland for outdoor summer concerts, and if you live in Portland, you might check out this list to ensure that your trip to wine country aligns with great music.

Before we get to lawn-chair summer fare, let’s zero in on opera. McMinnville’s music scene this month has an 800-pound gorilla, the Aquilon Music Festival, an ambitious project organized by Anton Belov. Linfield College, where Belov has taught 11 years, serves as the center ring in an event that features two fully staged operas and a multitude of lectures, recitals, and concerts, including some at area wineries.

Portland Opera’s Opera a la Cart will serve up operatic specials du jour at Ponzi Vineyards and Argyle Winery this summer. Photo: Jonathan Ley.

Belov has assembled an impressive team of opera pros from around the United States., and many names will be familiar to aficionados: Daniel Helfgot, Byron Schenkman, Barbara Day Turner and Richard Zeller.

But many may not be — the more than 30 young artists Belov invited who are poised at the dawn of their musical careers. Some are local, while others are from beyond Oregon and have already appeared on the boards in the U.S., Europe and South America.

Dorian McCall

Dorian McCall, who will play Figaro in the festival’s concluding opera July 20-21 in Marshall Hall, has performed with Painted Sky Opera in Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Master Chorale; Portland’s Ivy Zhou has sung two seasons with the Portland Opera, in both Big Night and Faust; David Guzman studied at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music and has performed for the Weimar Bach Cantata Academy in Germany; Bronwyn Schuman is a vocal coach and collaborative pianist for the University of Calgary in Canada and this fall will attend The Juilliard School for her Master of Music in Collaborative Piano. I could go on, but you get the idea: These aren’t kids who are thinking about performing opera someday, they’re out there doing it.

You can hear all of them at 7 p.m. Friday, July 6, during the Young Artists Showcase in the Richard and Lucille Ice Auditorium in Melrose Hall at Linfield. They will sing arias, art songs, ensembles and more. Like most Aquilon events, this one’s free, although an RSVP is requested through the website.

The following night, Saturday, July 7, return at 7 p.m. to the Ice for a faculty recital, featuring arias, art songs and ensembles performed by Zeller (baritone), Hannah Penn (mezzo-soprano), Belov (baritone), William Goforth (tenor), Jeffrey Williams (baritone), Ian Pomerantz (bass-baritone), Wenwen Du (piano), Schumann (piano), Schenkman (harpsichord) and Hideki Yamaya (lute and theorbo). RSVPs requested.

On Sunday, July 8, there are actually two opportunities for opera in the area, one unaffiliated with Aquilon. Portland Opera’s Opera a la Cart lands at Ponzi Vineyards in Sherwood for a free concert from 2 to 4 p.m. Later in the afternoon, Aquilon will present The Banquet of Bacchus at Youngberg Hill a few miles west of McMinnville. Tickets were still available as of this writing through the website. “The chestnuts of the repertoire” is how Belov describes the concert, a tribute to the Roman god of agriculture, wine and fertility. The program begins at 5 p.m.

Next week, Aquilon presents “Liederabend,” at 7 p.m. July 10, at the Delkin Recital Hall in the Vivian Bull Music Center on the Linfield campus, with Schenkman leading the Aquilon singers.
C.P.E. Bach, Zelter, Reichardt, Schubert, Loewe and Beethoven are on the program. Heading into the weekend of July 13-14, we have the modern-day premiere of La Chûte de Phaëton, an opera parody that hasn’t been performed since 1694, at the Marshall Theater, 7 p.m. Tickets available through the web site, which also includes plenty of free lectures not mentioned here.

Whoops … nearly forgot: There’s more Opera a la Cart, 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 14, this one at Argyle Winery in Dundee, which has a spacious new tasting room. Admission is free.

All events above, except for the concert at Youngberg Hill and the Marshall Theatre shows, are free, and no tickets are more than $20. Given that the price of good opera seats and an evening in the city can look like a monthly car payment, this is a great opportunity to hear beautiful music and even introduce yourself and your children (yes, wineries are generally kid-friendly as long as they don’t run amok) to opera if you’ve never been. Big audiences and donations from the public will ensure that this event gets legs and continues for years to come.

Lawn chair music

McMinnville’s Parks & Recreation Department hosts the longest-running free concert series in the area. It’s held from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Tuesdays, July 10-Aug. 14, on the Linfield Green, which is the big lawn bordered by Pioneer Way on the west side and Southeast Linfield Avenue on the south. Lawn chairs and picnics are welcome, but alcohol, tobacco and pets aren’t. The lineup:

    • July 10: Ants in the Kitchen
    • July 17: The Pearls. From the park department’s website: “Last year’s crowd favorite is back for another show! Inspired by the likes of George Jones, the Eagles, the Grateful Dead, and the Everly Brothers, The Pearls have a style that blends Americana and alternative country with a bit of western swing. bluegrass, and gypsy jazz.”
    • July 24: Second Winds. This tentatively scheduled hometown favorite will actually be at Wortman Park, 2051 N.E. Lafayette Ave., while the International Pinot Noir Celebration takes over the Linfield campus. You might call to confirm: 503-435-0407.
    • July 31: SoulMates
    • Aug. 7: Sister Mercy
    • Aug. 14: Conjunto Alegre

Get thee downtown, to McMinnville …

The McMinnville Downtown Association’s live music series, moved in the last few years from a noontime affair to late afternoon into the evening, is at 5:30 p.m. Thursdays, starting July 12, in the U.S. Bank Plaza at the corner of Third and Davis streets. It runs through August. The concerts are free, but donations are accepted. Food and beverage vendors are there to serve your needs. This summer’s lineup includes a main act (listed first) and an opener. Links to all these bands are available here.

    • July 12: Golden Promise; Freddie Lamb
    • July 19: Bart Budwig & His Amperband; The Singer and the Songwriter
    • July 26: Brian Bovenizer and the New Old Stock; Val Blaha
    • Aug. 2: Cedar Teeth; Bigfoot Mojo
    • Aug. 9: The Resolectrics; Weske
    • Aug. 16: Dirty Revival; The Satellite Blooms
    • Aug. 23: Scratchdog Stringband; Bootleg Jam
    • Aug. 30: The Ben Rice Band; Lauren Sheehan

… and Newberg

Tunes on Tuesday is, relatively speaking, a new kid on the block, but one of last year’s concerts in downtown Newberg drew more than 2,000. It’s organized by Young Professionals of Yamhill County and held Tuesdays (obviously), with gates open at 5:30 p.m. for a 6:30 p.m. show in Centennial Park in front of the fabulous Chehalem Cultural Center, 415 E. Sheridan St. No outside alcohol allowed, per OLCC regs, but vendors are on hand to take care of that. Bring your own food if you like, lawn chairs, blankets, etc. “Well-behaved” dogs on a leash are welcome, although note that there’s a large expanse of concrete there that can toast their pads if it’s hot. The concerts are free. The schedule:

    • July 10: High Street (Motown, swing)
    • July 17: Dancehall Days (modern hits)
    • July 24: We Three (pop)
    • July 31: The Junebugs (folk rock)
    • Aug. 7: Ben Rice (blues, soul)
    • Aug. 14: Rae Gordon (blues, soul)
    • Aug. 21: Ty Curtis (blues)
    • Aug. 28: Hit Machine (retro hits)

Dayton Friday Nights

The little town of Dayton throws a nifty family-friendly party on Friday nights during the summer, and the concerts are held in a park with a decent playground and across the street from a retro ice cream shop. Bring lawn chairs, blankets, etc., for the 2-hour concert beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Courthouse Square Park, which — if you’ve found downtown Dayton — you literally cannot miss. The complete lineup and additional information is here:

    • July 6: Long Hard Ride (outlaw country, rock)
    • July 13: The Flextones (blend of rock, blues, country)
    • July 20: Pa’Lante (fiery salsa and Afro-Cuban rhythms)
    • July 27: Copper Ridge (upbeat, toe tappin’ outlaw country)
    • Aug. 3: Rendezvous String Band (lively mix of Irish, Scottish, and old-time Americana)
    • Aug. 10: Vintage Winds Jazz (big-band jazz ensemble)
    • Aug. 17: The Bartolotti Brothers (rockin’ blues)
    • Aug. 24: Kathy Boyd & Phoenix Rising (award-winning mix of originals and standards from bluegrass, folk, and Americana music)
    • Aug. 31: New Iberians Blues & Zydeco Band (Louisiana zydeco from the Pacific Northwest)

How’s that for musical variety? More than 20 events in July alone — and I didn’t even get to the Castleman Quartet Program at Linfield College, but I’ll get to that closer to the August event after I have more detail. I’ll take a break next week to talk to some theater people, because we’ve got a lot of plays coming our way.

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