Curtis Salgado

Chamber music comes out to play

ArtsWatch Weekly: Chamber Music Northwest enters the concert hall, shakeup at OBT, Black & beautiful in Newberg, "Frida" rocks, Waterfront Blues Fest, "Summer of Soul"

THE SCENE WAS FAMILIAR, ALTHOUGH IT HAD BEEN WELL MORE THAN A YEAR since I’d been inside a concert hall. Yet there I was, on Wednesday morning, sitting inside Kaul Auditorium at Reed College for the first open rehearsal of Chamber Music Northwest‘s 2021 season, which begins officially tonight with a concert by the East Coast Chamber Orchestra and CMNW’s new artistic leaders, the married team of pianist Gloria Chien and violinist Soovin Kim.

Oh, sure, there were differences from the Before Times. The mostly older audience filed in at a social distance after first signing in with their names and telephone numbers (for contact tracing, just in case) and taking seats in little separated pods of two or three chairs. And everyone except the musicians – all of whom were fully vaccinated, as were, presumably, most of the crowd – was wearing a mask. There was no stink, as far as I could smell, about the precautionary requirement. It would have been difficult not to notice the sheer pleasure of the audience – and its attentiveness. This was, despite its modest size, something of a coming-out party; a grand reopening. After all these months, to be sitting inside a concert hall, listening to great music performed by highly skilled musicians, in real time and real space! Everyone, or so it seemed, was here not out of obligation but desire.

Chamber Music Northwest’s first open rehearsal of the new season: getting into the swing of some early Mendelssohn. Oregon ArtsWatch photo

There was familiarity, too, in the onstage pre-rehearsal scene. A goodly amount of woodshedding. A musician or two checking phones. A stoic stare into the distance. A finger-loosening run or two up and down the keyboard. Even a pre-rehearsal (and presumably post-coffee) yawn. Everyone except the cellos standing. Because this was a rehearsal, a proliferation of casual clothes, from jeans and T-shirts to sundresses and pantsuits and even a little black dress. All of the pre-show rituals and routines that performers use to shake out of one reality and into that rigorously focused reality beyond: sixteen voices, preparing to become one.


In the Frame 3: Lens on artists

K.B. Dixon continues his photographic portraiture series with images of Oregon arts and cultural leaders

Text and Photographs by K.B. Dixon

Photography essentially began as the art of portraiture. With the daguerreotype the portrait—previously painted and available only to an aristocratic few—became relatively inexpensive and available to everyone. John Szarkowski, the legendary director, curator, and poohbah-emeritus at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, noted in Looking at Photographs (his survey of the museum’s extensive collection) that “of the countless thousands of daguerreotypes that survive, not one in a hundred shows a building or a waterfall or a street scene.” What they show is “an endless parade of ancestors.”

The portraits here are part of an ongoing project titled In the Frame—a parade not of ancestors, but of the talented and dedicated people who have made significant contributions to the art, character, and culture of this city and state.

As with the previous portraits in this series, I have tried to produce a decent photograph—a photograph that acknowledges the medium’s allegiance to reality; that preserves for myself and others a unique and honest sense of the subject; that provides the viewer additional context that enriches, however infinitesimally, the viewer’s experience, understanding, and appreciation of the work these people have done and are doing.

Taken in situ—that is, in the subject’s natural habitat—these are not formal portraits but casual ones, portraits that rely on a mystical synthesis of time, light, form, and feeling. No assistants, studio lights, make-up artists, hair stylists, set designers, costumers, animal handlers, or Photoshop retouchers were involved.



Kim Stafford

Oregon’s Poet Laureate. Director of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College.


Waterfront Blues Festival: Day 2

Photographer Joe Cantrell captures the sights and sounds of the sprawling blues party as it swings toward Saturday's finale

Photographs and Story by Joe Cantrell

The 4th of July with fireworks draws crowds big enough for the fire marshal to shut down the entrances, and that has traditionally been the last of the Waterfront Blues Festival. But this year it was the first day, and Thursday, hotter and a workday to boot, should have been more sparsely attended. Through the day, it was. Lots of nice people still, but quieter.

Come the end of the workday and afternoon sun, lots of company arrived. Until a couple of years ago, people could stroll in without contributing anything at all. Privilege as an epithet; sleek well-groomed families cruising through the gates without glancing at the volunteers there to accept donations, claiming the suburban lawn territory of their personal tarps. They were ironically displacing later arrivals who did bring contributions but couldn’t get in because of the crowd size limit, especially on fireworks night. This was one of the dilemmas faced by the Food Bank, bless their hearts, but this year, everybody had to have a ticket. Bless the tickets, too; it’s a happier overall place.

See Photo First: glorious blue Fourth, Joe Cantrell’s photographs and essay on the Waterfront Blues Festival’s opening day, July 4.

The acts rotate among four stages, riverboat performances, and after-hours gigs in nearby venues. Many are superb, some not quite. All emotionally connect with the fans (see yesterday’s scribble on music festival as catalyst). The Blues Festival continues today (Friday) and tomorrow. Good-hearted person, you are part of it, whether you’re there or not. Better you be there.


Kid Ramos, on the Main Stage.