daniel daly

Oregon Music 2018: looking outward

Socially engaged sounds, multimedia productions, and other trends in 2018 Oregon music

Last year’s music roundup first looked homeward. ArtsWatch’s 2017 music coverage focused, as we have from the outset, on our state’s creative culture: music conceived and composed in Oregon. We touched a lot of other bases, too of course, and homegrown music remained a touchstone our 2018 coverage and this recap.

But as with other Oregon artists this year, Oregon music increasingly gazed outward — and often askance — at our nation’s continuing descent into turmoil, division, lies, and political corruption, starting right at the top and oozing down. Therefore, so did much of our music coverage. So we’ll start with what ArtsWatch’s David Bates called…

“Socially Engaged” sounds

Portland new music ensemble FearNoMusic and choir Resonance Ensemble devoted entire seasons to contemporary classical music that responds to today’s social issues.

Resonance Ensemble preview: questions of faith
Choral organization’s ‘Souls’ concert is part of a season-long musical exploration of timely social concerns
Brett Campbell, February 23

‘Bodies’ review: Pride is a verb
Resonance Ensemble’s Pride Week concert commemorates LGBTQIA community’s struggles and celebrates its creativity.
Matthew Andrews, August 14

Resonance Ensemble

Resonance Ensemble: amplifying ‘Hidden Voices’
Vocal ensemble’s collaborative concert features musical responses to experiences marked by racism and resistance.
Matthew Andrews, November 17

Fear No Music: music of migration and more
New music ensemble demonstrates dedication to diversity and development.
Matthew Andrews, December 10

New music ensemble Fear No Music

Other classical music organizations also presented issue-oriented new music.

Oregon Symphony reviews: immigrant songs
Fall concerts include a world premiere theatrical commission and 20th century works by immigrant American composers
Matthew Andrews, January 9

Lawrence Brownlee preview: a journey
In a Friends of Chamber Music recital, the celebrated tenor sings a Romantic classic and a new, timely composition about America’s most pressing crisis
Damien Geter, April 2

Shredding it at “Pass the Mic” camp.

Portland Meets Portland
The innovative “Pass the Mic” summer music camp pairing music pros and young refugees and immigrants will give a free concert Friday.
Friderike Heuer, July 14

David Ludwig: telling the earth’s story through music
Composer’s Chamber Music Northwest commission inspired by ancient Earth, threat of extinction from human-caused climate change.
Matthew Andrews, July 27

Gabriel Kahane’s new oratorio confronts America’s empathy deficit
Commissioned, performed and recorded this week by the Oregon Symphony, ’emergency shelter intake form’ humanizes homelessness.
Interview by Matthew Andrews, August 28

Multimedia

Besides addressing today’s social issues, another trend among some classical music organizations in 2018 was updating their presentations by augmenting music with other art forms such as theater, literature, visual arts, and more. At ArtsWatch, we try to provide constructive feedback on how these often experimental productions worked, so we can help risk-taking artists move forward into unexplored territories — without leaving the audience behind.

Fin de Cinema’s “Beauty and the Beast”: spirit of discovery
Latest mix of classic film and Portland contemporary music captures Cocteau creation’s mix of beauty and grit.
Douglas Detrick, January 23

Portland Youth Philharmonic’s Cappella PYP, Portland State choirs, and In Mulieribus perform Richard Einhorn’s ‘Voices of Light’ during a screening of Dreyer’s film Friday.

‘Voices of Light’ preview: trial by fire
Camerata PYP, In Mulieribus, Portland State University choirs perform Richard Einhorn’s popular oratorio ‘Voices of Light’ with Carl Dreyer’s 1928 film ‘The Passion of Joan of Arc.’
Brett Campbell, January 25

“Tesla” lab report
Harmonic Laboratory’s ambitious experimental multimedia performance produces mixed results.
Brett Campbell, February 6

Continues…

Setting Brecht: Daniel Daly’s new ‘Mother Courage’ music

Eugene composer creates a 21st century score for University of Oregon’s production of Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s political classic

by GARY FERRINGTON

Mother Courage and Her Children without music is like Shakespeare without poetry,” says University of Oregon theater professor Michael Malek Najjar. Though Bertolt Brecht’s 1939 anti-war play is not a musical, music is key to telling the “cautionary tale about the mendacity of capitalism dressed up as patriotism leading to war.” Najjar says the play requires military marches, piano ballads, haunting elegies and more.

For next month’s University of Oregon Theatre production of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner’s 2006 contemporary English adaptation, Najjar wanted a new score from a composer who would be “both classically trained and theatrically oriented to find a balance between the classical and contemporary musical needs of such a production.”

UO’s ‘Mother Courage’: Kattrin (Madeline Williams), Swiss Cheese (Julian Steinberg), and The Chaplain (Deshaun Valentino-Vegas) are scolded by Mother Courage (Penta Swanson). Photo: Charlianne Elsdon.

He found an ideal candidate on campus in Daniel Daly, a doctoral student in the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance composition studio with whom he had collaborated on the University Theatre’s production of Scorched.

“I have always been fascinated with his deep understanding of music, his incredible sense of how music can create dramatic mood, and his astonishingly beautiful compositional style,” Najjar explains. Unlike Scorched, which required music that underscored dramatic scenes, Mother Courage requires a composer to match their musical form to Brechtian lyrics… and adjust their own rhythms to match Brecht (and Kushner’s) idiosyncratic styles. Daniel is a great theatrical collaborator and has always created music that elevates our productions.”

Continues…