Newport Symphony Orchestra

Music to see otters by

Coast calendar: Cellists perform for Oregon Coast Aquarium residents; online talk about Rick Bartow; Andean music; fiber arts; and pairing words and images

If 2020 has revealed anything, it’s that strange times call for creative minds, and sea otters and the symphony are certainly that. It’s a bright spot once again born out of disappointment.

Melody Lavrakas was making final plans for a youth concert with Newport elementary school students when she learned the concert, like so much else, was canceled. A day later, Lavrakas, a volunteer at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and a member of the Newport Symphony Orchestra board, began pondering how the two nonprofits might help each other. Her idea: video a pair of musicians performing at the aquarium.

It took some time to put together, but two videos of cellists Adrienne Welsh and Vicki Strauss playing Handel’s Variations on Water Music Themes outside the sea otter pool are now available: a short one (below) and a longer version here.

Hard to tell by watching what the sea otters think of the free entertainment, but aquarium marketing director Julie Woodward assures me they soaked it up.

“The sea otters really did enjoy it,” she said. “They came up and were very curious. Our curator of marine mammals was standing right next to me when they recorded it. She could tell they were very interested.”

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And the band plays on

The Newport Symphony Orchestra has to forgo its traditional July Fourth concert but will keep the patriotic spirit alive with an encore broadcast from 2017

Along with fireworks and gatherings of family and friends, the Fourth of July in Newport means the traditional free concert by the Newport Symphony Orchestra. This year, there will no community-hosted fireworks and private gatherings are limited to 10, but the concert will go on — just a little differently.

Instead of a live performance, the concert will be an encore broadcast of the orchestra’s 2017 concert. It will air at 4 p.m. on KNPT AM 1310 and KYTE FM 102.7. That evening, from 7 to 10 p.m., the concert, along with a photo montage of previous July Fourth concerts, will be available for streaming at NewportSymphony.org.

Under the growling gaze of the Newport Middle School mascot, Conductor Adam Flatt leads the Newport Symphony Orchesstra during the 2017 Fourth of July concert. The performance will be broadcast Saturday in lieu of a live event. Photo courtesy: Newport Symphony Orchestra
Under the growling gaze of the Newport Middle School mascot, Conductor Adam Flatt leads the Newport Symphony Orchesstra during the 2017 Fourth of July concert. The performance will be broadcast Saturday in lieu of a live event. Photo courtesy: Newport Symphony Orchestra

Don Nelson, executive director of the orchestra, described the music as all-American, “a rousing concert” including popular annual salutes to the Armed Forces and members of the Newport fishing fleet.

“It’s great, happy, upbeat music that keeps your soul going and enhances everybody’s positiveness,” said Nelson, who moved to Newport in October from Stockton, Calif. “People have said they are excited they will be able to hear it. Many are sad that we can’t have the actual concert, but they are very pleased that they can listen to this incredible orchestra. The quality of the musicians in a small area like this is unbelievable.”

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Things begin to stir at the Coast

In Newport, films will be shown outdoors and symphony members play online, while the Lincoln City Cultural Center has reopened to the public

The Newport Performing Arts Center remains dark, but that doesn’t mean nothing is going on.

Friday, June 5, marks the start of the PAC Picture Show. Due to licensing restrictions that I don’t quite understand, the Performing Arts Center cannot reveal what the coming films are, beyond describing them as nostalgic, but you can find the titles by going to the website.

The films will be shown outdoors in socially distanced “Parking Lot Theatre style” at the Performing Arts Center on Friday and Saturday nights. The sound is broadcast via FM radio, so you’ll need a working FM radio if you want to hear the film. A $15 donation is requested for admission, which guarantees a parking spot. Space for SUVs, trucks, vans, and minivans is very limited, organizers say, so best if you can drive a smaller vehicle.

The picture show is sponsored by the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, which is also sponsoring the ongoing online art show at the Visual Arts Center.  

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MusicWatch Monthly: A harvest feast

Stay warm with a smorgasbord of chamber music, choral music and art songs, and orchestras aplenty

Music for chambers

This weekend, Sunday the 3rd, local cellist Diane Chaplin brings her solo show Il Violoncello Capriccioso to Weisenbloom House, a lovely little salon in Southeast Portland. The present author first encountered Chaplin in 2011, when she joined Lewis & Clark gamelan Venerable Showers of Beauty for a performance of Lou Harrison’s deliriously melodic hybrid masterpiece Double Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Javanese Gamelan. Chaplin spends most of her time playing with Portland Cello Project and The Unpresidented Brass Band, but she just got back from a summer in Italy and she’s ready to show off her evening of cappricios by Klengel, Piatti, and Cambini, along with Ernest Bloch’s Suite No. 3 and works by Alan Chaplin, Michal Stahel, and Aaron Minsky.

Local classical organization Friends of Chamber Music, as their name implies, specializes in inviting established chamber ensembles and soloists to perform in Portland. Last month, it was Swedish soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, and you can read Katie Taylor’s take on that fine performance right here.

This month, FOCM brings the Danish String Quartet to Portland State’s Lincoln Performance Hall for two evenings of Bach, Beethoven, Schnittke, Shostakovich, and Webern on November 4th & 5th. Despite the lack of contemporary composers, that’s a pretty nice program: miscellaneous Bach (including a Well-Tempered Clavier arrangement done by Mozart in a fit of enthusiastic reverence) and two rather Bachish late Beethoven quartets (127 and 135) provide the traditionalist foundation; Webern’s austere and terrifying pre-serial quartet of 1905 and Schnittke’s thorny, polystilistic third quartet provide contrarian modernist counterpoint. Snuggled morbidly between them, Shosty’s moribund final quartet.

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The gift(s) of David Ogden Stiers

The late "M*A*S*H" star, who lived in Newport, took an active role in the Oregon coast's cultural life. After his death in March, he kept on giving.

NEWPORT – Two months after his death, the generosity for which the actor and musician David Ogden Stiers was known in this central Oregon coast community continues.

The 75-year-old Stiers died March 3 of bladder cancer at his home in Newport. A well-known national figure at home in this small coastal town, he was best-known for his role as the stuffy Major Charles Emerson Winchester III in the TV series M*A*S*H, for which he was twice nominated for an Emmy Award. He was also a stage actor, debuting on Broadway in 1973 in productions of Chekhov’s The Three Sisters and as Peachum in The Threepenny Opera, and a frequent voice for animated film characters, including the Disney hit Lilo and Stitch and as Cogsworth, the imperious talking clock, in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

David Ogden Stiers (left) with Alan Alda in a 1980 episode of “M*A*S*H.” 20th Century Fox

Stiers didn’t just live in Newport, he took an active part in the central coast’s cultural life, and his last will and testament reveals some of the many ways his influence continues. Filed April 17 in Lincoln County Circuit Court, it details numerous donations to nonprofit organizations. He left his collection of CDs and DVDs to the Newport Public Library and his collection of audio recordings (LPs and 78s), his wine collection, artwork and pen collection to the Newport Symphony Orchestra, which he often conducted. He also gave $50,000 each to the Southern Poverty Law Center; My Sisters’ Place; Samaritan House, Inc.; the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts; and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Lincoln County, as well as $50,000 to the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore to establish a scholarship program for persons planning a career in politics.

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