portland concert opera

ArtsWatch Year in Music 2017

ArtsWatch chronicles a year that showcased women's music, natural inspirations, and institutional evolution

Oregon music is surging, and this year, Oregon ArtsWatch has been your personal surfboard to keep you on top of the tide instead of inundated by it. And to bring you views of the powerful creative forces beneath the waves. This roundup is in no way a comprehensive or even representative sample of the dozens and dozens of music-related previews, reviews, features, interviews, profiles, and more we presented in 2017. Instead, we’ve chosen mostly stories whose value transcends a particular concert, leaned toward Oregon rather than national artists (who can get plenty of press elsewhere), favored music by today’s American composers instead of long-dead Europeans, and tried to represent a variety of voices and approaches. We hope this roundup gives a valuable snapshot of an eventful, fruitful moment in Oregon’s musical culture.

Homegrown Sounds

Although we also write about jazz and other improvised music and other hard-to-classify sounds, ArtsWatch’s primary musical focus has always been contemporary “classical” (a term we’d love to replace with something more accurate) composition by Oregon composers, and this year presented a richer tapestry than ever. As always, Cascadia Composers led the way in presenting new Oregon music in the classical tradition, but others including FearNoMusic, Third Angle New Music, the University of Oregon and even new entities like Burn After Listening also shared homegrown sounds. ArtsWatch readers learned about those shows and composers from accomplished veterans like Kenji Bunch to emerging voices such as Justin Ralls.

Wright, Brugh, Clifford, Safar, and ?? play with toys at Cascadia Composers’ Cuba concert.

Cascadia Composers and Crazy Jane fall concerts: Spanning the spectrum
Quartet of concerts reveals rich diversity in contemporary Oregon classical — or is that ‘classical’ ? — Music. JANUARY 20 MATTHEW ANDREWS.

Kenji Bunch: Seeing the Elephant
After returning to home ground, the Portland composer’s career blossoms with commissions from the Oregon Symphony and Eugene Ballet. MARCH 7 BRETT CAMPBELL.

45th Parallel preview: from conflict to collaboration
ArtsWatch review provokes contention, then cooperation as ensemble invites writer to co-curate a concert featuring music by young Oregon composers. MARCH 29  BRETT CAMPBELL. Also read Maria Choban’s review: 45th Parallel review: Horror show .

Burn After Listening: Stacy Phillips, Lisa Ann Marsh, Jennifer Wright.

‘Fire and Ice’ preview: accessible adventure
New Portland composers’ collective’s debut performance includes aerial dance, sculpture, poetry, icy instruments — and a close connection to audiences. APRIL 27 BRETT CAMPBELL

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Portland Concert Opera preview: up close and personal

New company's performances in intimate spaces brings audiences deeper into the music

When Lance Inouye was studying music in St. Petersburg, Russia in the early 2000s, he really enjoyed going to the opera. Not just the big fully staged productions, but also concert operas: every sung note of a full opera, but performed without full stagings (like extensive props and full orchestras) in smaller theaters, including the legendary Mariinsky, churches, and concert halls throughout the city.

He wasn’t alone. “They were usually completely packed,” Inouye remembers. “Even after I stopped living there, I’d visit all the time and see a ton of those concert operas.”

Portland Concert Opera’s Lance Inouye.

After working as a conductor with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic and then opera companies in Florida, Israel, Cincinnati, and other companies (with many more guest conducting engagements around the world), in 2013, Inouye moved to Portland, where he serves as music director and conductor of the Lewis & Clark College orchestra. But he never forgot the intimate thrills he experienced at those Russian concert operas.

Now, Inouye is bringing concert opera to Portland. This Saturday, his Portland Concert Opera’s gala fundraiser concert at Portland’s acoustically enchanting Old Church Concert Hall showcases the formidable lineup of local musicians he’s assembled, and raises funds to support one of those full-opera concert readings that so enchanted him in Russia.

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