richard goode

Portland Gay Men's Chorus sings gay holiday songs this weekend at Portland's Newmark Theater

It’s finals week, for those of us involved in academia, but there’s more going on on campus than just exams.  Although perhaps not as operatic as the antics of university sports teams and presidential firings, and certainly not as polished as their professional counterpoints, Oregon university classical concerts sometimes take on fresher material than sometimes stodgy institutions that rely on ticket sales and subscriptions, and they often bubble with the kind of enthusiasm that 20-somethings — both in the audience and onstage — bring to rock shows and Autzen stadium.

College performances are also usually considerably more informal and affordable than the usual classical ticket. (And yes, many publications impose a de facto ban on covering student productions, although happily not so much in Oregon.)

This is especially true in Eugene, where the University of Oregon School of Music and Danceboasts some of the most accomplished students and creative faculty in the West. Although the city hosts some excellent classical performers, for listeners seeking musical adventure, UO concerts at Beall Concert Hall and elsewhere — whether played by its top-notch faculty like the Oregon String Quartet, by touring ensembles in its chamber music and world music and other presenting series, or by student groups — are usually the top choice on any given day.

Now, as you’ll see below, the UO has birthed an important new ensemble that debuts this weekend. Portland, too, boasts fine faculty performing groups like Lewis & Clark College’s Friends of Rain and Portland State University’s Florestan Trio, and PSU in particular regularly contributes immensely to the community by hosting performances of other Oregon and touring musicians.