Weekend MusicWatch: Choral Convergence

Portland Gay Men’s Chorus performs Saturday at Portland’s Reed College

Last weekend’s performances of Baroque classics by Cappella Romana with more than a little help from Portland Baroque Orchestra heralded the annual fall outpouring of Portland choral music. This weekend brings several recommended concerts for fans of voices in harmony, plus other non-vocal pleasures.

Pacific MusicWorks, Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral: PBO is presenting this Seattle-based creation of the great early music lutenist and conductor Stephen Stubbs, who returned to his hometown after decades performing in Europe with some of the most important early music ensembles. They’ll perform the very first Baroque masterpiece: Claudio Monteverdi’s glorious “1610 Vespers,” the “Rite of Spring” of the 17th century.


Oregon Repertory Singers, Friday and Sunday, First United Methodist Church 1838 SW Jefferson, Portland: Reinvigorated and expanded last year under new music director Ethan Sperry, the excellent Portland chorus sings a wide range of 20th music (by contemporary Finnish composer Einojuhaani Rautavaara, Britain’s William Henry Harris, Spanish-American composer Carlos Surinach, jazz master Dave Brubeck), works by older masters (including Mozart’s ever popular “Ave Verum Corpus,” and Mendelssohn), spirituals, and what’s likely to be quite a crowd pleaser: young Norwegian-Californian composer Ola Gjeilo’s dramatic, classical chart-topping setting of of a medieval poem, “Dark Night of the Soul.”

David DeLeyser conducts the
Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland

Choral Arts Ensemble, Saturday and Sunday, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church: Mendelssohn wrote some celebrated “Songs without Words,” and new music director David De Lyser will lead the choir in several of them, and the intriguing program also contains other works for voices that started out as instrumental works, or in which words aren’t the main course, including Portland composer Tomas Svoboda’s “Chorale without Words,” Samuel Barber’s “Agnus Dei” (the choral version of his famous Adagio for strings), and music by Sibelius, Holst, popular contemporary American composer Eric Whitacre and more.

Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, Sunday, Kaul Auditorium, Reed College: with help from a wind quintet and soloists, the big choir sings the world premiere of Portland composer Gran Edwards’s “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”; the Portland premiere of Roland Martin’s “Adamic Songs”; and more.


Shining Night: A Portrait of Morten Lauridsen, Saturday, Whitsell Auditorium, Portland Art Museum.
Speaking of choral music, one of the greatest living composers of it hails from the Portland area. Last spring, we told you about the premiere of director Michael Stillwater’s admiring film biography of the Beaverton-born, LA-based composer Morten Lauridsen, who spends his summers on Waldron Island. Here’s another chance to catch it, as part of the Northwest Film Center’s Reel Music festival.

Earlier that afternoon, the festival screens a portrait of the great Spanish conductor Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. On Sunday, it presents “Defiant Requiem,” the story of how concentration camp inmates at Terezin defied their Nazi captors with a production of another choral masterpiece, Verdi’s Requiem. The screening will be hosted by the musician who brought that performance and story back to prominence, former Oregon Symphony resident conductor Murry Sidlin.

DEFIANT REQUIEM Trailer from PARTISAN PICTURES on Vimeo.

Modern Sounds

Cascadia Composers, Saturday, St. Anne’s Chapel, Marylhurst College: The excellent ensemble Northwest New Music plays works by some of the region’s most accomplished composers.

The Late Now John Cage Centenary Special, Saturday, Pacific Northwest College of Art: One more chancy centennial tribute to the influential composer/artist, this one involves musicians (including sax quartet), poets, dancers and choreographers, performance artists, balloons, interviews, a dissected piano, and who knows what else.

Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, Friday, Tango Berretin, Portland: Several of Portland’s most creative young jazz composers strut their stuff.

Jaap Blonk, Sunday, Division Leap Bookstore, Portland: The Dutch performance artist uses words, electronic and acoustic sounds, and his voice in combinations utterly unlike any others.

Piano classics

Paul Lewis, Monday, Gerding Theater at the Armory, Portland: the acclaimed British pianist plays all three of Franz Schubert’s magnificent last sonatas in this Portland Piano International concert.

Albert Tiu, Monday, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon: The Filipino pianist celebrates Franz Liszt’s birthday.

“Tangled,” Polaris Dance Theatre, Saturday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University: It’s not a music concert, but recorded music (by Samuel Barber, the terrific new music cellist Zoe Keating, Olafur Arnalds, and other composers including company choreographer and artistic director Rober Guitron himself) is a crucial part of Polaris Dance Company’s engaging “Tangled” program this weekend. I caught a preview of the major work on the program, “Dis-Cooperire,” and recommend it.

Polaris Dance Theatre performs
at PSU’s Lincoln Hall this weekend.

Finally, this Friday and Saturday (October 19, 20), the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Dance is hosting the second part of Oral Traditions Old and New: A Symposium in Memory of Anne Dhu McLucas, which concludes Saturday afternoon with a memorial service in Beall Hall that will be broadcast live on the internet beginning at 4 p.m. through the UO School of Music and Dance’s web page.  Look for the “Beall Hall Live Stream” link in the upper right-hand corner of the home page.

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