Weekend MusicWatch: End of year extravaganzas

 Portland Youth Philharmonic performs at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Thursday.

Portland Youth Philharmonic performs at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Thursday.

ArtsWatch loves a good party, but some of us have always loathed New Year’s Eve, which too often seems to be dedicated to nothing but inebriation and dodging drunk drivers, so it’s a treat to see so many attractive music events brightening the last days and nights of 2013 before we imbibe the bubbly. Listen up and drive safe!

Classical Revolution PDX, Thursday, Alberta Rose Theater, Portland. CRPDX’s annual Bachxing Day fun fest moves up (presumably commensurately in performance quality too) from the informal jam-environment of the late, lamented Someday Lounge to actual stage environs, and features J.S. Bach’s Peasant Cantata, Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, and more, plus music by a bushel of other Bachs, including the extremely late, unlamented PDQ.

Portland Youth Philharmonic, Thursday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. The youth orchestra’s 90th anniversary concert includes music by Verdi (performed by an orchestra of PYP alumni), Berlioz and Wolf-Ferrari’s smoky “Susanna’s Secret.”

Unsilent Night, 6:00 pm Friday, starts at courtyard in front of the Portland Art Museum, winds through downtown. I wrote about this mobile community music event for Willamette Week, and will update this entry with a link to that story as soon as it’s posted.


Oregon Renaissance Band, Friday and Saturday, Community Music Center, Portland; Sunday, St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Gresham. In one of the season’s annually most entertaining shows, the dozen member ensemble sings and plays rarely heard, half-millennium old music by the great Irish musician Turlogh O’Carolan and lesser-heard composers like Caioni, Satldmayr, Goudimel and Viadana, on replicas of historical instruments (violin, viola da gamba, lute, sackbutts, recorders, cornamusen, krummhorns, bagpipes, racketts, tartold, spinettino, tabor) made by ORB founder/directors Philip and Gayle Neuman.

The Ensemble sang Victoria's Requiem in Portland.

The Ensemble sings Britten and more.

The Ensemble, Saturday, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Vancouver, and Sunday, Saint Stephen Catholic Church, Portland. I know we’re sated with Christmas everything, including music, but you’re unlikely to have heard much if any of the 20th century music this small vocal group drawn from the ranks of Portland’s finest will purvey: Arvo Pärt’s “Magnificat Antiphonen,” Abbie Betinis’ “In This Tyme of Chrystmas” and “Dormi, Jesu,” Frank LaRocca’s “O Magnum Mysterium,” Jake Runestad’s “Sleep, Little Baby, Sleep” and music by British composers Kenneth Leighton, Peter Warlock Herbert Howells and several works by centenary composer Benjamin Britten.

Sound Narcissist, Sunday, The Waypost, Portland. Oregon music suffered a great loss when Classical Revolution PDX founder Mattie Kaiser headed to New York last year, but the vibrant violist returns for a visit with her new musical partner pianist Aaron Butler. The duo performs classics by J.S. Bach, and the great 20th century French composers Darius Milhaud (one of the “Four Faces” from 1943) and Maurice Ravel (1911’s “Noble and Sentimental Waltzes”), and contemporary composers Anne Farber (Variations of Light, 1987) and a 2010 piece that nickname-checks a familiar place, “The Dreams We Dream for the City of Roses,” by Oregon’s own Scott Ordway.

New Year’s Eve

Oregon Symphony, Monday and Tuesday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. The orchestra sold out its run of performances of Beethoven’s grand Symphony #9 earlier this year, so why not bring it back especially when it can enlist immense Northwest-bred or based vocal talents like mezzo Angela Neiderloh and baritone Richard Zeller among the four soloists? But Ludwig van’s symphonic swan song is only the second half of the OSO’s concerts. The first brings a musical party led by Pink Martini pianist and symphony board member Thomas Lauderdale and some of his co-conspirators (singer Storm Large Monday and China Forbes), the von Trapps (members of the famous singing family that recently moved to Oregon), director Gus Van Sant (who’s actually a musician, too, with recordings to his credit, and cantor Ida Rae Cahana.

Eugene Opera, Hult Center, Eugene. opens its new production of Verdi’s ever-popular La Traviata, with music director Andrew Bisantz conducting and Metropolitan Opera soprano Leah Partridge starring as the doomed “fallen woman” Violetta in her company debut. The show continues January 3 and 5.

Friends of Chamber Music benefit, The Old Church, Portland. You know what happens… the champagne is tasty, New Years Eve is romantic, winter’s chill draws everybody closer… and pretty soon, jazz and classical music are flirting shamelessly, getting way cuddlier with each other than they’d dare by day, sans bubbly, and trysting the night away. Portland Chamber Orchestra has been staging benefits featuring jazz performers at Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s this year, and the latest bi-musical assignation happens Tuesday night when the great Oregon jazz singer Rebecca Kilgore joins veteran jazz piano master Randy Porter (who’s played with greats ranging from Freddie Hubbard to Benny Golson) and bassist John Wiitala in the second annual NYE benefit for Friends of Chamber Music, the worthy presenting organization that’s brought so many top-rank touring classical musicians to Portland for the past three-quarters of a century. After an hour of 1930s and ’40s jazz standards, champagne, and a dessert reception, who knows what kind of steamy cross-genre intercourse will transpire?

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