Weekend MusicWatch: Nature songs

The Esoterics perform at Portland State University Saturday.

The Esoterics perform at Portland State University Saturday.

This weekend brings a trio of concerts featuring the human voice and music related to the natural world around us, plus the usual spring flowering of colorful sounds.

Cappella Romana & Third Angle New Music, Friday, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Portland. The choir best known for its ancient music joins the ensemble best known for its contemporary sounds in University of Oregon composer Robert Kyr’s “environmental oratorio,” which sets to compelling music texts from Orthodox, Native American, Biblical and other sources about the sacredness of the natural world. It’s also a CD release concert. The premiere performance, which like this one will include choreographed movement and make full use of the venue, not just the stage area, was one of 2007’s most powerful Oregon musical events. Read my Willamette Week preview.

The Esoterics, Saturday, Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland State University. The Seattle-based vocal ensemble returns with a program of mostly contemporary choral music related to forests, flowers, and other verdant visions, including compositions by Maurice Ravel, Vancouver’s Stephen Chatman, Seattle’s Greg Bartholomew, German and Swedish composers, and more.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Portland State University Opera, Friday and Saturday, Lincoln Hall, PSU. British director David Edwards, so impressive in PSU’s 2012 production of Dialogues of the Carmelites, returns with another mid-20th century classic, Poulenc’s pal Benjamin Britten’s popular 1960 setting of Shakespeare’s magical comedy set in a sylvan forest. Read Bruce Browne’s ArtsWatch review.

ISing Choir, Friday, Bethel Congregational Church, Beaverton. The chorus sings a wide variety of music from the Americas, sung in several languages, some with help from the world classical harmonica champion, Susan Sauter, from Beaverton’s Sister City, Trossingen, Germany.

Baroque Northwest, Friday, First United Methodist Church, Eugene. The Seattle-based early music ensemble (featuring Baroque cello, flute, guitar, theory and soprano singer) plays and sings music from New Orleans’s Ursuline Manuscript, featuring music by French composers created during the reign of Louis XIV.

Bach Cantata Vespers, Sunday, St. James Lutheran Church, Portland. The church choir and orchestra perform a new motet by contemporary composer Frank Ferko (whose music was just sung by Oregon Repertory Singers) and J.S. Bach’s Easter cantata The Lord is My Faithful Shepherd. Berkeley-based guest organist Jeffrey Johnson solos in a Handel organ concerto.

Motet Singers, Sunday, Ebbert Memorial United Methodist Church, Springfield. The 12-voice women’s a cappella ensemble sings Renaissance motets and madrigals, folk and American pop song settings, and 20th century motets.


Garrick Ohlsson, Sunday, Newmark Theatre, Portland. Read my Willamette Week preview.

Yaron Gottfried Trio, Monday, Jimmy Mak’s, Portland. Read my Willamette Week preview.

Michael Kleinschmidt, Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland. Trinity’s music director plays Widor’s Roman Symphony on the cathedral’s Rosales organ, and members of Trinity’s choir chant some of the Gregorian Easter melodies the symphony is based on.

Marc Vanscheeuwijck, Elinor Frey, Margret Gries, Monday, Collier House, University of Oregon. With Gries accompanying on harpsichord, the duo cellists play mid-18th century (post Baroque, pre-Classical era) repertoire — by Gabrielli, Graun, Alborea, Cervetto, Cirri, Abel, and Supriani — rarely heard because it’s so hard to play on today’s four-string cellos. Happily, theirs will have five, like those for which these pieces were written.

Susan DeWitt Smith, Monday, Agnes Flanagan Chapel, Lewis & Clark College. The Third Angle pianist plays some old music for a change: Bach’s Goldberg Variations.


Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Friday, First United Methodist Church, Portland, Sunday, Mt. Hood Community College, Gresham. After a Berlioz bon bon, the spousal duo of Oregon Symphony violinists Sarah Kwak and Vali Phillips star in a pair of double-bowed 19th century numbers, Sarasate’s flamboyant Navarra and Ysaÿe’s rarely heard Amitié, before Irish conductor (and CSO music director candidate) Peter Shannon leads the orchestra in a decided non-rarity, the symphony Beethoven wrote between his fourth and sixth.

Oregon Mandolin Orchestra, Friday, Walters Cultural Arts Center, Hillsboro. Grammy winner John Reischman leads performances of Spanish music plus Gustav Holst’s St. Paul Suite and Sibelius’ In Mournful Mood.

Portland Youth Philharmonic, Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Winners of the orchestra’s soloist competition play selections from Lalo’s Spanish Symphony and Bottesini’s Concerto #2 for double bass, and the band also plays Holst’s Hammersmith and American composer Samuel Barber’s first symphony.


Chris Botti, Thursday, Hult Center, Eugene and Saturday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. The Portland-born, Corvallis raised trumpeter Chris Botti, now one of the biggest selling jazz (although some would quarrel with applying that term to Botti’s best-selling, Grammy-winning, immaculately performed, smooth instrumental pop) brings his smooth pop jazz home with his band Thursday and with the Oregon Symphony Saturday. For the OSO, it marks the end of a month of concerts that range beyond the standard definition of classical.

3 Leg Torso and Shoestring Trio, Saturday, The Old Church, Portland. Read my Willamette Week preview.

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