Weekend MusicWatch: The Kids are All Right

Portland Youth Philharmonic performs at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Saturday.

Portland Youth Philharmonic performs at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Saturday.

Anyone who thinks classical music and jazz are just for old people should check out Oregon music this weekend. March Music Moderne hasn’t even started yet, and already there’s new music by young Oregon composers springing up like crocuses in the snow. Student singers and musicians from Portland State University and the University of Oregon strut their stuff on campus. Even younger Oregon musicians take the big stage at Portland’s Schnitzer Concert Hall this weekend to play contemporary and 20th century music. And the grownups play shows especially for kids, maybe enticing some of them to someday join the ranks of those young musicians.

Spring Snow, Friday, Litman Gallery, Portland State University. Donation. Some of Classical Revolution PDX’s most adventurous musicians play contemporary chamber music by some of today’s finest composers, including Kyle Gann (a 75th brithday homage to Philip Glass by a fine New York composer who’s also one of the best writers on classical music), the great English composer Gavin Bryars, and Portland composers Jedadiah Bernards (including an evocation of Astoria, Oregon and a premiere), Christopher Corbell (a setting of poems by Edna St. Vincent Millay), Adrian Knight, and Mitchell Falconer.

Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, Friday, Mission Theater, Portland. $15. Just because this show is part of the Portland Jazz Festival, and uses the J word, doesn’t mean that you have to be a Satchmo or even Trane fan to enjoy these new compositions by three Oregon ensembles. Pianist Graham Richards and guitarist Dan Duval’s quartet plays what they call ambient jazz (classical cellist and caffeinista Justin Kagan appeared on their debut album, though not in this show), the Kin Trio (featuring two of Oregon’s finest musicians, drummer Tim DuRoche and bassist Andre St. James, with most composition by Sunjae Lee) purveys “minimalist bebop,” and Barra Brown Quintet’s effervescent music enjoys the melodicism of indie folk and rock. All have new recordings on PCJE’s relatively new record label, one of the best things to happen to Oregon music in the last few years, and you can get a taste of the music on the website.

Oregon Guitar Quartet, Friday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University. $10. The busy fretsome foursome (David Franzen, John Mery, Jesse McCann and Bryan Johanson) releases their fifth recording in the last few years, this globally oriented collection comprising sparkling arrangements by founder Johanson of music from Japan, Java, China, Russia, Greece, Catalonia, Zimbabwe, Argentina and Mexico.

Lubomyr Melnyk, Friday, YU, Portland. $10-$12.The Ukrainian-Canadian, self-proclaimed world’s fastest pianist and inventor of what he calls “continuous music” gives his first Portland solo piano recital of his own polyrhythmic compositions.

The Kora Band, Saturday, Mission Theater. $15. In this Portland Jazz Festival concert, the once-mostly Northwest-based quintet (several members, including pianist/composer Andrew Oliver have scattered) reunites to reignite its fascinating combination of jazz and West African music featuring the glorious sounds of the kora harp, plus trumpet and rhythm section.

Bobby Watson & Horizon and James Carter Organ Trio, Saturday, Newmark Theatre, Portland. $28-$58. Read my preview of this highly recommended Portland Jazz Festival concert.

Pat Metheny Unity Group, Saturday, The Shedd, Eugene and Sunday, Newmark Theatre, Portland. the ever-popular, protean guitarist has explored so many different areas that it’s difficult to encompass his full range on a single recording or concert, so he put together a diverse band featuring one of jazz’s finest reedmen, Chris Potter, and other multi-instrumentalists whose versatility allows them to cover most of the territories Metheny has traversed in his brilliant four-decade career.

Wynton Marsalis & Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Hult Center, Eugene. Their Portland show may be sold out, but tickets remain for this concert by the most accomplished big band in the world, a 15-member all-star assemblage that’ll play music from some of jazz history’s greatest bandleaders (Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus) as well as originals by Marsalis, his fab saxophonist/composer Ted Nash, and more.

The Four Seasons, Saturday, Portland Art Museum. $5-$20. As part of the museum’s Venice exhibit, Oregon Symphony musicians play the familiar Baroque classic by one of the city’s greatest composers.

Oregon Wind Ensemble, Sunday, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon. $5-$7. The UO group plays 20th century music by Shostakovich and other composers. Live streamed.

Oregon Wind Quintet, Tuesday, Beall Concert Hall. $8-$10. UO saxophonist Idit Shner joins the group (which has been touring the West Coast) in music by Portland composer Kenji Bunch and other contemporary works. Live streamed, and coming to March Music Moderne.

Väsen, Tuesday, The Shedd, Eugene. The Swedish folk trio plays traditional and original music on viola, specially tuned 12-string guitar, mandolin, bouzouki and nyckelharpa,  a zingy stringed instrument worth venturing to YouTube and Wikipedia to learn more about.


Portland Youth Philharmonic, March 1, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. $11-$40. Any orchestra would be proud to play a program as ambitious as this one, which includes a premiere by a young Oregon composer, PYP alum Kevin Walczyk; Bartok’s last masterpiece, his Viola Concerto, played by PYP’s concerto competition winner, Samuel Zacharia; and Shostakovich’s massive, searing Symphony No. 4.

Metropolitan Youth Symphony, Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The other orchestra of young Portlanders celebrates its 40th anniversary with the premiere of a new work by one of its alums, Steffen Schmidt’s The Journey, plus works by Mahler, Wagner, and John Rutter’s popular Gloria with the Grant and Wilson school choirs.

Oregon Symphony, Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. In this kids concert, PYP principal clarinetist Isabel Skau plays a movement from Weber’s Clarinet Concerto, and Dance West and the Pacific Youth Choir join the OSO in music by Aaron Copland, Gilbert & Sullivan, Leroy Anderson, and Mussorgsky.

Northwest Horn Orchestra, Friday, The Old Church, Portland. Members of the Portland Gay Men’s Chorus join a rhythm section and of course 18 of the Northwest’s brassiest blowers in music by Schumann, Queen, and other rock, classical and other sounds, including a new piece by Portland State prof and venerable jazzman Charley Gray.


PSU Man Choir, Vox Femina & Symphony Orchestra, Friday and Sunday, First Methodist Church, Portland. The award winning student

Ethan Sperry conducts Vox Femina and other PSU choirs this weekend.

Ethan Sperry conducts Vox Femina and other PSU choirs this weekend.

choristers sing music by Brahms, Wagner, Schutz, and more, including the world premiere of A Burst of Song, a three-movement setting of texts by Tagore, written by their conductor, PSU faculty member and composer Joan Szymko, who’s also the long time conductor of the Aurora Chorus.

Vox Resonat, Friday, Central Lutheran Church, Eugene. Free. the early music ensemble Vox Resonat, led by UO prof Eric Mentzel, sings a mass by the French Baroque composer Andre Campra, after a free talk about it by French musicology professor Jean-Paul Montagnier.

Eugene Concert Choir and Oregon Mozart Players, Saturday, Hult Center, Eugene. The choir sings French opera arias and the beautifully consoling sounds of another French masterwork: Gabriel Faure’s 1890 Requiem, one of the greatest of all requiems.

Choral Arts Ensemble, Saturday and Sunday, St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, 3228 SW Sunset Blvd. The choir weaves an American tapestry of songs from colonial through the civil war era, ragtime, jazz and folk songs, and music by contemporary American choral composers.

Portland Symphonic Choir, Saturday and Sunday, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Portland. $30. The singers perform works by some of the most popular contemporary choral composers, including Oregon native Morten Lauridsen, Eric Whitacre, John Rutter, John Tavener, and more.

Trinity Choir, Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland. Free. The chorus sings music by Herbert Howells.

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