Weekend MusicWatch: Young Blood

Young musicians and living composers rejuvenate this week's Oregon music scene.

Oregon’s classical music scene gets an infusion of youthful energy from young (and not so young) musicians playing and singing music from the 21st century for chamber ensembles, percussion ensemble, choir, even orchestra. And as usual, there’s plenty of old wine — or make that Champagne — available too.

Brooklyn's PROJECT Trio performs in Portland and Eugene.

Brooklyn’s PROJECT Trio performs in Portland and Eugene.

PROJECT Trio, Thursday, The Shedd, Eugene, and Friday, The Old Church, Portland.

Read my Willamette Week preview of the latest visitors from Brooklyn’s vital new music scene, who bring liveliness, humor, and capacity for audience connection that classical music really needs.

Third Angle New Music, Thursday and Friday, Studio2@Zoomtopia, 810 SE Belmont, Portland.

Read Gary Ferrington’s ArtsWatch preview of the latest in the new music ensemble’s new Studio Series, this time featuring music by emerging Oregon composers.

Portland Percussion Group performs Saturday at Lewis & Clark College.

Portland Percussion Group performs Saturday at Lewis & Clark College.

Portland Percussion Group, Saturday, Agnes Flanagan Chapel at Lewis & Clark College, Portland.

Some of Oregon’s most accomplished malleteers and beaters (from Portland Opera, Eugene Symphony, Portland Chamber Orchestra and more) perform a world premiere of PPG-commissioned Moon of Eris by New Orleans composer Mendel Lee; the dramatic, haunting Mudra for drum and marimbas by pioneering Nexus percussion ensemble founder (and long time Reich colleague) Bob Becker; Lewis & Clark College prof Michael Johanson’s spectacular, thrilling Grooves and Diversions; a movement of a shimmering piece  by young New Jersey composer Elliot Cole (known for incorporating rock, hip hop and other pop elements in his chamber music) in which the vibraphone is played with violin bows ; and a recent work by the greatest living American composer. Steve Reich’s 2010 Mallet Quartet is “a cool synthesis of what Reich has been doing for the past 15 years,” said Adam Sliwinski of New York’s So Percussion, which premiered it. “He seems to have condensed some of the ideas from his larger pieces. Fans will be able to hear different elements of his style over the years.” Using five-octave marimbas that permit a lower range of pitches than the four-octave instruments available in Reich’s earlier percussion works, Mallet Quartet twines interlocking melodies from a pair of vibraphones with a textural shift in the slow movement, whose “change of pace is probably the most novel part of the quartet for me,” Reich told me when I covered its premiere at Stanford University.


Portland Youth Philharmonic, Saturday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

The young musicians open the venerable orchestra’s 91st season with a pair of big pictures: Richard Wagner’s Dawn and Siegfried’s Rhine Journey from his opera Götterdamerung, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s powerful Symphonic Dances, and (continuing the orchestra’s admirable recent practice of playing the music of our own time) esteemed contemporary American composer John Harbison’s Concerto for Bass Viol and Orchestra, featuring Oregon Symphony bassist Ted Botsford, and the late Portland musical legend Norman Leyden’s Serenade for Strings.


Ana Vidovic, Thursday, Marylhurst University’s St. Anne’s Chapel.

Ana Vidovic performs at Marylhurst College.

Ana Vidovic performs at Marylhurst University.

The award-winning young Croatian looks to be one of the rising stars of classical guitar. She’ll play music by J.S. Bach, familiar Spanish composers Albeniz, Sor, and Torroba, the great 20th century Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, 20th century Portuguese Agustin Barrios and more.


Portland Opera, Friday and Sunday, Keller Auditorium, Portland.

Read Angela Allen’s ArtsWatch preview of the company’s celebration of its first half century, in a production that features some of its young Resident Artists.


Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble and Oregon Mozart Players, Friday, Beall Concert Hall, Eugene.

Singers and players team up for of one of the greatest and most familiar Baroque vocal masterpieces, Vivaldi’s Gloria and another Italian Baroque beauty, Giovanni Pergolesi ‘s Magnificat, plus earlier Italian classics by Palestrina, Scarlatti, Lotti and more.


Beaverton Symphony Orchestra, ISing Choir, Friday & Sunday, Village Baptist Church, Beaverton.

Singers and players team up for of one of the greatest and most familiar Romantic vocal masterpieces, Brahms’s German Requiem.


Polish Romantic Music, Saturday, Polish Hall, Portland.

In the intriguing Polish Music at Polish Hall series, Portland chamber music stalwarts play rarely heard (in this country, anyway) string quartets by 20th century Polish masters Penderecki and Szymanowski, and a piano quartet by Władysław Zelenski.


Newport Symphony, Saturday and Sunday, Newport Performing Arts Center. 

The most enticing orchestral program of the weekend features Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, colorful music by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, a pair of French violin classics by Chausson (Poem for Violin and Orchestra) and Ravel (Tzigane) with Eugenia Choi, and some of the last century’s liveliest ballet music from Manuel De Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat.


University of Oregon Chamber Choir, Sunday, Beall Concert Hall, Eugene.

Oregon Bach Festival artistic director Matthew Halls returns to conduct a Veterans Day-themed concert of music from his United Kingdom homeland: the great Baroque composer Henry Purcell’s Funeral Sentences and contemporary Scottish composer James MacMillan’s A Child’s Prayer, honoring the child victims of the horrific 1996 Scottish school shooting, plus Bruckner’s e minor Mass, featuring the University Singers and Oregon Wind Ensemble.


Portland Symphonic Choir, Saturday and Sunday,  St, Mary’s Cathedral, Portland.

The 140-voice choir sings one of the greatest of all choral orchestral masterpieces, Mozart’s dramatic Requiem, and a splendid contemporary work, British composer Tarik O’Regan’s Triptych.


Oregon Symphony, Pacific Youth Choir and Dance West, Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

Arrrrrr! The season’s first kids concert features music from Pirates of the Caribbean, Handel, Wagner, Korngold, Elgar, Verdi and much more.


Dans Les Arbres, Monday, The Old Church, Portland.

Read my Willamette Week preview of this Norwegian ensemble whose music should interest fans of both moody avant European jazz and modern classical music.


Nils Frahm, Dawn of Midi, Sunday, Mississippi Studios, Portland.

Read my Willamette Week preview of these minimalist-influenced art popsters.


Melao de Cuba, Luz Elena Mendoza and Edna Vazquez, Friday, Alberta Rose Theatre, Portland.

Cuban, Mexican and other Latin American folk music is on the bill at this Siren Nation concert.

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