ArtsWatch Weekly: busy busy busy

It’s another busy week on Portland stages, so let’s just jump into the thicket:

Oye Oyá at Milagro. With a book by Rebecca Martinez based on a treatment by Rodolfo Ortega, who also wrote the music and lyrics, the world premiere of Milagro’s new Spanish-language musical play has good bloodlines. Estafanía Fadul directs this tale about a boat, a storm, and the beaches of Cuba, based loosely on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Thursday through May 27.

“Oye Oyá” at Milagro: a world premiere. Photo: Russell J Young

Contact Dance Film Festival. The Northwest Film Center and BodyVox collaborate on this cinematic exploration of the world of dance, with screenings at both locations. Thursday-Saturday.

The Talented Ones at Artists Rep. The world premiere of a dark comedy by Yussef El Guindi, whose last show in town, Portland Center Stage’s co-premiere of Threesome, went on to a successful Off-Broadway run. Saturday through May 21.

Cabaret White at Wilf’s. Last chance to get on board for the latest in Darcy White’s cabaret series at Wilf’s, the restaurant/club in Union Station. Tuesday night’s show chugs into the station with guest host Liz Bacon Brownson and singers Erik Hundtoft, Beth Sobo, and Norman Wilson.

Playwrights West’s Last Broadcast. Lava Alapai directs staged readings of new works by a clutch of the writing group’s members – Jessica Dart, Jeffrey Denight, Karin Magaldi, Aleks Merilo, Steve Patterson, Andrea Stolowitz, Andrew Wardenaar, Claire Willett, and Matthew B. Zrebski – whose pieces are woven together by the setting of an isolated radio station. Friday-Saturday, Lincoln Performance Hall, PSU.

Che Malombo at White Bird Tuesday and Wedesday: rhythm and dance.

Che Malambo at White Bird. The 14-man troupe of Argentine drummers and dancers perform in the style of malambo, a form that began in the 17th century in contests of skill among gauchos, or Argentine cowboys. Tuesday-Wednesday, Schnitzer Hall.

Kassandra Terminus at Sowelu. Sowelu presents two staged readings of this new play about the Greek heroine condemned to tell truths that no one would believe. It’s by Tania Myren, author of Sowelu’s original hit The Further Adventures of Anse and Bhule in No-man’s Land, and Myren will be in attendance. Friday-Saturday, Sunnyside Community House.

Appalachian Spring Break at Performance Works Northwest. Helen Shaw of Divers Alarums calls this piece by choreographer/dancer Scotty Heron and composer Brendan Connelly a “hilarious junkshop tribute to Martha Graham and Aaron Copland,” and that’s enough to pique our interest. Friday-Saturday.

Scotty Heron and Brendan Connelly in “Appalachian Spring Break.” Photo: Gil Berman




Pianist Helen Sung, in Eugene and Portland.

Helen Sung Quartet

An emerging jazz star who’s performed with some of jazz’s top figures and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, prize-winning New York pianist/composer Helen Sung looks back at the music of the great mid 20th century jazz composer Thelonious Monk and plays her own originals. Wednesday, The Shedd, Eugene, and Thursday, Fremont Theater, Portland.

Assad Brothers

This Portland Classic Guitar concert brings the world’s leading classical guitar duo for a mostly 20th century program of music from Spain (Rodrigo, Sor, Albania), their Brazilian homeland, works by contemporary composers, and more. Thursday, First Congregational Church, 1126 SW Park Ave. Portland.

“Fire and Ice”

Three members of Cascadia Composers (Stacey Philipps, Lisa Ann Marsh, and Jennifer Wright), team up as the new collective Burn after Listening. Their debut is a multisensory collaboration involving mutant piano, instruments made of ice, and other strange and wondrous electro-acoustic sounds, plus poetry, sculpture, aerial dance, and more. Stay tuned for Brett’s full preview Thursday. Friday and Saturday, PLACE, 735 N.W. 18th Ave., Portland.

Burn After Listening: Stacy Phillips, Lisa Ann Marsh, Jennifer Wright.

Venice in the North

Wait, doesn’t Cappella Romana specialize in music from Byzantium? What are they doing in Venice, and Russia? Turns out Russian empress Catherine the Great’s quest to bring Western European culture to her emerging nation extended to hiring some of the greatest composers of the age and bringing them to her court in St. Petersburg to write Russian Orthodox choral music. And in the Baroque era, that meant composers from Venice. Saturday, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Portland.

“Tell Me the Truth About Love”

In this benefit for The Portland Ballet, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Eklund and pianist Sandra Hyslop play American songbook standards by Gershwin, Porter, Kern, et al, plus early 20th century songs by Satie, Poulenc, Weill and more. Saturday, The Portland Ballet’s Studio Theatre, 6250 SW Capitol Highway.

Florestan Trio

Celebrating their 40th season, pianist Janet Guggenheim, violinist Carol Sindell, and cellist Hamilton Cheifetz join violist Kenji Bunch in piano quartets by Mozart and Schumann. Cheifetz and Sindell will also play Kodaly’s spectacular Duo for Violin and Cello. Sunday, The Old Church,1422 SW 11th Ave. Portland.

Vishwa Mohan Bhatt & Pt. Subhen Chatterjee

In this Kalakendra concert, the acclaimed guitar and tabla duo play classical North Indian music. Friday, First Baptist Church, Portland.

Baroque Music in Russia

Coincidentally with Cappella Romana, a trio of Eugene early music specialists — Holly Roberts (violin), Margaret Gries (harpsichord), and Marc Vanscheeuwijck (cello) — are also playing a program of those transplanted 17th century Italian and Polish composers (Merula, Buonamente, Jarzebski), and by the first 18th-century musicians who were active in Saint Petersburg (Dall’Oglio, Madonis) at a free noon concert. Friday, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University of Oregon.

Nate Helgeson at Portland Baroque Orchestra. Photo: Tori Ava

Portland Baroque Orchestra

Now we think of electric guitars as quintessential lead instruments, but in the Baroque, oboe and even, believe it or not, the humble bassoon could shine. PBO’s young bassoonist Nate Helgeson, who blew me away when I first heard him with the group a couple years ago and has continued do so every since, is already one of the best players I’ve heard on that instrument. If he played guitar he’d be a rock star. This latest installment in PBO’s splendid new chamber music series puts him out front in a quintet setting with fiddlers Monica Huggett and Adam LaMotte and rhythm section in lively, tuneful music by Telemann (considered the boss of German Baroque in his time) and the murdered-too-young French composer Leclair, whose music deserves more attention. Saturday, First Baptist Church, Portland.

Patti Austin with the Oregon Symphony

Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik leads the band in the Grammy winning singer’s tribute to the coolest of scatters, Ella Fitzgerald. Saturday and Sunday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

PDX Jazz’s International Jazz Day Celebration

This free, family-friendly afternoon show at the art museum features the youthful Incredible Journey of Jazz Ensemble, which combines performance and education on jazz history in a fun way. Then Portland pianist Darrell Grant and his chamber jazz quartet MJ New perform a program inspired by the Constructing Identity: Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African-American Art exhibit. Sunday, Portland Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium.


To celebrate Shakespeare, the German vocal ensemble sings a wide variety of mostly English music from the Renaissance to 20th century in this Friends of Chamber Music show. Sunday, St. Philip Neri Church, 2408 SE 16th Ave, Portland.

Oregon Bach Collegium

The early music ensemble and friends perform music by the under-heard Italian composer Benedetto Marcello for men’s choir, harpsichord and cello. Sunday, United Lutheran Church, Eugene.

Music For An Empty Space and A Full Mind

Sounds et al, sonic artist Ben Glas, and visual artist Tyler Snazelle’s collaborative new exhibition uses the phenomena of “acoustic beating” and standing waves. According to the program: “As the listener moves through space, they notice fluctuations of the sound presented. The room itself becomes a score, each movement through space a movement with the music to be discovered.”
Through April. One Grand Gallery, Portland.



ArtsWatch links

ArtsWatch’s writers have been scurrying all around in the past week, covering all sorts of cultural issues and events. Here’s what we’ve been up to:

The Oregon Visual Arts Ecology Project: examining the culture. Barry Johnson reports from the launching of a new statewide project, funded by the Ford Family Foundation and the Oregon Arts Commission, to create “an informal archive and an online magazine that takes the measure of the visual arts in the state.” A few ArtsWatch writers are joining the party.

Snow Queen‘s frozen journey. Rachael Carnes reviews Eugene Ballet’s premiere of Toni Pimble’s ambitious new story ballet, which has some areas to work on but is “a dazzling spectacle of stagecraft that was most compelling in its moments of pure, unadorned dance.”

Manifesting a murderer’s mind. Christa McIntyre reviews Manifesto, a play shaped from the fevered writings of the Isla Vista mass killer Elliot Rodgers.

PSU Opera’s tearful tragedy and family farce. Angela Allen reviews the program’s Puccini double-header of one-acts Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi: “PSU Opera always surprises me with the high quality of its productions and the skill of its young singers, many of them undergraduates.”

A Maze goes the extra mile. A.L. Adams reviews Theatre Vertigo’s overproduced but “haunting, odd … edge-of-your-seat” production of Rob Handel’s maze of a play.

Tallis Scholars: enlightening and enthralling. Terry Ross revels in the return of the great English vocal ensemble: “Heard in person, their sound, always impeccable on recordings, takes on added luster and range of volume.”

Tear down (or build) that wall. Christa McIntyre reviews Robert Schennkan’s Building the Wall, an intense near-future tale about the possible impacts of a Trumpian world.

Susan Seubert’s days of the dead. Bob Hicks reviews the Portland photographer’s stark and startling Not a Day Goes By at Froelick Gallery.

Music of the Forest: old growth, new music. Gary Ferrington gets the background on a University of Oregon Music Today Festival concert deep in the woods, an hour east of Eugene.

Medea brings new meaning to catharsis. A.L. Adams reviews Imago’s full-tilt adaptation of a Greek classic that tips the scales of justice.

Blake Shell takes the lead at Disjecta. Paul Sutinen interviews the contemporary art curator Shell, who is moving from The Art Gym at Marylhurst University to the take over the top spot at the adventurous North Portland art center Disjecta.

Beehive’s hum and sting. Christa McIntyre reviews Broadway Rose’s musical tumble into the sounds and styles (and hairdos) of the 1960s.

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