ArtsWatch Weekly: Paws & Claws

Today seems a good time to introduce you to one of our newest correspondents, C.S. Eliot. When the movie Kedi: The Cats of Istanbul prowled into town (it’s landed at Cinema 21 after a couple of sold-out screenings at the Portland International Film Festival) we found ourselves looking for just the right sort of writer to respond to the film’s unusual subject matter, a writer with inside knowledge of the peculiarities of the feline world. And C.S. made a poetic plea to speak up.

Well, all right, it was a yowl. C.S., we regret to report, is an imperious sort, given to stark pronouncements and prone to making unseemly demands on the management. Thus, forthwith, C.S.’s first dispatch for us, ‘Kedi’ review: Turkish delight.

The streetwise cats of Istanbul.

To tell the truth, this partnership is a work in progress. We’re not sure C.S. understands the concept of objectivity at all. But C.S. makes no bones about his opinions (he prefers to leave the bones for the dogs), and C.S. will speak out. There’s no stopping him, really, although you can slow him down if you put out a bowl of tuna juice. Let’s stipulate that a good writer is not necessarily a saint.

In the case of Kedi, not only is C.S. an expert on the subject, he also has a talented collaborator, longtime ArtsWatch correspondent Maria Choban. She speaks Cat semi-fluently and is adept at translating the pith of C.S.’s opinions. We see their partnership as vital to our coverage of the next touring production of Cats to hit town (lyrics and original concept by C.S. Eliot’s distant relative T.S.), and to the Puss in Boots scene in Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. And if someone in town will please put up a production of the musical Archy & Mehitabel, C.S. likely will be our representative in the reviewer’s box. We’ve tried, but we just can’t seem to come up with a literate cockroach who’ll work for what we can pay.





Companhia Urbana de Dança at White Bird. Photo: Renato Mangolin

Companhia Urbana de Dança. White Bird brings the energetic Brazilian dance troupe to the Newmark Theatre for shows Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Born in the shanty towns and suburbs of Rio, the company blends hip-hop, urban, and contemporary dance into an Afro-Brazilian stew.

Feathers and Teeth. Charise Castro Smith’s crackling little four-hander is a horror comedy about a 13-year-old girl whose mom has just died, her dad, her dad’s new girlfriend (who used to be her mom’s nurse), and the boy next door. Opens Saturday at Artists Repertory Theatre.

Golda’s Balcony. Longtime Portland favorite Wendy Westerwelle, who’s done solo shows about Sophie Tucker and others, takes on the fascinating story of Golda Meir, born in Kiev, moved to New York, raised in the American Midwest in Milwaukee, immigrated to Palestine, and, in 1969, elected prime minister of Israel. The play, by William Gibson (The Miracle Worker, Two for the Seesaw) opens Thursday at Triangle Productions.

Mr. Gaga. Tomer Heymann’s film documentary about the acclaimed Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin – artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company, a Portland favorite from visits in the White Bird series – opens Friday at Living Room Theaters.

Winter’s Passage. Well, wouldn’t that be nice, as the snow gods stretch across the Northwest yet again? Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale is a lovely late romance, overshadowed (like Pericles and Cymbeline) by The Tempest. Jennifer Le Blanc’s new adaptation, focusing on the play’s women characters, will get staged readings Monday and Tuesday evenings, March 13-14, at Cerimon House, with a promising cast.





Japanese Americans incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Wyoming.
Courtesy Oregon Historical Society Research Library, 44601

Concert of Remembrance

2 p.m. Sunday, Oregon Historical Society’s Miller Pavilion, 1200 S.W. Park Ave.

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Although our provocateur-in-chief isn’t quite sure, most of us regard the internment of Oregonians of Japanese ancestry for no reason other than their race as a historic breach of this country’s commitment to human rights and equal protection under the law. That makes remembering it, and other historical events that now seem eerily relevant, especially important today. Cascadia Composers, the Oregon Historical Society, the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, and the Japanese American History Museum are teaming up to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which uprooted more than 100,000 people of Japanese ancestry who lived on the U.S. Pacific coast and placed them in internment camps. This free concert includes premieres of new music by  Oregon composers Daniel Brugh, Ted Clifford, Denis Floyd, Jan Mittelstaedt and Greg A. Steinke, internment camp photographs of New Mexico photographer Joan Myers, poetry/recitation by former Oregon Poet Laureate Lawson Fusao Inada, and a video from the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. Donations accepted.


Byrd Ensemble

3 p.m. Sunday, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church,  1112 S.E. 41st Ave. Portland.
Our present leaders may not have much use for government-funded art, but for six centuries, Europe’s Habsburg dynasty not only ruled much of Europe and even South America, but also noblesse-obliged many of the continent’s top artists and composers with jobs, commissions, stipends, and social standing. King Philip II, proved a better arts patron than military strategist (#Armadafail), subsidizing some of Spain’s greatest composers, including Tomás Luis de Victoria, whose 1605 Requiem mass is one of the Renaissance’s most glorious hits. In this concert presented by Cappella Romana, Seattle’s acclaimed dozen-member Byrd Ensemble sings that masterpiece along with Victoria’s Magnificat; a motet his contemporary Alonso Lobo wrote for Philip’s funeral; sacred music by Victoria’s teacher, the great Flemish composer Palestrina; and funeral music by Victoria’s predecessor, Cristóbal de Morales.


Portland Baroque Orchestra

Friday-Sunday, First Baptist Church and Kaul Auditorium, Reed College.

Shakespeare may have lived at the end of the Renaissance, but he inspired Baroque composers in the 17th century to create dramatic music for productions of his plays. Baroque soprano Suzie LeBlanc joins the historically informed band to play songs from the Bard’s time  along with music from productions of The Fairy-Queen (based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream), The Tempest and Othello written by English composers Matthew Locke and Henry Purcell.


Los Romeros

7:30 p.m. Friday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Portland Classic Guitar brings the world’s most famous family of guitar masters — this time featuring second- and third-generation Romeros Celin, Pepe, Angel, Lito, and Celino — back to Portland to perform Spanish guitar classics and modern works.


Oregon Symphony

Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Award-winning young cellist Harriet Krijgh stars in Dvorak’s ever-popular Cello Concerto, but the big news is the world premiere of a rare symphony commission from an Oregon composer: Kenji Bunch’s Aspects of an Elephant, a concerto for orchestra that spotlights the different sections of the orchestra the Portland native often performs with since his recent return from two decades earning acclaim in New York as one of his generations finest composers. The program also features a lively classic by an earlier American composer, the orchestral arrangement of Samuel Barber’s nostalgic ballet score Souvenirs. Read Brett Campbell’s ArtsWatch profile of Bunch.



Trio con Brio Copenhagen: Jens Elvekjaer, piano; Soo-Jin Hong, violin; Soo-Kyung Hong, cello.

Chamber music fans have a couple of prime piano trios to choose from:

Trio Solisti

3-5 p.m. Sunday, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene.

Led by the fine violinist Maria Bachmann, the trio plays 19th century chamber music by Beethoven, Chausson, and Brahms.

Trio con Brio Copenhagen

7:30 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland State University.

Swedish composer David Sandström’s otherworldly Four Pieces for Piano Trio highlights this popular threesome’s Tuesday concert, along with Dvorak’s substantial Op. 65 trio and Schumann’s mad g minor trio. Monday’s Friends of Chamber Music recital includes an early trio by Shostakovich, a great one by Schubert, and a lovely one by Beethoven.


Art song fans have a couple of choices too:

 Northwest Art Song

7:30 p.m. Friday at Portland’s Classic Pianos, 3003 S.E. Milwaukie Ave.

The group sings Schumann, Brahms, Wolf, and Richard Strauss,

Winterreise Portland

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Lincoln Recital Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave. Portland.

Portland State music faculty members Harry Baechtel (voice) and Chuck Dillard (collaborative piano) perform Franz Schubert’s great Winter’s Journey (“Die Winterreise”), accompanied by images of Portland by photographer So-Min Kang.

Finally, if you missed singer/songwriter/pianist Gabriel Kahane last summer when we interviewed him about his Oregon Bach Festival appearance, you can catch his solo show March 9 at Portland’s Old Church.


ArtsWatch links


In Cuba: “Philanthropy,” left, by Jose Carlos. Photo: Ernst Kluge

The Contact Zone: Galleria Taller in Matanzas, Cuba. Samuel Eisen-Meyers visits an artists’ workshop an hour and a half from Havana and discovers “massive heads mounted on wooden poles or crosses, large enough for me to start imagining them as characters of a myth I didn’t understand.” And that’s just the beginning.

In Mulieribus: from medieval to madrigals. Brett Campbell looks behind the scenes of the fine Portland women’s ensemble’s recent concert of madrigals and more.

Delgani String Quartet: commissioning tomorrow’s classics. What should a musical ensemble play? This Eugene quartet, Gary Ferrington writes, is answering the question partly by getting today’s composers to write new pieces.

Oh God, the Carnage. “One thing about a Yasmina Reza play: By the end, masks will be ripped off and something mildly disastrous is going to happen. Another thing about a Yasmina Reza play: Even when things get uncomfortable (maybe even especially when they get uncomfortable) it’s going to be pretty darned funny.” Our look at Lakewood Theatre’s witty revival of Reza’s God of Carnage.

Katya Kabanova: tragic thrills. Angela Allen took in Seattle Opera’s production of Janacek’s all too rarely performed 1921 tear-jerking tragedy. It was so good, she writes, it “might even encourage Puccini fans to grab some of those available seats.”

George Li: miracles aplenty. Terry Ross could hardly believe it when he saw the audience at intermission of the young pianist’s Portland Piano International show behaving as if they were at an ordinary concert: “I wanted to shake them out of their nonchalance and yell in their faces, ‘Don’t you have ears? This kid is great!’ ”

Portland State choirs: American classics and global rhythms. Brett Campbell celebrates the heights the university choirs have reached under director Ethan Sperry, and looks ahead to the chamber choir’s coming Bali tour, which will be previewed here March 17.

Cantores in Ecclesia: polar opposites. Bruce Browne, reviewing the choir’s late February concert, gets down to the joy at the core of it all: “A pigtailed girl skips up the center aisle after getting a pre-concert hug from her parent. She clutches a musical score to her chest and her face is filled with gleeful anticipation of the music to come. She has no idea that the score, the Frank Martin Mass, which covers one-half of her tiny torso, is one of the most revered and defining choral works she could be singing. She sings for the pleasure music brings her life.”

Black art: a neverending story. Constructing Identity, the Portland Art Museum’s sprawling sampling of African American art from the late 19th century to today, tells a tale of multiplicity and change: “Like life itself, it’s broad and varied and unpredictable. If it doesn’t all fit neatly together, isn’t that the point?”

At PAM’s “Constructing Identity”: Paul Keene (American, 1920–2009), “Blue Dress,” 1985, acrylic on paper, 37 3/4 x 27 1/2 in. © Estate of Paul Keene



About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this once a week to a select group of email subscribers, and also post it weekly on the ArtsWatch home page. In ArtsWatch Weekly, we take a look at stories we’ve covered in the previous week, give early warning of events coming up, and sometimes head off on little arts rambles we don’t include anywhere else. You can read this report here. Or, you can get it delivered weekly to your email inbox, and get a quick look at all the stories you might have missed (we have links galore) and the events you want to add to your calendar. It’s easy to sign up. Just click here, and leave us your name and e-address.

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