MusicWatch Weekly: autumn bounty

This week's Oregon music highlights

In one of the peak weeks in the fall season of Oregon music, terling sopranos sing old and new songs, and other highlights include contemporary electronica, jazz, choral music, and sounds from Argentina, Mali, Japan, Europe, and beyond — including Oregon composers. Please add your recommendations in the comments section below.

BallakŽe Sissoko and Vincent Segal perform Tuesday at Portland’s Old Church concert hall. Photo: Claude Gassian.

Julianne Baird and Marcia Hadjimarkos
The superb early music soprano and the acclaimed Portland-born pianist, long based in Europe, perform music from Jane Austen’s world. The immortal writer was also a musician who practiced pop tunes of her time on fortepiano (which Hadjimarkos will, appropriately, play here) daily before breakfast, and filled her room with sheet music and her books and letters with references to public and private music events. Along with music by Haydn, Handel, Gluck, and more, including female songwriters, the show features songs about country life, drinking, and love, plus Turkish and Moorish motifs, female character pieces, and songs about naval victories and the French Revolution. A pair of narrators interpolate readings from Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and more.
Wednesday, Hudson Hall, Willamette University, Salem.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith performs Thursday in Portland.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
The Orcas Island native, now based in LA, has moved from the contemporary classical niche to broader acclaim and audiences in electronic music, including opening for Animal Collective and collaborating Suzanne Ciani. The synth-savvy sound sculptor is releasing three albums this year to go with five earlier releases, numerous film scores, and more.
Thursday, Doug Fir Lounge. Portland.

Eugene Symphony
When the rising young pianist Conrad Tao appeared at the University of Oregon’s Beall Hall in 2011, he was a 17-year-old prodigy who could seemingly almost play masterpieces with one hand tied behind his back. Having grown both a beard and a reputation as a solid performer and composer, he’ll almost get the chance in Maurice Ravel’s dramatic 1931 piano concerto written for the great Austrian virtuoso Paul Wittgenstein, who’d lost his right arm to a Russian bullet in World War I. He’ll also solo in Liszt’s wild, colorful 1838 Dance of Death (Totentanz), and the orchestra will play a Mozart symphony about which its composer wrote, “I hope that even these idiots will find something in it to like.” He was talking about Parisians, not Oregonians, who’ll find plenty to enjoy in Mozart’s so-nicknamed Paris Symphony.
Thursday, Hult Center, Eugene.

Marquis Hill’s Blacktet plays two shows in Portland.

Marquis Hill Blacktet
The 2014 Thelonious Monk competition winner earned further notice with his gig in Joe Lovano’s band, and the sweet toned trumpeter has become a fine bandleader himself with this group that integrates bop, hip hop and R&B. Two shows.
Thursday, Fremont Theater, Portland.

Third Angle New Music & Tony Arnold
The Portland new music string quartet and New York new music soprano team up in music by the fine California composer Gabriela Lena Frank, colorful Australian composer Brett Dean, Greek-French composer Georges Aperghis, and midcentury Italian modernist Luciano Berio. Read Gary Ferrington’s ArtsWatch preview of the same team’s Creative Academy of Music concert Saturday.
Thursday and Friday, Studio 2 @ N.E.W. Portland.

Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble
The plucky organization dedicated to cultivating 21st century music by Portland composers and improvisers celebrates its tenth anniversary with a a TED-style talk from Executive Director Douglas Detrick, silent auction with some really enticing offers, and three pieces of music that tell the PJCE story—by PJCE founding Executive Director Andrew Oliver, former Grasshoppers (the young composers mentored by established Portland jazz musicians via PJCE’s admirable program) mentee Andres Moreno, and the world premiere of a new piece by one of Portland’s busiest and most inventive musicians, drummer/composer/improviser Barra Brown.
Friday, Fremont Theater, Portland.

Sound of Late
The exciting Portland/Seattle ensemble gives the West Coast premieres of music by youngish British composer Anna Clyne (former composer in residence with the Chicago Symphony and other orchestras) and Sarah Kirkland Snider, plus works by by Japanese composer Somei Satoh, Italian modernist Giacinto Scelsi, and the world premiere of a new piece by young Seattle composer Noel Kennon. The show is enhanced by video art by Seattle artist Stefan Gonzales.
Saturday, N.E.W. Expressive Works, Portland.

Extradition Series
The quarterly Creative Music Guild performance this time focuses on the music and influence of the late, great American composer and musical philosopher Pauline Oliveros, who co-founded the pioneering San Francisco Tape Music Center in the early ‘60s. Her own music and ideas (including “deep listening”) also influenced subsequent generations by embracing sensitivity to environmental sound, improvisation, ritual, and more. Besides Oliveros’s music, the performers (harpist Sage Fisher, guitarist Mike Gamble, pianist Dana Reason, bassist Andre St. James and singers) play spacy compositions by Christopher Hobbs, Gordon Mumma, Reason, Antoine Beuger and more. Stay tuned for Matthew Andrews’s ArtsWatch preview.
Saturday, Leaven Community Center, 5431 NE 20th Ave. Portland.

Keller Auditorium Centennial Celebration & Open House
There’s plenty of free performance of music, dance and more at this afternoon 100th birthday party, including performances by members of the Oregon Symphony, Bravo Youth Orchestra, OBT2 (Oregon Ballet Theatre’s student troupe), the Roosevelt High School Jazz Band, Portland Opera, and Mariachi Una Voz, along with various displays, family friendly activities, refreshments, a musical instrument petting zoo, and prize drawings (ooh, Hamilton tickets!). But the main attraction for us is the world premiere of a string quartet commissioned for this centennial celebration by the fine Portland composer Christopher A. Corbell.
Saturday, Keller Auditorium, Portland.

Oregon Repertory Singers perform at Portland’s First United Methodist Church.

Oregon Repertory Singers
The big choir sings a somber classic, Durufle’s ever-popular Requiem, and contemporary music by Portland composers Joan Szymko, Naomi LaViolette, and Stacey Philipps, plus works by one of America’s most performed living composers, Morten Lauridsen, the Beaverton native and part-time Northwesterner.
Saturday and Sunday, First United Methodist Church, 1838 SW Jefferson Street, Portland.

Cappella Romana
Everybody loves Tchaikovsky’s irresistible melodies, but we rarely encounter them outside of his famous ballets, symphonies and other orchestral works. Which makes this performance of the Russian Romantic master’s 1880 sacred music masterpiece, All-Night Vigil, even more valuable. While Tchaikovsky’s setting of ancient chants from various Orthodox traditions became the model for subsequent, even more famous works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Rachmaninov, and others, it’s worth experiencing on its own merits, and not just in liturgical context or for Tchaikovsky completists.  Rising conductor and composer Benedict Sheehan directs the superb singers whose mastery of Orthodox church music makes this performance as authentic as it gets in this hemisphere.
Saturday, Portland, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and Sunday, St. Matthew Catholic Church, Hillsboro.

Oregon Symphony and Magic Circle Theatre Company
Jeff Tyzik leads the orchestra’s theatrical annual family friendly Halloween pops show, in music by Mussorgsky, Bach, Dukas and more.
Saturday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

Ahn Trio
The lively piano trio the 19-year-old prodigy Leonard Bernstein wrote in 1937, tops the Korean siblings’ 20th and 21st century program, which also includes the soaring jazz- and bluegrass-influenced Skydanceby Turtle Island String Quartet founder David Balakrishnan, a pair of transcriptions by two of the greatest American guitarists, Jimi Hendrix and Pat Metheny, a violin solo by one of Oregon’s — and America’s — leading composers, Portland’s own Kenji Bunch, Bunch’s arrangement of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” and contemporary works by Hyung-ki Joo, Ludovico Einaudi and more.
Sunday, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon.

Tomas Cotik
The Argentine-born violin virtuoso, an impressive recent addition to Portland State University’s music faculty, plays music from his latest, newly released CD featuring music by his native countryman, the great 20th century new tango composer Astor Piazzolla. Proceeds benefit the school’s string recruitment scholarship.
Sunday, Lincoln Hall, Room 75, 1620 S.W. Park Ave. Portland State University.

Ensemble De Organographia
With Oregon Bach Collegium’s Margret Gries on organ, Phil and Gayle Neuman’s Portland early music ensemble plays handmade historic instruments and Reformation era settings of Martin Luther’s texts.
Sunday, United Lutheran Church, 22nd and Washington, Eugene.

Vancouver Symphony Chamber Music Series
Separately and in various combinations, pianists Cinda Redman, Elena Vozheiko-Wheaton, Kathy Edsill-Charles, Kathryn Hobbie and Dr. Michael C. Liu play music by Leonard Bernstein, Bizet, Grieg and more.
Sunday, Kiggins Theatre, Vancouver WA.

This all-star ensemble of several generations of jazz stars — drummer Jack DeJohnette, guitarist John Scofield, bassist Larry Grenadier and keyboardist John Medeski — play a wide range of jazz fusion.
Monday, Newmark Theatre, Portland.

Ballaké Sissoko & Vincent Ségal, Portland Kora Project
The Malian kora harp master and French classical/electronica cellist scored one of the decade’s least expected global hits a few years ago with their acclaimed album of duets, Chamber Music.They’ve crafted a lyrical, mellow fusion informed by African and European traditions. Portland’s own kora band, whose music ranges even wider into various American and other traditions, opens.
Tuesday, The Old Church, Portland.

Songhoy Blues perform in Portland and Eugene.

Songhoy Blues
Malian desert blues by the likes of Salif Keita, Toumani Diabaté, Ali Farka Touré, has won big audiences and admirers like Robert Plant and Eric Clapton over the years, and now this band leads a younger generation of Malian musicians is incorporating American blues, hip hop, rock, funk, reggae and more into their tight songs. They’ve won fans at SXSW, WOMAD festival, and even opened for Alabama Shakes and released acclaimed albums. Tuesday, WOW Hall, Eugene, and next Wednesday, Doug Fir Lounge, Portland.

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Want to learn more about contemporary Oregon classical music? Check out Oregon ComposersWatch.

One Response.

  1. bob priest says:

    Hola Brettski!

    “Autumn Bounty,” indeed! Global Village PDX is certainly an exciting place to reside these days, wowzer!

    Thanx for your ongoing devotion to listing the eminently listable.

    I’m particularly stoked about Sound of Late’s growing presence in our town & LOVE that they are including Scelsi’s terrific duo for flute & clarinet on their program.

    Additionally, Tomas Cotik is a true violin stud that I hope to work with during MMM 2019 on a Schnittke program.

    And, Gott Sei Dank, 3A presents a rare opportunity for hearing/experiencing Berio’s landmark “Sequenza” for solo voice on their upcoming programs.

    Damn, PDX is on Fi-Yuh!!!

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