MusicWatch Weekly: Festivals a-flowering

Classical music convocations highlight the week's musical offerings

Oregon’s two most distinguished classical music festivals, both founded in 1970, return, two more classical festivals resume on the coast, and the pianos return to downtown Portland this weekend. Please let ArtsWatch readers know about other musical recommendations for this week in the comments section below.

Astoria Music Festival 
June 22-26
Liberty Theater, Astoria
The festival’s second week opens with Portland’s ever-entertaining world chamber music ensemble 3 Leg Torso doing their offbeat, inimitable thing at Astoria’s historic Liberty Theater, which returns to its roots the following night with a silent film: the great director F.W. Murnau’s 1930 classic, City Girl, the first Hollywood movie shot in Oregon. As was often the case back in the day, this performance features an original live score, this one composed and conducted by contemporary Oregon composer John Paul. And speaking of historically informed performances, check out the vintage projectors in the lobby before the show.

Angela Meade sings at Astoria Music Festival.

Angela Meade sings at Astoria Music Festival.

Friday’s chamber music concert features orchestra players from the San Diego, Detroit and Atlanta symphonies, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Portland Youth Philharmonic music director (and crack clarinetist) David Hattner, all led by Portland pianist Cary Lewis, playing a Dvorak piano quartet, Erno Dohnanyi’s powerful Sextet, and a 2002 noitisopmoc by one of Lewis’s old Georgia colleagues, American composer Charles Knox, Semordnilap #2.

Another more informal and multi-mediated chamber music concert Saturday afternoon features Lewis, award-winning Russian pianist Ilya Kazantsev and cellist Sergey Antonov in music by Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Piazzolla, and Stravinsky’s delightful chamber adaptation of his Pulcinella ballet score, Suite Italienne— accompanied by Astoria artist Darren Orange’s live painting.

Saturday night’s symphonic showcase includes Mozart’s exhilarating Sinfonia Concertante (the better known one starring violin and viola), Mahler’s Ruckert Songs (sung by Met mezzo MaryAnn McCormick), Chopin’s second piano concerto (starring Kazantsev), and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella ballet music.

Opera/vocal music fans should convene at the Liberty on Sunday afternoon to hear Northwest native Angela Meade reprise her soprano showcases as Leonora from Verdi’s The Troubadour, which she sang earlier this month with the German Opera Berlin, and before that at the Metropolitan Opera. In this concert (i.e. not the full operatic staging) performance sung in Italian with English supertitles, Met baritone Richard Zeller stands up to be Count-ed, with McCormick, Cameron Schutza, DeAndre Simmons taking the other lead vocal roles, joined by the festival’s vocal apprentice artists, the festival orchestra led by Keith Clark and the North Coast Chorale.

Claudia Quintet, Blue Cranes
June 22
Secret Society, 116 NE Russell, Portland
Read my Willamette Week preview of one of the top jazz shows of the summer, featuring composer/drummer John Hollenbeck’s terrific chamber ensemble.

Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra Youth Ensemble
June 22
Lincoln Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Avenue
The award winning, 35-member youth string orchestra orchestra celebrates the 50th anniversary of its founding with a free concert of music including a world premiere by alum Camden Boyle, contemporary music by contemporary German composer Peter Heinrich, and classics by Piazzolla, Schubert, and Vivaldi.

Portland Percussion Group performs Sunday at Portland State University.

Portland Percussion Group performs Wednesday at Portland’s Old Church Concert Hall.

Portland Percussion Group
June 22
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Portland
Read my Willamette Week preview of the ensemble’s showcase of new music it commissioned and a couple of other contemporary compositions for marimba and vibraphones.

Siletz Bay Music Festival
June 22-5
Lincoln City Cultural Center
The week’s other Oregon coast music festival features rock violinist Aaron Meyer on June 22,  chamber music by Schubert and Dvorak on June 23, Mei-Ting Sun’s piano recital featuring music by Stravinsky, Ravel and Richard Strauss on June 25, and another chamber music concert June 28 featuring Bela Bartok’s evocative Contrasts, Charles Creasy’s Lament, Elgar’s Piano Quintet, and selections by Benny Goodman performed by a couple of veteran musicians who know the swing king’s music as well as anyone alive, New York pianist Dick Hyman and clarinetist Ken Peplowski, both frequent Oregon visitors.

Makrokosmos Project
June 23, Blue Sky Gallery, Portland and June 26, Oveissi, Eugene.
Read Gary Ferrington’s ArtsWatch preview of one of the summer’s most intensely intimate musical experiences.

Quiet Music Festival
June 24–June 25
Disjecta, Portland
The annual festival of easy-on-the-ears, laid back sounds returns with music by Valet, Larry Yes, Sun Foot and Bouquet, plus a reading by Mary Gaitskill.

Chamber Music Northwest
June 25 & 27, Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, and June 28, Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland State University.
Read my Willamette Week preview of the festival’s opening concerts, one featuring 20th and 21st century tangos (which repeats at the Oregon Bach Festival June 26), the other 19th century classical trios.

Matthew Halls leads performances at the Oregon Bach Festival.

Matthew Halls leads performances at the Oregon Bach Festival.

Oregon Bach Festival
June 23-27
Various venues, Eugene
The venerable festival opens June 23 with a defining masterpiece: J.S. Bach’s mighty b minor Mass, which has been performed often there — but never on period instruments in historically informed tunings, as it will be here under the leadership of artistic director Matthew Halls, who’ll also move up a century or so to conduct the great period-instrument clarinetist Eric Hoeprich and the young musicians of the festival’s Berwick Academy in music by early Romantic composers (Mendelssohn, Schubert, Weber) at Beall Concert Hall on June 25.

Pianist Pei-Yao Wang and Nicholas Phan perform Britten's songs in a CMNW concert at Reed College.

Nicholas Phan sings Britten and Schubert at the Oregon Bach Festival.

The superb young singer Nicholas Phan sings Britten and Schubert at Beall on June 24. (Read my 2013 Eugene Weekly interview with Phan.) Organ music fans can hear Mark Brombaugh play a free recital celebrating the 40th anniversary of the John Brombaugh organ at Eugene’s Central Lutheran Church (18th and Potter) on June 24 at 1 p.m., featuring music by JS Bach and a composer he much admired, Buxtehude, plus a newly commissioned work to celebrate the anniversary) by
David P. Dahl. Speaking of organ music, the renowned Paul Jacobs plays a recital of music by Liszt and Julius Reubke at Eugene’s First Methodist church on June 27, the same day the Festival’s legendary Discovery Series begins its exploration of JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio. The festival’s composer in residence, James MacMillan, leads the OBF Chamber Orchestra in his Sinfonietta and For Sonny, along with music by Britten, Shostakovich and Mendelssohn, at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater on June 28.

Piano. Push. Play. Summer Kick-Off Concert
June 24
Portland Art Museum
The valuable convergence of 20 art-enhanced pianos returns to the Roberts Sculpture Mall outside the museum, only to be scattered to outdoor locations throughout the city so that anyone can play them in July and August. At Friday’s kickoff event, pianists from different musical traditions (Becca Schultz, Taylor Hill, Asher Fulero and Metro Arts Young Artist Lauren Yoon) will perform, along with lucky audience members who can draw the chance to perform.
Read ArtsWatch’s 2013 feature on one of Oregon’s most valuable musical outreach programs.

Piano!PushPlay! returns to the Portland Art Museum Friday. Photo: Benji Vurong.

Piano!PushPlay! returns to the Portland Art Museum Friday. Photo: Benji Vurong.

Funny Face
June 24-26
The Shedd, 868 High Street, Eugene
If you’re a Smarty (the show’s original title), you’ll read my Eugene Weekly preview of the Oregon Festival of American Music’s new historically informed revival/restoration of George & Ira Gershwin’s witty 1927 musical comedy classic, bursting with immortal songs you know and others you should get to know.

Salem World Beat Festival
June 25-26
Riverfront Park, Salem
Oregon’s largest multicultural event features, food, dance, and other cultural programming — especially music — African, Indonesian, Ukrainian, Cuban, Irish, Mexican, jazz, Middle Eastern, American banjo and more.

June 17-26
Mock’s Crest Productions, Mago Hunt Center, University of Portland, 5000 N Willamette Blvd. Portland
Read Bruce Browne’s ArtsWatch review of Mock’s Crest’s latest Gilbert & Sullivan patter-fest.

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

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