MusicWatch Weekly: Looking east

Music from Japan and China joins European and American sounds on Oregon stages this week

This week’s Oregon music concerts feature sounds from across Asia — including that subset of it that Portland native composer Lou Harrison called “Northwest Asia” and others call “Europe,” despite the fact that it’s connected to Asia and therefore not a separate continent. A pair of highly recommended shows featuring Oregon indie classical/contemporary ensembles Sound of Late and ARCO-PDX include new music from Oregon. Please recommend other shows in the comments section below, and remember, if you’re one of the performers or presenters whose music is previewed here, and you’re not already an ArtsWatch member, advertiser, or supporter, this is an excellent time to remedy that omission, so we can continue to tell readers about your music. Also, check venues for last minute schedule changes due to inclement weather.

February 1
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.
If you like drums, you’ll love Kodo. Japan’s most famous taiko drum ensemble is back on another North American tour, with a new program called Dadan (“Drumming Man”), featuring only the company’s young male members, all of whom live and train at a compound on Japan’s remote Kodo Island, and their drums without embellishments like melodic instruments, dancing or, well, female performers. Even though it’s a pretty stripped down ensemble this time, the ferocious athleticism of taiko drumming always provides visual as well as aural entertainment. Portland Taiko opens the show in the Schnitzer lobby.

Polyphony and the Sublime
Feb. 1
Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, University Of Oregon, 1430 Johnson Lane, Eugene.
UO musicians play works by Renaissance masters Josquin Desprez and Carlo Gesualdo, baroque titans Monteverdi and Purcell, and J.S. Bach.

Reel Music Festival
February 1-5
Northwest Film Center, Portland Art Museum.
This week’s fascinating, globally conscious lineup of music-oriented films includes biographies of the most performed living classical composer, Arvo Part (about whom more presently!), the singular jazz crooner Jimmy Scott and wry jazz-blues pianist, singer and songwriter Mose Allison, a film about classical piano that features musical lioness Martha Argerich, a film about Afrobeat music, and another film about contemporary alternative Arab music.

Aanderson & Roe duo. Photo: Lisa-Marie-Mazzucco

Anderson & Roe
February 2
Lincoln Performance Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Ave. Portland.
Greg Anderson and Elizabeth Joy Roe make a strong team — not just in playing duo piano music together, but also in their shared commitment to contemporary music and presentation (they’re all over YouTube with Emmy nominated videos), which combined with their impassioned musicianship and chemistry have earned substantial record buyers and tour audiences. This Friends of Chamber Music recital includes ancient music by Mozart, Schubert and Rachmaninov along with newer sounds (some arranged by the pair) by the great 20th century nuevo tango composer Astor Piazzolla, and acclaimed contemporary British composers Thomas Ades and Paul McCartney.

Chevalier_de_Saint-Georges, the “black Mozart:

“Black Mozart”
February 2
Kaul Auditorium, Reed College, Portland.
Portland Baroque Orchestra joins forces with Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, and the Early Music Society of the Islands to present the music of Joseph Boulogne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. Born in Born in Guadeloupe, the slave’s son fought for the French Republic during the Revolution as a colonel in the first all-black regiment in Europe, but lost his military career due to politics. Renowned as a swordsman, violinist, composer and bandleader, the polymath mulatto became a musical star and maybe the first classical composer of African origin. Why hasn’t Denzel Washington optioned this great story for a film yet?  This orchestral concert features several of Boulogne’s violin concertos plus music by his  contemporaries Mozart and Haydn.

Hawaii International Music Festival stars
February 2
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave, Portland.
In this fundraising show for the festival Metropolitan Opera Soprano Amy Shoremount-Obra, Tchaikovsky Competition winning violinist Eric Silberger and pianist Carlin Ma perform music by Mendelssohn, Strauss, Rachmaninoff, Piazzolla, Bach, Sarasate, Debussy and more.

“Handel vs. Philip Glass”
ARCO-PDX, February 3, Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St. Portland, and February 4, Whirled Pies, Eugene.
The Amplified Repertory Chamber Orchestra of Portland players, some with regional orchestras, make classical music concerts feel like rock shows, with tasteful amplification, vibrant lighting, informal atmosphere (beer et al allowed!), stage charisma abetted by mostly memorized performances. This program mashes up a pair of Handel’s grand Op. 6 concerti (probably the third most famous Baroque set, after Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Bach’s Brandenburgs), contemporary composer Philip Glass’s pulsating first piano concerto (Tirol), and music by the wild card Dutch composer Jakob TV and new-to-Portland composer Scott Anthony Shell, who turned in an impressive piece at a Cascadia Composers show last year.

Lisa Hilton
February 3
The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave. Portland.
The pianist and composer plays jazzy music written and inspired by Cole Porter, Duke Ellington, and classical composers.

Oregon Symphony
February 3, Smith Auditorium, Willamette University, Salem, and Feb. 4-6, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.
The great pianist Yefim Bronfman joins the orchestra for Beethoven’s stirring fourth piano concerto, on a program that includes contemporary American composer Sebastian Currier’s 10-minute 1997 Microsymph and Dvorak’s frequently performed ninth symphony, “From the New World.”

Sound of Late performs at Portland’s NEW studios S.

Sound of Late
February 4
N.E.W. Expressive Works, 810 SE Belmont Street, Portland.
The always intriguing Northwest-based new music wind and strings ensemble plays music dedicated to the venerable, pioneering American composer Pauline Oliveros, who died late last year. The program features her music as well as works by her contemporaries John Cage, minimalist pioneer La Monte Young, and Portland composer-clarinetist Justin Bulava. And, appropriate for composers who didn’t always insist upon determinacy, listeners can enjoy the music in different ways:  walk around, relax on carpet squares, sit, stand….

Pink Martini founder/pianist Thomas Lauderdale.

Pink Martini
February 4
Silva Concert Hall, Eugene.
The Portland big band will be missing the bevy of famous guest artists (e.g. Rufus Wainwright) who decorated the band’s bubbly, long-awaited new album, Je dis oui!, not to mention occasional co-lead singer Storm Large (who you can see with her own show very soon), but original chanteuse China Forbes will do her inimitable thing, and the backup band is pretty good: the Eugene Symphony.

“Jasmine Blossoms in the City of Roses”
February 5
Lincoln Recital Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Avenue, Portland.
In this afternoon concert, Chinese and Chinese-American musicians, including Portland State prof and pianist Susan Chan, play music written for the yangqin (Chinese dulcimer).

Yuanfan Yang
February 6
Portland Piano Company, 711 SW 14th Ave. Portland.
The latest Portland Piano International Rising Star pianist, who’s garnered plentiful awards and rapturous critical praise in his native United Kingdom, is also a composer, and he’ll play two of his originals in this well-programmed recital, along with new music by Oregon composer Greg Steinke, Ravel, Bartok and Liszt.

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