MusicWatch Weekly: sounds of home — and beyond

Music from Ukraine, Russia, Mali, France, Spain, and even Oregon highlight the week in Oregon music

This week’s Oregon music highlights amount to a world tour. Got more recommendations? Please add to the comments section below.

Cascadia Composers presents Bernstein/Steinke & Friends
Two of Oregon’s most venerable composers celebrate their 75th birthdays with a range of chamber music.  Delgani String Quartet plays Steinke’s Songs of the Fire Circles, inspired by Native American poet K’os Naahaabii, and (with Steinke on oboe) music inspired by paintings by Marc Lifschey. Bernstein is represented by his Sunlight and Shadow for flute, clarinet and piano, revised September Soundscape for viola and piano, Musical Mirages for piano, and Threading Light for flute and piano.
Friday. Portland State University, Lincoln Hall Room 75 – 1620 SW Park Ave.

The multinational Chicago-based chamber ensemble, the latest addition to Friends of Chamber Music’s entertaining Not-So-Classical series, arranges danceable classics and commissions new works for their versatile flute-cello-guitar-violin lineup. Two of the members comprise the excellent Cavatina Duo, which plays this game quite delightfully too. This menu of music by Vivaldi, Falla, Rachmaninoff, Boccherini, Balkan and a contemporary trio by American composer Alan Thomas inspired by the richly diverse music of the Sephardic Jews as they migrated throughout the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Balkans, makes a tasty program for casual classical and world music fans as well as Baroque aficionados.
Friday, The Old Church, Portland.

DakhaBrakha performs at Portland’s Star Theater. Photo: Tetyana Vasylenko.

Habib Koité & DakhaBrakha
Beginning in the mid-1980s, the great Malian singer and guitar virtuoso brought together many of the musically fertile country’s disparate musical traditions, added a dash of Western rock, and his exuberant Afrobeat performances and recordings soon brought awards, world tours, gigs with Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, etc. Lately he’s jettisoned drum kit for the African instruments djembe and calabash, and added a banjo (an instrument that originated in Africa). He sings in four languages, including English, about social issues like war, forced marriage, and female genital mutilation, but also happier subjects like soccer — all with a gentle, pulsating groove.

While DakhaBrakha’s three female singers have collected traditional folk songs from elderly women in villages around their native Ukraine, they venture way beyond ethnomusicology, with other members wielding cello, percussion (including tabla), didgeridoo, and other decidedly untraditional instruments. The Kyiv-based band incorporates dub, hip hop, African music and much more, melding roots music with a contemporary, urban sensibility that includes influences from punk, theater (including traditional costumes), minimalism, and politics.
Friday, Star Theater, Portland.

Hilary Gardner and Ehud Asherie
Gardner’s glowing voice and Asherie’s supple pianism have attracted critical raves over the last decade on New York’s cabaret scene. Their alluring new release The Late Set covers “American Songbook” standards written between around 1920 and 1960. Expect tunes (seldom the most-covered ones) from Rodgers & Hart, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin, and other stalwarts.
Thursday, Jazz Clubs NW, North Bend; Saturday, The Shedd, Eugene; Sunday, Classic Pianos, Portland.

Burnt Sugar Arkestra plays two shows in Portland.

Burnt Sugar Arkestra
Its name reveals this big band’s spacy Sun Ra influence, but the band also draws inspiration from other 20th century big bands including Duke Ellington, Parliament/Funkadelic and Art Ensemble of Chicago. The band claims it has included “Irish fiddlers, AACM refugees, Afro-punk rejects, unrepentant be-boppers, feminist rappers, jitterbugging doowoppers, loud funk-a-teers and rodeo stars of the digital divide.” This time, they’ll “caramelize” a famous jazz album of the early civil rights era: drummer/bandleader Max Roach’s We Insist! Freedom Now Suite.
Saturday, Jack London Revue, Portland.

Chris Rogerson at Chamber Music Northwest in 2015. Photo: Lisa Wang.

Oregon Symphony 
The orchestra kicks off its new, year-long socially conscious Sounds of Home series, which combines non-musical elements with the music in response to timely social issues, with a concert focusing on immigration. Acclaimed pianist Kirill Gerstein plays a pair of piano concertos, one written by an immigrant, pioneering early 20th century composer Arnold Schoenberg, who fled Europe for America when the Nazis came, and the other, Rhapsody in Blue, by an immigrant’s son, George Gershwin. Gerstein’s jazz jazz background should come in handy in that one. And the orchestra commissioned the impressive young composer Chris Rogerson, who’s impressed Chamber Music Northwest audiences in recent years, to collaborate with award-winning immigrant playwright Dipika Guha on a new work, premiered in this show, that focuses on the immigrant experience.
Saturday-Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

Negative Press Project
The Bay Area piano and bass duo (Andrew Lion and Ruthie Dineen) bring their fascinating tribute to late, great singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Buckley to Oregon.
You don’t have to be a Buckley fan to enjoy it.
Saturday, Alberta Street Pub, Portland; Sunday, Jazz Station, Eugene, and Monday, Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Drive, Bend.

Vancouver Symphony
There’s a Russian flavor to the VSO show, with Russian-American pianist Alexander Toradze soloing in 20th century Russian master Sergey Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3, and the orchestra also playing Mussorgsky’s Persian Dances and suites from two of Stravinsky’s most enchanting ballet scores, The Fairy’s Kiss and The Firebird.
Saturday & Sunday, Skyview Concert Hall, 1300 NW 139th Street, Vancouver WA.

Natasha Paremski performs in Corvallis. Photo: Andrea Joynt.

Natasha Paremski
The Russian-American pianist plays mazurkas and more by Chopin, variations by Brahms, and pictures by Mussorgsky.
Saturday, LaSells Stewart Center, Corvallis.

Oregon Mozart Players
The chamber orchestra plays French classics, including Saint-Saëns’ Romantic Cello Concerto No. 2, starring guest cellist Mark Kosower, (principal cellist of the greatest American orchestra, Cleveland’s), plus a lovely pair of lyrical late Romantic compositions by Gabriel Faure, Masques et Bergamasques and the familiar Elegie, and Francis Poulenc’s breezy, dance-driven 1949 Sinfonietta. 
Saturday, Beall Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene.


New West Guitar Group
The California trio, which includes erstwhile Oregonians, returns with a new album of its peppy arrangements of pop tunes.
Sunday, Fremont Theater, Portland.

“Bringing the Love MusicFest 2017”
The gospel and jazz fest features Portland jazz star Patrick Lamb, Award-winning Jazz Musician, Portland, Oregon; gospel singers Marvin Sapp, and Thurman B. Thornton II, Portland’s Delphian Choir, guitarist Moe Lincoln, and poet Asia Green.
Sunday, The Old Church, Portland.

Delgani String Quartet
Their spectacular performance at Cascadia Composers’ latest show affirmed that Delgani is the finest regularly performing chamber ensemble in Oregon. This show includes music inspired by America: the scampering 1936 quartet by one of the most accessible 20th century American composers, Alan Hovhaness, who later lived in Seattle for much of his life, and Antonin Dvorak’s ever-popular 1893 “American” quartet, one of the masterpieces the Czech composer wrote during his fruitful sojourn in Iowa, and influenced by his American experiences, both musical and more (including a native songbird’s call). Read Gary Ferrington’s ArtsWatch preview of the final piece on the program, Benjamin Krause’s new quartet commissioned by the quartet.
Sunday afternoon and Tuesday night, United Lutheran Church, 2230 Washington St. Eugene.

Portland Youth Philharmonic
The precocious young musicians play Chopin’s second piano concerto, plus a fifth of Beethoven and a Dvorak overture. The free concert will also stream on PYP’s Facebook page.
Monday, Skyview Concert Hall, 1300 NW 139th Street, Vancouver WA.

Red Lantern Ensemble
Former Oregon Symphony principal flutist Dawn Weiss, cellist Collin Oldham, singer Elizabeth Eklund and pianist Anne D. Young perform an intriguing program: Oregon composer Peggy Falkenstein’s Une Petite Famille a Paris,  English composer Rebecca Clarke’s wistful Epilogue, Amy Beach’s ardent “Love Song” (“Chanson d’Amour”), one of JS Bach’s flute sonatas, and Maurice Ravel’s dramatic Chansons de Madecasses (Madagascan Songs).
Tuesday, PCC Rock Creek, 17705 NW Springville Rd. Beaverton.

Giulia Valle Trio
The Italian born, Barcelona-raised bassist and composer’s original music swings from thoughtful and mellow to rocking to funky and beyond.
Tuesday, Classic Pianos, Portland.

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