News & Notes: Dear Congress, Support sacred music and stop the shutdown!

Can Byzantine chant save the Republic? How literary can Portland get? How musical? Etc.

October 4, 2013—Maybe we have our first direct Portland casualty of the US government shutdown (don’t get my mother started on this topic!). And by casualty I just mean “spot of bother,” not actual injuries or death. It involves our splendid Byzantine chant choir, Cappella Romana, and of course it involves a trip to Washington, D.C.

Archangel Michael, First half 14th century tempera on wood, gold leaf/Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

Archangel Michael, First half 14th century
tempera on wood, gold leaf/Byzantine and Christian Museum, Athens

Before the shutdown, the National Gallery of Art was to have opened the exhibit “Heaven and Earth: Art of Byzantium from Greek Collections” on October 6 continuing through March 2, 2014. And the gallery had enlisted Cappella Romana to provide an aural supplement on October 27. (The National Gallery has an extensive music program.) CR administrative jefe Mark Powell says that in his last communication with the gallery, he was told 1) they couldn’t communicate with him any more about the concert because they’d been furloughed, and 2) they couldn’t make a final determination about the concert until October 23.

The CR tour was also to have included a stop in Richmond, VA, but Powell says it’s unlikely the choir members can stay that flexible on scheduling, and the tour is likely off, barring a sudden change of heart by the House of Representatives. (Hey guys, you could USE a little sacred music in those precincts!)

The show moves on to the J. Paul Getty Museum, April 9 through August 25, 2014, and Cappella Romana will meet up with it there at the Getty Villa. Presumably, that gig is safe from the shutdown.


This is a very literary weekend in Portland. You already know about the big event, the Wordstock Festival at the Convention Center Saturday and Sunday (we’d tell you our favorites, but then it would be too crowded and we couldn’t get in). A good way to get a taste is to go to Live Wire! at the Alberta Rose, 3000 NE Alberta, 6:30-9 pm on Saturday and catch the hijinks of festival stars T.C. Boyle, Kevin Barry, M.K. Asante, A.M. Homes, and Ian Doescher there.

I missed the Tavern Books release party for Gary Miranda’s translation of Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke last night. I do, however, have an old coffee-stained copy of the Breitenbush Books edition, which the new edition augments.

Always watching creation, we manage to see only
reflections of the free and open, made cloudy by us.
Or maybe an animal, incapable of speech, lifts its head
and quietly sees right through us. This
is what our destiny is: to stand opposite,
and nothing else, to stand opposite always.

Tavern continues its exploration of Oregon poets in December with the publication of “Winterward,” William Stafford’s previously unpublished dissertation submitted to the University of Iowa in 1954. The book release event will be 7-9 pm December 14, just ahead of Oregon’s 2014 Stafford Centennial celebrations, featuring readings by Paulann Petersen, Kim Stafford, and Paul Merchant. “Winterward” collects 35 early Stafford poems, 12 of which would then appear in his first three full-length poetry books.


The Northwest Film Center’s REEL MUSIC festival, which sublimely (on occasion) marries music and film as the name suggests, starts October 11 and runs through the 27th. Because musical tastes vary, you can dig into the schedule and find your own favorites.


Almost simultaneously (Oct. 12-27), speaking of sublime marriages, NFC is presenting nine newly restored Alfred Hitchcock silent films with original film music supplied by some of Portland’s most interesting bands, selected by 3 Leg Torso’s Courtney Von Drehle. Of course, 3 Leg will be involved along with Mark Orton, The Bill Marsh Ensemble, Tara Jane O’Neil, David Goldblatt and Superjazzers, Joshua Pearl, Reed Wallsmith with Battle Hymns and Gardens, Tres Gone, Gideon Freudman, and the 1939 Ensemble. That’s just the facts, but the essence, that’s another thing altogether: I can’t begin to imagine what kind of collision those musical minds and those early Hitchcock movies are going to make.


The LA Times review of Pacific University William Todd Schultz’s “Torment Saint: The Life of Elliott Smith” recaps the talent and how the drugs dismantled it.

The North Saga of the Minnesota Symphony is starting to go bad: Osmo Vanska will conduct his locked-out musicians this weekend in a Farewell to Minnesota set of concerts.

Meanwhile, some people in Minneapolis are wondering what would happen if the musicians took their instruments and started a new symphony of their own.

Tobias Wolff received the $20k Stone Award for Literary Achievement from Oregon State University.

Design Week Portland and the Portland Design Festival have taken center stage in the design world, and ArtsWatch contributor Brian Libby has the scoop at his Portland Architecture blog.

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