News & Notes: Some classical movements

Catching up with Chamber Music Northwest, Christa Wessel, Megan McGeorge and the Revolution

Today’s News & Notes collects classical music news we’ve been gathering (often on our Facebook page). We’ll start with the biggest news of the past week.

One of Oregon’s most venerable arts institutions, Chamber Music Northwest, gains a new leader October 14 when Peter Bilotta becomes the presenting organization’s executive director.

Chamber Music Northwest has a new executive director/Photo by Jim Leisy

Chamber Music Northwest has a new executive director/Photo by Jim Leisy

“During his eight-year tenure as head of Portland Opera’s development department Mr. Bilotta was responsible for securing more than $4 million annually in giving and public funding, as well as capital and endowment support, for Portland Opera and its Broadway Across America Portland series,” reads CMNW’s press release. He’s also worked with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, the nation’s largest children’s theater in Minneapolis, and the Boy Scouts of America. Bilotta also works with various Oregon arts organizations including Regional Arts & Culture Council, Creative Advocacy Network and many others.

Bilotta succeeds one of Oregon’s most respected arts leaders, Linda Magee, who during her 33-year tenure built the organization from a relatively small summer festival, which began at Reed College in 1970, into one of the West’s most highly regarded and financially stable chamber music institutions, recently adding occasional concerts during the rest of the year. Clarinetist David Shifrin will continue as CMNW artistic director.

Bilotta’s arrival is the more recent in a series of executive transitions for Oregon arts institutions in the past few years. The Oregon Bach Festival, Artists Repertory Theater, Oregon Symphony and Oregon Ballet Theater (the last two still in transition) have witnessed the departure of long-time leaders. And he’s the latest in a series of Portland Opera administrators to move another Portland music organization, following former communications chief Jim Fullan and former education director Diane Syrcle, both of whom now work for the Oregon Symphony.

Stay tuned for an interview with Bilotta on ArtsWatch.

Chamber Music composition competition

Another Oregon chamber music stalwart, the ensemble Chamber Music Amici, has announced a new composition competition with categories for adults and for composers 17 and younger. Each carries a cash prize for a new five-minute work. The ensemble, composed mostly of current and former University of Oregon music faculty members, performs several concerts per year at Springfield’s Wildish Theater. According to the press release, “the contest calls for original compositions written for any combination of two to five instruments, including violin (up to 2), viola, cello, and/or piano. Judges will include University of Oregon faculty, community members, and Core Musicians of Amici. Winning compositions will be performed as part of the 2014-15 Amici concert season.

The deadline for submission is December 1, 2013. Submission guidelines are posted at the website.

Young Oregon musicians on the air

Speaking of young Oregon musicians, listeners to All Classical Portland radio can hear some of the music they’re making on a new weekly radio show hosted by dulcet-voiced announcer Christa Wessel. On Deck with Young Musicians includes features interviews, profiles and performances with music students and educators.

The first episode, airing this Sunday, October 5, at 5 pm, focuses on teenage violinist Emily Wu’s performance of Henryk Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto #2. Later programs examine summer music camps, Metropolitan Youth Symphony auditions, and other opportunities for young musicians. The new program replaces a national show focused on kids and classical music, “From the Top.”

“I am thrilled to be able to explore the wealth of young talent in our region,” says Wessel, the weekday morning announcer who also hosts the station’s weekly Played in Oregon show featuring classical music live performances from around the state. “Kids these days are motivated and inspiring, and I’m looking forward to sharing their stories and their passions.”

Megan McGeorge: Piano pusher

The indefatigable Megan McGeorge is still pushing pianos on Portland. This Friday, October 4, her organization, Piano Push Play (which you read about first on Oregon ArtsWatch in August), and the Snowman Foundation will donate the first ever public piano to the SE Portland community makerspace ADX. Anyone will be able to practice or play music on it. PPP is making a party out of it, featuring classical and other musicians including Becca Schultz, Mitchell Falconer and Patrick McCulley, and McGeorge’s band Leo, and Gallop. It’s part of PPP’s effort to donate all the pianos that were deployed around downtown Portland this summer to permanent homes. The organizations have created an Indiegogo project to pay the tuning, service and moving costs. ADX, SE 11th and Stark, Friday October 4th 6-9pm

The Revolution is happening at the Waypost

Classical Revolution PDX, fresh off a 3 hour chamber jam at Southeast Portland’s Eugenio’s, has its weekly free chamber jam Sunday at northeast Portland’s The Waypost. The exact lineup is always in flux, depending on several variables, but this week’s fare may include a John Dowland song, a movement from one of J.S. Bach’s lute suites, possibly a 20th century classic by Terry Riley, a work by Northwest composer Hub Miller, an arrangement of contemporary English composer John Tavener’s “Song for Athene” for voice and trumpet, Portland composer/pianist Beth Karp’s music for a silent film classic and a collaboration with poet Christopher Luna, and more. This sort of fun is happening every month at The Waypost, and though admission is free, a hat will be passed.

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