Emyli Poltorak


Emilyi Poltorak's Alpha Beta will be performed at Classical Revolution PDX's Muse:Forward salon on Sunday.

Emyli Poltorak’s Alpha Beta will be performed at Muse:Forward on Sunday.


We are cursed to live in interesting times. Last year Portland witnessed a pretty dramatic growth spurt in successful informal accessible (yet high quality) local contemporary classical music events spurred on by local composers through organizations like ClassicalRevolutionPDX and Piano!PushPlay! Severe growing pains ensued, from a few members of the traditional classical music community within CRPDX becoming enraged to the point of a near-coup which ultimately resulted in a complete board-of-directors turnover, to suffocatingly huge crowds in performing spaces not designed for such.

The nearly ousted executive director of CRPDX, Christopher Corbell, himself a composer, found a neat solution. In early 2014 he created another organization, Muse:Forward, to continue nurturing the community of burgeoning composers/music creatives and the performers who wanted to hear and play their works, to defuse the anger of the CRPDX traditionalists and to alleviate the crowding at one of its monthly classical jam venues, northeast Portland cafe The Waypost.

Finally, an unobstructed open mic chamber-music-jam setting for music created by local living Portlanders, M:F differs from formal presenters such as Cascadia Composers or Third Angle New Music’s “New Ideas in Music” event because it happens monthly and it is not curated. Anyone can participate provided their thumb- or mud-wrestling skills can muscle them onto the stage.

Going beyond the parameters (whatever those are) of classical music (whatever that is), Corbell is inviting “more cross-fertilization among experimentalists, composers, improvisers, sound designers, electronic music makers and other performing artists.” This mash-up debuts at The Waypost, on Sunday, May 18 at 7 pm. Of course those like me who want to just listen, talk with the creators and performers, quaff a beer or two and eat carnitas tacos are also welcome.

The first hour will feature music by composers John Berendzen, a four time winner of Portland Drama Critics’ Circle awards for sound design who’s composed music for Portland’s Liminal Performance Group, and Emyli Poltorak, the young Portland State student star whose angry Alpha Beta was one of the highlights at Cascadia Composers Crazy Jane concert last November. The rest of the night is a free-for-all open mic, reserved for newly created local music, followed (or preceded) by audience/creator/performer kibbitzing.


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