eugene classical music

Riverside Chamber Symphony preview: River lullaby and seasonal abstracts

Community orchestra premieres new works by Oregon composers influenced by Oregon seasons and North American indigenous cultures


Editor’s note: Part of this preview originally appeared last month, when Rall’s piece was scheduled to be performed at the Riverside Chamber Symphony’s December concert at Wildish Theatre. That performance was rescheduled due to weather, so we’re reposting it now, and with additional news: The RCS will perform another nature-influenced work by another  member of the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance’s Oregon Composers Forum, Martin Quiroga, Jr. at its March concert. More information on that piece follows.

Oregon composer Justin Ralls has dedicated his newly composed chamber orchestral work, Water is Life, to the Standing Rock Lakota, who are engaged in an on-going effort to protect the tribe’s sacred lands and water supply from possible contamination by spills from an oil pipeline now under construction near their reservation.

Water is Life was inspired by the same values and indigenous American traditions as those expressed at Standing Rock. The new one-movement, 10-minute “river lullabye,” as conductor Philip Bayles calls it, receives its world premiere on February 3 by the Eugene/Springfield-based Riverside Chamber Symphony.

Riverside Chamber Symphony, conducted by Philip Bayles. Photo: Philip Bayles.

“It is an incredibly personal work,” Ralls says, “created from a spirit of healing, resilience, and solidarity” with the Lakota, who have been at the forefront of his thoughts since their Dakota Access Pipeline efforts began.


Oregon Composers Forum: Seeding new Oregon music

Fresh sounds flourish from University of Oregon new music program, guest artists, and student-led ensembles


As autumn’s leaves fall, fresh new music is already springing up at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance’s Oregon Composers Forum (OCF), the state’s primary seedbed of new Oregon music.

“The Forum is at the core of the school’s composition program,” texts Robert Kyr, founder and director of OCF, and chair of the university’s composition department. “It offers our students the opportunity to compose and perform their own works and music by their colleagues, while also learning how to found and direct new music ensembles.”  Such experiences, he adds, “deeply connect audiences with an exceptional broad range of contemporary music, including multimedia collaborations.”

OCF premiers new music by young composers. Photo: G. Ferrington.

OCF premiers new music by young composers. Photo: G. Ferrington.

The forum promises a diverse menu of concert options and it all begins with a fall OCF concert at 7:30 pm (Pacific), Tuesday, November 10. This live-streamed event from the University of Oregon’s beautiful Beall Concert Hall, features an array of new music ranging from Li Tao’s Illusion of Fog (2013) for solo piano to large ensemble pieces such as Benjamin J. Penwell’s Kafkaesque (2015) for Flute, Clarinet, Horn, Trumpet, Percussion, Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Bass. Other selections include Passacaglia by Emily Korzeniewski, Echoes from the Void by Aidan Ramsay, Prayer for Roethke by Stephen Anthony Rawson, Tempest by Michael Dekovich, Stilly Sleep by Ramsey Sadaka, 7F by Cara Haxo, June by Madeline Cannon, Spaces by Izabel Austin, and Cascade by Nathan Engelmann.


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