jeremy denk

A lot of Oregonians are on summer vacation this weekend, but Oregon classical music is as active as at anytime during the year, thanks mostly to the twin towers of Oregon summer music, the four-decade old Oregon Bach Festival and Chamber Music Northwest. The University of Oregon festival’s big concert in its Portland mini-season featured one of the great 20th century choral orchestral works, British composer Michael Tippett’s moving 1944 oratorio, A Child of Our Time. Modeled on Baroque masterpieces by Handel and J.S. Bach (whose Mass in G is also on the program conducted by future OBF artistic director Matthew Halls at Eugene’s Hult Center Saturday and Northwest Portland’s Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Friday), it uses African American spirituals like “Steal Away” as musical seeds, much as Bach built some of his sacred works on the girders of Lutheran chorale tunes.

I have no idea why it’s never been performed in Oregon till now, but it means that you shouldn’t pass up this chance to catch one of the highest British musical achievements.  The OBF’s Portland incursion also includes another J.S. Bach master work: New York organist John Scott performs his Organ Mass, or Keyboard Practice (Clavier-Ubung) III Monday at Trinity Cathedral and Friday at Eugene’s Central Lutheran Church.


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