Kathleen Supové

Rx for PDX and BKLN

Concerts suggest treatment options for music scene delusions of grandeur, inferiority complexes


PATIENT #1 DIAGNOSIS: Delusions of Grandeur

Patient presents with the following symptoms.

SYMPTOM 1: Hypertrophy of reputation: hype without content.
Example: exploding piano title etc. should have called it imploding piano.

EXPLANATION: Kathleen Supove’s piano recital at the Brunish Theatre on the evening of Saturday September 6 left me whelmed, neither under nor over. Fear No Music brought her to town thanks to new directors Kenji Bunch (artistic director) and Monica Ohuchi’s (executive director) Brooklyn contacts from their recent past lives in New York. Like Bunch, Supové grew up in Portland. I am looking forward to Bunch corralling more of our fledglings who left/fled town — both to fete them and to compare them to our own who migrated here or natives who stayed/returned. This time, Portland came out ahead of Brooklyn.

Kathleen Supové.

Kathleen Supové.

The best things about Supové are her wacky press photos and her refreshingly un-PR self-revelatory quotes, captured in Jana Hanchett’s Oregon ArtsWatch preview. Supové possesses a much-needed (in the classical music genre) sense of branding – both visual and textual. It isn’t that no one has said it before; it’s that she says it quicker and bloodier: “What really cemented it for me is the ‘dharma’ aspect of [contemporary music]: that you could help create the performance tradition for each piece; that you weren’t the three-millionth person playing that Beethoven sonata, oppressed by years of other people’s traditions.”

Or charming dry personality-revealing comments about her current Digital Debussy Project in which she commissioned several Brooklyn buddies like Annie Gosfield to contribute pieces: “Annie could give you a whole speech of how she felt like she had to wrestle Debussy to the ground. She said it really messed her up,” said Supové. “I mean, she’s OK now.”

Had I read this engaging preview prior to the concert, raising my own hopes artificially, I would have been several degrees less than underwhelmed after the actual event and this article would have been a rant. As it was, I was not surprised. Maybe I’m buzz-proof, but Supove’s millennial “Run Lola Run” Berlin stage attire looked a little dated and kitschy for me, foreshadowing a bait-and-switch from balls-out pyrotechnics to fake sex. My trepidation increased when she walked out to the piano in Portland’s Brunish Theater and politely addressed the audience, displaying slouching posture and total lack of charisma on stage. The blah opening set the stage for the rest of the show.


Preview: Kathleen Supové Explodes the Piano Recital

Portland native brings Brooklyn's volatile contemporary classical music back home.


Hungry for wickedly virtuosic pianism and the limitless sounds of electro-acoustic transformations? Gazing enviously at New York City’s contemporary music scene? Well, Oregon, take a look out your front door! fEARnoMUSIC, directed by Portland-native Kenji Bunch and his Seattle-born wife Monica Ohuchi, is launching its 2014-2015 season with the explosive force of Portland émigré Kathleen Supové, Oregon’s own dynamite pianist who has become a catalyzing curator of New York City’s contemporary music scene.

Through her Exploding Piano series, also the name of her 2010 album, and her music festival Music with a View at lower Manhattan’s The Flea Theater, Supové commissions and performs new piano works spawned from the vast, creative minds of contemporary composers like Mohammad Fairouz, Annie Gosfield, Matt Marks, Missy Mazzoli, Jacob TV, Carolyn Yarnell, and Randall Woolf. She’s bringing a taste of this ear-rocking scene to Portland for a one night performance.

Kathleen Supové performs Saturday at Brunish Theatre in downtown Portland.

Kathleen Supové performs Saturday at Brunish Theatre in downtown Portland.

Strangely, Supové has never performed in her home state of Oregon, unless you count high school studio recitals forty years ago. “It’s not for lack of trying; it just hasn’t happened logistically,” Supové explained in an interview with Oregon ArtsWatch. “I am so delighted with fEARnoMUSIC and Kenji and Monica. It’s really a dream come true to come here and play what I think of as my favorite signature repertoire.”


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