obo addy

ArtsWatch Weekly: barking mad

Biting into September's shows, Brett Campbell's music picks, Miss Ethnic Non-Specific, West African drumming & dance, more

Here we are in the Dog Days of Summer, and we pretty much know what the phrase means: that hot and often muggy stretch of August that seems to last forever, when the sun saps energy and the whole world seems to lag. But where did the saying come from?

Maybe from the rising of the dog star, Sirius – a period, as Wikipedia describes it, that “Greek and Roman astrology connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.” Not to mention this week’s Dog Days interloper, the lunar blotting-out of the sun. The story ambles down from Zeus to Achilles, Hector, Seneca, and Pliny, on into the medical lore of the early modern age and even the Age of Reason: The Clavis Calendria of 1813 declares that in the Dog Days “the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, Quinto raged with anger, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.”

It’s their time: “Pierrepont Edward Lacy and His Dog, Gun,” attributed to Milton W. Hopkins, 1835-36, oil on canvas, Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, Rochester, New York

All of which, frankly, has us looking forward to September, which in the cultural world (maybe as a carryover from the traditional school calendar) is the true time of fresh beginnings. Theater seasons begin to kick in. The dance calendar gets busy. The Oregon Symphony gets ready to swing into action again. TBA, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s annual Time-Based Art festival, overtakes the city Sept. 7-17.

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Last Saturday, I attended a memorial service for a Lewis & Clark College music professor, Franya Berkman, who died at age 43 on August 26. It was the first of three such services this month, all involving beloved figures in the state’s world music community. This Saturday, August 6 at 5:30 pm, the same venue, Agnes Flanagan Chapel on the L&C campus, will host a similar public remembrance of the life of Obo Addy, the Ghanaian drummer, composer, teacher and L&C prof who died September 13. Berkman was completing a book about Addy when she died.

On Sunday, October 7th, a Buddhist memorial for Addy will be held at Oregon Buddhist Center, 17555 Bryant Rd. In Portland. And on October 20, the University of Oregon will honor the life and work of the former dean of its School of Music and Dance, Anne Dhu McLucas, who was killed September 8, at a public memorial service at at 4 p.m. in Beall Concert Hall at the MarAbel B. Frohnmayer Music Building, 961 E. 18th Ave., on the UO campus. Like Berkman, McLucas was an ethnomusicologist.

The sad coincidence of the passing of three figures so critical to increasing our understanding of the role of music in many cultures, including America’s, has occasioned much grief, of course, but remembering them also reminds us how much they broadened our horizons. I’ve written about Addy’s legacy, which includes not just his glorious music but also the Obo Addy Legacy Project (formerly known as Homowo) that has brought world music to thousands of Oregonians. Here are some memories of Berkman and McLucas from their friends and colleagues.

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Classical music never really seems to take much of a holiday in Oregon anymore, but certainly the tide receded a bit after the big summer festivals ended last month, with only a few scattered events since then. And of course, almost everyone gets out of the way of Portland’s 800 lb September gorilla, the Time Based Arts Festival. But the cool breezes blowing through the state in the past few days, not to mention a couple of early concerts by the Oregon Symphony earlier this month and the Eugene Symphony last week herald the start of what promises to be one of the richest seasons of classical music in recent Oregon history.

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