Oregon Contemporary Theatre

Arts Sampler: Eugene by train for a car free, arts-stuffed weekend

Eugene offers arts lovers a walkable bazaar of music, theater, dance and more

Story, video and photos by GARY FERRINGTON

As the fall arts season opens, arts-loving Portlanders and other Oregonians seeking a relaxed, car-free weekend exploring dance, music, theater, and the visual arts can look 100 miles up river from Portland. Visitors arriving by train from Portland or points north will find most of Eugene’s cultural activities within walking distance of downtown lodging options — a healthy alternative to driving. If motor transportation is needed, the nationally award-winning LTD bus system and numerous taxi companies provide reliable travel about the city.

Eugene at the headwaters of the Willamette.

Eugene at the headwaters of the Willamette.

Amtrak Cascade train service makes rail passenger travel along the corridor between Eugene and Portland, with connections to Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., a comfortable coach or business class option for sitting back and watching the scenic Willamette valley roll by as sleek modern Spanish designed Talgo trains pass through a rural countryside not easily seen from the ever increasingly congested I-5 freeway.

The coming arts season offers some excellent opportunities for visitors to enjoy an arts-saturated weekend in Eugene. Read on for a guide to venues, dining options, exhibitions, performances, and discover some historical architecture along the way.


Eugene Concert Choir, Oregon Contemporary Theatre previews: Alzheimer’s onstage

'Shadow and Light,' 'Blackberry Winter' explore the consequences of Alzheimer’s Disease through music and theater


Most of us will eventually know a family member, friend, acquaintance, or colleague who, as a vibrant individual today, will be slowly transformed by the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Their subtle slide into the shadows is difficult to first recognize and then accept. But as the loss of mental capacity becomes more pronounced, the lives of those affected, the families and friends who care about them are changed forever.

Diane Retallack conducts Eugene Vocal Arts in the world premiere of "Shadow and Light." Photo: Eugene Concert Choir.

Diane Retallack conducts Eugene Vocal Arts in the world premiere of “Shadow and Light.” Photo: Jon Christopher Meyers.

The arts have long provided a way of exploring the emotional consequences of mental illnesses like Alzheimer’s. Themes of anxiety, schizophrenia, melancholy, depression and other disorders have appeared in paintings and sculpture, on stage, or in music.

This month, Eugene Concert Choir’s select chamber ensemble, Eugene Vocal Arts and Oregon Contemporary Theatre offer two new productions about people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers. On Saturday, April 2, an introductory symposium co-hosted by the two arts organizations initiates a month of music and drama.


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