RACC

News and Notes Oregon music edition

Oregon musicians and musical arts institutions score honors and dollars.

Let’s indulge in some holiday cheer by sharing some of the good news Oregon music artists and institutions have recently received. Information comes directly from press releases.

Eugene Symphony NEA Grant

Just in time for its 50th birthday, the ESO scored a $20,000 Art Works award National Endowment for the Arts – its biggest in more than 15 years and second largest ever. It’ll support a January residency and concert with alto sax master Branford Marsalis, who often performs in classical and pop music settings too. He’s performing with the orchetra January 22 at the Hult Center and will work with students from area middle and high schools and the University of Oregon and Lane Community College.

CD Booklet Cover and Back - Semifinal - 8-13

New Jazz Competition

Speaking of jazz, Portland State University will host the first annual Jazz Forward Competition on February 20 and 21, 2015 during the 12th Annual Portland Jazz Festival. Designed and curated by Origin Records recording artist and PSU Jazz Faculty member Jeff Baker, a critically acclaimed performer and award winning educator educator in the Northwest region, Jazz Forward is an outgrowth of the four year PSU Student Stage, organized by the Leroy Vinnegar Jazz Institute @ PSU. The partnership with Portland Jazz Festival joins other major regional student jazz competitions across the country and represents a worthy investment in the future of Oregon music.

Chamber Music Northwest NEA Grant

The annual Portland summer festival also received a $20K NEA Art Works award, largest in its history, to support this summer’s 30-concert festival, which includes seven world and regional premieres commissioned and co-commissioned by CMNW, and composed by Peter Schickele (the nom de norm of PDQ Bach and an excellent composer in his own right), Pulitzer Prize winners David Lang and Aaron Jay Kernis, Pulitzer finalist Paul Schoenfeld, and the terrific Portland composers Kenji Bunch and David Schiff. Several other Oregon theaters, dance companies and other artists received Art Works grants.

Portland State Chamber Choir Award

The latest CD by the PSU Chamber Choir, Into Unknown Worlds, has been named a “2014 Recording to Die For” in Stereophile magazine. The list, which includes very few classical recordings and no other student recordings, will be published in the February. “This marvelously recorded compendium of ‘modern choral music from the far reaches of the globe’ rises to the top thanks to the quality of its music and singing and to its captivating sense of space,” raved Stereophile and San Francisco Classical Voice contributor Jason Serinus. It’s available at available at Oregon-based CDBaby.com, Amazon.com, and iTunes. I’ll have a review on ArtsWatch soon, just in time for stocking stuffer season. Spoiler alert: buy it!

Oregon Musicians RACC Up Support

Darrell Grant and Hamilton Cheifetz performed in Grant's "The Territory." Photo: Jim Leisy.

Darrell Grant and Hamilton Cheifetz performed in Grant’s “The Territory,” at Chamber Music Northwest. Grant won a 2015 RACC Project Grant to turn the composition into a CD. Photo: Jim Leisy.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council, which covers the three-county Portland metro area, has awarded $693,959 in project grants for calendar year 2015, including 66 grants to nonprofit organizations and schools, and 80 individual artists in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. Oregonians winning support for various music-related projects include Beaverton Symphony Orchestra, Big Horn Brass, Matt Carlson/Golden Retriever, Creative Music Guild, Fear No Music, 45th Parallel, Metro Arts, Michelle Fujii, Darrell Grant, Jen Harrison/Northwest Horn Orchestra, Nat Hulskamp, Theresa Koon/John Vergin/ Sandra Stone, My Voice Music, Travis Neel, Obo Addy Legacy Project, One World Chorus, Stephen Osserman, PDX Pop Now!, Portland Symphonic Choir, Raphael Spiro String Quartet, Resonance Vocal Ensemble, Resonate Choral Arts, Ethan Rose, Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan, Vibe, and Jennifer Wright. Other grants (in theater, dance, education, and media arts, for example) have musical components.

This year’s project grants (one of several categories of grants doled out by RACC, including others for professional development, individual artists, and general operating support) were funded by the City of Portland, RACC’s workplace giving program, Work for Art, Clackamas County, Washington County, Multnomah County and Metro. Congrats to all — and to the Oregon audiences who’ll get to experience the music these grants help make possible next year.

Know of other recent good news in Oregon music? Please share it in the comments below.
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Want to learn more about contemporary Oregon classical music? Check out Oregon ComposersWatch.

Year-end indulgence

This arts writer’s version of a sculptor’s requisite bed piece

I have a number of reasons I don’t like to do year-end reviews or best-ofs; or rather, I have written them in the past, shouldn’t have, and would avoid doing so if I could kick the overriding need to reflect and make an accounting that comes with December.

The Art Center in Corvallis

The Arts Center in Corvallis

First of all, my art viewing, like my arts writing, is a some time thing, which makes me considerably less than an authority. I’m mostly a stay-at-home guy who hangs out in my low-residency (formerly referred to as my dungeon) basement working on other projects and occasionally scanning Facebook for updates from other artists, writers and friends in general. That said, I guess I do look at a lot of art because I follow links. (I suppose if I was a serious info junkie I’d hang out on Twitter instead, but social media = social contract and who has the time?) What I don’t do often, but should, is make the trip to larger cities within fifteen to seventy miles of my home to look. I know I’m missing a lot of worthy, non-virtual exhibits. For instance, there’s always Ditch Projects in Springfield, and Disjecta has considerably improved their programming over the years, as has Corvallis’ The Arts Center. I do regret not getting to these and many other venues more frequently.

Secondly, I want to find it prudent to avoid superlatives, which a summary “grading” of the previous year’s events surely implies. While this may make me a poor (reluctant) critic, admittedly, I have my favorite artists and have opinions about what galleries show consistently good work or are not afraid to push the envelope, but there’s this little voice in my head that asks “Who am I to make such pronouncements?” (See above paragraph.) It has the faint odor of boosterism, self or otherwise, which oddly enough becomes exclusionary. (As my mother says, “Don’t interrupt your work if it speaks for itself.”) To my mind this can quickly become the drugged teat from which malcontents suckle their spew. I’ve seen it happen. The hunger. The horror. The hunger.

Continues…

 
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