siletz bay music festival

ArtsWatch Weekly: making it work

You can help us keep the engine running; summer music festivals, "Cabaret" and "The Addams Family," "Baskerville" and more

We have a lot on our minds here at ArtsWatch this week, from the kickoff of the Chamber Music Northwest season to free ballet in the park to a chorus line of Broadway musicals. We’ll get to all of that, and more.

But first, we want to talk about something basic.

ArtsWatch has been here when you’ve needed coverage. Now we ask you to support our important work. Unlike many media outlets, we don’t operate behind a paywall. Everything we publish is freely available to you and anyone who wants to read it. That means we’re in a partnership with our readers, and to continue to grow and thrive we need your support.
It’s especially key right now, as coverage of the fine and performing arts in other media continues to drop dramatically. ArtsWatch has become the leading source for substantial, informed arts news that you don’t find anywhere else.
 If you’re an arts organization, you count on us to get your word out. If you’re a devoted follower of the arts, you count on us to know what’s going on. You count on us to begin and continue compelling conversations. ArtsWatch can’t continue to do that without your contributions.
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and all of our talented freelance writers



Oregon Ballet Theatre dancer Xuan Cheng in rehearsal for Giaconda Barbuto’s new work in “Choreography XX” at the Washington Park Rose Garden Amphitheater Thursday and Friday. Photo: Yi Yin




ArtsWatch Weekly: Solstice!

Here comes summer. Here comes summer art. Take off your shoes, put on your swimsuit, and dive right in.

Raise a glass, if you’re of a mind, to summer, which according to the wise old heads of The Old Farmer’s Almanac officially begins at 9:24 Pacific Daylight Time this evening – Tuesday, June 20. If you’re reading this on the East Coast you’ll need to wait until 12:24 on Wednesday morning for the solstice to kick in.

That makes it high time to start thinking about summer arts, too.

The eclectic Siletz Bay Music Festival in and around Lincoln City on the Oregon coast opens Wednesday with some Mendelssohn and Bach’s Goldberg Variations, and continues through July 4 with concerts ranging from classics to rock violin to swing jazz and cabaret.

Chamber Music Northwest kicks off its summer season in Portland on Monday evening, June 26, with a program of music by Clara Schumann, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Amy Beach (plus a little Bach), and continues through July 30. The opener’s a good introduction to this year’s celebration of women composers – and that ties in neatly to Choreography XX, Oregon Ballet Theatre’s swiftly approaching program of free performances June 29-30 in the Washington Park Rose Garden Amphitheater, featuring works by three women choreographers. For a deeper look, see Jamuna Chiarini’s interview with Helen Simoneau, one of the three, in DanceWatch Weekly.

Falstaff (K. T. Vogt) bemoans his difficulties wooing Mistresses Ford and Page, unaware that he’s speaking to Master Ford (Rex Young) in disguise. Photo: Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

The granddaddy of Oregon summer festivals, Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival, continues full steam ahead through October with eleven plays moving in and out of repertory during the season. Sir John Falstaff, that great gross night, makes a big splash, making appearances in all three plays in which he’s a character. For more on that, read Suzi Steffen’s Five questions for the Falstaffs, an interview with festival actors K.T. Vogt and G. Valmont Thomas, who between them cover all of the big guy’s bases.


ArtsWatch Weekly: Road trip!

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

GET OUT OF TOWN. No, seriously. Summer’s here, and it’s travel time in Oregon: ah, the possibilities! You could grab a dashing neck scarf, put the top down on your convertible and zip on down the open road toward the California border and Ashland, where the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is in full swing. Suzi Steffen’s been spending a lot of time there for ArtsWatch this season, and has sent back several insightful posts in her quest to cover the 2016 season like a fog smothering a bay in a John Carpenter summer horror flick.

Quang (James Ryen) and Nhan (Will Dao) have a run-in with a redneck biker (Paco Tolson) in "Vietgone." Photo :Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Quang (James Ryen) and Nhan (Will Dao) have a run-in with a redneck biker (Paco Tolson) in “Vietgone.” Photo :Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Here’s what she’s reported so far. And watch soon for her reviews of Roe, the festival’s world-premiere production of Lisa Loomer’s play inspired by the groundbreaking Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on abortion, and The Winter’s Tale, Shakespeare’s late romance. Read, and plan:


ArtsWatch Weekly: Hello Drammys, farewell Conduit, back to Bach

A look at the week that was in Oregon arts. A glimpse ahead at the week that's going to be.

GET ON YOUR TUX AND YOUR EVENING GOWN (or, this being Portland, your jeans and flannels and Doc Martens): It’s Drammy Time. The 2016 Drammy Awards ceremony, the 38th annual celebration of outstanding work on the city’s theater stages, is ready to rock the Newmark Theatre on Monday, June 27. This year’s festivities will be emceed by a gaggle of hosts – the legendary sketch comedy troupe The 3rd Floor, coming out of retirement for the night.

drammyslogo_printcmykThe Drammys always include a little backstage drama, and this year’s nominations have generated some heat among theater insiders, both for shows that were nominated and shows that weren’t: some shows have fierce partisans. That’s not unusual, though the temperature might be a little higher this year. The fireworks might add some spice to the ceremony, or everything might burst into daffodils and roses. Enthusiasm usually runs high. One thing bound to spike interest is the addition this year of an awards-ceremony-in-the-awards-ceremony: the equity advocacy group Age & Gender Equity in the Arts will announce $30,000 in grants for equity projects. Jane Vogel, AGE’s founder, reveals the whys and hows in this story for ArtsWatch.


Portland music, like most Portlanders, hightails it from the concert halls to the wide open spaces this summer. Classical music, jazz, even opera go alfresco as the summer music season heats up, and there’s plenty of indoor musical delight available at concert halls, clubs and churches around town. Here’s a few of this month’s musical highlights, which we’ll update and augment in our weekly MusicWatches. Feel free to tell our readers about anything we’ve missed in the comments section below.

The Oregon Bach Festival concludes July 12.

The Oregon Bach Festival concludes July 12.

Chamber Music Northwest
Various Venues
July 2-26
The venerable summer festival brings back its usual array of New York classical music stars and rising young players, and adds a few welcome new wrinkles: partnerships with other arts organizations, a new noon concert series showcasing contemporary chamber music in short, hour-long concerts—and a happy infusion of humor in a field that too often takes itself way too seriously. Most concerts take place at Reed College and Portland State University.

Contemporary music takes the stage at a free noon concert at the Portland Art Museum on July 2 with Debussy’s gorgeous string quartet and Portland composer David Schiff’s sparkling arrangement of music from Debussy’s Children’s Corner that premiered at last year’s festival, and another free community concert July 24 at Mt. Hood Community College featuring the Akropolis Reed Quintet also offers music from this century and the last.

Most happily, the new@noon series features contemporary music, starting  with the July 3 show spotlighting CMNW’s Protege Project composer Chris Rogerson, plus a klezmer piece by the wild and wonderful American composer Paul Schoenfield and a sonata by Portland’s own compositional eminence, Tomas Svoboda. A quintet of world premieres showcases the voice of Protege Project soprano Evanna Chiew  at the July 10 noon show.

New music graces the main stages on July 6-7 with premieres by one of Oregon’s (and America’s) finest composers, Kenji Bunch, and Pulitzer Prize winning Bang on a Can composer David Lang, plus a couple of late-career beauties by Mozart, and the July 23-24 concerts that continue the festival’s long tradition of commissioned new works, especially by Reed College’s own David Schiff, another of Oregon’s finest composers, with his new Nonet alongside music by Shulman and Schubert. The popular Club Concerts return July 8 with a sold out show of music at Jimmy Mak’s jazz club by 20th century kings of complexity Elliott Carter and Charles Wuorinen, a centuries-spanning concert of French music (from Rameau to Messiaen) featuring Protege Project players on July 15 at Alberta Rose Theatre, and a pair of highly recommended shows on July 22 featuring BodyVox dancers and music of Igor Stravinsky and new works written in the past couple of  years, including a premiere by John Steinmetz, at the dance company’s studios.


News & Notes: Musical Travelers

Oregon musicians take their sounds overseas.

Summer is travel time, and Oregon music is on the move. Last week, we told you about Oregon City’s Unistus Choir and its impending trip to Estonia. But they’re hardly the only Oregon musicians heading out this summer.

This Wednesday, June 25, you can bid bon voyage to Portland Youth Philharmonic at its free noon concert in Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Squre, where they’ll perform music by two of today’s most appealing contemporary composers, Christopher Theofanidis (Visions and Miracles) and Portland’s own Kenji Bunch (Supermaximum!) along with 20th century American music legend (and West Coast contemporary music godfather) Henry Cowell (Ancient Desert Drone), plus Dvorak’s Symphonic Variations and Brahms’s Academic Festival Overture. After that, they fly to Chicago to conclude their 90th anniversary season with a July 5 performance at the annual Grant Park Music Festival, which is led by none other than Oregon Symphony music director Carlos Kalmar, who extended the invitation.


The Tokyo Quartet performs Monday at Chamber Music Northwest.
Photo: Pete Checchia


This weekend is the calm before Oregon’s summer classical music monsoon season. Two major festivals (Chamber Music Northwest and the Oregon Bach Festival) begin next week, and a third (Portland International Piano Festival) follows in July. This weekend, music lovers in search of a little turbulence are advised to head coastward, where the Astoria Music Festival continues and the Siletz Bay Music Festival wraps up. Friday’s Astoria chamber music offering includes two surefire winners: Felix Mendelssohn’s Octet (which would astonish even if it hadn’t been written by a teenager), and Francis Poulenc’s 1939 Sextet for Piano and Winds, which combines insouciant wit, melancholy and sheer delight. A four-hand Schubert sonata rounds out the program. The Russian-themed Saturday matinee at Astoria’s Liberty Theater features cellist Sergey Antonov,  violinist Roy Malan and pianist Cary Lewis in an arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition plus music by Tchaikovsky and a potent piano trio by Anton Arensky’s. Saturday’s orchestral concert is an all-Brahms affair (Double Concerto, Symphony #2, Academic Festival Overture), while Sunday’s matinee concert with Antonov, pianist Alexandre Dossin and soprano Ruth Ann Swenson includes superb concertos for cello and piano by Haydn and Mozart, respectively, and music from Johann Strauss’s The Bat.


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