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Oregon music on record 2015: Contemporary classical

21st century sounds from Oregon composers and musicians

Now that you’ve given to friends, family, and (hint) all those worthy arts nonprofits, how about treating yourself to a gift of Oregon music? We heard only a fraction of the classical, jazz and world music released by Oregon artists this year, but we sure enjoyed a lot of what we did hear. We’re dividing our year-end wrap into three segments this time, and this one covers mostly contemporary music from Oregon composers. And don’t forget our past Oregon CD recommendations in 20122013, and 2014, or our previous entry focusing on Oregon early music ensembles.

David Schiff CD Cover ImageDavid Schiff: Chamber Music Northwest Premieres (2000-2014)
“All of my music is a form of autobiography,” writes Portland composer David Schiff in the liner notes to this new compilation. Judging by this two-disk survey compiling festival performances of five of his most recent compositions, the 70 year old composer has led a pretty fascinating musical life, and this important set chronicles the latest stretch.

The release is a product of one of Oregon’s most fruitful creative collaborations: the three-decade long partnership between Chamber Music Northwest and Schiff. Almost alone among major Oregon music institutions, CMNW has invested in its hometown’s creative potential through its frequent commissions of new music from the Reed College prof. The result is a body of chamber music that stands with any other American composer’s of the period.


Violinist Martin Chalifour and cellist Sergey Antonov perform Saturday at the Astoria Music Festival.

The big summer music festivals begin this month, and several performances in the past couple weeks offered enticing previews of things to come. If last night’s preview performance at Portland’s Old Church is any indication, this year’s Astoria Music Festival will make the drive to the north coast even more appealing than it already is. The two major instrumental soloists, violinist Martin Chalifour (the Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster who also maintains a solo career that’s brought him to Oregon several times in recent years) and cellist Sergey Antonov proved worthy of their stellar reputations.


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