Weekend MusicWatch

Festivals offer a break from the heat and a balm for the ears.

There’s a lot of celebrating going on this weekend, and not just Independence Day. Three classical music festivals and another that’s more jazz oriented offer a break from the heat and delights for the ear.

Matthew Halls leads performances at the Oregon Bach Festival.

Matthew Halls leads performances at the Oregon Bach Festival.

Oregon Bach Festival
July 1-July 12
Various venues, Eugene.
Artistic director Matthew Halls leads a July 2 concert at Silva Hall featuring a Bach cantata, Brahms symphony, and Bruckner’s Te Deum with singers from the Stangeland Youth Family Academy, who get their own showcase July 8 at Eugene’s First Methodist Church. At Beall Hall, OBF’s partnership with CMNW brings a recital of Beethoven violin sonatas July 1, while July 3’s CMNW collaboration stars two of the most esteemed leaders of the historically informed performance practice movement: Masaaki Suzuki, founder and director of the Bach Collegium Japan (which made a legendary series of recordings of Bach’s cantatas on period instruments) and Monica Huggett, who ran the Juilliard historical performance program and leads Portland Baroque Orchestra and other major ensembles. They’ll join members of the festival’s new Berwick Academy in some of the most celebrated music of the era: one of J.S. Bach’s orchestral suites (with a very famous air), one of his Brandenburg Concertos and one of the concertos from Handel’s finest set, his Op. 6. On July 5, another CMNW collaboration offers 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  Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D Major and his magnificent String Quintet in D Major. Pianist Ya Fei Chuang plays Schubert, Chopin and more at Beall July 6. Suzuki leads the festival chorus and orchestra at Silva in Haydn’s rousing Lord Nelson Mass plus Stravinsky’s Pulcinella ballet music and Mozart’s Symphony No. 25 July 7. That same night at Portland’s Trinity Cathedral, the great organist Paul Jacobs plays Bach, Brahms and Reger.

Chamber Music Northwest
Various Venues
July 2-8
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. The new@noon series also 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. And 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 beauties by Mozart (there’s also a Eugene performance; see below).

Monica Huggett plays Bach and more on Sunday.

Monica Huggett performs at the Oregon Bach Festival and Chamber Music Northwest.

Alas, the Club Concert July 8 at Jimmy Mak’s jazz club featuring music by 20th century kings of complexity Elliott Carter and Charles Wuorinen is sold out, as is the July 5 concert collaboration with the Oregon Bach Festival (you might be able to catch the July 3 Eugene performance). In the antiques wing, a three concert series of Beethoven violin sonatas begins on July 3, and Fourth of July fireworks erupt in four-hand piano music of Schumann, Brahms, Schubert and more at Reed College.

“Cadence Festival of the Unknown”
July 2
Classic Pianos, SE Powell and Milwaukie Ave., Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of this new series of jazz and other improv-oriented music sponsored by the venerable jazz magazine now based in Oregon.

Siletz Bay Music Festival
July 1-7
Various venues, Lincoln City
Wednesday’s jazzy chamber concert at Salishan Spa features jazz clarinetist Ken Peplos playing Mozart with venerable pianists Dick Hyman and Gerald Robbins, plus the great Portland singer Rebecca Kilgore. Friday’s concert offers young pianist Adam Jackson soloing in Beethoven’s Piano concerto #1, while Robbins and Mei-Ting Sun take the keyboards for Mozart’s two-piano concerto K. 365. The orchestra plays the Northwest premiere of Daniel Kellogg’s “Mozart’s Hymn” and Prokofiev’s first symphony. The Fourth of July show has a suitably American character, with classics by Copland, Samuel Barber, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and the western premiere of Hyman’s piano Concerto Independence Day. Sunday’s Sinatra showcase with Peplowski, Hyman and Kilgore (plus guests) features tunes made famous by the kid from Hoboken and the kind of old Jazz Age tunes that Hyman and Peplowski specialize in.

Newport Symphony Orchestra
July 3-4
Newport Performing Arts Center.
The dizzy Portland band 3 Leg Torso joins the orchestra Friday, while the holiday show features movie soundtrack classics.

Dick Hyman and Friends
July 6
Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, 8800 SW Oleson Road, Portland.
Hyman, Kilgore, Peplowski et al bring their Sinatra tribute to Portland in a benefit for Portland Chamber Orchestra.

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Want to learn more about contemporary Oregon classical music? Check out Oregon ComposersWatch. 

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