Weekend MusicWatch

Percussion and piano music highlight this weekend's Oregon musical offerings.

If only some of the concerts that are flooding next week’s calendar had been scheduled for this relatively light weekend in Oregon music. Nevertheless, some excellent choices in chamber, choral, orchestral, and contemporary music are available while you brace yourself for next weekend’s overload. If you know of others our readers should consider, please let them know in the comments section below.

Janice Johnson
November 4
Grace Memorial Episcopal Church, 1535 NE 17th Ave. Portland.
The soprano, abetted by pianist Kira Whiting, cellist David Eby and the Arnica String Quartet sings
songs about night, dreams, and moonlight by Brahms, Chausson, Hahn, Marx, Bachelet, Debussy, Bernstein, Franck, Fauré, and Liszt.

Christina Kobb
November 6
Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, 8800 SW Oleson Road, Portland.
The Norwegian pianist, a specialist in 19th century piano techniques, plays music by Debussy, Kreisler, Grieg, Tollefsen, and Chopin, accompanied by violinist Greg Ewer and pianist Janet Guggenheim. She’s also doing a lecture demonstration about the role of the piano in early 19th century Vienna the next afternoon.

“Ellington and Strayhorn: A Celebration”
November 6–8, Reed College, Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of this three day conference (including concerts) devoted to the musical legacy of two of America’s greatest composers, including an arrangement by David Schiff and performances by Darrell Grant and Becky Kilgore.

Schiff conducts Third Angle. Photo: Tom Emerson.

The Oregon Symphony plays a little music by Portland composer David Schiff. Photo: Tom Emerson.

Oregon Symphony
November 6, Smith Auditorium, Willamette University, 270 Winter Street SE, Salem.
November 7 & 9, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.
Star pianist Kirill Gerstein solos in Rachmaninoff’s chestnut Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, the orchestra plays a relative Tchaikovsky rarity (his Manfred Symphony), and then devotes a whopping 341 seconds of its season to pay a 70th birthday tribute to its hometown’s most nationally renowned living classical music composer, David Schiff, by performing his decade-old Infernal, a sly, jazzy takeoff on Stravinsky’s The Firebird commissioned by another orchestra up the road in Seattle that actually cares about the music of Northwest composers.

Newport Symphony Orchestra
November 7–8
Performing Arts Center, 777 W. Olive Street, Newport.
The orchestra’s program looks at America from the vantage point of 19th-, 20th, and 21st century composers Antonin Dvorak (his popular Cello Concerto, starring Alison Eldridge), William Schuman (New England Triptych), and Michael Daugherty (Route 66, a short, jazzy travelogue of a road trip from the midwest to the West Coast that could have replaced Nelson Riddle’s famous theme for the 1960s TV series.

Oregon Mozart Players
November 7
Ball Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene.
Eugene native Elizabeth Rowe, who now holds down the principal flute position with the Boston Symphony, returns to her hometown to join the Oregon Mozart Players in a dramatic flute concerto by CPE Bach. The chamber orchestra will also play Witold Lutoslawski’s charming 1950 Little Suite, based on folk songs and dances from the composer’s native Poland, and Beethoven’s first symphony.

Musica Maestrale
November 7
First Christian Church, 1314 SW Park Ave. Portland.
Read my Willamette Week preview of this historically informed performance.

“Transcendental Etudes”
November 7, Michelle’s Piano, 600 SE Stark St, Portland.
November 8, Rogers Music Center, Willamette University campus, Salem.
Students of University of Oregon prof Alexandre Dossin play Franz Liszt’s ambitious cycle of piano studies.

Matthew Halls leads the University of Oregon Chamber Choir Sunday.

Matthew Halls leads the University of Oregon Chamber Choir Sunday.

University of Oregon Chamber Choir and University Singers
November 8
First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street, Eugene.
Oregon Bach Festival director Matthew Halls leads the students in a motet by J.S. Bach and Faure’s much-loved Requiem.

Portland Percussion Group performs Sunday at Portland State University.

Portland Percussion Group performs Sunday at Portland State University.

Portland Percussion Group
November 8
Portland State University, Lincoln Recital Hall, 1825 SW Broadway, Portland.
It’s hard to think of another recent composition that displays the expressive range of contemporary percussion as alluringly as Paul Lanky’s glittering Threads, a half-hour beauty that’s the centerpiece of PPG’s show, which also features glass bottles, bowed vibes, metal pipes, and music by contemporary composers Gabriela Lena Frank, C. Snow, and Alan Keown.

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4 Responses.

  1. bob priest says:

    Wow, your blistering sentence re. the OSO’s token tribute to David Schiff is breathtakingly good work – bravo!

  2. Jeff Winslow says:

    Chestnut or not, Rachmaninov’s is quite possibly the most imaginative set of variations ever written on Paganini’s silly little caprice, and the one with the most awe-inspiring dramatic arc (Lutoslawski’s comes close but doesn’t have the scope). Even if everything else he wrote is someday forgotten, he deserves to be remembered for this one masterpiece, where for once he didn’t have to struggle with the form all on his own.

    On the other hand, the last time I heard the OSO play “Manfred”, back in Maestro DePreist’s day, I couldn’t wait for it to be over. A masterpiece of self-indulgence, more like.

    341 seconds may indeed not be a lot, but it’ll be plenty for Maestro Schiff to clean out our cobwebs. 🙂

  3. Now, now, Bob, aren’t you being a little hard on the OSO? After all, that’s 341 seconds more than they devoted to Portland’s other greatest living composer/prof, Tomas Svoboda, in his 75th birth year. Clearly the trend line is positive!

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