Weekend MusicWatch: Better than leftovers

Takács Quartet performs Monday and Tuesday night at Portland State University. Photo: Patrick Ryan

Takács Quartet performs Monday and Tuesday night at Portland State University. Photo: Patrick Ryan

Thanksgiving music programming is usually as slow as most of us are moving post-feast, but Oregonians seeking refuge from football, family, leftovers and tryptophan will find some worthy musical offerings over this long weekend and beyond.

Takács Quartet Monday and Tuesday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University. A few string quartets have bigger names, but I’ve never heard one that combined such passion, commitment and skill in the core classical repertoire. There’s a reason Friends of Chamber Music brings them back to Oregon every chance they get: they’re simply the best. Monday’s concert features quartets by Mozart, Bartok and Smetana; Tuesday’s has Mozart, Beethoven and Dvorak’s ever popular “American” quartet.

Voxare Quartet, Sunday, University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall. Hear why so many Oregonians want to name Portland’s newest bridge after its greatest composer when the acclaimed young foursome plays Portland-born composer Lou Harrison’s 1979 “String Quartet Set” in the ChamberMusic@Beall series. Originally recorded by Kronos Quartet, Harrison’s majestic 1979 quartet seamlessly integrates French Baroque, medieval and Turkish influences, and the excellent program also features quartets by Bartok and Mendelssohn.

Collegium Musicum, Tuesday, University of Oregon Collier House, Eugene. The college’s early music ensemble performs Baroque music that involves substantial improvisation by Handel, Barbara Strozzi.


PSU Symphony with the Portland Ballet, Friday-Sunday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University. The young dancers are accompanied by the orchestra playing a pair of magic-infused ballet scores, Respighi’s “The Enchanted Toyshop” and Stravinsky’s “The Firebird,” in these 90-minute, no-intermission afternoon and evening performances

Oregon Symphony, with vocalist Jackie Evancho, Saturday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. The young singer from America’s Got Talent sings movie hits.


Christmas Festival of Lights Friday through December 30, The Grotto, NE 85th and Sandy Boulevard, Portland. Every night for the rest of the year, various school, church and community choirs from the Portland metro area will be singing in one of the loveliest spots in the state.

Trinity Choir, Saturday and Sunday, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Portland. One of the best church choirs around sings Advent music.

Vakare Petroliunaite, soprano and Rebecca Stager, piano, Wednesday, St. Andrews Care Center 7617 SE Main Street, Portland. The Julians singer brings some of her bandmates for this open-to-the-public recital of winter music by Schubert, Debussy, Mozart, Handel, Jake Heggie and more.

"Buster" Harrison, ready to steal the show in a 1920 Portland production of "Daddy Long Legs."

“Buster” Harrison, ready to steal the show in a 1920 Portland production of “Daddy Long Legs.”

By the way, the deadline for submitting names for Portland’s new bridge is December 1, and Lou Harrison is a worthy choice. Born in Portland in 1917, he’s now recognized as not only Oregon’s greatest composer but one of America’s most important and widely accessible. Along with co-inventing the percussion ensemble, composing some of the greatest dance scores of the 20th century (for choreographers such as Mark Morris, Merce Cunningham, Jean Erdman and others), writing music for performers like Keith Jarrett, Yo Yo Ma, Kronos Quartet and more, Harrison is considered the godfather of the world music movement for his pioneering fusions of Asian and Western classical music forms. The grand old maverick of American music loved his hometown (where he performed onstage at age 3) and returned from his base in California to work with Oregon musicians such as Oregon Repertory Singers, Portland Gay Men’s Chorus, Venerable Showers of Beauty gamelan, and others. He also wrote several original ballet scores during residencies at Reed College for performances there. No American composer built sturdier bridges between musical cultures. With Harrison’s centenary approaching in 2017, we hope his native city and state will find a way to celebrate his bountiful legacy. Oh, and lest we forget: our tribute to this weekend’s REAL contemporary American holy day.


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