Weekend MusicWatch: Boundary stretching

Portland Taiko’s Michelle Fujii

For fans of European classical music, this weekend brings the closest approximation of the doldrums we’ll see this year. Oh, there’s a few scattered events in parks and elsewhere, but really, this is the weekend to stretch your music boundaries.

This weekend and next, Portland Taiko artistic director Michelle Fujii brings her new one woman dance/theater/installation, “Choking”, to the Interstate Firehouse. Her regular group performs in Portland’s Waterfront Park and at a festival.

At Portland’s Hollywood Theater, the prolific Filmusik organization offers a new live soundtrack (performed by Retake Productions), of an Italian Mad Max rip-off called Warriors of the Wasteland.

At Oregon’s quintessential jazz club, two of the state’s finest young jazz outfits — pianist Andrew Oliver’s Kora Band, which beautifully fuses the West African lute with appealing, trumpet-fueled modern jazz, and another great jazz pianist’s ensemble, the Ben Darwish Trio.

The twentieth annual Zimbabwean Music Festival returns to Corvallis this weekend, offering opportunities to hear and learn to play some of the planet’s bubbliest music on mbira, marimba, and more. There’s more learning and listening opportunities over in Oakridge, where you can catch the wave of the  ukulele revival. And the thirteenth annual Pickathon brings an attractive array of rootsy sounds from national and regional acts to Pendarvis Farm southeast of Portland.

Eugeneans have the annual Oregon Festival of American Music to reacquaint themselves with some of the most engaging sounds of the 20th century — the great songwriters Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer and more, including a fully staged version of the Gershwins’ sublimely silly 1930 musical Girl Crazy, which spawned more hits than almost any other musical of its era.

And if you happen to be down in the state’s southwest corner for, say, a theater orgy, and the annual Oregon Country Fair didn’t quite fill your cravings, check out the trippy world music options at a big new festival that’s rounded up some well-known performers.

We’ll resume our regularly scheduled Euro-centric classical coverage soon.

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