Weekend MusicWatch: Haunting sounds and visions

Eugene's Mood Area 52 plays its live score to the classic film Nosferatu

As noted in our feature story,  a pair of  recommended Portland  choral concerts lead the menu of classical and postclassical music offerings this weekend: On Saturday and Sunday at Portland’s First Unitarian Church, the Choral Arts Ensemble kicks off its season of auditions for long-time conductor Roger Doyle’s successor with CAE assistant conductor Tracey Edson leading a program of music by Portland’s Joan Szymko (the longtime composer for DoJump! dance theater), contemporary composer Kirke Mechem, Edward McDowell, Norman Dello Joio Frederick Delius and more, including the Choral Dances from Benjamin Britten’s 1953 opera Gloriana.

Also on Saturday (at Lewis & Clark College’s Agnes Flanagan Chapel) and Sunday (at  First Presbyterian Church), Portland’s Resonance Ensemble sings music by Samuel Barber, Johannes Brahms, Maurice Durufle and German composer Hugo Distler’s haunting, theatrical 1934 Dance of Death, which combines modern influences such as jazz with medieval styles and more.

On Saturday, you can hear music composed in our time and our neighborhood at Cascadia Composers’ concert at southeast Portland’s Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church, which features string quartets, wind quintets, piano and voice pairs, and other chamber music by composers Jeff Winslow, Tomas Svoboda,  Greg Steinke, Gary Noland, Liz Nedela, Bonnie Miksch, Jack Gabel (whose piece includes Agnieszka Laska’s video montage), Ted Clifford and CC founder David Bernstein.

On Sunday and Monday at Schnitzer Hall, the Oregon Symphony performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, with New York violinist Karen Gomyo front and center, along with Aaron Copland’s Letter from Home and Carl Nielsen’s Symphony #4 — both works that respond to world wars.

That was also the theme of the OSO’s celebrated Carnegie Hall concert last spring, and you can hear what the excitement was all about by picking up a copy of the newly released CD of that program, recorded last spring at Portland’s Schnitzer Concert Hall and featuring music of Britten, Vaughan Williams, Ives and John Adams. Grab one at the release party on Sunday.

Sunday night also brings the return of the Jasper Quartet, who starred in last year’s Chamber Music Northwest Protege concerts for rising young performers. At Kaul Auditorium on the campus of Portland’s Reed College, they’ll play a recent quartet by one of America’s most acclaimed composers, Aaron J. Kernis, Samuel Barber’s sole string quartet, whose second movement became the basis of the classic Adagio for String Orchestra (and later a choral arrangement too), and Franz Schubert’s searing String Quartet #14, “Death and the Maiden.”

Also this weekend and next (Fridays through Sundays), Portland sound artist Seth Nehil, composer Matt Carlson, videographer Dicky Dahl, dramaturge Jonathan Walters and Portland’s Flash Choir present Children’s Games, a four-act “sonic cinematic performance” that “celebrates the associative, fragmentary and irrational aspects of play and explores the traumatic colonization of wild space.” Nehil has creative evocative atmospheres to works by Portland dance and theater artists.

If you’re looking for a Halloween-themed multimedia experience, check out Eugene neo-tango/surrealist cabaret quintet Mood Area 52’s annual live performance of their original score to F.W. Murnau’s classic 1922 Dracula  film Nosferatu on Saturday at Portland’s Mission Theater.  MA52 will back the opening act, the Middle Eastern dance troupe Luminessa. On Halloween night, Mood Area 52 will also open for Jason Webley at Eugene’s WOW Hall.

Another alt classical option this Saturday: Portland’s classically trained, “Balkan Arabic klezmer-based, original absurdist cabaret ensemble,” Vagabond Opera, hosts a Transylvanian Voodoo Ball at the city’s Star Theater, which doubles as a release party for the band’s giddy new CD, Sing for Your Lives! Expect dueling celli, belly dance, fire arts, non-belly dance, Portland Balkan gypsy brass band Chervona, tarot readings, and more. Costumes and open minded attitudes encouraged.

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