Weekend MusicWatch: Is the music on? The answer is blowin’ in the snow

Saxophonist Marty Ehrlich solos in a concerto by Portland composer David Schiff, conducting right, with Third Angle. Photo: Tom Emerson.

The snow may be a-blowin’ in Oregon this weekend, but so are the soloists in various concerts around our snowy state. Please double check with the venues involved if you plan on attending any of the shows mentioned here to make sure they’re still happening, and allow extra time to traverse slippery roads. Update: when we hear about cancellations and postponements, we’ll try to remove them from this post when possible. Presenters, feel free to note such changes atOAW’s Facebook page.

Third Angle New Music, Thursday, Jimmy Mak’s, Portland. One of Oregon’s finest composers continues his re-connection with jazz as David Schiff adds a new movement to his ongoing cycle of concertos for improvising soloists and chamber orchestra. The first two installments (Mountains and Rivers, which 3A premiered in 2008) feature two of America’s top avant jazzers, pianist Myra Melford and University of Oregon faculty trumpeter Brian McWhorter, and the new third concerto, Clouds and Stars, spotlights yet another, saxophonist Marty Ehrlich. The program also features originals by the eminent Oregon jazz guitarist Dan Balmer, uncategorizable New York composer/visionary John Zorn, and McWhorter.

Melford and Ehrlich, also a veteran improvising duo, play at Portland’s Reed College on Saturday in a tribute to the late Reed alum Larry Karush, the pianist who premiered the first concerto in Schiff’s series.

Leon Atkinson, Friday, The Old Church, Portland. The host of NPR’s Guitar Hour show, a protege of Andres Segovia, plays classical and jazz guitar music.

Oregon Chamber Players, Saturday, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Portland. Still more CPE Bach (his Symphony #2 and Handel, along with music by Holst, Glazunov, and more.

Ilya Poletaev, Sunday, Reed College Performing Arts Building 300, Portland. The prizewinning pianist and McGill University prof (a frequent guest of the Boston chamber orchestra A Far Cry, which appeared in Portland last month) brings one of the Baroque’s pinnacles, J.S. Bach’s monumental Well Tempered Clavier, book two, which he’ll perform on, variously, harpsichord, fortepiano, and modern piano to show how the music has been performed in different ways throughout history. Since Bach wrote the WTC to demonstrate the beauty of the many tunings available to pre-industrial musicians (all now ignored by the overwhelming majority of performances in the 20th century’s compromised, standardized equal — that is, unWell —  temperament), this historically informed recital may offer a glimpse into the true depth of Bach’s genius and the full glory of his music.

3 Leg Torso, Sunday, First Presbyterian Church, Portland. The quintessentially uncategorizable Portland ensemble’s deliriously delicious chamber music embraces classical, tango, klezmer, Latin,  Roma, jazz and myriad other music, but sounds like nobody else.

Oregon Brass Society, Sunday, First Methodist Church, Eugene. This tribute to the late composer Todd Johnson, whose life this concert celebrates, features the premiere of his Transformer, an original work for the aboriginal Australian didjeridu and organ.


Portland Baroque Orchestra, Saturday, First Baptist Church, Portland. PBO stretches beyond its name and into the Classical era that followed the Baroque, in a program that includes a gorgeous, sometimes anguished, sometimes buoyant cello concerto by CPE Bach featuring the stalwart cellist Tanya Tomkins; a horn concerto by Haydn featuring British hunting horn specialist Andrew Clark on the now-rare instrument it was written for (which is to the modern horn as steel cut oats is to Cheerios); one of Haydn’s most dramatic mid-period symphonies, #49; and Mozart’s A Musical Joke, which really is funny and fun. Friday and Sunday’s performances have been scrubbed, and the renowned British keyboard master and conductor Richard Egarr also had to cancel his appearance (for non snow-related reasons), and luckily busy PBO artistic director Monica Huggett was available to step in for the home team, which is like having Willie Mays available to pinch hit for Hank Aaron.

Oregon Symphony, Saturday, Smith Auditorium, Willamette University, Salem, and Sunday and Monday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland. Featuring merely the greatest of all orchestral works, Beethoven’s Symphony #7 (which, given the orchestra’s sterling work of late is worth a return visit even if you’ve been there often), the concert also includes Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto, with the acclaimed cellist Johannes Moser, and a most welcome OSO debut: the major 20th century Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski’s powerful 1992 Symphony #4, which premiered almost exactly 20 years ago in Los Angeles.

Starlight Symphony, Sunday, Tualatin Presbyterian Church. Baroquaholics who missed their fix because PBO went all Classical-era this weekend can get their Bach, Telemann and Handel (Water Music and Royal Fireworks music) here, in a concert featuring the fine soprano Flora Sussely and flutist Ellen Berkcovitz.


Portland Opera, Lucia di Lammermoor, Thursday and Saturday, Keller Auditorium, Portland. See Angela Allen’s review.

Matthew Hayward and Angela Niederloh, Friday, Cedar Hills United Church of Christ, Portland. The frequent Portland Opera performers sing two of Robert Schumann’s famous song cycles, The Poet’s Love and A Woman’s Life and Love.

University of Oregon Opera Ensemble, Sunday and Monday [newly added performance], Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon, Eugene. Read my preview of this new production of two great American one-acts: Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Old Maid and the Thief (memorably done in Portland recently by Opera Theater Oregon) and Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti (memorably done recently by Portland Opera).

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