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Weekend MusicWatch: Modern Music Marches On

By Brett Campbell
March 22, 2013
City of Tomorrow wind ensemble guest stars at Northwest New Music's closing March Music Moderne concert Saturday.

City of Tomorrow wind ensemble guest stars at Northwest New Music’s closing March Music Moderne concert Saturday.

The tide of 20th century and contemporary music that commenced last month with the University of Oregon’s Music Today Festival and peaked with Portland’s March Music Moderne finally begins to recede this weekend (leaving some space for that other Oregon March madness) as MMM concludes with concerts by Third Angle (its second and most admirable New Voices in Music project, which includes works by rising young composers from Oregon and beyond) on Thursday at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall, Contemporary Portland Orchestra Project late Friday, and culminating in Northwest New Music’s closing Saturday night concert at Portland’s Community Music Center, with special guests City of Tomorrow woodwind quartet, two of whose members live in Portland. The award winning ensemble is in the midst of its first West Coast tour.  The festival includes a couple more jazz oriented shows on Thursday, with the ever original Dave Storrs and his Blikenvik Band at Portland’s The Waypost, and Friday with PDX Jazz Composers Ensemble’s show at the CMC, with new jazz by some of the top names of the city’s incendiary young original jazz scene.

Vocal Virtuosity

After a month in which instruments took center stage in Oregon concert halls, the voices return to prominence this weekend. On Friday at downtown Portland’s St. James Lutheran Church, the small group of some of Portland’s vocal soloists that call themselves The Ensemble sing one of Haydn’s fairly rarely performed sacred masterpieces, his Lent-oriented Stabat Mater. The group specializes in works that generally require more singers than a typical small ensemble (quartet or so) and fewer than a full choir and orchestra. The dozen singers and seven instrumentalists here reach the Goldilocks state of just the right size, very close in fact to the likely original 1767 forces.
You’ll see some of the same singers at northeast Portland’s St. Stephens Catholic Church on Sunday when the great Cantores in Ecclesia large choir sings the great English composer Thomas Tallis’s Renaissance masterpiece, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, plus works by other masters of the period and later, including Orlandus Lassus, Giovanni Palestrina, Henry Purcell and more.

Many of those same composers will be on the program on March 22 at Eugene’s Central Lutheran Church and March 23 at Silverton’s gorgeous Mt. Angel monastery when the Eugene based Vox Resonat vocal ensemble, directed by UO early music prof Eric Mentzel, sings music for the Lenten season. On the other side of the big river, Bravo Vancouver sponsors a performance of Rachmaninoff’s powerful “All-Night Vigil.”

The fabulous André Chiang rules as Argante in Rinaldo. © Portland Opera / Cory Weaver

The fabulous André Chiang rules as Argante in Rinaldo. © Portland Opera / Cory Weaver

More fine voices will ring out in an even more intimate setting on March 24 in Classical Revolution’s usual haunts: northeast Portland’s Waypost. But these will be the fine singers from Portland Opera’s excellent studio artists program, along with veterans of Opera Theater Oregon and Portland Opera’s traveling opera program, all assembled by Seattle’s Opera on Tap to sing opera classics by Bizet, Wagner, Mozart, Bernstein and more.

Of course, those Portland Opera singers will also be very busy Thursday and Saturday nights, as they star in PO’s fun, colorful  and witty production of Handel’s Baroque masterpiece “Rinaldo” at Portand’s Newmark Theater, accompanied by Portland Baroque Orchestra on period instruments and in historically informed style that leaves plenty of room for those voices to shine in the Newmark’s relatively intimate space.

Orchestral works

It’s a two-Handel weekend for PBO at downtown Portland’s First Baptist Church and Reed College, as another Rinaldo, the acclaimed Italian early music expert Rinaldo Alessandrini, leads the band in still more majestic music by the magnificent Mr. Handel: the glorious “Water Music” that so impressed King George he demanded aquatic encores. The concert also features stirring music by Rameau.

The Oregon Symphony performs Dvorak’s popular Symphony #8 at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and in Salem this weekend, along with Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto #1 (with Portland fave Kirill Gerstein taking the solo role) and Liszt’s “Prometheus.” And on Thursday, the Eugene Symphony plays one of the 20th century’s most thrilling orchestral works: Bartok’s great Concerto for Orchestra, along with Beethoven’s only violin concerto (with Ryu Goto as soloist) and a brief 1985 work by the fine contemporary composer Christopher Rouse.

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