Weekend MusicWatch: Rarities and Mysteries

Warhorses usually dominate the classical music stables, but this weekend’s Oregon music scene offers rarely heard music from the Czech lands and beyond, antique horns and fiddles, a proliferation of not-so-often sung vocal and choral music, some fab femme flutists, and more.

Portland Columbia Symphony, Saturday, First United Methodist Church, Portland, and Sunday, Mt. Hood Community College Theater, Gresham.

Elizabeth Pitcairn plays the Red Violin with the Columbia Symphony this weekend.

Elizabeth Pitcairn plays the Red Violin with the Columbia Symphony this weekend.

The gimmick is that soloist Elizabeth Pitcairn will be toting and playing the celebrated 1720 Strad featured in the movie The Red Violin. The substance is that the movie score excerpts the orchestra will play were written by one of the most acclaimed living American composers, John Corigliano. The program also features Edward Elgar’s ever-popular, ever elusive Enigma Variations and Leopold Stokowski’s overheated orchestration of J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the second appearance in as many weeks of a Fantasia piece on an Oregon orchestra program.


Portland Baroque Orchestra, Saturday, First Baptist Church (SOLD OUT) and Sunday, Kaul Auditorium, Reed College. Portland.

Violinist Monica Huggett kicks off her third decade as PBO artistic director with an unusual concert of fantastic, virtuosic, crazy, funny, experimental (for their time) rarely heard Baroque gems from Bohemian, Moravian, Italian, and other composers (the best known names on the program are probably Biber and Muffat), many of which musically depict figures and scenes from stories of the time. Fans of virtuosic violins — this is the kind of music that red violin was made for — and those gorgeous early horns should take special note.


Oregon Mozart Players, Saturday, Beall Concert Hall, University of Oregon.

Washington-born pianist Stephen Beus returns to his native Northwest (after triumphing in top competitions at New York’s Juilliard School and around the world) to play Chopin’s Piano Concerto #2, and the program also includes one of the most colorful masterpieces of the French Baroque, Rameau’s five-act “musical tragedy,” The Descendants of Boreas, and one of Haydn’s great Paris symphonies, #85, The Queen. On Friday, Beus joins OMP music director Kelly Kuo at the ivories for two-hand and four hand music by American composer Samuel Barber, Israeli composer Ronn Yedidia, Brahms, Liszt and Mendelssohn at Eugene Piano Academy in a limited-seating fundraiser, advance tickets required.




Carla Rossi Sings the End of the World, Thursday, Alberta Rose Theatre, Portland.

Read Sarah Sentilles ArtsWatch preview of the “riotous multimedia cabaret show” that uses the songs of Kurt Weill, drag theater and dance, and savage humor to limn parallels between Weimar Germany and contemporary America.


PSU Chamber Choir, Man Choir and Vox Femina perform Friday and Sunday.

PSU Chamber Choir, Man Choir and Vox Femina perform Friday and Sunday.

Portland State Chamber Choir, Man Choir and Vox Femina, Friday and Sunday, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, Portland.

More than 150 of the state’s top young singers sing classical prayers by Hildegard von Bingen, Brahms, American composers Peter Schickele and Joan Szymko (a PSU faculty member), British composers Gustav Holst and Henry Purcell, the great Spanish Renaissance composers Tomas Luis de Victoria and Francisco Guerrero, plus American spirituals, the Bosnian Prayer of the Children, and much more.

Bernadette Peters, Oregon Symphony, Saturday, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Portland.

She couldn’t be bothered to announce her program in advance, but we imagine that the Tony Award-winning singer/actor will join the band for some of her memorable Broadway show tunes by Sondheim and many others.


Mahesh Kale, Saturday, Valley Catholic School, Beaverton.

Read my Willamette Week preview of this Hindustani vocal music concert.


Consonare, Saturday, First Congregational Church, Portland.

Another program of lesser known composers (Patterson, Rabinvich, Clausen, Forbes, Unterseher, Dilworth, Paul Simon — wait, how’d he get on that list? – and more) comes from this Portland choir now entering its ninth season.


Festival Chorale Oregon, Friday, St. Joseph Church, Salem.

Delectably doomy program includes Fauré’s great Requiem and Distler’s haunting Dance of Death (Totentanz).


Satori Men’s Chorus, Saturday, Central Lutheran Church, Portland.

The choir sings music by Rutter, Pachelbel, Rice and Lloyd Webber, Lennon, and a whole bunch of composers you’ve probably never heard of, plus seasonal music of Native American, Welsh, Irish, and Chinese origins.


Eric Stern, Hungry Opera Machine, Sunday, Mississippi Pizza, Portland. Read my Willamette Week preview of this concert version of the Vagabond Opera leader’s new Gypsy jazz influenced opera.

Eric Stern's new Gypsy jazz opera premieres in a concert version at Portland's Mississippi Pizza.

Eric Stern’s new Gypsy jazz opera premieres in a concert version at Portland’s Mississippi Pizza

Oregon Bach Collegium, Sunday, United Lutheran Church, Eugene.

Along with Margret Gries playing some of Schubert’s gorgeous Musical Moments on the fortepiano, baritone Phillip Engdahl and a vocal quartet will sing some of his immortal songs.




45th Parallel, Thursday, The Old Church, Portland.

If PBO’s early Bohemian music shows weren’t happening after this one, they’d make an apt prelude to this well-chosen concert of breezy, too rarely heard 20th century music, written late in the respective lives of the great Czech composers Janacek (from Moravia) and Martinu (from Bohemia), plus one of Mozart’s few chamber works that can fairly be called underperformed (most likely because of its unusual instrumentation), his Horn Quintet, and more, all performed by some of the Oregon Symphony’s top talents.


45th Parallel plays windy music Thursday.

45th Parallel plays windy music Thursday at Portland’s Old Church.


Mary Stolper, Thursday, Schnitzer Hall, UO.

The renowned classical flutist joins UO musicians in a strong lineup of works by J.S. Bach, contemporary Israeli composer Shulamit Ran, the great 20th century Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, American composer Frederic Rzewski, and Katherine Hoover.


“Organ-izing the Cosmos,” Friday, First Methodist Church, Eugene.

Astronomer Bernie Bopp narrates a performance by eight local organists that includes electronic sounds derived from signals from space; projected visuals of the moon, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and other planets along with their moons and rings; and organ music related to the solar system including Mars Aeliptica by Rafael Ferreyra, Saturn by Bent Lorentzen, Neptune (from The Planets) by Gustav Holst, Gloria Hodges’ Hymn To The Moon, Missa Gaia by James Scott and more.


Oregon Composers Forum, Sunday, Aasen-Hull Hall, University of Oregon.

Concert features the premieres of 11 new works by UO student composers.


Future Music Oregon, Saturday, Schnitzer Hall, UO.

Guest electronic composer Leigh Landy plays his music.


Susan Chan performs Sunday at First Presbyterian Church.

Susan Chan performs Sunday at First Presbyterian Church.

Susan Chan, Sunday, First Presbyterian Church, Portland.

Read my Willamette Week preview of the Portland State prof’s Celebration Works recital featuring music by Chinese and Chinese-American composers, plus Bach.


Oregon Wind Ensemble, Monday, Beall Hall, UO.

Music by the fine contemporary composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and other Brits including Gustav Host, Gordon Jacob and contemporary composers.


Jamie Baum, Monday, Lincoln Hall, Portland State University.

Read my Willamette Week preview of the fine jazz flutist’s PSU concert.


Oregon Percussion Ensemble, Tuesday, Beall Hall, UO.

In late 1930s San Francisco, Portland-born Lou Harrison and his friend John Cage invented the modern percussion ensemble, the DIY garage band of its day. Enlisting dancers and amateur musicians and acquiring impromptu instruments like flower pots and brake drums from junkyards and Chinatown shops, they bypassed the Eurocentric classical music establishment and created an ensemble that would play their original music. By the third year, they were packing major performance halls and drawing rave reviews. This program features some of the classics premiered in those concerts, including the Harrison-Cage collaboration Double Music, Harrison’s Song of Quetzalcoatl and Fugue for percussion, Cage’s Second and Third Constructions for metal instruments, along with the pioneering piece that helped inspire their percussion writing, French-American composer Edgard Varese’s then-radical Ionization.  The concert will be live-streamed.

Want to read more about Oregon classical music? Support Oregon ArtsWatch! 

Comments are closed.

Oregon ArtsWatch Archives