Weekend MusicWatch: Spooky Sounds

Mood Area 52 plays its original score to Nosferatu in Eugene and Portland next week.

Mood Area 52 plays its original score to Nosferatu in Eugene and Portland next week.

Despite the midweek All Hallows Eve, plenty of Oregon musicians are getting their ghoul on this weekend. Classical Revolution PDX’s Decomposers Night Sunday combines contemporary sounds with classic horror from H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. Previous Decomposers Nights have consisted of mostly works by long-dead composers, but this year, it’s a night of the living dead, with several premieres of music by today’s Oregon composers. Under Christopher Corbell’s leadership, CRPDX is evolving into something more than a new (actually old) way of presenting classical music in informal settings, as vital and game changing as that was and is, into a truly creative force in Oregon music. Read Jana Hanchett’s preview.

One of Oregon’s most fun Halloween traditions is Mood Area 52’s annual live, original tango-tinted score (for electric guitar, cello, accordion, bass, horns, toy piano, and plentiful percussion) to F.W. Murnau’s 1922 classic, “Nosferatu,” and this year’s shows (Oct. 30 at Portland’s Mission Theater and Oct. 31 at Eugene’s Bijou Cinemas) also include the band’s original string band soundtrack to Buster Keaton’s 1921 short film “The Boat.”

Still more enticing contemporary Oregon music accompanies another classic film about a scary creature, Paul Wegener’s 1920 German Expressionist masterpiece, “The Golem,” at Portland composer Beth Karp‘s concert Wednesday at northeast Portland’s Alberta Rose Theater.

It’s not exactly a Halloween classic, but the Portland-based Filmusik organization’s reprise of its cheerfully cheesy “Turkish Rambo” travesty is pretty scary in its own right, both for the philosophy the B-movie embodies and its low-budget awfulness. But the original chamber orchesta score by Portland composer Justin Ralls, with live English dubbing by veteran Portland voice actors, is at least as much an attraction as the cackles created by its campy subject.

Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra teams up with Tears of Joy Puppet theater, Portland Symphonic Girlchoir in its Saturday concert at northeast Portland’s Parkrose High School, featuring a pair of “Fantasia” features, Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain” and Paul Dukas’s “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” and spooky music by Grieg, Michael Jackson, John Williams, Bartok, Britten and more.

Organ music, for some reason, often suggests either horror or salvation, heaven or hell, and this time of year, the latter rules in family friendly organ concerts, including Portland keyboard master Michael Barnes’s Wednesday organ recital on downtown Portland’s Old Church‘s 1883 Hook & Hastings tracker organ, Michael Kleinschmidt’s Sunday afternoon Spooktacular on the Rosales organ at northwest Portland’s Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and Sunday’s Pipe Screams concert at Eugene’s First Methodist Church. On Monday, the University of Oregon’s free, brassy SpookTastic show at Aasen-Hull Hall features music by Bach, Shostakovich, and a kid-oriented theater piece.


Dmitri Shostakovich’s 10th Symphony is horrifying, but not in a fun way, as it was inspired by a real life monster, Joseph Stalin. This weekend, the Oregon Symphony plays it and, yet again, Brahms’s Double Concerto (featuring the sibling duo of violinist Christian Tetzlaff and cellist Tanja) and a Weber overture.

The Lewis & Clark College Orchestra’s concert at the school’s Agnes Flanagan Chapel Saturday includes music by Glinka, Tchaikovsky, and Mascagni, and Schubert.


The Bach Cantata Choir plays music by its namesake and other great European Baroque and Renaissance composers (Josquin des Pres, Giovanni Palestrina and Henry Purcell) Sunday at northeast Portland’s Rose City Park Presbyterian Church.

Sunday’s similarly named but entirely different Bach Cantata Vespers at downtown Portland’s St. James Presbyterian Church features a J.S. Bach cantata.

Still another Sunday afternoon concert features the Oregon Bach Collegium at Eugene’s United Lutheran Church, features sopranos Heather Holmquest, Janene Nelson, and Rebecca Sacks and baritone Philip Engdahl singing opera arias by Handel and Bononcini.

Also Sunday, the Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble joins the Central Oregon Mastersingers of Bend in music by Oregon native Morten Lauridsen’s luscious Chansons des Roses (performed by EVAE), Benjamin Britten’s lively Choral Dances from Gloriana (performed by the Mastersingers) and more, at Bend’s Church of the Nazarene 1270 NE 27th St.


The University of Oregon hosts a Saturday concert (which the school is streaming live) featuring contemporary music by Michael Fiday and one of Oregon’s own, UO music prof David Crumb.

On Sunday, the UO welcomes Norwegian tuba titan Øystein Baadsvik, who’s been known to play the violin solos in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” concertos on his unlikely instrument.

Chamber Music Amici‘s Monday concert at Springfield’s Wildish Theater features music by Mozart, Dohnanyi, and a delicious trio by the composer that his student, Oregon-born Lou Harrison, called “the central switchboard for two or three generations of American composers.” California native Henry Cowell sort of invented the modern idea of “world music” (i.e. that different cultures produced different but equally valuable music that can enrich the others), tirelessly advocated for American and “ultramodern” contemporary music, and mentored legions of composers from Harrison to George Gershwin to Burt Bacharach.

The Dover String Quartet, so impressive in their apprenticeship at Portland’s Chamber Music Northwest, return to Oregon Friday to play music of Schubert, Samuel Barber, and, commendably, a commission by Eric Sessler in Ashland’s fine Chamber Music Series –a hometown show for Dover cellist Camden Shaw.


I know, we usually include guitar music under the chamber music category—but when do we have the luxury of so many recommendable guitar concerts? At a Friday concert at Portland State University’s Lincoln Recital Hall, Oregon Guitar Quartet releases its latest album, OGQ leader Bryan Johanson’s transcriptions of a quartet of classical-era symphonies (by Mozart, Haydn, Salieri and Georg Christoph Wagenseil) for a foursome of Oregon’s finest fret boarders (David Franzen, John Mery, Jesse McCann).

Unfortunately, it’s the same day that Terra Nova Consort and long time Oregon Shakespeare Festival guitarist David Rogers plays Bach, Albeniz, Tarrega, Leonard Cohen, Jagger & Richard, Lennon & McCartney, and his own compositions at Oregon City’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

And on Saturday at Marylhurst University’s Wiegand Hall, Dominican Republic guitarist Ruben Gonzalez Avila plays Spanish and Latin American music by Leo Brouwer, Piazzolla, Albeniz and more, in Portland Classic Guitar’s impressive recital series.

OK, they’re not guitars but Oregon Mandolin Orchestra‘s melange of mandolins, mandolas, mandocellos, mandobass, and accompanying instruments would interest any fan of plucked and picked instruments. Their concert Friday at Hillsboro’s Walters Cultural Arts Center features European classical music by Bach, Faure, and more, and American bluegrass, swing and fiddle tunes.


We’ve combined those categories this week because that’s what the Kora Band does. In its October 27 concert in Eugene’s Broadway House series and October 30 at Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s club, the erstwhile Northwest group (its members now scattered to Britain, Brooklyn and beyond) reconvenes to perform Portland-turned-London pianist Andrew Oliver‘s new suite commissioned by Chamber Music America, which explores the connection between contemporary jazz and West African mandinka music, the latter embodied in Kane Mathis’s lovely kora (West African harp), the former in Chad McCullough’s trumpet lines. The Kora Band’s opening act, Oliver’s ensemble the Ocular Concern, has beefed up its piano-clarinet-guitar-vibes-drums core with violin, viola, cello (Oregon Symphony violinist Erin Furbee and violist Brian Quincey, peripatetic cellist Justin Kagan) and bandoneon, the Argentine accordion, in order to play yet another new Oliver suite based on the names of Portland’s sister cities and accordingly embracing various global influences, a project reminiscent of Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck’s global jazz excursions. These are the concerts to catch this week if you can only make one.

Ocular’s bandoneolero, Alex Krebs, also leads Portland’s What the Tango?!, which includes Furbee (who leads the ensemble Tango Pacifico) and OSO bassist Jeff Johnson. They celebrate the release of their new CD of jazz/rock/hip hop influenced tangos Friday at southeast Portland’s Alhambra Theatre.

More South American sounds resonate at the Old Church Sunday when Rio Con Brio, Choro Da Alegria and Sergio Bothlho play Brazilian music, much of it based on the country’s chorro music that combined European classical and African and native American influences, much as North American jazz did but with a quite different sound.

Portland’s Rasika organization presents a concert of Carnatic vocal music at PSU’s Lincoln Hall Saturday starring vocal prodigy Abhishek Raghuram.

And just in time for Halloween, an actual Transylvanian, pianist/composer Lucian Ban (who specializes in the music of his Romanian compatriot George Enescu), comes to Portland’s Jimmy Mak’s Monday with alto saxophonist and one time World Saxophone Quartet member Jorge Sylvester, a last-minute replacement for violist Mat Maneri, who took ill. The two former members of the Asymmetry ensemble will play chamber jazz, on a bill with the excellent Portland band Battle Hymns & Gardens, featuring percussionist Tim DuRoche and members of Blue Cranes. There’s so much good music going on in Oregon this weekend it’s downright scary.

Filmusik: Turkish Rambo from Filmusik on Vimeo.

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