Personally and musically, it was on the whole a very good year. Almost an entirely very good one. But there is always the element of the bittersweet as one gets older, and one starts to get ever more particular about what may be defined as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. The mortality reflex starts to kick in at the age of 50. You don’t want to give too much importance to minor things when the time you have left might be less than the time you’ve already had. [Hm, that was way more dark than I was intending, but I’ll leave it because it’s true.]
People love lists (even when they say they don’t), so this will basically be what they call in the blog biz a ‘listicle’. It sounds like it should be a body part, but don’t fear – it’s just an amalgamation of ‘list’ and ‘article’. Enjoy! (or not, your choice.) And it’s in chronological order, sort of.
The (very) good list(icle).
Performing Caroline Shaw‘s Limestone and Felt with cellist Marilyn DeOliveira.
Playing music for string quartet and marimba with percussionist Colin Currie.
*recorded for broadcast/streaming on OPB’s State of Wonder – coming January 2019
So, lots of different stuff happened in 2018, and it’s looking like 2019 might be just as interesting (in a good way) or better! I wish the same for you as well – thanks for making this blog a place to visit, and I hope to make it a little bit more populated with reading material in the coming year!
Things are still in the thick of the holiday onslaught, but with a couple of free days to get my breath back, it also gave me some time to look ahead at what I’ve got coming up. This is just a quick glance at what I’m looking forward to – I’m sure to add more things as they occur to me in the future.
45th Parallel – C2 concerts
On February 15th at the Old Church Concert Hall, the two string quartets of the 45th Parallel Universe (Mousai REMIX and Pyxis Quartet) will play two very different, but likely equally powerful programs. Mousai’s program “Sons of the Soil” presents works written by African-American composers, including Florence Price. Mousai always performs with such integrity and intensity, I’m really looking forward to hearing them present these unjustly neglected works.
Pyxis’ program “I Spat in the Eye of Fate and Lived” will feature pieces by four local composers specially commissioned to accompany poetry written and read by Micah Fletcher, who was the person who bravely intervened (almost losing his life) on behalf of two Muslim women who were being threatened by an attacker on a Portland MAX train in 2017. It is a concert experience – the prospect of which both frightens and inspires me – that you won’t want to miss.
I’m so excited about this one! A couple years ago I was supposed to rejoin my colleagues from my graduate school string quartet to play the Schubert Quintet with renowned cellist Lynn Harrell at the University of Wyoming. Unfortunately, a family emergency meant I had to cancel. The good news is that Harrell is returning to Laramie for their Cello Festival, and I get go go out there and play Brahms’ wonderful G major String Sextet. If you’re in the area, please come by!
This Friday, November 9th at 7:00pm and 8:30pm at The Old Church Concert Hall, 45th Parallel Universe presents the first of its C² concerts – two concerts, one evening, featuring two new ensembles that are part of the Universe: the Arcturus Quintet and the Gemini Project percussion ensemble. The idea is two one-hour concerts, separated by a ‘happy half-hour’ – complete with catered snacks and a no-host bar, where audience members and musicians can mingle as the set up for the second concert takes place. You can go to just one concert – take your pick – or both, with each one ticketed separately. It enables two concert experiences in the time that one longer concert might take, and adds greater variety to each concert’s offerings.
The first concert belongs to the Arcturus Quintet – an ensemble configuration of flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, and French horn – which isn’t that familiar to most audiences. It’s a shame, as the repertoire for the ensemble is fantastic, and it’s a way to hear instruments that are most often associated with the symphony orchestra on their own. I always find watching wind players doing their thing fascinating just from a technical standpoint, and the unique timbres of their instruments combine in delightful, and often surprising ways. The all-American program features music by Jennifer Higdon (whose work gives the concert its name), Samuel Barber, and Irving Fine.
Here’s an introduction to what you can expect from clarinetist James Shields:
The second concert belongs to the percussion ensemble The Gemini Project, founded by Sergio Carreno and Jonathan Greeney. Their program consists of works by Andy Akiho (who’s had quite a few performances in Portland the last couple seasons – and rightly so!), Peter Klatzhow (whose work gives the concert its name), Steve Reich, and more.