autumn music & ambient resonances

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.

 Autumn Music

Arcturus Quintet | Photo: Ashley Courter

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.

Tickets and information.

Here’s an introduction to what you can expect from clarinetist James Shields:

Ambient Resonances

The Gemini Project | Photo: Ashley Courter

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.

Tickets and information.

Here are both Serge and Jon to give their introduction to the program:

opening with a bang

The moniker for the season opening special concert this year is “Opening with a Bang”, and it’s very appropriate! If you love all of the spectacular (both loud AND soft) things that a full symphony orchestra can do, then this concert is tailor-made for you.

I know that Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Fountains of Rome are widely acknowledged as ‘warhorses’, but they are wonderful ones. The scenes that Ottorino conjures up in his two sonic portraits of early 20th century Rome are so vivid, and so delightful, that I really never tire of playing them. The last time the Oregon Symphony visited these pieces, we recorded them for Delos (along with Roman Festivals) under then music director James DePreist. The brass, in particular, will wow everyone tomorrow night, even up in the cheap seats.

Colin Currie – Photo: Chris Dawes

Colin Currie is back with us, and he’s brought a percussion concerto (entitled Sieidi) by the Finnish composer Kalevi Aho, which will be the US premiere of the work. It’s a wonderfully kaleidoscopic piece, as percussion concertos often are, but it’s got that seriousness of intent that in other pieces can often be lost in the pyrotechnics of the soloist’s display. It ends meditatively, in a sort of Finnish riff on Ravel’s Bolero. The word sieidi refers to ancient burial or ritual locations, much like standing stone sites in the United Kingdom:

The sieidi is a type of sacrificial place among Sámis. It usually consists of natural objects, either of stone orwood, unshaped by human [sic]. Offerings of meat, antler, metal  and in later times alcohol were made to sieidi in order to obtain good hunting success, among other things. According to the ethnographic material, they served as a medium to contact supernatural forces. The dating of sieidi sites is often complicated. There are finds from the Iron Age and Middle Ages but there is also oral tradition indicating their use even in the 20th century [source]

notes on the end of a season

It’s here. The end of the 2011-2012 season officially begins after our concert tonight. No matter how much I wish for the season to end, when it finally arrives, it is always a bittersweet occasion. A large part of that is saying goodbye to friends for the summer months, and in other instances, saying goodbye to colleagues moving on either to other pastures or retirement.

This season we bid farewell to percussionist Matthew McKay, who heads off to glory with the Boston Symphony; violinist Sarah Roth, who is staying in Portland and nurturing a burgeoning private studio of eager young violin students; and violinist Mary Ann Coggins Kaza, who is retiring after 42 years with the orchestra! Everyone who comes to the Oregon Symphony is part of the Oregon Symphony family, no matter how long or short their stay. Thanks to these three wonderful musicians for their years of service and dedication.