cream of the classical crop

Discovered via @Oregon_Symphony on Twitter.

summer music in portland

Now that the symphony’s season is over, there’s no reason to despair!  No, in fact, there are many reasons to be happy, for there are myriad opportunities to hear live classical music nearly all summer long here in Portland and surrounding areas.

Starting in just a couple of weeks is the Astoria Music Festival (June 18 – 27), this year given over mostly to the mounting of a rare production of a chamber-sized version of Alban Berg’s crowning masterpiece, Wozzeck.  Click here for more information.

Co-incident with the Astoria festival is the Chintimini Chamber Music Festival (June 18 – 27) in Corvallis.  This festival features many musicians who grew up in the Corvallis area, as well as other parts of the Northwest. [link]

Chamber Music Northwest (June 21 – July 25) celebrates their 40th anniversary summer season, and they’ve pulled out many a stop to give their audiences a memorable summer.  Of special interest is their inaugural Protegé Project, which features many up and coming young musicians who may well turn out to be the superstars of the future.  Portland violinist Rebecca Anderson returns as part of this intriguing program.  Find out about the entire season here.

The Oregon Bach Festival (June 25 – July 11) is no longer confined just to Eugene, this year the festival expands not only to Portland for two concerts, but to the central Oregon city of Bend as well.  The season opens with the Verdi Requiem, and closes with Mendelssohn’s Elijah in both Portland and Eugene.  More info is available here.

For keyboard aficionados, Portland Piano International (July 11 – 18) offers an array of recitals, lectures, master classes, and films all centered around the piano.  There are always established artists and new discoveries represented at the festival, so it’s a great place to go and get your summer dose of pianistic prowess.  Complete information may be found here.

Venturing away from greater Portland?  There are still some options open to you that are sure to please.  If you’re heading north, you can partake of the Olympic Music Festival (July 3 – August 22), located on the bucolic grounds of an old dairy farm on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.  [Link]

The Sunriver Music Festival (August 10 – 21) will be presenting concerts both in Bend (at the Tower Theater) and at Sunriver Resort (in the Great Hall).  The featured performer this year is Chinese pianist Di Wu.  [link]

The Peter Britt Music Festival (August 6 – 22) in Jacksonville presents its usual stellar roster of soloists along with the Britt Festival Orchestra, including Chee-Yun, Emanuel Ax, Jennifer Frautschi, and Jon Nakamatsu. [link]

arts: cheap alternative in hard times?


Alex Ross has an excellent article in the current issue of The New Yorker, where he talks about the fine arts as a more reasonable alternative to other forms of entertainment in difficult economic times:

The image of the classical concert hall as a playground for the rich is planted deep in the cultural psyche. When Hollywood filmmakers set a scene at the symphony, twits in evening wear fill the frame, their jaws tight and their noses held high. The monocle returns to fashion for the first time since the death of Erich von Stroheim. One day, an intrepid art director will come to a concert and discover that the classical audience is well populated by schoolteachers, proofreaders, students, retirees, and others with no entry in the Social Register. They can afford to attend because classical events aren’t nearly as expensive as most people assume, especially in comparison with the extravagant pricing schemes for élite pop acts. (Prince infamously charged more than three thousand dollars a seat for a series of shows in 2007; standing room was a mere three hundred.) The cheapest seats at the Metropolitan Opera are fifteen dollars, slightly more than the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. Chamber-music concerts at the Frick, the Met Museum, Tully Hall, and Bargemusic are in the twenty-to-fifty-dollar range; most new-music events go for ten to twenty. Concerts at churches and music schools are usually free. Students can get in to the New York Philharmonic for the price of a movie.

He then sets out to find out how much music one can hear live for a total of $100 or less.  Here’s what he was able to see:

  • The Metropolitan Opera’s productions of Thaïs (with Renée Fleming and Thomas Hampson) and Rondine (with Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna).
  • An open rehearsal of the New York Philharmonic.
  • Composer Gabriel Kahane performing his own works at a Greenwich Village club, Le Poisson Rouge.
  • Juilliard musicians performing in the lobby of a downtown building.
  • An organ prelude concert at St. Mary the Virgin.
  • An ACJW chamber music concert in Brooklyn.
  • Pianist Alon Goldstein at Town Hall.

Grand total? $88.  Not too shabby!

In a similar vein, many local arts organizations around Portland are offering cross-pollinated deals amongst their various subscription and ticket holders.  The Oregon Symphony, for example, is encouraging its concertgoers to keep their ticket stubs and sign up for their e-mail list – Symphony in E-mail, to be alerted to such discounted opportunities.  Sounds like a good idea…