portlanders: a unique quartet event tuesday night

Arnica Quartet

This Tuesday, December 4th, the Arnica Quartet will be playing a happy hour concert at Picnic House restaurant from 4-6 p.m. Picnic House is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts in Portland, and they also happen to be located just across SW Salmon Street from the stage door of Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. So, if you come, what will happen, exactly? Well, I don’t really know! We have arranged to get some space set aside in the restaurant, which is anticipating relatively heavy dinner rush before the show that happens at the Schnitz that evening. It’s not exactly a “sit down and listen quietly” sort of event, but it’s also not exactly “just background music”, since this is a fully rehearsed, serious, classical program of three great string quartets by Beethoven and Schubert. It’s more of an experiment: what happens when you plunk a string quartet down in a busy restaurant? Come find out with us!

There is no cover charge, but we do ask that you help support Picnic House by enjoying a cocktail or some appetizers, even if you’re just coming to hear us play.


Drinks, Dinner, Dessert – String Quartet!
Tuesday, December 4 @ 4 p.m.
Picnic House – 723 SW Salmon Street
Call 503.227.0705 for table/dinner reservations

smaller orchestras matter more

At least that’s what Bill Eddins says in his post from Thursday where he talks about how important it is for smaller ensembles to maintain that all-important personal connection with their audience.

The larger the orchestra the more one can be removed from society in general, mainly because your life is wrapped up in The Über-Orchestra that you belong to.

In “smaller” orchestras?  The connection between you and your peeps is that much more important.  You have a much, much smaller margin for error.  If your organization is perceived in the community as being even more elitist than normal you have a huge mountain to climb if you ever get into trouble.  In this day and age it is vitaly important that these smaller ensembles work diligently at keeping a personal relationship with the community at large.

This is all in relation to a new video produced by the Professional Orchestra Musicians of the Grand Rapids Symphony. I love it, and hope that we might be able to something like it here with the Oregon Symphony Players Association.

oregon symphony caroling

Wait! It’s not as bad as it might seem!  No, you won’t hear musicians from the Oregon Symphony actually singing (something that, believe me, you never, ever want to hear!).  What you hear are dozens of arrangements of Christmas favorites played by a variety of wind and string instruments in places where the holidays perhaps don’t often shine as brightly for those of us who are experiencing good fortune in our lives right now.  Like having a roof over our head, or parents who love us and each other.

Today I went down to the Community Transitional School with eight of my OSO colleagues to play carols for the students and staff.  CTS  serves kids whose mothers are battered and have left home, or children whose parents are themselves homeless.  We were met with dozens of happy, shining faces, and they enjoyed every moment of our visit, as did we, ourselves.  It was great to bring some joy to these kids who are having a very difficult time of it right now, and hopefully we supplied a rare happy holiday memory for them to look back on in the years to come.  This service is coordinated each year by Assistant principal cellist Marilyn De Oliveira and OSO Education and Community Engagement Program Director Monica Hayes.  Kudos to them for such remarkable outreach efforts!

CTS is an incredible resource that I did not even know existed until today.  In addition to teaching the children the basics of the “Three R’s”, they give the kids two nutritious meals a day, provide new or gently used clothes and shoes, socks and underwear each year.  They transport the kids from wherever they are to the school each day.  The children even get free dental screenings each year thanks to Tooth Taxi.

This is such a worthy place to support, if you’re inclined to give donations to non-profits this holiday season, please think of CTS when you do.  Here is a link to their donation page.  If you’d rather purchase some much-needed items for the school, you can take a look at their wish list page.