pyxis quartet plays glass, crumb, and danish folk music

Here’s the archived version of the live stream from last night of the Pyxis Quartet. There were some glitches, but we’re getting better at using the tech, and our developer is honing in on what is going to make this work the best for us.

Just a note to all of you who have expressed an interest in this technology. It’s still at the very beginning stages of development – I’d say pre-alpha testing, and is only usable for a limited number of computers with wired high speed connections at this point. It’s got a ways to go before it can go out into the world, and rest assured, when it’s ready, you’ll know about it! Thanks for your patience!

portland social distance ensemble – the series

Last Friday was the debut of a new performance initiative of 45th Parallel Universe. It’s made possible by a new technology which allows musicians to play chamber music together live while in their own homes – from any distance – which was developed by our resident genius coder Danny Rosenberg. That debut was a performance from six different homes by eight musicians of Terry Riley’s seminal piece “In C”.

Executive director Ron Blessinger has made this initial offering into a weekly concert series featuring the different ensembles of the 45th Parallel Universe and guest artists from around the world.

Pyxis Quartet – Photo: Ashley Courter

This week, on Friday, May 15th at 6:00PM PST, the Pyxis Quartet will perform music of George Crumb, Phillip Glass, and a bit of Norwegian folk music arranged by the Danish String Quartet. You can view the concert on our Facebook Page, our YouTube Channel, or on our website. Concerts are just 30 minutes, and we hope you can join us! A donation link will be available at all three locations, and all proceeds go directly to the performers.

my favorite performances of the decade

It’s 2020! Now, there is some debate as to whether the new decade starts this year or next, but humans like round numbers, so I’m going with 2020 for the new decade, (and it’s a random Roman’s fault that we have this conundrum, anyway). Will this one roar or suck? Who knows! Not me. But this past decade was an interesting one for me, I’ll say.

Between 2010 and 2020, I lost both of my parents, got divorced, got remarried, bought a house, and broke my collarbone. It was a real Dickens sort of situation, the best of times and the worst of times, all rolled into one.

Musically, it was a less mixed bag. I literally played so much music that I cannot even begin to remember all of it. But here are some things that come to mind from each year.

Me and Greg in our cowboy shirts. Wow, we look young!

In September 2010, I played my first concert with 45th Parallel, and took the show on the road with cowboy shirts to Pendleton, Oregon. It’s fun to look back at how young we were – and to think that the organization has grown into 45th Parallel Universe, and I’m one of the musician board members. Crazy!

Me and Joël onstage at Carnegie.

In May 2011, the Oregon Symphony made its first trip to Carnegie Hall in New York City. It was an amazing trip, see my blog post here, and was a huge publicity boon for the orchestra. In fact, our concert there made Alex Ross’ performances of the decade list in the New Yorker as well!

Rowena Hamill, me, Serena McKinney , and Elisa Barsten after a rockin’ Debussy Quartet.

In August 2012, I played my first concerts with the Methow Valley Chamber Music Festival. I got to meet and play with some remarkable musicians, and to enjoy the spectacular scenery of the area. It was also my first two rehearsal Debussy quartet. Yikes!

In September 2013, the then Third Angle String Quartet played Georg Friedrich Haas’ Third Quartet – which is played from memory in total darkness – for the first time at the OMSI planetarium. It was a formative musical experience for me in my first full season with the group. We’ve gone on to play it several more times, most recently in Astoria this year as the Pyxis Quartet.

Arnica String Quartet

March 2014 brought a performance of the three string quartets of the great British composer Benjamin Britten at the Community Music Center. Three masterpieces, all played in one sitting. Exhausting, but also exhilarating!

Third Angle and Alex Ross

April 2015 featured a performance at the Alberta Rose Theater of Third Angle New Music with renowned author and critic Alex Ross. Works of Cage, John Luther Adams, Henry Cowell, Steve Reich, and Lou Harrison. Alex Ross has long been a hero of mine, and it was fantastic to share the stage with him.

James MacMillan

2016 had a lot going for it, but tops of that year for me was the US premiere of James MacMillan’s European Requiem at the Oregon Bach Festival, as well as a chamber orchestra concert under his direction that same week. The Requiem is and was a stunning masterpiece, and one that should be programmed in Oregon again soon. Hint, hint…

Cycle One class at the GLFCAM.

2017 brought the emergence of the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music, and Third Angle and soprano Tony Arnold were the first artists to be invited to work with her slate of young composers. Musically, it was incredibly challenging and rewarding, but emotionally it was earth-shaking. What a joy it was to be involved with this project!

Colin Currie

2018 came with a collaboration with the Oregon Symphony Artist-in-Residence for that time period, percussionist Colin Currie. A string quartet of OSO musicians joined him for a mini tour to the University of Oregon and Oregon State University to play two works with him by Martland and Daugherty, as well as the String Quartet No. 2 by Quincy Porter.

Post Crumb mayhem with the Pyxis Quartet.

And, finally, 2019. There was so much to love about the projects I did in this year, but for me my first traversal of Crumb’s monumental and phantasmagorical Black Angels with the Pyxis Quartet (for the local micro-festival Makrokosmos) has to win the prize. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into it again!

Well, let’s see what the next ten years bring! Avanti!