Classical music performances abound in Portland’s winter arts scene
Despite the threat of omicron, classical music has continued a strong resurgence with an increasing number of performances this winter. Although most events require proof of vaccination or a recent negative test, it is best to double-check the requirements. For those who are still unsure, many concerts offer a livestream option.
With that in mind, here are a dozen concerts that include brand new works and golden oldies.
Thou Shalt Steal! – 45th Parallel Universe
Composers are noted for “borrowing” from their colleagues – the earlier the better – and even from themselves. In this program of master thievery for chamber orchestra, you’ll hear a bit of Bach in Brahms “Serenade No. 2 in A Major.” Another Bach-like strain appears in Stravinsky’s “Concerto in E-flat Major Dumbarton Oaks.” The 45th Parallel will also play the world premiere of a piece by Marcos-Adrián Ramos.
Jan. 27; PICA, 15 N.E. Hancock St.; 45thparallelpdx.org or 503-446-4227.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade – Oregon Symphony
Eun Sun Kim, music director of San Francisco Opera, returns to lead this concert, which features another returnee, Johannes Moser in the world premiere of Robin Holloway’s Cello Concerto. Holloway, who taught music composition at the University of Cambridge, has an extensive oeuvre noted for its lush, modern undercurrent. Also on the program is Dukas’ “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” known to generations through the antics of Mickey Mouse in the 1940 Walt Disney concert film “Fantasia” and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” which colorfully evokes several tales from “The One Thousand and One Nights.”
Jan. 29-31; Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway; orsymphony.org or 503-228-1353.
When the Sun Comes Out – Portland Opera
Commissioned by the Vancouver Queer Arts Festival, this chamber opera will receive its U.S. premiere with these performances. Set in Fundamentalia, a country where assigned gender and sexual roles are ruthlessly enforced, “When the Sun Comes Out” tells the story of two women who rediscover love and challenge these norms. Written by Canadian composer Leslie Uyeda with the libretto by Rachel Rose, the production features soprano Cree Carrico, mezzo Sandra Piques Eddy, and baritone Michael Parham. Conductor Maria Sensi Sellner and stage director Alison Moritz are a sure-fire combo for this thought-provoking opera.
Jan. 28-Feb. 12; The Hampton Opera Center, 211 S.E. Caruthers St.; a digital pass is available for Portland Opera onscreen, portlandopera.org or 503-241-1407.
Gerald Finley, bass-baritone & Julius Drake, piano – Friends of Chamber Music
Grammy-award winner Gerald Finley will sing a selection of lieder by Franz Schubert, Hugo Wolf, Peter Lieberson and others in this not-to-be-missed concert. The Canadian bass-baritone has a tremendous dynamic range, dramatic ability and charisma. He has been featured in 47 recordings that run the gamut from J. S. Bach to Mark-Anthony Turnage’s opera about Anna Nicole Smith. Finley will be accompanied by Julius Drake, one of the best in the business.
Feb. 1; Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 S.W. Park Ave; focm.org or 503-224-9842.
Angela Hewitt – Portland Piano International
The internationally acclaimed keyboard artist and curator of this season’s performances for Portland Piano International, Hewitt returns to Portland for two concerts of distinctly varied programs. In the first, she will play pieces by Couperin, Messiaen and Brahms. In the second, she will perform Scarlatti and Bach. The Canadian pianist’s immaculate technique and graceful artistry are supported by 44 albums and numerous awards, including the City of Leipzig Bach Medal and the Wigmore Hall Gold Medal, which recognizes her 80 performances at that prestigious London venue.
Feb. 5-6; Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 S.W. Park Ave; portlandpiano.org or 503-228-1388.
Little Things – Third Angle New Music
Angélica Negrón’s music has been featured by the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Kronos Quartet, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Sō Percussion, and the American Composers Orchestra. The Puerto Rican-born composer and multi-instrumentalist has invented pieces for accordions, robotic instruments, toys and electronics. In Portland, she will collaborate with flutist Sarah Tiedemann, cellist Valdine Mishkin, percussionist Chris Whyte, and pianist Susan DeWitt Smith to present several electro-acoustic pieces, including the world premiere of “Espacios, objetos, sonidos y tiempo” (Spaces, objects, sounds and time).
Feb. 10-11; Bodecker Foundation 2360 N.W. Quimby St.; thirdangle.org or 503-331-0301.
Super Bach Sunday – Bach Cantata Choir
This annual event is a great way to dish up some culture before parking in the recliner with beer and pretzels to watch the big game. The 50-voice choir, masked and spaced six feet from each other, will split into two groups for this concert. Each ensemble will present a cantata and an a cappella piece plus a double-choir number that will include all of the singers. The program will also offer brass and organ music without voices. All the pieces will be led by Ralph Nelson. The concert is free and will be livestreamed.
Feb. 13; Rose City Park Presbyterian Church, 1907 N.E. 45th Ave.; bachcantatachoir.org or 503-702-1973.
Christoph Prégardien & Gloria Chien: Poetry in Performance – Chamber Music Northwest
This renowned German tenor has been featured in 150 recordings that include art songs, cantatas, oratorios and operas ranging from early to contemporary music. His Portland program will center on the Romantic era with Beethoven’s “Adelaide,” a selection from Schubert’s “Schwanengesang,” and Schumann’s “Dichterliebe.” Brilliant pianist Gloria Chien, who is co-artistic director of Chamber Music Northwest, will accompany Prégardien in what should be a memorable evening of German lieder. A recorded livestream will be available two weeks after the live concert with a concert pass.
Feb. 24; The Old Church, 1422 S.W. 11th Ave.; cmnw.org or 503-294-6400.
Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony – Oregon Symphony
It’s a family affair when the orchestra plays “Heirloom,” a new piano concerto by Gabriel Kahane. That’s because Kahane’s dad, Jeffrey Kahane, will be at the keyboard. This piece, co-commissioned by the Oregon Symphony, is influenced by folk music, sacred hymns from Germany, and the pandemic. Also on the program is Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis” and Beethoven’s Symphony No 6, the “Pastoral Symphony.” David Danzmayr will conduct, and the Monday evening performance will be livestreamed.
March 12-14; Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 S.W. Broadway; orsymphony.org or 503-228-1353.
Jakub Józef Orlinski, countertenor & Michal Biel, piano – Friends of Chamber Music
Lauded for his recent performance in the Metropolitan Opera’s production of “Eurydice,” Polish countertenor Orlinski rocketed to stardom after winning international vocal competitions, releasing stellar recordings, and garnering accolades for stunning singing on top-tier stages. His modeling contracts with Nike, Levi’s and Mercedes-Benz and his breakdancing skills have added to his luster, resulting in sold-out appearances. In his return to Portland, Orlinski will team up with pianist Michał Biel to present songs by Fux, Purcell and Handel, and gems from Polish composers Mieczysław Karłowicz, Stanisław Moniuszko and Henryk Czyż.
March 17; Lincoln Performance Hall, 1620 S.W. Park Ave; focm.org or 503-224-9842.
Voices Out of the Darkness: Bach Cantatas – Portland Baroque Orchestra
This concert will highlight Bach’s birthday (March 21) with selections from his cantatas plus other similar works by Baroque masters such as Pachelbel. Bass-baritone Jonathan Woody will lead the historically informed period ensemble. He will be complemented by an outstanding group of soloists, including soprano Sherezade Panthaki, countertenor Reginald Mobley and tenor Jacob Perry. PBO will provide a free livestream of the March 21 performance on YouTube.
March 20; Kaul Auditorium, 3203 S.E. Woodstock Blvd.; pbo.org or 503-222-6000.
March 21; Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, 12725 S.W. Millikan Way #240, Beaverton; thereser.org or 971-501-7762.
Locally Sourced Sounds VII – Fear No Music
This intriguing concert features Indonesian-influenced piece for solo piano by Lifia Teguh, a pandemic-inspired work for clarinet and string trio by James Shields, a solo flute and electronics number by Drew Swatosh, a meditative mixed-quartet by Jesse Ehrenberg, a solo marimba gem by Lisa Neher, and a piano quartet with the intriguing title of “Rabbit in the Moon” by Kirsten Volness.
March 21; The Old Church, 1422 S.W. 11th Ave.; fearnomusic.org or 971-220-6366.
— James Bash, for The Oregonian/OregonLive
This post has been updated to reflect the following correction: Jakub Józef Orlinski performed with the Portland Baroque Orchestra in 2017. The item above has been updated to correct the date of his Portland debut.