Is another run through of Burt Bacharach’s music really what the world needs now?
Don’t dismiss Eugene Concert Choir’s Feb. 27 show at the Hult Center as another profitable exercise in yet more boomer nostalgia. True, with maybe the exception of Lennon-McCartney and Motown, no one else’s music dominated the ’60s pop charts as much as the irresistibly catchy tunes cranked out by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David. From “Walk on By” to “I Say a Little Prayer” to “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” and a couple dozen more, there was always something there to grab a generation’s affection for the glory days.
Yet that doesn’t make the affection less genuine or the songs less magnificent, even on many re-hearings. And as Elvis Costello showed a decade or so ago, the music still speaks to anyone with a heart. This is because, during his prime, composer Bacharach packed so much durable musical sophistication into his catchy confections. The big choir will be accompanied by a representative of the next generation of Bacharachs, his son Oliver Bacharach, a UO student living in Eugene, along with vocal turns by Shedd stars Shirley Andress and Bill Hulings.
The Shedd itself sports a slew of fine shows beginning Thursday, Feb. 25, with frequent guests Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas (on Scots fiddle and cello, respectively) joining the long time Appalachian folk fiddle team of Jay Ungar and Molly Mason. On March 3, The Shedd hosts the great Boston singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, who’s collaborated with everyone from Yo-Yo Ma to Edgar Meyer. The songs on her poignant new album In the Magic Hour lean nostalgic too, inspired by glowing memories of childhood summers in the Irish village of Clonakilty. Singer Tierney Sutton follows at the Shedd on March 5 with more evocative music — covers of classics by Rodgers & Hart, Michel Legrand (her guitarist), French songwriter Serge Merlaud and more.
The Shedd often hosts Hawaiian slack key guitar masters, but this time, the dreamy sounds move March 4 to the Hult’s Soreng Theater. On March 6, yet another Shedd regular, singer Evynne Hollens joins fellow UO alum Nathan Alef at First Methodist Church, playing songs they performed in the musical The Last Five Years last month at Oregon Contemporary Theatre and more.
Still another successful UO music alum, trumpeter-composer Douglas Detrick, brings his chamber jazz AnyWhen Ensemble to Corvallis’s Majestic Theatre March 2 to perform a cool new combination of words and music inspired by Moby-Dick, reimagining Melville’s classic story for modern times in a radio show style performance.
Speaking of the UO, it’s hosting the great, politically charged Chicano folk-rock band Quetzel Feb. 25 at Beall Hall. On Feb. 29 Beall also hosts pianist Alexandre Dossin playing Brahms with other UO faculty musicians, pianist Michael Seregow playing more 19th-century romantic sounds March 3 and Stanford University’s great St. Lawrence String Quartet playing Haydn and Schumann string quartets March 6.
Since we’re going backwards in time, let’s end with some really ancient sounds. On Feb. 7 at Central Lutheran Church (1857 Potter), check out Vox Resonat’s so-called “Frankenmass” — the term director Eric Mentzel calls the vocal ensemble’s stitched-together mass compiled from music by great Renaissance music masters. The next afternoon, the church hosts Early Music specialists Bruce Dickey and Liewe Tamminga in 17th-century Italian music for the archaic cornetto and organ.
And on March 5, Central Lutheran brings more 17th-century music when Ensemble Seicento plays music on cornetto, Baroque violin and trombones, keyboard and voices. Also on March 5, Unitarian Universalist Church (1685 W. 13th) hosts Viva Viols, who’ll play more Renaissance music, this time for viols and recorders, by French and English composers.