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Looking Backward

Oldies dominate this month’s musical calendar
Delgani Quartet

My, my, the country seems to be in a conservative mood. Our con-mander-in-thief wants to take us “back” to an imagined time, somewhere after we won that Good War and before uppity Americans like women and black people finally started to receive something approaching the equal protection the Constitution offered them.

 This month’s live musical mood seems pretty retro, too, with many of the most recommendable shows gazing resolutely backward instead of forward into a 21st century that seems pretty daunting at the moment. 

Take a couple of this weekend’s jazz shows. Chuck Redd’s concert at The Shedd Thursday night, March 9, looks fondly back at the music of two of America’s greatest 20th-century songwriters, Harold Arlen and Frank Loesser, with jazz quartet interpretations of film and stage classics like “Stormy Weather,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Get Happy” and so many more. On Saturday, March 11, the Jazz Station features Tom Bergeron’s Brasil Band performing a tribute to another of the 20th century’s greatest songwriters, Brazil’s legendary tropicalia pioneer (and former culture minister) Gilberto Gil.

Another traditional world music show happens at the Hult Center this Friday, March 10, when the annual Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar Festival showcases that beguiling fusion of native Hawaiian and European folk music. And speaking of old European music, on Sunday, March 12, one of the world’s leading piano trios, Trio Solisti, comes to Beall Hall to play 19th-century chamber music by Beethoven, Chausson and Brahms. That same afternoon at First Baptist Church, 3550 Fox Meadow Road, Eugene Symphonic Band performs wind band music by legendary film composer Jerry Goldsmith, along with works by Percy Grainger, Shostakovich and more. 

Traditional sounds continue next week in the Hult’s Silva Hall where, on March 16, the Eugene Symphony features more old Euro-classics: Liszt’s famous Mephisto Waltz No. 1, based on the Faust story; Bela Bartók’s amazing 1945 Third Piano Concerto (one of his final works), starring Soyeon Kate Lee; Mozart’s colorful overture to his opera The Abduction from the Seraglio; and more opera music, from Richard Strauss’s The Cavalier of the Rose (Der Rosenkavalier). The third and final young candidate for the symphony’s artistic director spot, Francesco Lecce-Chong, shows his stuff. 

Speaking of opera, on March 18 at Central Lutheran Church, 18th Avenue and Potter Street, The Ensemble of Oregon sings music from one of the 18th century’s most famous: Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, an operatic version of the Orpheus myth. This vocal ensemble includes the cream of Portland’s considerable crop of world-class classical singers, including Laura Beckel Thoreson, Catherine van der Salm, Susan Hale, Nicholas Ertsgaard and David Stutz, bass. They’ll be accompanied by a string quartet, harpsichord, bassoon, recorder and harp, all playing the music close to the way intended by the composers.

 The Shedd brings sparkling traditional Irish music from the veteran worldwide touring band Dervish on March 22 in one of the top concerts of the month.

With all this old and traditional stuff, where’s the music of tomorrow? Fortunately, Eugene’s own Delgani Quartet has the answer: It’s commissioned two new works by 25-year-old Toronto composer Roydon Tse and Oregon’s own Greg Steinke. The former draws on the five cities where Tse has lived, including Hong Kong, Vancouver and Edmonton, while the latter draws on Native American poetry and music. And yes, if you want to hear something traditional, the program also features a 19th-century classic: Smetana’s famous quartet nicknamed From My Life.