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Musical Hotspots

From Québécois to Oceanic, November offers a world tour of music
Chris Smither
Chris Smither

So many different kinds of music are going on around town this month that it’s probably easier to organize your musical adventures by venues rather than varieties. The Shedd’s November offerings kick off with Friday’s performance by Quebec’s award-winning folk quartet, La Vent Du Nord (see music shorts). The energetic North Wind, which has worked with jazz players and symphony orchestras, celebrates its tenth anniversary with its signature up-tempo traditional fiddle-, guitar- and hurdy-gurdy-fueled folk songs, traditional reels, waltzes and more, plus vibrant original compositions addressing contemporary subjects (everything from secessionist politics to hockey) including numbers by songwriter Michel Rivard. 

On Saturday, Nov. 10, The Shedd brings back another major musical figure who both embraces and extends musical traditions: its long time jazz adviser, the great New York based pianist, composer, film score (especially in many of Woody Allen’s flicks) arranger, festival concert director and historical jazz revivalist Dick Hyman, this time in a fascinating combo featuring veteran Portland jazz bassist Dave Captein, young rising star violinist Lindsay Deutsch (for whom he’s arranged many works including a violin version of Rhapsody in Blue) and Eugene classical masters violinist Fritz Gearhart, cellist Steve Pologe and violist Leslie Straka. The concert’s first half focuses on the jazz standards he knows as well as anyone alive, while the second covers Hyman’s own breezy chamber ensemble compositions, including an acoustic arrangement of his 1968 electronic music work, The Minotaur. Next Saturday, Nov. 17, The Shedd welcomes back acclaimed veteran singer-songwriter and guitarist Chris Smither, who likewise channels folk and blues traditions into contemporary songs of deep insight and musical power.

Just a few steps away, on Friday, Nov. 16, the downtown Jazz Station brings Sharp Three, an LA-based guitar-bass-drum jazz trio that stirs everything from prog-rock to Japanese classical to flamenco and other world music influences into a highly accessible musical stew. (They’re also playing in Corvallis on Thursday, Nov. 15) Composer Goh Kurosawa plays “sitar guitar” and his brother Kai uses tap-style guitar techniques as well as bass and a 24-string instrument he designed himself. It’s a must for jazz guitar fans. There’s more world music influenced jazz at Creswell Coffee Company from Tom Bergeron’s Brasil Band, which played the Station last weekend, and features a pair of Rio musicians as well as bass, drums and Bergeron’s supple saxophone.

Eugene’s prime musical hot spot, the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall, offers a slew of recommended events, starting with this Thursday’s violin and piano concert by Gearhart and David Riley in sonatas by Strauss, Grieg and Manuel de Falla’s gorgeous Popular Spanish Songs. On Tuesday, Nov. 13, Beall hosts a splendid new music concert featuring Riley, UO flute prof (and Beta Collide flutist) Molly Barth and percussion prof Pius Cheung in music by one of today’s finest composers, David Lang (from New York’s Bang on a Can), the great 20th-century Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu, and more. 

There’s more contemporary sound — all electronic this time — at the UO’s Thelma Schnitzer Hall on Saturday, Nov. 17, at the Future Music Oregon concert. On Thursday, Nov. 15, the ubiquitous Gearhart is at it again, this time in the latest installment of the Oregon String Quartet’s ongoing complete cycle of Beethoven’s quartets, this one featuring a relatively early work and his amazing late Op. 127 quartet. Next weekend also features Celebrate Africa! A Festival of the Arts, the UO’s festival of African dance and music, at Gerlinger Annex and the month is stuffed with good, free concerts of jazz, symphonic and chamber music by student ensembles. And on Monday, Nov. 17, the Eugene Symphonic Band plays music by Holst, Wagner, Sousa and more.

The UO’s choirs get into the act over at First Methodist Church (13th and Olive) this Saturday, Nov. 10, when Oregon Bach Festival music director Matthew Halls leads UO choirs in Baroque master Domenico Scarlatti’s stirring Stabat Mater and Maurice Durufle’s soothing 20th-century Requiem. And at another nearby church, Central Lutheran, you can hear more Italian Baroque sounds this Sunday, Nov. 11, on beautiful ancient instruments like the dulcian, cornetto, sackbut and early organ and violin, plus voices when the Oregon Bach Collegium performs music by rarely heard composers like Castello and Cima, as well as great masters Monteverdi, Frescobaldi and more.

But the biggest classical concert — in every respect — is next Thursday’s Eugene Symphony show featuring Mahler’s mammoth Symphony No. 2, with 101 instrumentalists, 120 singers, two vocal soloists and 80 uninterrupted minutes of Oceanic music. Romantic music doesn’t get much more massive than this.