Eugene Weekly : Bravo! : 9.24.09

Bravo! 2009-2010

Broad Strokes/Intimate Portraits
Music of the fall
by Suzi Steffen

Danail Rachev

When the Eugene Symphony’s new musical director opens his first season Sept. 24, he’ll be following a long tradition. European conductors and composers still fill American orchestra halls (as our classical writer Brett Campbell would say, there are a lot of old Romantic chestnuts out there). Of course, music spans countries, and Rachev dives right into the bridge between countries with Anton Dvorak’s so-called New World Symphony. 

“It’s both European and American,” Rachev says. “You can feel his ideas about American landscape or American history. It’s good for America that he wrote his most beautiful symphonic piece about America and in America.” 

Rachev balances the first concert with a decidedly U.S.-based composer, one with a West Coast slant — John Adams’ “The Dharma at Big Sur,” which the conductor says clicks well even with a new audience. The connection? Rachev says, “Both pieces are about incredibly beautiful American scenery.”

The Symphony season runs the gamut of Big European Works, with Shostakovich 5, the Beethoven piano concertos, Brahms and, at the end of the season, Mahler’s Titan. Rachev, who conducted a special free summer concert in July, says, “I want to show [off] the orchestra as much as we can.”

Even as the big works shine (or so we hope; Rachev certainly coaxed new sounds from the low strings in his audition concert last fall) in Silva Concert Hall, where tickets are as low as $15, the Oregon Mozart Players kick off their season Oct. 3 in the smaller and more intimate Soreng, with some of the season’s concerts at the First Christian Church. I’m partial to soprano Laura Decher Wayte, who’s singing Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate” in March with the OMP in a concert that also features local fave and expert John Jantzi in Haydn’s Organ Concerto in C major.

Although Eugene features a stunning number of concerts thanks to the UO School of Music’s unbelievable schedule (even the recession hasn’t hurt the fast and furious Beall Hall season, which is packed), Springfield has suffered a bit in comparison … until now. Chamber Music Amici, the new group of mostly UO musicians that has become the first resident company of Springfield’s attractive and intelligently sized Wildish Theater. The indefatigable Sharon Schuman serves as the group’s artistic director, and she’s put together a strong opening season, kicking off Monday, Oct. 12, with more Mozart (Clarinet Quintet) and Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes. With guest artists including Danail Rachev’s wife, Elizabeth Racheva (whom more than 4,000 people heard sing in the summer concert), and wonderful musicians from the UO faculty, this group is set to soar. And yes, tickets are affordable at around $20, with some student tickets even going for $5 (with a voucher; contact the group at for more info).

Speaking of affordable world-class music, the acoustics at Beall Hall make every concert splendid, and you can’t really throw a dart at the calendar without hitting a concert at Beall. There’s the reinvigorated Chamber Music@Beall series, of course, which begins Oct. 4 with the Czech Nonet (and how often do you get to see a nonet?! Sweet.) and ends in March with the well-beloved Shanghai String Quartet, who wowed Eugene at 2008’s Oregon Bach Festival. But many days each week, music faculty and students, not to mention guest artists, play high-quality music for ridiculously low sums of money (tix are $5 for students for some of these shows!). Pick something that sounds good to you — Octubafest? Franz Lizst Birthday Recital? The (fantastic) Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble? — and get ready for a delightful time.

At the Shedd, there’s everyone from Beau Soleil (Oct. 1) to Judy Collins (Nov. 13) in a wild, great mix.

The Eugene Opera is about the only local professional music group to grasp social media — Artistic Director Mark Beudert launched a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account and is keeping all of them up! — and I can only hope his efforts pay off with a large group of social media-savvy young’uns at the New Year’s Eve Marriage of Figaro, which features the Metropolitan Opera’s Kelly Kaduce. The Eugene Opera does a superb job with very limited resources — last season’s semi-staged Trovatore showcased voices that belonged in a much bigger city. Get online, go to the ticket booths and get ready for a season of sound. 


The Scene Around Eugene Theater in a mid-sized town

Broad Strokes/Intimate Portraits Music of the fall

Visions of Loving the Dance Behind the curtain at Ballet Fantastique 

Bravo Event Calendar 2009-2010