Eugene Weekly : Music : 11.13.08

Art Music Vaudeville
Cherry Blossom showcases local artists
By Brett Campbell

Cherry Blossom Musical Arts has been one of the most exciting recent additions to Eugene’s performing arts scene, and the “art music vaudeville” company has been, well, blossoming, with performances at the Oregon Country Fair and in Ashland at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. On Nov. 15, Cherry Blossom presents its latest visual music fundraiser at the UO’s Agate Hall. In return for supporting one of the city’s wellsprings of original art, you’ll get locally baked sweet treats; a new duet by Portland’s superb Agnieszka Laska Dancers set to original music by Cherry Blossom’s Paul Safar and Nancy Wood; more of Safar’s music, including a new string quartet, “Stella’s Waltz” for piano and ballerina and more; various Cherry Blossom video projects; and some of the city’s finest classical musicians, jugglers, tap dancers  and other off-center cabaret acts.

Also on campus, on Nov. 22, the Oregon Percussion Ensemble honors the great California composer Jim Tenney, who died in 2006. A student of John Cage and Harry Partch, early collaborator with Steve Reich and Philip Glass and teacher of (among others) John Luther Adams and Larry Polansky, Tenney is a critical link in the history of 20th century American experimental music, pioneering in alternative tunings and computer music. The OPE will play two of his classics: the anti-atomic bomb protest piece Pika-don (which incorporates the voices of Hiroshima victims) and Rune, plus a Zen koan-like Tenney musical postcard once covered by Sonic Youth, along with  Darius Milhaud’s piquant percussion concerto. On Nov. 25, the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble plays the world premiere of its director Scott Ordway’s second symphony, Crime in the House of Names, which draws on his rock background, and new works by Jamie Keesecker and Nathan Kroms Davis. On Nov. 15, Future Music Oregon presents new electronic music by UO student composers plus music and video compositions by former star students Elyzabeth Meade and John Villec and by Dennis Miller, who creates strange, floaty virtual worlds that listeners “fly” around in, accompanied by beatless electronic soundscapes. 

There’s more far out yet catchy sounds and songs at DIVA on Nov. 18, including the Albuquerque duo Hecuba, the Chicago trio Pit er Pat and the charismatic digital LA duo Lucky Dragons, which manipulates “found” sounds (including audience-generated noises) to create haunting electroacoustic soundscapes while overcoming the coldness of much electronic music. 

On Nov. 17, erstwhile UO prof Gabriel Chodos, now an acclaimed solo pianist, plays music of Schubert, Beethoven and “Three Scarlatti Doubles” by UO alum Jon Appleton. On Nov. 20, faculty hornist Lydia Van Dreel leads a fine program of horny chamber music by Mozart and Beethoven. And on Nov. 13, the University Singers and UO Chamber Choir, led by the amazing Maria Guinand (familiar to Oregon Bach Festival fans as the conductor of the incomparable Schola Cantorum of Caracas and other choirs), will sing Latin-American choral music from five countries, including an Astor Piazzolla new tango and an environmentalism-themed piece, “The Earth is Tired,” by Guinand’s mentor, Venezuelan composer Alberto Grau. 

UO Baroque music specialist Marc Vanscheeuwijck joins other veteran period instrument practitioners in the Oregon Bach Collegium’s splendid Nov. 21 and 22 concerts at  Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, 3925 Hilyard. Friday’s show features music of 17th century Italian composers who traveled to other European countries and spread their innovative ideas to later composers like J.S. Bach, Handel and others. Saturday’s concert presents music mentioned in Patrick O’Brian’s famous historical novels (two of which were sort of screened recently as Master and Commander), including works by Corelli, Handel, Bach, Mozart and more. It’s a clever theme for presenting some delicious music played by musicians who perform in the way the composers intended.

There’ll be Baroque music as well as tango, jazz, klezmer and classical on tap at another church concert at 4 pm Nov. 16, when the Left Coast Sax Quartet plays First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive. Admission is by freewill offering, including canned goods for FOOD for Lane County.

Jazz and world music fans alike can converge at Cozmic Pizza Nov. 13 to hear the Andrew Oliver Kora Ensemble. Herbie Hancock and Foday Musa Suso long ago proved that jazz and kora can make a delectable cocktail, and now, prolific pianist  Oliver, who co-directs Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, has put together a breezy Seattle-based group that combines jazz (piano, trumpet, bass, guitar, drums) and the intoxicating 21-string West African harp, played by Kane Mathis. And there’s more world music on Nov. 15 when sitar virtuoso Josh Feinberg (a student of the great Ali Akbar Khan) and tabla master Chaz Hastings play  Hindustani classical music at Harmony Roadhouse on Willamette.