Eugene Weekly : Music : 5.27.10

Fresh Blood
Recent arrivals invigorate the music scene
by Brett Campbell

Gráinne Hambly and William Jackson

It’s a sign of a fertile music scene when it’s frequently refreshed with new talent. Since he arrived on campus a couple of years ago, opera professor Nicholas Isherwood has been a major addition to the UO faculty both as performer and director of the school’s opera program. The bass-baritone singer specializes in modernist sounds of the 20th century and has worked with composers such as Messiaen, Stockhausen, Xenakis, George Crumb and Elliott Carter. In free concerts in the Eugene Public Library Atrium on June 2 and at Agate Hall Auditorium June 3, Isherwood will sing meditative music by Giacinto Scelsi, an Italian composer highly regarded by the postwar avant garde but whose music is seldom heard in America these days. The program also features several of the haunting, mysterious works John Cage composed between his well-known percussion ensemble works and the chance music he began composing in the mid-1950s — a wonderfully fruitful if somewhat overlooked part of Cage’s catalog — plus an Isherwood original and the U.S. premiere of a work by Cage’s colleague Morton Feldman, whose music is enjoying a much-merited resurgence. Isherwood will accompany himself on recorder, gong, bell, tanpura and other percussion.

There’s more end-of-term musical action on local campuses, affording even nonacademics the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of weeks or months of student efforts. On May 27 at Beall Hall, the UO Symphonic Band plays music by contemporary composer David Maslanka and more. The next evening at the EMU Ballroom, the school’s top notch Green Garter Band plays ’70s and ’80s music by Tower of Power, Weather Report, Stevie Wonder and more. A June 3 concert at Beall for choral ensembles features music by Haydn, Tallis and several modern composers including Portland native Morten Lauridsen. On June 6th at Thelma Schnitzer Hall, the UO’s percussion ensemble plays music by one of today’s leading composers, Christopher Rouse, L.A. percussion legend William Kraft and other living composers. Later that afternoon at Beall, the school’s gospel ensembles close the season by singing new and older gospel rep in what’s always one of the most popular (read: packed) concerts of the year.

LCC’s spring term concludes with two events at the main campus’s Performance Hall: a May 27 concert featuring the Lane Chamber Choir, Concert Choir and Spectrum Jazz Vocal Ensemble performing music from all over the world, and a June 4 concert by the Lane Jazz Ensemble with guest trumpeter Mike Williams from the Count Basie Orchestra. 

Rest assured, there’s plenty of music happening off campus, too. On May 31, organists Barbara Baird and Julia Brown play French music appropriate to Memorial Day at First United Methodist Church, including works by Dupre, Alain, Durufle, Langlais and more, plus the Offertorium from Verdi’s big Requiem with a vocal trio. It’s free, but they’d appreciate a donation to upgrade the church organ.

Another welcome arrival on the classical scene is Chamber Music Amici, which comprises some of the area’s finest small-ensemble musicians including current and former members of the UO faculty and the Eugene Symphony. On June 1, at their home in Springfield’s Wildish Theater, the ensemble celebrates its first anniversary with a concert featuring one of Mozart’s sparkling piano trios, Robert Schumann’s Fantasy for oboe d’amore and piano and Dvorak’s Piano Quartet in E flat in one of the season’s most attractive chamber concerts.

Another promising group celebrates its arrival when the Tom Bergeron Brazillian Band debuts on June 6 at Cozmic Pizza. Bergeron, a fabulous saxophonist who can play just about anything, has turned his considerable talents to bossa nova, choro, samba and other Brazilian rhythms and styles. The concert also launches MyEugene, a community driven news website. 

In more music from beyond our borders, the Shedd hosts a really enticing concert of miscegenational music from two related traditions featuring Irish harpist Gráinne Hambly and the renowned Glasgow harpist (and Ossian founder) William Jackson. Either artist could sustain a solo show, and on June 4, they’ll play both separately and together on mandola, concertina, whistle and of course those gorgeous Celtic harps