UO, Mozart Players, Amici launch music season
by brett campbell
|Luis Julio Toro
Venezuela has recently seized the classical music world’s attention thanks to the accession of the electrifying young conductor Gustavo Dudamel to the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Dudamania’s spotlight also illuminated the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and El Sistema, the country’s spectacularly successful (and democratic) classical music education program. Eugeneans already knew there was something special brewing there because of eye-opening appearances in town by conductor María Guinand and Caracas’s Schola Cantorum de Venezuela. Our latest Venezuelan musical visitor, flutist fabuloso Luis Julio Toro, an alum of the Bolivar Youth Orchestra, specializes in Venezuelan, south Asian and European classical flute music, has taught around the world and has recorded many solo, chamber and orchestral albums. He’s visiting the UO this month, leading master classes, delivering talks and working with lucky flute students. On Tuesday, Oct. 5, Toro joins faculty members flutist Molly Barth and trumpeter Brian McWhorter plus David Riley on piano, harpist Laura Zaerr and violist Holland Phillips at the university’s Beall Concert Hall. They’ll play music by J.S. Bach, his son Wilhelm Friedemann, Claude Debussy and a work by the contemporary British composer Harrison Birtwistle. In another highly recommended concert on Thursday, Oct. 7, Toro and Barth return to the Beall stage to play music from the Americas, including world premieres by the great contemporary U.S. composer Frederic Rzewski and Venezuelan composer Ricardo Lorenz.
The UO brings another accomplished instrumentalist, Illinois saxophonist J. Michael Holmes, to town for a free concert on Wednesday, Oct. 6, at the music school’s Schnitzer Hall with pianist Svetlana Kotova. They’ll play 20th century music by one of America’s most respected composers: Seattle-born, Michigan-based William Bolcom, and also music by Edison Denisov and 21st century sounds by Ed Martin and Kyong Mee Choi.
When Hoagy Carmichael and then Ray Charles sang about Georgia on their minds, they weren’t reminiscing about the former Soviet republic, but that Caucasian country possesses a long and unique musical tradition that was too long denied listeners in the West. On Friday, Oct. 8, the UO hosts the Republic of Georgia’s renowned Zedashe Ensemble at Beall Hall. The 10-member group (lutes, drum, bagpipe, accordion, harp and vocals) specializes in reviving traditional folk and church music. What really grabs Western listeners are the haunting, intertwining three-part vocal melodies, piquant close harmonies and uncompromised tunings in those old, sweet songs. This concert offers a fascinating window into a rich, overlooked musical culture.
The UO sponsors another unusual free event over in Alton Baker Park on Oct. 9, featuring graduate dance student Erinn Ernst in collaboration with graduate student composers David Horton, Simon Hutchinson and Mark Knippel. Park users around the bridge and pond might encounter dance and music for horn and percussion, flute and cello.
The UO musical influence transcends campus boundaries in the concert hall as well, with present and former faculty members appearing in season opening concerts by the Oregon Mozart Players and Chamber Music Amici. On Saturday, Oct. 9, the chamber orchestra presents some of its namesake’s most stirring — yet, happily, not overfamiliar -— music. The centerpiece, Concerto in E flat for Two Pianos, is one of Amadeus’s expansive works, sort of reminiscent of the famous Sinfonia Concertante, which revels in the genial interplay between the two pianists — originally, Mozart and his sister Nannerl; in this case, the excellent longtime UO wife and husband team of Claire Wachter and Dean Kramer. The concert also features Mozart’s delightful Symphony #36 and the Adagio and Fugue he wrote under the spell of discovering Bach’s music.
On Monday, Oct. 11, Springfield’s Amici opens its season at the Wildish Community Theater with a concert featuring one of Brahms’s most appealing chamber works, the Horn Trio, some of Bela Bartok’s duos for violin and a relative rarity: Divertimento for Oboe and String Quartet by Bernhard Crusell, a Finnish contemporary of Mozart and Beethoven.
Out in the clubs, local tango-fueled ensemble Mood Area 52 joins smoky French chanteuses Marianne Dissard and Francoiz Breut (who’ve worked with Calexico) to bring an evocative Euro vibe to Sam Bond’s Garage on Friday, Oct. 1. That same evening has James McMurtry at the WOW Hall with his Heartless Bastards. Combining guitar-juiced rock and roll punch with pithy, folk-style character studies, McMurtry is one of the finest observers of the gritty reality of small town and suburban America in the early 21st century. For world music fans, on Friday, Oct. 8, Cozmic Pizza hosts Colombian-style dance music from Los Cumbiaberos.