Space soundscapes, piano aficionados, big-band jazz and more

Jim Snidero leads the Oregon Jazz Ensemble Nov. 21 at Beall Concert Hall
Jim Snidero leads the Oregon Jazz Ensemble Nov. 21 at Beall Concert Hall

If you’ve been thrilled by the images of the NASA comet rendezvous, check out First Methodist Church at 13th & Olive this Friday, Nov. 21, at 7 pm for a harmonic convergence of eight local organists and one famous astronomer, Bernie Bopp. Bopp will narrate a performance that includes electronic sounds derived from signals from space, projected visuals of the moon, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, as well as organ music related to the solar system including Mars Aeliptica by Rafael Ferreyra, Saturn by Bent Lorentzen, Neptune (from The Planets) by Gustav Holst, Hymn To The Moon by Gloria Hodges, Missa Gaia by James Scott and more.

Ebony and ivory also take center stage at the UO’s Beall Concert Hall 7:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 22, when prize-winning Washington-born pianist Stephen Beus returns to his native Northwest (after triumphing in top competitions at New York’s Juilliard School and around the world) to play Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Oregon Mozart Players. The program also includes one of the most colorful masterpieces of the French Baroque, Rameau’s five-act “musical tragedy,” The Descendants of Boreas, and one of Haydn’s great Paris symphonies, The Queen.

On Friday, Nov. 21, Beus joins OMP music director Kelly Kuo at the ivories for music by American composer Samuel Barber, Israeli composer Ronn Yedidia and more at Eugene Piano Academy in a limited-seating fundraiser, advance tickets required.

Still another keyboard instrument, the fortepiano (the predecessor to the modern instrument whose sound makes up in clarity what it lacks in richness and volume), is featured in the Oregon Bach Collegium’s all-Schubert concert 3 pm Sunday, Nov. 23, at United Lutheran Church. Along with Margret Gries playing some of the composer’s gorgeous Musical Moments on the keyboard, baritone Philip Engdahl and a vocal quartet will sing some of Schubert’s immortal songs.

Still more Romantic piano music rings out at Beall 7:30 pm Monday, Dec. 1, when UO pianist Alexandre Dossin joins members of the Oregon String Quartet (Fritz Gearhart, Kathryn Lucktenberg and Steve Pologe) in performances of Brahm’s Scherzo in C Minor, Sonata No. 2 in A Major and Trio No. 1 in B Major, inaugurating “In Beall with Brahms,” a new cycle of his chamber music performed over three seasons.

One of Oregon’s finest keyboardists, George Colligan, plays both jazz piano and organ (not to mention drums and trumpet), teaches at Portland State University and has worked with some of this generation’s most esteemed jazzers, including Jack DeJohnette and Cassandra Wilson. For the Broadway Avenue House Concert (911 W. Broadway) Saturday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 pm, Colligan will be joined by another pair of Portlanders, Chris Higgins and Chris Brown, along with Eugene sax master Joe Manis.

There’s more recommended jazz on Broadway this Thursday, Nov. 20, when The Jazz Station hosts trombonist Ron Bertucci’s Quintet (with local guitarist Olem Alves, saxophonist Jesse Cloninger, bassist Milo Fultz and drummer Randy Rollofson) playing American songbook standards, and on Saturday, Nov. 22, when the great saxophonist Tom Bergeron brings his Brasil Band, featuring singer Rosi Bergeron, guitarist Don Latarski, keyboardist Gus Russell, bassist Page Hundemer and drummer Ryan Biesack.

There’s still more jazz at the UO Friday, Nov. 21, when acclaimed saxophonist Jim Snidero leads the Oregon Jazz Ensemble and big bands in concert at Beall. On Monday, Nov. 24, at 7:30 pm, Beall hosts the Oregon Wind Ensemble in music by the fine contemporary composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and other Brits including Gustav Holst, Gordon Jacob and contemporary composers.

Portland’s Black Prairie, who returns Thursday, Nov. 20, to The Shedd, started out as a side project for members of the Decemberists and friends. Lately, however, the outfit has become one of the city’s most appealing bands in its own right, expanding from its bluegrass base to more rocking and pop styles. The next night, Nov. 21, The Shedd hosts another folky-bluegrass-based band, the vocal trio Red Molly. But my top choice for Nov. 21 is the Portland band Arabesque’s 8:30 pm performance at Cozmic of traditional Middle Eastern music accompanied by some of Eugene’s top belly dancers.