An Indie-Classical Explosion

New classical ensemble Sound of Late debuts, Cherry Blossom Musical Arts hosts a showcase and more

Like the blossoms that have been emerging this spring, Oregon classical music is entering a period of renewal. Earlier this month, we told you about the young musicians who’ve just started the new Delgani String Quartet, devoted to both classics and contemporary sounds. At 8 pm Friday, April 24, Eugene sees the debut of another exciting young ensemble at the Broadway House concert series (911 W. Broadway, 686-9270). Sound of Late (Andrew Stiefel, viola and electronics; Rebecca Olason, horn; Milo Fultz, double bass; Sarah Pyle, flutes; Bryce Caster, violin) performs music by leading American (including Oregonian) and European composers such as Finland’s renowned Kaija Saariaho, Italy’s Salvatore Sciarrino, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Ada Gentile.

The ensemble will also present a set of improvisations inspired by the venerable Bay Area composer Pauline Oliveros, who is still composing in her 80s. Like many such groups now flowering around the country, Sound of Late cheerfully crosses artificial genre boundaries and reaches out beyond their music stands to connect today’s sounds to their community. This show launches the ensemble’s inaugural tour of the Pacific Northwest.

Speaking of classical music in bloom, Eugene’s music nonprofit, Cherry Blossom Musical Arts, has been revivifying Oregon music for years, with founders Paul Safar (who last year won the Oregon Music Teachers Association composer of the year award) and Nancy Wood garnering deserved laurels for their performances of Safar’s listener-friendly original music around the state.

Safar’s entertaining, inventive new music gets a much-deserved local showcase 7:30 pm Saturday, April 25, at First Christian Church (1166 Oak St.). Performers include Delgani String Quartet, Pickles and Peppers Clarinet Quartet, actor Richard Leebrick, juggler Andrew Teem, Ben Farrell and much more.

A versatile composer who’s written rock, pop and jazz over a 25-year career, Safar has lately been blending these elements into some of Oregon’s finest original, classically informed music written today. His partner, Wood, sings much of it with theatrical flair and classical nuance.

This weekend also offers an opera-tunity to hear older music when the award-winning UO Opera Ensemble performs Engelbert Humperdinck’s greatest hit — the German composer’s 1893 version of Hänsel and Gretel, by the Brothers Grimm, at 7:30 pm Friday, April 24, and 3 pm Sunday, April 26, at the Hult Center’s Soreng Theater. They’ll perform in German with projected English-language supertitles.

Chamber Music Amici looks even farther back — to the 18th-century Baroque and Classical eras, when they welcome oboist Allan Vogel and flutist Janice Tipton to The Shedd to play music by the most renowned Baroque composer of his time, Georg Philipp Telemann, as well as that of his contemporary Johann Fasch, and the youngest son of one of their contemporaries, Johann Christian Bach, who taught the young Mozart. Cellist Steven Pologe, violist Holland Phillips, harpsichordist Julia Brown and violinists Pilar Bradshaw and Sharon Schuman join Vogel, one of the great oboists of our time, who has made many appearances at the Oregon Bach Festival and Chamber Music Northwest.

The Shedd is also the place to hear singer-songwriter Chico Schwall and friends’ tribute to American folk songs (by Joe Hill, Woody Guthrie, Florence Reece, Phil Ochs, Harry Stamper and more), celebrating working people and calling for social and economic justice, 7:30 pm Thursday, April 30. With rising inequality worse in this country than any time since those relatively halcyon days of protest songs, and International Workers’ Day (April 30), the show is a timely reminder of music’s power to fight injustice.

Speaking of folk music, the Eugene Concert Choir joins the dozens of singers, dancers and instrumentalists of the Willis Clan in traditional and updated Celtic music 8 pm Saturday, April 25, at the Hult. The Stomptowners and Maldon Meehan Dancers bring more Irish music and dance to a house concert 7 pm Sunday, May 3, at 755 River Rd. (Contact