Springy Sounds

From the Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble to Nellie McKay, the city is full of voices this May

Nellie McKay
Nellie McKay

Thanks to what’s called the Little Ice Age, Europe could be a chilly place during the 16th through 18th centuries, all the more reason to seek solace in warm music and celebrate spring’s advent. At 7:30 pm Saturday, May 9, at Central Lutheran Church (1857 Potter St.), the Eugene vocal ensemble Vox Resonat sings springy tunes about dancing and loving composed by Thomas Weelkes, Jacques Arcadelt, Nicolas Gombert and other Renaissance masters. The eight historically informed vocalists (led by UO prof and renowned Sequentia singer Eric Mentzel) will sing this English, German, French and Spanish music a cappella, as it usually was performed at the time it was written.

The following Friday and Saturday, May 15 and 16, at 6 pm, St. Paul’s Parish Hall (1201 Satre St.) hosts another celebration of Renaissance spring music. Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble’s annual Renaissance MayFest Dinner. The event includes madrigals by English composer Thomas Morley and sacred music by Spanish composer Tomas Luis de Victoria as well as authentic dances, food, decor, costumed actors and historical instruments fashioned by Portland Early Music mavens Phil and Gayle Neuman, and performed by their 12-member Oregon Renaissance Band.

More historically informed music happens at 3 pm Sunday, May 10, at United Lutheran Church (2230 Washington St.) when the Oregon Bach Collegium plays a violin sonata by French Baroque composer Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre and a trio of J.S. Bach masterpieces: a pair of the ever popular Brandenburg concertos and a great flute sonata, all played in styles and with instruments that come much closer than their modern descendants to capturing the sound the composers had in mind.

Another historically informed performer, Boston-based fiddler Hanneke Cassel, returns to her native Oregon when her longtime collaborators Mike Block and Christopher Lewis join her to play traditional and modern Celtic, bluegrass and Americana music at 7:30 pm Friday, May 8, at The Shedd. A one-time national Scottish fiddle champion, Cassel also performs with the Early Music Ensemble Galilei and teaches around the world.

On Saturday, May 9, at 7:30 pm, The Shedd hosts another returning favorite — the slyly funny, politically savvy singer Nellie McKay, in her latest show that adds her distinctive twists to mid-1960s pop classics from The Kinks, The Beatles and much more.

Vocal music highlights Oregon Mozart Players’ concert 7:30 pm Saturday, May 9, at the UO’s Beall Hall. Soprano Julie Miller sings Mozart’s great concert aria “You Ask That I Forget You?” and French romantic composer Ernest Chausson’s “Poem of Love and Sea.” Beall resounds with still more vocal splendor 8 pm Thursday, May 14, when the UO Chamber Choir sings an admirably varied program of sacred and secular music by ancient and modern choral masters, plus a high-speed medley of 16 American folk songs in four minutes.

UO prof and award-winning soprano Laura Wayte joins organist Julia Brown in a wide-ranging recital of music from the 17th century to the present at 4 pm Sunday, May 17, at First United Methodist Church (1376 Olive St.).

This month also boasts more concerts that leave out the vocals. Beall hosts the latest installment of UO pianist Alexandre Dossin’s series of Brahms’ chamber music, with UO colleagues Fritz Gearhart (violin) and Steven Pologe (cello) joining him in a piano trio and a pair of violin sonatas 7:30 pm Monday, May 18. At the Hult on Thursday, May 14, at 7:30 pm, the Eugene Symphony plays one of Haydn’s sparkling cello concertos, Strauss’s tone poem A Hero’s Life and Samuel Barber’s famous Adagio for strings. The Eugene Symphonic Band plays a pops concert that includes Broadway tunes and Gershwin songs 7:30 pm Monday, May 18, at First Baptist Church (3550 Fox Meadow Rd.). At 7:30 pm Tuesday, May 19, Eugene Springfield Youth Orchestras play music by Schubert, Vieuxtemps and Shostakovich at Lane Community College’s performance hall.

Finally, listeners who like their music a bit more spontaneous should head to The Jazz Station at 8 pm Saturday, May 16, to hear bassist and composer Lyle Hopkins’ Intuitive Music ensemble play improvised sounds influenced by the music of John Zorn and John Cage.

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