Pitch Perfect

Female vocalists fill the halls

Sinne Eeg
Sinne Eeg

Some of the most vibrant young voices in jazz and show music belong to women, and three of the most intriguing rising vocalists are coming to town in the next couple weeks.

This Saturday, May 23, the ever-engaging Broadway House concerts bring Danish singer Sinne Eeg to town to play warm, luxe original tunes and American songbook standards. Eeg has emerged from a vibrant young Scandinavian jazz scene that lately has produced some of the most fascinating modern intersections of improvised and composed music in the world, as visitors to the recent Portland Jazz Festival shows can attest.

In fact, it was Portland State University faculty member George Colligan — a terrific pianist (and drummer, trumpeter, and organist) and well-connected veteran of the New York jazz scene — who helped arrange this performance, which he’ll accompany on keyboard. Eeg’s warm alto really delivers on ballads (including her own classic-styled compositions). To reserve a seat for this concert at this Broadway bungalow, contact Paul Bodin at pbodin@uoregon.edu or 686-9270.

Another promising young female singer, Becca Stevens, plays 8 pm Monday, June 1, at Cozmic. The Brooklyn singer’s third and latest album, Perfect Animal, offers her originals alongside covers of Usher, Steve Winwood and Frank Ocean.

Stevens is frequently compared to compelling singers like St. Vincent, not surprisingly, as these two share a producer. Though her new record appeals more to pop singer-songwriter fans than jazzers, Stevens’ impressive performance at this year’s Portland Jazz Festival adds to her string of well-received live shows.

Still another fine young singer, Evynne Hollens, returns to Eugene to join Shedd regulars like Shirley Andress and Bill Hulings, plus other young guest performers, in a musical tribute to one of contemporary Broadway’s hottest composers, Jason Robert Brown. Hollens and company will perform tunes from Brown’s Tony-winning musicals like The Last Five Years, The Bridges of Madison County and Honeymoon in Vegas, along with Brown’s award-winning song cycle, Songs for a New World.

“Hear My Song: Celebrating the Music of Jason Robert Brown” runs 7:30 pm Saturday, May 30, and 1:30 pm Sunday, May 31, at The Shedd. Hollens, of course, got her start at the UO over a decade ago when she helped lead the award-winning a cappella women’s ensemble Divisi to national fame (fictionalized in the movie Pitch Perfect).

The world’s most admired jazzman Dave Douglas joins a Big Band concert 7 pm Friday, May 22, at the UO’s Beall Concert Hall. The trumpeter and composer has made dozens of acclaimed albums, won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and mentored a couple generations of American jazzers.

That same night, you can hear new music by UO student composers at the school’s Aasen-Hull Hall. That’s also where, at 7:30 pm Thursday, May 28, you can hear the scintillating Oregon Percussion Ensemble, whose concerts often feature fun theatrical elements as well as thrilling new music.

Next up at Aasen-Hull Hall, hear UO faculty pianist Alexandre Dossin and his students play music by the great Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos at 7:30 pm Friday, May 29.  The next night, three big UO music groups — its symphony, wind ensemble and University Singers — convene at the Hult Center 8 pm Saturday, May 30. The annual UO School of Music and Dance spring concert will include music from Stravinsky’s great ballet The Firebird and lots of American music, as well as a ravishing choral work by the acclaimed young Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds. The school’s traditional season closes with the gospel choirs and ensembles concert 5 pm Sunday, May 31. Be sure to get tickets early!

Speaking of young musicians, Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestra plays music by Holst, Beethoven and more on Thursday, May 21, at South Eugene High School Auditorium. And, last but not least, Chamber Music Amici plays its final concert of the season and bids adieu to its outgoing founding artistic director and violinist Sharon Schuman on June 1 at the Wildish Community Theater in Springfield, when some of the area’s top classical musicians will play delicious music by Prokofiev and Dvořák. I hope the audience will reward Schuman with applause for creating one of the area’s most valuable classical music institutions.

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