Eugene has long been one of the beacons of so-called early music, which includes basically anything composed (in Europe) before J.S. Bach died and Mozart was born in the mid-18th century. The Oregon Bach Festival has been the big kahuna, but the city boasts an indie early music scene consisting of historically informed performance practice musicians in outfits like the Oregon Bach Collegium, Vox Resonat and the University of Oregon’s splendid early music program.
Running now through April 16, the UO is hosting its first free and open-to-the-public early music conference, Musicking, which includes lecture series, master classes and other coaching opportunities, along with stars from the admittedly geeky early music world, scholarly sessions and, of course, concerts, not to mention a “period-instrument petting zoo.”
Grammy-winning Seattle-based lutenist and conductor Stephen Stubbs (who earned a reputation during a three-decade European career as one of the most famous Baroque musicians with his band Tragicomedia and others) gives an April 14 lecture and concert at the UO’s Collier House, while Bay Area-based Baroque violin legend Michael Sand (Arcangeli, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra) does the same on Friday, April 15. On April 16, UO early music expert Marc Vanscheeuwijck conducts a “culturally informed” performance of Italian Baroque composer Alessandro Stradella’s oratorio St. John the Baptist at Central Lutheran Church (1857 Potter Street) which, of course, also includes that femme fatale Salome and a severed head.
And on April 17, the great Belgian conductor Philippe Herreweghe conducts one of the world’s finest early music vocal ensembles, Collegium Vocale Gent, in one of the greatest works of the Renaissance, Orlando di Lasso’s The Tears of St. Peter. The conference also includes the free lunchtime concerts that have been running April 13-15 at Collier House and Marché Museum Cafe in the Schnitzer art museum. Other associated performances include Belgian organist Willem Ceuleers’ April 14 organ concert at Beall Hall and Oregon Bach Collegium’s April 18 concert of music by C.P.E. Bach and more at United Lutheran Church (2230 Washington Street).
If you like medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, then keep Musicking after the conference ends. On April 18, Contrapunctus Brass Trio plays contemporary music for brass, plus some Handel.
In more recent classical music, on Thursday, April 14, the Eugene Symphony presents an all-Russian showcase featuring familiar classics — Glinka’s Ruslan and Ludmila overture, Borodin’s rollicking Polovtsian Dances, Tchaikovsky’s warhorse Violin Concerto (with violinist Adele Anthony) and Prokofiev’s not-so-often-played third symphony, drawn from the music for his opera The Fiery Angel.
And on April 17-18, Chamber Music Amici welcomes violinist Semmy Stahlhammer and cellist Isabel Bloome from Sweden and Trio Voronezh accordionist Sergei Teleshev for performances of Tchaikovsky’s lovely musical postcard Souvenir of Florence and Klezmer tunes at Springfield’s Wildish Theater. Platypus Clarinet Orchestra’s free April 17 concert at First United Methodist Church (1376 Olive Street) features 30 players from Eugene and Corvallis playing an arrangement of Robert Schumann’s Fourth Symphony and more.
On April 15-17, chanteuse Siri Vik returns to The Shedd stage with an able jazz quintet to sing music by the late American legend Nina Simone, who’s having a revival thanks to the controversial upcoming film and other renewed attention. Longtime Shedd guest Ken Peplowski brings his incomparable clarinet, classic jazz and a fine band to The Jazz Station on April 20.