Chicano Batman

Voices & Vino

Underrated Beethoven, Argentine music and a uke master come to town

Imagine a single concert that featured the public premieres of these classical masterpieces: Beethoven’s mighty Fifth (da da da DAH) and Sixth symphonies, fourth Piano Concerto and Choral Fantasy.

No wonder the other work on that famous program of premieres was overshadowed. On Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Hult Center, you can hear that relative Beethoven rarity, his underrated Mass in C, when Eugene Concert Choir sings it along with one of the 20th century’s most popular choral masterworks: Leonard Bernstein’s joyous Chichester Psalms

If your vocal music tastes run to a more intimate — and inebriate — scale, that same evening at Central Lutheran Church, 1857 Potter Street, you can instead hear five of Portland’s finest professional classical singers (all veterans of the city’s finest choirs) sing songs written from the 15th through 20th centuries. Although created by a wide range of composers (Mozart, Verdi, Lassus, Schubert, Offenbach, Haydn, Schein, Faure and more), the opera arias, motets and other songs are all about or inspired by wine. 

Given what’s going on in Washington, D.C., we could all use a drink — or an escape. Fortunately, still another vital vocal performance on Saturday offers classical songs about travel. At Tsunami Books at 5 pm (so you could make one of the other vocal concerts afterwards), tenor Brendan Tuohy sings songs by Schubert, Dvorak, Vaughan Williams and more, accompanied by pianist Julia Brown.

The following week brings still another fine singer, Scandinavia’s premiere jazz vocalist, Sinne Eeg, on Friday, March 3, at Broadway House, 911 West Broadway, accompanied by one of Oregon’s jazz treasures, Portland keyboard master George Colligan. Call 541-686-9270 for reservations.

Still more vocal baubles glitter Sunday, March 5, at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street, when the University of Oregon Chamber Choir sings contemplative evensongs by a range of Anglo-American composers, from Renaissance masters Tallis and Morley through 20th-century composers Holst and Howells. 

After all that vocal music, how about some instrumental chamber music? This Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, at United Lutheran Church, 22nd Avenue and Washington Street, Oregon Bach Collegium plays early 18th-century French music by Couperin, Marais and Hotteterre, all composers whose graceful music should be heard more often here — especially when performed by these historically informed baroque specialists playing instruments (violins, cello, harpsichord) or replicas from the time this music was written.

More recent chamber music is on tap the next day, Feb. 27, at Springfield’s Wildish Community Theater, when Chamber Music Amici plays 20th-century music by Argentina’s great nuevo tango composer Astor Piazzolla, Spanish composer Joaquín Turina and an original tango by Amici’s own Victor Steinhardt, the longtime UO prof who’ll play piano. The show also features string quartet music by the fascinating composer Erwin Schulhoff, who tragically died in the Holocaust before we could experience the full fruits of his genius, and more. 

For more Spanish-accented sounds, check out the suave, soulful melange of pan-Latin rhythms (from Afro-Colombian to Mexican to Brazil’s psychedelic-tinged tropicalia sound) purveyed by L.A. quartet Chicano Batman at Hi-Fi Lounge Feb. 25.

On March 1, Mexico’s three Villalobos Brothers and their band play their original blend of folk, jazz and classical music. The Latin Grammy award winning ensemble (violin, guitar, piano, vocals, bass and drums) has earned ¡Viva!s for their performances on various world tours, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Shea Stadium, Kennedy Center and even Harlem’s Apollo Theater. Now based in Nueva York, the Veracruz natives have worked with musicians ranging from the Chieftains to Pierre Boulez to Dolly Parton. 

Next night, The Shedd brings the blues with veteran California bluesmen Tommy Castro & The Painkillers on March 2. On March 3, the great Hawaiian ukulele prodigy Jake Shimabukuro returns to The Shedd for the fourth time. Or that same night at 755 River Road, you can hear mandolin master Radim Zenkl, who deploys a variety of mandolins and flutes in his original jazzy/bluegrassy songs and Eastern European covers. Email for reservations.

It gets funkier March 7 when Portland’s MarchFourth unleashes its groovy brass music at Hi-Fi Music Hall. And the world beats resume there the next night when Dirtwire (which includes members of Beats Antique, Bolo and Jed & Lucia) cranks out its world beat electronica jams on banjo, electric violin, harmonica, mbira, laptop, guitar and more.

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