Delgani String Quartet

Music Springs Eternal

Young performers take to local stages with classical music

In April, we noted several concerts aimed at young audiences. The coming week offers a couple of shows that put young performers at center stage.

Oregon Mozart Players’ “Youthful Exuberance” concert Saturday, May 4, at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall features students from Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras (ESYO) in a danceable Divertimento by Mozart. It also showcases the winners of OMP’s 2019 Young Soloist Competition in one of Boccherini’s graceful cello concertos, a song from Jacques Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffmann and Leonard Bernstein’s uproarious “Glitter and Be Gay” from his operetta Candide. The chamber orchestra will celebrate youthful composition with George Bizet’s sunny first symphony, which the French composer wrote at age 17. 

Bizet is best known as an opera composer (Carmen et al.), and Eugene Symphony closes its season Thursday, May 9, at the Hult Center with another non-operatic masterpiece by an opera composer, but written at the end of his career. Giuseppe Verdi’s symphonic Requiem is nearly as much opera (Verdi’s main jam, of course) as sacred work, brimming with high drama and orchestral magnificence that sustains its mighty 90-minute span.

The kids are also all right in chamber music next week. Thirty minutes before Sunday’s and Tuesday’s Delgani String Quartet concerts, May 12 and 14, at Temple Beth Israel, 1175 East 29th Avenue, the ensemble’s immersion quartet made up of high school students will be performing the first movement of Mendelssohn’s first string quartet, Op. 12.

That Delgani program includes another guest musician, UO clarinet professor Wonkak Kim, who joins the band for Mozart’s elegant Clarinet Quintet and a contemporary quintet by American composer Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, a double pioneer. She was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Music and also the first woman composer to appear in a Peanuts cartoon. 

Zwilich’s sometimes wry, sometimes melancholy quintet was originally recorded by legendary clarinetist David Shifrin, who has directed the Portland-based Chamber Music Northwest for 40 years and which commissioned Zwilich’s quintet. This year’s summer festival honors his impending retirement by celebrating the clarinet in various concerts, so if this concert’s music appeals to you, consider popping up to Portland in July.

The UO’s annual Musicking Conference returns Monday, May 13, through Friday, May 17, with an opening concert at Tykeson-Berwick Hall featuring Giacomo Antonio Perti’s oratorio, Beata Imelde.

Who? Perti was a late 17th- and early 18th-century Italian composer who wrote a lot of well-regarded sacred music. You’ve probably never heard of him because a lot of music, some of it even great music, gets swept away by the tides of time.

Events like the Musicking Conference, while aimed primarily at scholars and early-music nerds like me, are essential to recovering and reviving these lost treasures so that all music lovers can hear them. Moreover, the talks, master classes and workshops help musicians learn how to properly interpret sometimes sparsely notated ancient scores.

You can hear the results in more concerts (all performed on instruments and in styles the composers intended) on Wednesday and Thursday, May 15 and 16, including music by Hildegard of Bingen and Corelli, and the conference’s closing Friday, May 17, concert featuring another oratorio, Il martirio di Santa Cecilia, by one of Perti’s Italian contemporaries, Quirino Colombani. If you love the Baroque music at the Oregon Bach Festival, check out these free concerts that include rare sounds that will sound both familiar and fresh.

May also brings opportunities to hear a different kind of guitar music than what you’d experience at, say, the WOW Hall or McDonald Theatre. Sunday afternoon, May 5, at First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive Street, fretboarder aces David Rogers and David Elan Kelley play music by J. S. Bach, Chick Corea, Paul Desmond, John Mclaughlin, Pat Metheny, Oregon’s own Ralph Towner and other jazz and improvised music — including creations by the guitarists themselves.

And on Saturday, May 11, the third annual Corvallis Guitar Festival at Corvallis’s First Presbyterian Church, 8th and Monroe, brings Grammy-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet founder Bill Kanengiser in for an evening recital. The festival also includes an afternoon concert by Hawaiian guitar and ukulele master Ian O’Sullivan, master class, talks and more.

Speaking of jazz, next Wednesday, May 8, The Shedd brings one of America’s pioneering musicians, Eddie Palmieri. The 10-time Grammy-winning salsa pianist/bandleader/composer helped merge African American and Puerto Rican and other Caribbean sounds into a danceable brew that still intoxicates and inspires dancers, musicians and listeners.

“Palmieri is perhaps themes respected exponent of Latin dance music in the United States,” writes America’s most astute journalistic music writer, John Rockwell, in his 1983 book All American Music. “But he is no staid traditionalist: His excellence derives in large measure from his very refusal to confine himself to traditional Latin forms. He is always pushing to expand and transcend those forms.”

At 82, Palmieri continues to bring his fabulous fusion music to an ever-growing number of Latin music fans around the world. 

Comments are closed.