Oregon Legends

December offers a buffet of music from classical to musical comedy

Among classical composers based in Oregon today, four are likely to make it in the music history books.

One of them, Portland’s Tomáš Svoboda, turns 80 this month, and Delgani String Quartet celebrates with a concert featuring three of his stirring string quartets.

A terrific pianist and chamber musician for many years, Svoboda left a major mark on Oregon music during his three-decade teaching career at Portland State University, mentoring many of Oregon’s finest musicians and composers. His music has been performed all over the world, including the Eugene Symphony’s premiere of his last major work, “Clarinet Concerto,” in 2012, completed just before he suffered a major stroke.

Though speaking is difficult and composing and walking impossible, he’s gradually recovering, and his mind is still sharp. Influenced by 20th-century composers like Shostakovich, Svoboda’s music sounds as vital today as it did when he wrote it, especially in the able hands of Delgani, whose performance of his sixth quartet a few years ago remains one of the most thrilling chamber music experiences I’ve ever heard in person.

They’ll play it along with his 10th and 12th quartets Friday, Dec. 6, at Tsunami Books, and any fan of Oregon music, classical music and especially Oregon classical music should be there.

Another Oregon music legend, Rebecca Kilgore, brings her superlative trio to perform American songbook standards at Broadway House Concerts that same night.

If you move fast, you might be able to see her and two more of the state’s most accomplished jazz veterans, pianist Randy Porter and bassist Tom Wakeling, in the cozy confines of the bungalow on Broadway. To reserve seats, email Paul Bodin at pbodin@uoregon.edu.

Speaking of jazz vocals, you can hear singer Nancy Hamilton along with her fellow Jazz Station founders pianist John Crider and bassist Chris Orsinger, plus three other Eugene jazz stalwarts at the Station on Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s a fundraising concert for the vital venue, which happily just renewed its lease for another five years and needs — and deserves — the support of Oregon jazz lovers.

Oregon Mozart Players’ annual Baroque Candlelight Concert has long been of the city’s most enchanting holiday traditions. This year’s edition features a pair of sparkling Vivaldi concertos, including a spectacular one for dueling trumpets, plus an arrangement of J.S. Bach’s famous keyboard classic, the Goldberg Variations, for strings, and more.

Catch it Friday, Dec. 6, at First Christian Church, or hear the second performance on Saturday, Dec. 7, at the same venue and make one of the other recommended shows too. Heck, why not make a whole weekend of it and catch Byrdsong Consort’s free show at Eugene Public Library at 6 pm too?

You can hear a very different flavor of Baroque music by less-known, but still compelling, composers William Brade, John Playford, Turlough O’Carolan and others, plus traditional carols, all performed on period instruments — harpsichord, viols, recorder, violin, flute and voice — by historically informed musicians. Then rush over to the next show.

Tsunami Books hosts singer/songwriter Kiran Ahluwalia and her band on Dec. 9. Her invigorating 2018 album 7 Billion draws on her characteristic mix of global music forms and languages, including Malian and desert blues, Portuguese fado, American rock, and all manner of various Indian musical forms, with lyrics that range from political to sensual.

When She Loves Me premiered on Broadway in 1963, the musical’s charming but forgettable tunes were already considered a little old fashioned, especially in light of the musical revolution ignited that same year by a similarly named song, “She Loves You.”

Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock’s show originally ran for 300 performances, made no money, spawned no hit songs and lost out on awards to Hello Dolly. A proposed movie with Dick van Dyke and Julie Andrews was scuttled as too retro for 1960s audiences. And yet it’s somehow become a perennial, kind of like It’s A Wonderful Life, another relative flop of a Christmas story that flourished only later.

She Loves Me owes its success to its sweet, holiday-appropriate story — the same one you might have seen in Ernst Lubitsch’s 1940 film classic The Shop Around The Corner, the 1949 movie In The Good Old Summertime and 1998’s You’ve Got Mail!

All derive from Miklós László’s sentimental 1937 play Parfumerie, about a pair of secret pen pals who don’t know each other’s real identities — and who unknowingly detest each other in person, while gradually falling in love through their letters. Directed by Richard Jessup with music direction by Robert Ashens, The Shedd’s production, which opens Dec. 6 and runs through Dec. 21, stars Shirley Andress, Cloud Pemble and Ron Daum.