Saturday, March 29, 2014

Portland Opera’s “Postcard from Morocco” fashions a deeply hued and ambiguous mosaic

© Cory Weaver /
Portland Opera
With its production of Dominick Argento’s “Postcard from Morocco,” Portland Opera journeyed into semi-surreal territory that amply displayed the rich talents of young artist program – plus a couple of veterans. The show on opening night (March 21st) at the Newmark Theatre explored the colors and textures of this odd gem with intensive singing and acting.  Argento's one-act opera was a fanciful flight even though the seven characters never left the waiting room of a train station. Over a stretch of 90-minutes, they fashioned a mosaic of themselves through highly-evocative soliloquies.

In his introductory comments, the company’s general director, Christopher Mattaliano, remarked that “Postcard from Morocco” was the most-produced American opera. That was surprising, considering the popularity of Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and Floyd’s “Susannah,” but ever since its premiere in 1971 in Minneapolis, “Postcard from Morocco” with its requirements of just seven singers and an orchestra of eight, has been a staple of the nation’s opera stages. For this production, a Portland Opera premiere, the group of mimes that were part of the original concept, were not used and instead incorporated into the actions of the singers.

John Donahue’s poetic libretto names the characters according to the possessions that they carry, such as, Lady with a Hand Mirror, Lady with a Cake Box, and Man with a Cornet Case. Each character is very protective of his or her possession, because it may reveal something. Fortunately, the Man with a Shoe Sample Kit (Alexander Elliott) was a crazy-maker. He would stir things up by taking someone’s cherished item and taunt them a tad. Elliott’s baritone was expansive and engaging in every which way.

As the Lady with a Hand Mirror, soprano Lindsay Russell deftly showed how a mirror could become a shield or even a weapon. Tenor Ryan MacPherson drew fanciful images as the Man with a Paint box. Mezzo Melissa Fajardo held court as a lounge-singer as the Lady with a Hat Box. Despite her young hippie appearance, mezzo Caitlin Mathes, created a creepy moment when she told how her cake box contained her lover. Equally captivating was baritone Ian José Ramirez’s Man with Old Luggage, and bass Deac Guidi’s Man with a Cornet Case. Fajardo, Ramirez, and Elliott are members of the Portland Opera Resident Artist Program, and Mathes is a graduate of the program.

Director Kevin Newbury invented a lot of movement that enhanced the story. The seats in the waiting area were hooked together in such a way that they could easily be moved about to suggest a ship or a wall. At one point the singers reassembled to form the iconic scene from “Titanic” where the woman is at the bow with her arms stretched out and a man behind her.

Argento’s musical style embarked on a journey of its own with parodies of popular song, Viennese operetta, and Wagner (motifs from "Das Rheingold" and "Die Fliegende Holländer"). Even though the music constantly shifted about, conductor William Vendice kept the singers and the orchestra in sync.

Curt Enderle’s scenic design evoked a generic train station with a big “Departures” sign, which signaled the excursions from reality that each character took. Sue Bonde’s contemporary costumes gave the story a current context. MacPherson’s character, for example, had blond dreadlocks and a bulky, world-traveler backpack. Connie Yun’s lighting captured each situation perfectly.

In the final vignette, the Man with the Paint Box imagined himself as the captain of a magical ship, leading his friends on a voyage of exploration through the clouds. It was inspirational, but I’m not sure of what. Perhaps the message of this opera is that we should take time to explore our dreams and aspirations. If you don’t know what they are, then just visit a train or a bus station and see what happens.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Free Marz String Trio chronicles music of the mind and then eats it up

The culminating concert of this year’s edition of March Music Moderne featured an eclectic program of works that spanned from the very tonal and counterpoint-driven (Bach in an arrangement by Dmitri Sitkovetsky) to the distortion-heavy (Iannis Xenakis). Like previous incarnations of programs curated by MMM founder and artistic director Bob Priest, the music veered from one end to the other with generous helpings in between. All of the pieces were played with the utmost commitment by the Free Marz String Trio, which sported an all-new look with violinist Hae-jin Kim, violist Kenji Bunch, and cellist Diane Chaplin. They gave top-notch performances to a full house at the Community Music Center on the evening of March 16th.

Using the whimsical theme of “The Marzian Chronicles,” most of the musical selections were preceded by texts that were evocatively read by actor David Loftus. His reading from Ray Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles” nicely dovetailed into the first musical entrée, Ennio Morricone’s “Vivo.” The Free Marz String Trio delved into the nimble and dance-like mood of this piece. Deftly transitioning from a quick, stuttering section to a buzzy one, the ensemble shifted the mood of the piece. It seemed to become busier and almost anxious as it sped to the finale.

Another reading from “The Martian Chronicles” served to introduce James Harley’s “Trio Arachne,” which received its world premiere at this performance. Perhaps the music was inspired by the legend of Arachne, who lost to the goddess Athena after challenging her to a weaving contest. The piece created the sound of low-pitched sirens that gradually moved higher. After a period of agitation, the pace slowed down but the tone went higher, and then the sound became sort of like a glass harmonica being played underwater. That sound was beguiling.

Right afterwards, the ensemble played Iannis Xenakis “Ikhoor,” a sonically harsh piece that shredded sounds in a big way with strong chords that splintered all over the place. At one point, the atmosphere of the piece grew violent and off-center, with the instrumentalists creating a variety of wailing sirens. That segued into a thick hurdy-gurdy passage that was followed by a variety of crazy music with wild, shredding glissandos on all of the instruments. The sound verged on taking the chrome off the grill of a ’55 Chevy. The very extroverted turmoil of the piece seemed to suggest a composer who is going mad or the world going crazy or both.

Loftus read from Elias Canetti’s playful “Earwitness” as a preface to Dobrinka Tabakova’s “Insight.” The trio got the audience to exhale and relax with the close harmonics and blended sonorities of this piece, which included a sweet melodic line from violinist Kim. The piece had a Dvorak-like gravitas that seamlessly changed into a fugue-like section. Towards the end of the piece, the music grew serious and violinist Kim played a strong melodic theme, supported by the viola and cello, as the piece drew to a close.

After intermission, Loftus delivered “An Experiment with the Void” form Jasmina Reza’s “Hammerklavier.” This was followed by nine canons from Bach’s “The Goldberg Variations” in an arrangement by Dmitri Sitkovetsky. The performance by the Free Marz String Trio was wonderfully balanced and had the feeling of esprit de corps.

To prepare the audience for the last piece, Loftus read from Italo Calvino’s “Invisible Cities” and Ronni Lacroute read a brief passage from Satie (in French) as a preface to the “Erik Satie Tango Project.” The “Project” is one of Priest’s signature ideas. He commissioned nine composers to take the basic outline of Satie’s “Tango Perpetuel,” with an emphasis on using the first and last measures of Satie’s original in order to connect and fashion a new perpetual piece of music. Seven of the nine composers hail from the Portland metro area and the two others come from Victoria, British Columbia and Seattle. So, the “Erik Satie Tango Project” is most likely, the one commission that used the most composers from Pacific Northwest in 2014.

As an introductory note, Jennifer Wright played Satie’s score on a toy piano. This was followed by Heather Derome’s “Apeshit,” which, despite its name, was elegantly similar to the original in temperament, and it contrasted well with Linda Woody’s “Menage á Trois,” which had a spunkier and more animated character. As suggested by its title, “Tango Glaciel,” John Berendzen’s take was a down-tempo affair – heaped with slow-motion glissandos – and it faded (or slid) away in the last few measures. Denis Floyd’s “The Devil’s Dance” had a slightly strident style, but it didn’t whirl about in a devilish way. Robert McBride’s “It Takes Three” had thematic lines that went off in different directions in a tongue-and-cheek way that was accented by Chaplin’s humorous pose at the very end. Byron Au Young’s “Tangosa” featured tapping bows, glissandos, and strong lines for the viola, which was expertly played by Bunch. More rapping and glissandi followed in Jennifer Wright’s “Le Tango Ineffectuel,” which sported a deceptive ending that was punctuated, again, by the superior acting skills of Chaplin. Rhythmic foot stomping and hand clapping complimented Beth Karp’s “Judgment Day Tango.” The final number provided something altogether unique, because Kenji Bunch brought out a white sheet-cake that had the score printed on it (you can laser anything onto the top of a cake these days). He put a candle in it and lit it. Then the trio bent over the score and played Bunch’s “Sandcastle #4,” a bouncy, folksy, and slightly motoric piece that put a smile on everyone’s face. After the piece ended, Chaplin stood up and cut a piece of the cake and ate it, saying, “I think that was bar 9.”

During the reception that followed, Chaplin put the cake on a table near the front door of the Community Music Center. She wanted everyone to partake in a piece of the cake, but she wouldn’t allow photos. On the one hand, this prohibition reminded all of us of how unique and ephemeral music-making is, and on the other hand it left us with the impression that musicians can have their cake and eat it too.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Photographer and publisher Jim Leisy passes

Jim Leisy, who is probably known to many readers of Northwest Reverb for his outstanding photography of many artists - especially those associated with Chamber Music Northwest - died last Wednesday. He was 64 years old. More than an artist, Jim was a terrific person to be around, and he will be greatly missed in Portland's cultural scene. Here's his complete obituary, written by his companion Cynthia Kirk, who has given me permission to print it here.
Jim Leisy -- artist, photographer, musician, book editor, publisher, deeply loved by family and friends – died suddenly on Wednesday, March 12. He was 64 and had suffered serious heart problems for several years. His home and studio are in Sherwood, OR while his company, Franklin, Beedle & Associates is based in Portland.

James Franklin Leisy, Jr. was born in Dallas, TX on March 3, 1950 to James and Emily Leisy. His grandfather, Ernest Leisy, was an English professor at Southern Methodist University and expert on the American transcendentalists. Jim came from a family of prominent Kansas Mennonites. His paternal great grandfather, Christian Krehbiel was an early Kansas Mennonite pioneer; grandfather Henry Peter Krehbiel, a book and newspaper publisher; and grandmother Elva Krehbiel Leisy, among the first women to graduate from Oberlin College. Jim’s father was a leader in textbook publishing and co-founder of Wadsworth Publishing.

Jim (known to family and early friends as Jamie) grew up in the Bay Area and graduated from Woodside High School. After graduating from Bethel (where he majored in history, minored in arts history and was editor of the Bethel Collegian), he became a photographer for the University of Chicago Press and contributed to the Chicago Review. It was at the Press that he first met his companion, Cynthia Kirk.

In 1974, he became field representative and editor for Addison-Wesley Publishing Company (Reading, MA), based in Philadelphia. He joined Brooks Cole Publishing Company (Monterey, CA) as chemistry and computer science editor in 1977, eventually becoming a vice-president. In 1985, he founded Franklin Beedle & Associates to publish computer science texts. When, in 1990, he decided to relocate the company to Portland, OR, the entire staff followed him.

Through Franklin, Beedle (FBA), Jim edited and published numerous path-breaking textbooks, including 20 by Carolyn Gillay on Microsoft DOS and Windows; Ernest Ackermann and Karen Hartman's books on the use of the Internet; John Zelle's Python-based computer science 1 textbook (the leader in its field); Paul Brians' Common Errors in English Usage; and Mark Liberman and Geoffrey Pullum's Far from the Madding Gerund.

Through the imprint William, James & Company (co-founded with Bill Hoffman) Jim published trade books in language, politics, photography and art. He recently established Media F8 to publish fine-art photography books. The first in that line, Madonna Comix, by visual artist Dianne Kornberg and poet Celia Bland, will be published in spring 2014.

Art and music were strong currents in Jim’s life. He had a few guitar lessons with Jerry Garcia and he played many different kinds of music in numerous bands throughout his life. He was a founding board member of the Portland Art Museum Photo Council, led it as president for a year, and launched the monthly Brown Bag Lunch Talk series, in which well-known photographers show and discuss their work. Other boards on which he served include Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Wordstock and Photolucida.

His renewed focus on photography in recent years reaped many artistic rewards, particularly after the development of his “Amateur Physics” series, which – using a 19th century printing technique – employed wit and humor to illuminate scientific principles. From 2003 – 2013, he was staff photographer for Chamber Music Northwest with that work appearing regularly in the Oregonian. He often used his own photography to create cover art for the books he published, and his images are published in Diffusion, High Desert Journal, and other newspapers and magazines. In November 2013, he traveled to China as part of a small delegation of American photographers who use alternative printing techniques for a biannual international photographic exhibition. He spent January as artist-in-residence at Caldera. A group show that included “Amateur Physics” just closed at Santa Fe’s Verve Gallery. His images can be seen at in Portland at Camerawork Galley, April 26 – May 23, 2014, in the drawers at Blue Sky Gallery throughout 2014 and online at His photographs are held in private collections, the Portland Art Museum, the Fine Arts Museum of Houston and the Smithsonian.

In addition to Cynthia Kirk, Jim is survived by sons Eric Leisy and Stephen Leisy, daughter-in-law Megan McCreith Leisy, mother Emily Leisy, brother and sister-in-law Scot Leisy and Donna Leisy, sister Becky Leisy Snell, niece and nephews Kristin, Kyle and Tyler Snell, former wives Ann Beedle and Susan Simon, and a large extended family including aunt Margaret Leisy Steineger and cousins, several relatives on Cynthia side and many friends in every part of the country. In his memory, please consider a donation to the Portland Art Museum Photo Council, Chamber Music Northwest or Bethel College.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hilary Hahn, OSO dazzle with the Nielsen Violin Concerto

On Monday night, March 10, Portland music lovers got a chance to hear some fantastic fiddling by the virtuoso Hilary Hahn playing the Carl Nielsen violin concerto, and the OSO played some old favorites by Grieg and Richard Strauss. Guest conductor Andrew Grams took the helm for the evening.

The famous Suite No. 1 From Peer Gynt was the evening's appetizer. As the Morning Mood began, the especially warm and lush oboe was soon hidden behind over-eager strings and winds that were a bit felt as though Grams were hurrying things along, whether to get to the less 'trite' middle movements or through fear of being thought overly sentimental who knows; in any case the strings were restrained later but by then it was a bit late to savor this mood.  The middle parts were much more judicious; the Death of Aase began like a somber requiem, the tenderest lacrimosa fading toward a barely-heard final cadence. The intense dynamics of the dance were fiercely separated, like two differing characters navigating the bipolar modality of the piece. The Hall of the Mountain King again lacked balance; the all-important ostinato was understated and at times not even heard, swallowed in the end by the cacophony.

Danish composer Carl Nielsen's Concerto for Violin was a special treat. The composition itself lacked most of the usual fireworks expected in a concerto. Hahn's playing was perfectly suited to this work. Beginning with a marvelous cantabile, she demonstrated throughout a most remarkable deftness, a clarity of diction and an evenness of form; one runs out of superlatives trying to describe playing of this kind. Poise and self-assurance were the watchwords; her blistering cadenza was yet wholly in keeping with the restrained feeling of the work.  To use the diction metaphor again, her iterations came forth purely and clearly, like a current of ideas running directly into one's understanding; an incredible sensation came across that both Hahn's and Nielsen's voices were speaking simultaneously and yet with perfect comprehensibility. Technically she was brilliant as well; in the run-up to the final cadence her chordal figurings featured difficult twittering trills that were executed with seeming ease. It was truly satisfying to watch the mind and fingers of a genius at work; this was undoubtedly some of the finest playing I have ever heard.

The second half was comprised of Richard Strauss' Aus Italien, a programmatic work describing scenes from the young composer's trip through this ancient land that has inspired poets and artists for so long. In the Country was broad and pastoral yet Grams and the OSO did not meander unsuitably; there was purpose here. The journey took us through the ruins of Rome, and one could almost see tumbled walls and the timeless dust of the ages. A shore scene was evocative and somnolent, and the piece closed with a quotation of Funiculi Funicula as a representation of Neapolitan folk life. This was OSO's premiere performance, and the decision to program this work was well-done indeed.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Trifonov delivers unbelievable tour-de-force performance in Portland Piano International recital

If a pianist can be as one with the keyboard, then that’s what seemed to have happened between Danill Trifonov and the Steinway he played on Sunday afternoon (March 9th) at Lincoln Concert Hall. Displaying a heightened sense of artistry in every sense of the word, Trifonov’s recital, presented by the Portland Piano International, was awe-inspiring. He used his virtuosic talents to delve into the music rather just exploit it in a way that could have merely been showy or flashy and attention-getting. In his playing of works by Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Schumann, Trifonov mined into the heart of each piece and made each moment of sound a life-enhancing experience for those of us in the audience.

Chopin’s “24 Preludes” received a tour-de-force performance from Trifonov. He brilliantly exposed the full dynamic range of each piece, infusing some of the slower ones with a tinge of melancholy and infusing several of the fast ones with wild, tempestuous abandon. But his playing was much more than just alternating between the extremes of slow and fast or soft and loud. It was all that and everything in between that he used to create moods that ranged from dreamy to stormy. The interesting thing about his playing of the “24 Preludes” was that his interpretation got stronger and stronger. It drew you into his vision, and the music seemed to acquire a life of its own. Audience members didn’t cough or make any extraneous noise, because they were so absorbed in Trifonov’s artistry.

After intermission, Trifonov brought Tchaikovsky’s Theme and Variations from “Six morceaux” to life, again using his incredible technical skills and artistic talent. From a little unassuming theme, he created an entire landscape of heights and depths that took listeners on a fantastic journey that had a faux-climax with a rollicking section that blistered with agitated chords before quickening the pace into a whirling finale. His performance left people in awe and gasping for breath.

With Schumann’s “Symphonic Etudes” Trifonov provided another exemplary excursion into the Romantic repertory, playing with fierce intensity and an emotional exuberance that made the audience listen in rapt attention. Soft crystalline passages could suddenly change into thundering ones at the drop of a sixteenth note. Equally adept at bringing the melodic line out just a tad in either the right or the left hand, the music, at times, had an iridescent quality. He was so into the piece that drops of sweat periodically dripped from his forehead to the keyboard. But just as with the other works on the program, Trifonov’s artistry made people care about the music as if it were a life or death matter, and the explosion of applause and cheering at the end of the piece was unstinting.

Trifonov responded with two encores: I didn’t catch the title of the first one, but the second was Rachmaninoff’s arrangement of the "Gavotte" from a Bach Violin Partita. Both were outstandingly played and elicited an enthusiastic response from the audience. At age 23 and with three recordings and an busy schedule with major orchestras everywhere, Trifonov will be a pianist to reckon with on the world stages. Hopefully, we will hear him again in Portland.

Bob Priest and MMM - Part 4

Here's the final installment of the interview with Bob Priest of March Music Moderne.

What are the events for today?

High noon at TaborSpace is a free lecture/concert by recently formed Oregon Composers Watch, co-sponsored by Oregon Arts Watch, Cascadia Composers, and Classical Revolution PDX. Brett Campbell will introduce the music of three excellent Oregon composers: Bonnie Miksch, Christopher Corbell, and Jedadiah Bernards. You will definitely be hearing more from this friendly fellowship as they are major advocates for local music of our time.

Then, 2 pm in at the Niche Bar in Vancouver, you can catch Ghost Town Poetry and Jazz with poet extraordinaire Christopher Luna who will read a cornucopia of poems backed up by a jazz ensemble – sort of like a ‘50s beatnik happening. You might even call this left field afternoon "way up north" an homage to the Beat Poets.

Baaaack in PDX at 4 pm chez Performance Works NW, a schlammin' Demolition Duo gig featuring super tasty drummer Ken Ollis and sax-shred maestro Dr. John Savage will pin you to the wall, mon! Dynamite duos plus improvised trios and large ensemble compositions are on tap. A celebration of on the spot creativity without a safety net, DD's performance also doubles as a CD release party for a new Ollis/Savage release on PJCE Records. This unique MMM roustabout is sponsored by PDX's absolutely invaluable Creative Music Guild.

Over at the Community Music Center's jewel of a concert hall at 7:30 pm, "Storm Session" is an All-Svoboda concert with MC Hammered Klavier. Scarily brilliant, laser focussed & steamin' hot pianist Maria Choban and friends will perform dazzlers by the great Tomas Svoboda in celebration of his 75th birthday. Yep, yet another unbelievably bitchen free MMM concert with MCHK unveiling a brand spankin' new Svoboda CD to boot! Place your bets now as to whether or not the house pi-an-a will survive the storm that is Maria Choban. BYO-OMG meter!

A ravishing 11 pm, waaaaay after-hours candle-lit Recalled to Life concert at St. David of Wales Church closes out this Saturday's high 5-spot. Bask in 20th and 21st century music with 13th century lighting as Beth Karp and friends illuminate musical lovelies by David Schiff, Benjamin Britten, Ahmed Saygun, and Aaron Berenbach.

OK, since we emerge from St. David's just after the clock strikes Sunday, why not keep beauty and grace awake with a 9 am musical meditation at the Zen Center of Portland? Scott Emery, MD and Larry Christensen, PhD, will offer revelatory insights on Music – Synesthesia – Meditation – how music affects and can trigger an intermingling of your other 4 senses. Some folks associate music with colors (Scriabin and Messiaen) while others associate music with smells (yours truly), etc. Come find out more about this interesting phenomena with two specialists in the field. Scott Emery is a neurologist at Kaiser Permanente and Larry Christensen is the head teacher at the deeply nurturing Zen Center of PDX. Another free presentation; so come on down, not all that long after dawn!

Friends of Rain, an excellent new music ensemble directed by Michael Johanson at Lewis and Clark College, will air recent works by visiting Chicago-based composer Mischa Zupko, PSU's Bonnie Miksch, featured MMM Canadian composer/scholar James Harley, and Maestro Johanson. The concert takes place at Gregg Pavilion on the L and C campus. Friends of Rain has been part of MMM since day one and their gigs are always rendered with authority by some of PDX's best musicians.

Next up, at 3 pm, the Oregon Symphony presents “Tango Caliente,” music of the uber-great Astor Piazzolla with dancers at the Schnitz. This exciting program is part of the orchestra’s pops series and puts Tango Pacifico to scintillating use. The band includes Erin Furbee and Jeff Johnson, who are both members of OSO. It is because of this program that I decided to thread Tango throughout MMM IV as a central MMM festspiel theme.

Electric Marzena Land at SE's Community Music Center is one of my own direct productions. This 6 pm tribute to Jimi Hendrix is an electro-acoustic concert with a bit of text, lights and lite staging. David Loftus will recite a fragment from Sherman Alexie's short story, "Because my Father always said he was the only Indian to see Jimi Hendrix play the Star-Spangled Banner at Woodstock" just before Jim(i) Harley's "Spangled" closes out this 45 minute show. "Spangled" is one of the standout works on my "Hendrix Uncovered" CD that will be given out for free in the lobby. EML also includes signal electro-acoustic music by Iannis Xenakis, Susan Alexjander, Hildegard Westerkamp, Jonathan Harvey, and The Residents - an insane skewering of Beatles tunes a la collage.

MMM IV's grand finale at 7:30 is a highly eclectic offering from my Free Marz String Trio – virtuosi Hae-jin Kim (violin), Kenji Bunch (viola), and Diane Chaplin (cello). Recent works by Ennio Morricone, James Harley, Iannis Xenakis, and a thrilling recent discovery, Dobrinka Tabakova (U.S. Premiere) go up "against" the 9 canons from Bach's "Goldberg Variations" in a program of international scope. Free Marz's “Erik Satie Tango Project” is a Baby LeRoy Memorial Trust funded commission for nine new tangos based on Satie’s “Tango Perpetuel.” Each composer takes the basic outline of Satie’s short little tango and runs with it in their own inimitable style. All I ask is that they use Satie’s first and last measures so we can string them together as one brand new, uh, “Tango Perpetuel.” Plus, actor David Loftus returns to read short prose selections from Ray Bradbury, Italo Calvino, Elias Canetti and Jasmina Reza to help flesh out our program's narrative of "The Marzian Chronicles." This concert is free and is followed by a fabulous reception catered by Exuberance Catering featuring "Les Vins Magnifiques" from Yamhill's WillaKenzie Estate. Oh, did I already mention that our festspiel finale and farewell is FREE? Then what, you wonder? Well, plans for March Music Moderne V are already shaping up. So, y'all can join us in the there of the then when we will once again listen to the here of the now in Global Village PDX . . .

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bob Priest talks up MMM - Part 3

This is the third part of a discussion with impresario and composer Bob Priest about March Music Moderne IV.

So what is coming up for the festival this Friday?

Priest: Friday's MMM array unfolds beginning at 3 pm with a free concert by Judith Cohen at the Portland Piano Company. Judith is a Seattle-based pianist who used to play with my group Marzena back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s in Seattle. She will give her performance on an ultra-fab Faziolli piano - already a huge treat! Cohen will perform a huge variety of pieces by Louis Andriessen, Béla Bartók, Ken Benshoof, Peter Maxwell Davies, Alan Hovhaness, Erik Satie, Erwin Schulhoff, and Patrick Stoyanovich.

Down the road a piece at Lewis and Clark College, a 5 pm lecture by noted scholar James Harley will address "Music and Mathematics: Xenakis and beyond." Harley is a wonderfully eclectic Canadian composer and man about the globe. He wrote an acclaimed book on Xenakis, is a specialist on the highly-skewed music of The Residents and has penned numerous raucous big band charts. Jim studied with Xenakis in Paris and the Free Marz String Trio has commissioned a new work from him to be premiered during the final concert of the festspiel. He will also have a formidable bass clarinet piece played on the Friends of Rain concert & an electro-acoustic onslaught aired on the Electric Marzena Land program. I met Jim 30 years ago in a Warsaw music store back when Poland was still thickly oppressed by their Soviet "allies" and we've been good friends ever since. MMM is celebrating his 55th birthday, and we are grateful to the Canadian Council for helping to fund his PDX residency.

At 7:30, MMM crosses the river back into my old SE 'hood for a kicker of a concert at the Community Music Center - probably my fave music venue in town! The Arnica String Quartet will play the three uber-great string quartets of Benjamin Britten. I’ve never heard the third string quartet live (Benji's final completed work), and to hear all three of these masterworks in one evening is a very rare opportunity. Charles Noble and his colleagues from OSO have been devoted to Britten for quite some time, and I would rate these quartets right up there with THE greatest quartets of the Twentieth Century. I would NOT miss this festival highlight!

MMM's frolicsome Friday culminates at 11 pm with Sounding the Cinema II, a FREE showing of Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” at Cinema 21. In this spooky and troubling film, pre-existing music is employed much as Wendy Carlos did in “A Clockwork Orange." Here, Robbie Robertson assembled patches of superb music by Penderecki (the particularly phobic Passacaglia from his 3rd Symphony), Harrison, Ligeti, Cage, Scelsi, Marshall, Mahler and John Adams. I highly recommend picking up the 2-CD soundtrack given that it can serve double-duty as a new music primer! The unforgettable outgoing music in "Shutter Island" is a spine-tingling meld of gorgeous string music by Max Richter and; Dinah Washington’s voice from "This Bitter Earth."

OK, please lemme catch my cyber-breath before coming back to tell you about MMM's final ten events on Saturday and Sunday...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Portland Symphonic Choir delivers sonic bouquets in its "Light and Love" concert

Guest Review by Phillip Ayers

It is a pleasure beyond measure to enjoy a concert by Portland's premier large chorus that is dedicated to masterworks of the choral repertoire. Sunday (March 2nd) afternoon's late winter concert, themed "Light and Love," took place in the sacred and acoustically live space of our local Catholic Cathedral. Warm and dry inside, it was a refuge from the constant rain, the "permamist," of Portland; more than simple enhancement, the gorgeous choral music offered was, as always, a joy.

"Light and Love" brought to mind recent celebrations and observances of both the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, Candlemas, a month ago, with its blessing and procession with candles, reminiscent of the aged Simeon's canticle Nunc Dimittis: "… to be a light to enlighten the Nations …" and St. Valentine's Day with its love, arrows and affection.

As conductor Steven Zopfi mentioned in his introductory comments, Josef Rheinberger, a lover of nature, in his work Drei geistliche Gesänge sets first a text about morning (translated: "The darkness [God] has banished, / you, children, take no fright; / he comes to those who love him, / the Father of all light"). Another love of the composer was religion and the second part is from the Offertory proper for Christmas Day, based on Psalm 89:12,15 (translated: "Thine are the heavens, thine the earth …"). The little trilogy ends with Abendlied, contrasted with the opening morning song, with the text from the Gospel According to Luke, "Abide with us … the day is far spent."

Next was "Village Wedding," by the late John Tavener, that reflects his Orthodox conversion by depicting, through a series of musical and verbal images, a village wedding ceremony in Greece. Zopfi mentioned that this could be considered a homage to Igor Stravinsky, and it was easy to hear that in this work. A simple, four-note theme is developed throughout. The composer's notes at its premier performance by the Hilliard Ensemble at the Vale of Glamorgan Festival in 1992 set the scene: "My insertion of Isaiah's Dance (the moment in the Orthodox marriage ceremony when the couple is solemnly led three times around the Holy Table by the Celebrant), and the whole tone of (Angelos) Sikelianos' poetry … show that everything in the natural and visible world, when rightly perceived, is an expression of a supernatural and invisible order of reality." The American premiere took place in 1995 with Chanticleer. I'm wondering if this weekend's fine performance was a Portland premiere?

The "Isaiah's Dance" is the most engaging section of this piece, lively and jaunty, then peaceful and tranquil. One could reflect on Tavener's life in that same vein, a life that sadly ended last year. His spare, austere music is a terrific basis for meditation and contemplation. Imagining a painting or icon of the Wedding in Cana of Galilee, up behind the altar of the cathedral, is easy!

Part of the text follows here:
To my beloved, who breaks my heart
O Isaiah, dance for joy, for the Virgin is with child. [interspersed between the following lines]
Do you listen within your veil, silent, God-quickened heart?
O depth and stillness of virginity! Follow your man.
Let them throw white rice like a spring shower.
Like a spring cloud, let her now tenderly spread her bridal veil.
O the peace of the bridal dawn.
And he listens, and he listens.
And, as in front of a fount of crystal water,
Let the girls pass in front of the bride,
Observing her look from the corner of their eyes,
As though balancing pitchers on their heads.

Held by your husband's strong heart,
And he listens.
Bring into the world with a single cry your child,
As the poet brings forth his creation.
Unfortunately, the text was omitted in the attractively printed program provided for the audience. Perhaps this can be rectified for future concerts of this kind, in which seeing the texts is integral to the total listening experience. Otherwise, PSC's printed program was the most attractively produced I've seen in a long while, and considerable care was given to it. The written and spoken notes and commentary by Steven Zopfi were most welcome and helpful.

Eric Whitacre's unique setting of the poems of his then-girl friend (and now his wife), Hila Plitmann, called "Five Hebrew Love Songs," concluded the first part of the concert. Each of the poems is artfully set by one who, when he began his studies, could not read music! That has certainly changed, and in a big way. Anyone who has sung Whitacre's works, or listened closely to them, is immediately struck with tenderness, boisterousness, contrasts (e.g., between male and female voices) and sheer joy. Eric and Hila were obviously madly in love with each other and his music reveals that. While a mostly wordless, delicate sound was heard in Éyze shéleg! ("What snow!"), baritone Ariel Rogson's expert Hebrew was spoken. The listener had to be attentive to all five poems to enjoy the effect. The lovely and integral violin part was well-played by Janet George and percussion was executed by Gordon Rencher. Signe Lusk competently played the piano accompaniment. After the cycle, I found myself turning to my spouse and saying "Wow!" as we smiled at each other and realized that Whitacre is our younger son's age!

After intermission, there were three more works, each sung with accuracy and skill by this wonderful choir who produce "walls of sound" that emphasize the joy of making music like this in a choir and presenting it to an audience who, it is hoped, share that joy. René Clausen's Magnificat was first, utilizing both the Latin text,(Magnificat, anima mea…), intoned by Emily Kalteich, and an English text. As far as I could tell, this is the English Language Liturgical Consultation (formerly known as the International Consultation on English Texts) translation. It provides a more modern version of the traditional English text from the Book of Common Prayer, 1662 (or American 1928). I suppose this is due to Clausen being the Director of Choral Music at Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, which is under the auspices of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and its liturgical life makes a large impact on the institution's esthetic and musical life. It was refreshing to hear, and I was reminded of the splendid choral tradition at that college, the present-day artists there being descendants of F. Melius Christiansen and his followers. This piece was commissioned in 1988 and, as Zopfi's notes mention, "… is a wonderful example of Clausen's love of thick textures, interesting solo lines, angular soprano parts [not unlike Morten Lauridsen's, ed.], and Clausen's ability to dramatize the text." This setting of the Canticle of Mary would be most suitable for Choral Evensong from some English Cathedral or Collegiate Chapel on BBC Radio Three, sung in the context of the liturgy. Perhaps we'll hear it on their streaming audio one day!

Morten Lauridsen, the noted composer who hails from Beaverton, has written a body of choral works that have become increasingly popular through the years. The choral textures and shapes, the angularity of sound, especially in the soprano parts, the selection of engaging texts, are all hallmarks of this man's lovely and accessible music. Nearly two years ago, some of us were present at First Unitarian Church to see a film about Lauridsen, the PSU Chamber Choir performed a few works, and the composer himself was present to talk with the audience. It was an unforgettable evening.

In this cycle, entitled "Nocturnes," there are four choral songs, two in French with texts by Rilke, another in Spanish with text by Neruda, and another in English, text by James Agee. The delicate accompaniment is with piano, deftly handled by Signe Lusk. "Nocturnes" was commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association in 2005 and was premiered at their national conference that year by the Donald Brinegar Singers with the composer at the piano. "The poetry of the first two songs and the last of the cycle use the imagery of night to represent death, and they serve as songs about light as well as love. The third, "Sure on this Shining Night," sets Agee's poem of the same name, which is most famously set by Samuel Barber, first as a solo song and then later as a choral work." (Steven Zopfi) Having sung Barber's song and heard the choral version, it would be a hard choice to choose one over the other version. Lauridsen's setting was more fitting, I feel, for the context and theme of this concert. The whole cycle was performed without breaks, giving a seamless impression of "whole cloth." Lauridsen never gets stale!

The excellent performance of "Hymn to the Creator of Light" by John Rutter would have been enhanced by providing the text, written by the Anglican divine, Lancelot Andrewes, probably in Latin, and translated into English by Alexander Whyte.
Glory be to thee, O Lord, glory be to thee,
Creator of the visible light,
The sun's ray, the flame of fire;
Creator also of the light invisible and intellectual:
That which is known of God, the light invisible.

For writings of the law, glory be to thee:
for oracles of prophets, glory …
for melody of psalms, glory …
for wisdom of proverbs, glory …
for experience of histories, glory …
a light which never sets.
God is the Lord, who hath shewed us light.
This was juxtaposed with the text by Johannes Franck, translated by Catherine Winkworth, and sung to Schmücke Dich, which is used at the conclusion of the piece.
Light, who dost my soul enlighten;
Sun, who all my life dost brighten;
Joy, the sweetest man e'er knoweth;
Fount, whence all my being floweth.
From thy banquet let me measure,
Lord, how vast and deep its treasure;
Through the gifts thou here dost give us,
As thy guest in heav'n receive us.
Again, the "wall of sound" came into play, and the listener could readily catch what Zopfi remarked, that he got the idea for this concert from this piece. The work is for double a capella choir and is an homage to Herbert Howells, whose Church music is especially keen and sung over and over in both England and America. Zopfi "warned" Sunday's audience that this is not like other work by Rutter. "Hymn" is not a brash, in-your-face sort of piece, with brasses blaring triumphantly and with many syncopated rhythms. Rather, it was more introspective and meditative, thus fitting in with the theme of light and love. In the chorale is the line, "Oh, how vast and deep its treasure …"; the vast, deep treasure was right there in the midst of all of us present Sunday at St. Mary's Cathedral. Thank you, Portland Symphonic Choir and Steven Zopfi, you are a treasure and a gift to all of us!
Phillip Ayers sings with the Portland Bach Cantata Choir and for ten years sang with the PortlandSymphonic Choir. From 2001-2007 he produced and hosted "Choral Classics" on All Classical radio. A retired Episcopal priest, he and his spouse are former church organists and choir directors and now enjoys "sitting in the pew" at church and concerts.

Bob Priest talks about MMM IV - part 2 of interview

This is the second installment of an interview with Bob Priest about the fourth annual March Music Moderne Festival. This part of the discussion covers the first few days of the second week of the Festival.

The first three days are jam-packed. Tell us what follows.

Priest: A 7:30 pm concert by The Winslow Brothers at The Old Church on Monday, March 10th, starts the new week off and resounding. "From Oregon to Venice with Love" features music by composer, pianist and music critic Jeff Winslow and his older brother Walter. Both Winslows grew up in Oregon, and Walt was a rising star composer before his life was cut short by cancer in 1998. Walter’s final work,“Concertati Veneziani” will be given its West Coast Premiere by Vancouver's DTQ Ensemble – four violins, viola, and cello. This performance will be accompanied by slides of Venice and paintings from the Portland Art Museum's current show devoted to the glories of Venetian art. Also, on the first half of this concert, you will hear baby bro Jeff’s ”Alone on the Prairie,” “Ghosts and Machines" for piano and “Cat Tale" sung by cabaret chanteuse, Nancy Wood from Eugene.

Also on Monday evening at 7:30 is the first of two concerts by Quatuor Ebene, courtesy of PDX treasure presenters, Friends of Chamber Music. Highlighting these performances are two of Bela Bartok’s six string quartets. The dazzling Parisian Ebene Quartet play B's third on Monday and his fourth on Tuesday the 12th. The third is a very condensed and super-intense 15 minute masterpiece and is my favorite of Bartok's SQ portfolio. I remember both Messiaen and Lutoslawski stating their belief that Bartok's quartets represent the pinnacle of the genre after Beethoven. In other words, you're gonna wanna hear this world-class ensemble run these down! Both performances will be at Lincoln Hall on the Portland State University campus.

Just a few blocks away at The Old Church, also on Tuesday, you can choose to catch the Oregon Wind Quintet concert. This stellar ensemble is based at the University of Oregon and is led by flutist extraordinaire Molly Barth. The program includes the local premiere of PDX native, Kenji Bunch’s “Shout Chorus" --- a kick-ass tune that Kenji wrote in 2006. Other composers essayed by OWQ at their gig "Retro-Moderne" are Alex Temple, Paul Hindemith, Elliott Carter, and Jean Françaix. Dang it, I wish I could be in two places at once on both Monday and Tuesday nights! Alas.

Next up, at high noon on Wednesday the 12th, you can drive on down to Lake Oswego for a free concert entitled Going Boldly In Lake Oswego at the L.O's United Methodist Church. This standout MMM program is curated by Linda Woody and will feature Astor Piazzolla’s “History of Tango” for flute and guitar, a major work by Calvin Hampton for organ, Lou Harrison’s exquisite “Varied Trio” for violin, percussion, and piano, plus premiere performances of two new works by Woody. I am particularly looking forward to experiencing her opus for handbell choir - what fun!

Later on Wednesday, 7:30 pm at Michelle’s Pianos, we have a Cascadia Composers production of Piano Bizarro with spank 'em up music by Jennifer Wright, Art Resnick, Ted Clifford, Stephen Montague, and a rarely-performed controversial behemoth for four pianos by prematurely deceased black composer, Julius Eastman. I'll tell you right now, Eastman's work will absolutely pin you to the wall - trust mmme! Yes, an evening like none other during MMM, "Piano Bizarro" utilizes an extremely unusual array of keyboard instruments: dueling toy pianos, amplified harpsichord, prepared, detuned and electrified pianos…plus the world’s only “Skeleton Piano.” I'd get to this one early if I were you as it's gonna be SRO.

Post-Haste Reed Duo on Thursday the 13th marks MMM's return to one of my fave venues in town, Hipbone Studio. This will be a highly virtuosic and very intimate evening of music for saxophone and bassoon by three of Europe's greatest living composers, Louis Andriessen, Heinz Holliger, and Peter Maxwell Davies. Lemme say it again, I LOVE Hipbone Studio and always look forward to seeing the wonderful art work adorning its walls. Post-Haste is Sean Fredenburg, instructor of saxophone and chamber music at Portland State University, and Javier Rodriguez, bassoon prof at the University of Texas at San Antonio where he teaches studio bassoon and courses in woodwind instrumental techniques and world music.

Now, hold on, please don't touch that dial. James Bash and I will be baaaack with part III of this talkabout in a few days. After all, MMM's final 14 events on Friday (14th), Saturday (15th), and Sunday (16th) deserve some cyber-air time, too, pravda?

Portland Youth Philharmonic fearless in ascent of Shostakovich and Bartók

The Portland Youth Philharmonic added another notch in its collective belt, scaling the shifting terrain of Dmitri Shostakovich’s monumental Fourth Symphony on Saturday, March 1st at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Led expertly by music director David Hattner, the young musicians gave a thrilling performance of the hour-long gem, which Shostakovich considered one of his finest works. Also at this concert, the orchestra teamed up with its Samuel Zacharia to deliver an evocative performance of Béla Bartók’s Viola Concerto, and the ensemble also played Kevin Walczyk’s “Celebration Fanfare.”

The Shostakovich Fourth hasn’t been heard in Oregon since 1985 mostly because it requires huge forces including 20 separate parts for woodwinds. That’s a headache in the pocketbook for professional orchestras, which would have to hire a lot of extra musicians. For this concert, the PYP was augmented by their younger colleagues in the Portland Youth Conservatory Orchestra. That translated, by my count, around 140 instrumentalists on the stage of the Schnitz. With many ensembles, the larger the forces, the weaker the cohesiveness of the performance, but that was not the case with at this concert. The high caliber of playing was evident from Hattner’s downbeat, which released an emphatic statement from the orchestra with barking French horns, a crashing gong, pulsating xylophone, and a massive wail from the entire ensemble. The orchestra created a vast array of intriguing textures and colors: at one moment a crisp brass section marched crisply onward, at another moment the strings would surge ahead, then the ensemble would fashion a diminuendo so well that the gentle sounds of two harps rang true and would clear out a space for a soulful passage from the principal bassoonists, Nicholas Clark and Debra Loh. The piece ebbed and flowed with terrific dynamics, including the beehive of sound when the strings whirled through a scintillating fugato section. Concertmaster Rachel Graves and principal trombonist Peter Judge played evocative solos, and the piece wound up in a mesmerizing way with rising notes from the celesta over a thick sonic mist from the strings.

Even without the Shostakovich, this program featured another exceptional piece, Bartók’s Viola Concerto, which the composer left in sketches at the time of his death and was completed by his pupil, Tibor Serly. The concerto received a brilliant performance – entirely from memory – by Zacharia, the PYP’s co-principal violist who won the orchestra’s annual concerto competition. Zacharia played the fast movements with impeccable technique and was equally skilled with the slow, plaintive sections as well. His cadenzas were superb and his playing delved into the serious nature of the piece with grace. The orchestra supported Zacharia with a transparent sound that made it very easy to hear him at all times. It was an amazing solo debut for Zacharia, who turned 15 on the same day (and he was treated to the "Happy Birthday" song by this orchestral colleagues).

The concert began with “Celebration Fanfare,” which Walzcyk wrote to mark the passage of the baton from the Oregon Symphony music director James DePreist to Carlos Kalmar in 2003. Aside from some slippage in the first couple of measures, the PYP delivered a robust performance, capturing the spirit of the piece handsomely.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bob Priest talks about March Music Moderne IV

March Music Moderne, Portland's annual celebration of new music, will be opening this Friday for a run of 10 days (March 7th through the 16th) at various venues all over the city. I caught up with impresario and composer Bob Priest to find out more about this year's offerings. Here is the first of three installments of this interview:

What is different about MMM IV this year? Is it just the fact that you’ve condensed it to a span of fewer days?

Priest: Yes, fewer days (daze?) but with the same gaggle of 32 action-packed events in 24 different venues sprinkled all across Global Village PDX! Actually, this year, MMM is more of a multi-media affair with a goodly dose of film, visual art, poetry, and dance, as well. Of course, music is still very much full-frontal and central: high modernist avant-garde, minimalist, neo-romantic, industrial noise, world-beat-inflected, meditative, soundscape, jazz, free improv, electro-acoustic, microtonal, gamelan, tango, flamenco, 20th century classics, and arty rock. We are presenting music by 67 composers from 19 countries. Heck, there's even some Beethoven and Bach thrown into the eternal present of our - and all - time. By the way, 14 MMM events are free, and many others are only $10 or less. MMM has something for every ear and change purse!

From attending festivals all over the world, I’ve found that people tend to gear-up more readily (masochistically?) for a vertical blitz of concerts than for programs stretched-out across many weeks. That's why a day for night like Saturday the 8th has SIX events for the most hearty of festspiel goers!

You are kicking things off in cinematic fashion with a showing of A Clockwork Orange at Cinema 21.

Priest: Yes and I’m calling the opening evening's fare Ears & Eyes Wide Open. Film continues to have a dramatic impact on my life. I guess it's fair to call me a closet film maker without the camera, crew, training, and budget! One of the pictures that is key to my entire esthetic is A Clockwork Orange because of the way it employs traditional and highly familiar music in both a literal and somewhat twisted way. In this case, Wendy Carlos has stitched together Beethoven's 9th Symphony and other music by Purcell, Elgar, Rossini, and herself to form a fresh and deeply iconic sound tapestry. The show starts at 11pm, and the first 20 "droogies" get in for free. I’m hoping that some folks will come in costume. Maybe a few will even dress up as Beethoven!

Then, the very next morning (actually, a mere 7-ish hours later), the Independent Artists of Milepost 5 present a 24-installation of Nine Beet Stretch - Beethoven’s 9th Symphony stretched to 24 hours at pitch. The Norwegian sound artist, Leif Inge, took an actual recording of the 9th and fed it through a rather complex computerized system that you can read more about by going to Leif's website. Essentially what happens here to be heard, felt and lived is that "9 Beet" winds up being more than 18 times slower than normal. It’s the sonic equivalent of looking under a high-powered microscope and seeing a whole slew of cells and molecules dancing & morphing about. You will literally reside inside Beethoven's micro sound world (whirled?) as you experience multiple layers of strange harmonics, inner vibrations, glacially-paced melodic fragments and suchnesses there-like that you would never hear otherwise. People worldwide have signaled "9 Beet Stretch" as a life changing encounter with musical protoplasm!

There will also be a visual art component to this "experience" and refreshments will be available. You can come and go, doze, meditate and BYO-sleeping bags if y'all would like to curl up and/or stretch out with the music. Downbeat is 9am on Saturday the 8th and lasts for 24 hours until 9am on Sunday! In other words: Number 9, Number 9, Number 9...

Well, while "9 Beet" drones on across town, there’s also a Soundwalk led by composer Susan Alexjander at Mt Tabor Park beginning at noon. This was a very successful and enlightening walkabout last year, and we are looking for another good turnout for this unique MMM offering. One of many free MMMings, do remember to dress for the occasion as Susan will NOT be deterred by any sort of PDX weather of the mmmoment.

Then, at 2 pm, you can drift over to a concert of new music by the Contemporary Portland Orchestra Project and the Eugene Contemporary Chamber Ensemble at AudioCinema. This program features works by Justin Ralls, Emyli Poltorak, Sam Reising, Jay Derderian, Fred Rzewski and Terry Riley (his mesmerizing "In C").

MMM ambles on at 4pm with another freebie, PDX NOIR: Photo Images From Our Global Village, curated by Guy Swanson and Chris Leck at Three Friends Coffee House. This intimate and cozy setting serves as MMM Centrale or Grounds Zero during this year's festival. Here, one can find fellow MMM attendees in various stages of advanced caffeine-addled revery and conversation.

Still on Saturday, at 7:30 pm, electro-dynamic host with the most, Leo Daedalus mounts a special edition of his signature avant variety show The Late Now at a gloriously gussied-up Vie de Boheme in SE. A wildly eclectic evening of whip-smart mayhem, instruction in musical Kama Sutra will be on the bill under the loving guidance of some of PDX's most advanced practitioners of musical, comedic, and poetic ecstasy. Ah . . .

Finally, MMM's 6-spot Saturday concludes with an 11 pm mixed-media staging of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music at Three Friends Coffee House. Gifted local writer Amanda Sledz will read a brand new prose piece just before the maelstrom begins that will be danced in candle light by three Seattle Butoh artists: Joan Laage, Sheri Brown, and Alan Sutherland. Metal Machine Music is a virtual hour long wall of layered and wailing feedback. Lou Reed assembled his "godfather of industrial noise" music collage of multiple electric guitars panning explosive sound across the stereo spectrum back in 1975. Essentially a giant drone piece with finely detailed micro activities, your experience of Reed's MMM will likely relate back to and cross-fertilize with "9 Beet Stretch" in that you will once again live somewhat inside the highly saturated sound. It’s an immersion experience with the music pretty pumped. Now, lemme be honest here, OK? This gig really is NOT for the faint of ear, eye, mind and/or spirit! So, now that I've warned you into REALLY wanting to attend, try to arrive a bit early as seating is intimate and limited. Then, after Metal Machine Music is over close to 1 am, you can crosstown traffic your way back over to Milepost 5 to catch the last "few" hours of "9 Beet Stretch!" Come on, muchachos, ride the night out & ring in the day! You can tell your grandkids about this lovably nutso all-nighter as a bedtime story during a long March night to come . . .

Anyway, moving further into Sunday the 9th, there will be a noon exhibit of art by local and regional artists inspired by the anatomical drawings of Andreas Vesalius. This exhibition is called Andreas Vesalius at 500. It was commissioned by Peter Rossing and will be held at Muse Art and Design on Hawthorne. Vesalius was a 16th century physician that dabbled in grave robbing in order to enlist the cast of characters that are featured in his highly influential treatise on the human body. Artists, composers, students of anatomy and doctors still draw heavily upon his, uh, ground-breaking work!

The Tardis Ensemble will perform on Sunday. I’ve not heard of this ensemble.

Priest: The Tardis Ensemble is a relatively new group formed by the wonderful Canadian oboist Catherine Lee, who recently moved to Portland. Tardis' program will feature works for flute, oboe, violin, double bass, and percussion by Louis Andriessen, Peter Maxwell Davies, David Lang and the great French-Canadian composer Claude Vivier. His "Pulaw Dewata" is a very beautiful, gamelan-inspired work – very motoric with lots of ringing percussion. The concert will take place 2pm at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church. By the way, one can find all MMM venues mapped on our website;

Extending the gamelan theme a bit further, the Resonance Vocal Ensemble will collaborate & beautifully blend with the Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan in a program entitled Gongs + Songs at The Armory. The main work on this molto delicioso 5 pm program is Lou Harrison’s “Gending in Honor of Aphrodite,” written for choir, gamelan, and harp. Harrison was a Portland native and is the subject of a book that music critic and Venerable Showers of Beauty Gamelan member Brett Campbell is currently writing.

Sunday's MMM marathon concludes with a concert by PDX's vital and crazily energetic Classical Revolution PDX. C-Rev's program is devoted to modern LGBT composers including Pauline Oliveros, Lou Harrison, and Peter Maxwell Davies. "Max" is one of MMM's focus composers this year as he celebrates his 80th birthday. Pauline is a terrific American composer and sound meditator that plays accordion and is co-founder of the Deep Listening Band with fellow sonic wizard, Stuart Dempster. I'm told that one of Pauline's works will include inviting audience members to join in by singing pitches and passing them around the room to each other. This concert will take place at Holocene at 7:30 pm.

That’s a lot of events for the first three days!

Priest: You bet. And, guess what? Yeah, that's right, droogies, more comin' your way soon, so, please stay 'tooned . . .