Sunday, September 29, 2013

Glenn Reeves - former principal violist of the Oregon Symphony for 50 years passes

The Oregonian reported today the passing of Glenn Reeves, who was the principal violist of the Oregon Symphony for 50 years. He died on September 17th, at the age of 99. I interviewed Reeves about 10 years ago at his home in Tacoma and have the interview on a mini-cassette tape. I haven't listened to the interview in a while, but I recall that he said that he played for every music director of the Oregon Symphony (formerly the Portland Symphony) from Carl Denton through James DePreist. He explained that he didn't play for Carl Denton when Denton was at the helm of the orchestra, but he did play for Denton when Denton led high school orchestras, because after Denton was forced from his position at the orchestra, he taught music at Lincoln High School and led orchestra concerts that involved the area's students. Reeves told me that he auditioned  for the Portland Symphony when he was just 17 years old, and that the audition took place in Hoogstraten's hotel room. So, I'm going to have to listen to that tape again in the near future.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Portland Opera releases Galileo Galilei

Earlier this week, Portland Opera released its recording of Philip Glass's opera "Galileo Galilei" under the Orange Mountain Music label. This is such a new recording that it has not been listed in Amazon or on the Orange Mountain Music website. So, it looks like you have to call Portland Opera or go to its HQ to purchase a copy. Here are the particulars about the recording from the company's press release:


(Portland, OR) – Portland Opera is pleased to release the first commercial recording of Philip Glass’ Galileo Galilei, available September 25, 2013 under the Orange Mountain Music Label. Recorded live at the Newmark Theater in March 2012, this West Coast premiere was the Company’s first production of a 21st century opera. Galileo Galilei will be Portland Opera’s second commercial recording of a Philip Glass work, following the success of their 2009 recording of Orphée, which was voted among the “Ten Best of the Year” by Opera News.

“The productions and commercial recordings of Galileo Galilei and Orphée have been tremendous experiences for this company,” said General Director Christopher Mattaliano, “exploring a contemporary work by a living composer on the stage and then making the music readily available to a world wide audience is a great source of pride for us. This is also a landmark event for our Resident Artist Program and annual chamber opera, both of which have become keystones in our Company’s mission.”

Composed in 2002, Galileo Galilei is Philip Glass’ 18th opera, a chamber work in one act for nine singers and fifteen instrumentalists. The opera is based on the life of the Italian astronomer, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), with a libretto by the noted American playwright and director Mary Zimmerman. Portland Opera’s production at the Newmark Theater, directed by Kevin Newbury, was praised by Opera News as “a production that was fluid and playful in the scenes of discovery,” and also for its, “ecstatic vocalise over a rocking, percussive orchestra.”

“We were delighted to have ANNE MANSON back for our second Glass recording,” said Director of Artistic Operations Clare Burovac. “She has an extraordinary feeling for the work of Philip Glass.” In a review of the Orphée recording in 2009, The New York Times declared, “the vibrant Ms. Manson works effectively to bring transparency and balance to the orchestra, without the loss of plush colors and harmonic intensity.” She was equally successful in Galileo Galilei, and Opera News agreed, saying “conductor Anne Manson held everything together, as central and as solid as gravity.”

The Galileo Galilei cast was primarily made up of the members Portland Opera’s 2011/12 Resident Artist Program. The company developed this program in 2005 to serve as a bridge between the conservatory and professional worlds, and a highlight is the Company’s annual chamber opera, which features these emerging artists in leading roles. Resident baritone ANDRÉ CHIANG sang the role of Younger Galileo with a “bold and resonant voice” (Portland Mercury), and bass NICHOLAS NELSON “sang with gravitas” (Opera) as Pope Urban VIII, Cardinal Barberini, and Simplicio. Seattle’s online news site said “Young soprano LINDSAY OHSE presides over one of the opera’s loveliest scenes in the vocally soaring role of Galileo’s beloved daughter, Maria Celeste,” and Resident Artist “CAITLIN MATHES contributed an elegant mezzo” (Opera News). Former Resident Artist JOSÉ RUBIO contributed his “strong baritone” to the roles of Priest and Cardinal 3 (Opera News).

Filling out the critically acclaimed cast was countertenor JOHN HOLIDAY, who “sang with remarkably pure tone” (Opera), and Portland Opera veteran tenor RICHARD TROXELL who was praised by Opera for creating “a sympathetic elderly Galileo, recalling his life with a voice filled with anguish.” Mr. Troxell, Mr. Rubio, and Mr. Holiday all reprised their roles in the July 2013 production of Galileo Galilei at Cincinnati Opera.

“We are delighted to have the cooperation from all of the unions involved in this project, including the American Federation of Musicians, the American Guild of Musical Artists, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees” said Mr. Mattaliano. “This recording would not have been possible without them and we are truly grateful for their participation,” he added. Michael Riesman, music director and principal keyboardist of the Philip Glass Ensemble produced both Orphée and Galileo Galilei for Orange Mountain Music. Orange Mountain Music’s mission is to archive all of Philip Glass’ music so that as many of his compositions as possible are available commercially. The commercial recording of Portland Opera’s Galileo Galilei will be released complete with libretto and production photographs. Orange Mountain Music is distributed by harmonia mundi USA.

The commercial recording of Galileo Galilei features the following artistic cast:

ANNE MANSON - Conductor
RICHARD TROXELL -  Older Galileo
LINDSAY OHSE+ - Maria Celeste, Duchess Christina
CAITLIN MATHES+  - Maria Maddalena, A Scribe
ANDRÉ CHIANG +  - Younger Galileo, Salviati
NICHOLAS NELSON+ -  Pope Urban VIII, Cardinal Barberini, Simplicio
JOSÉ RUBIO+  - Cardinal 3, Priest
JOHN HOLIDAY*  - Cardinal 1, Oracle 1
MATTHEW HAYWARD -  Cardinal 2, Servant, Oracle 2
ANNE MCKEE REED  - Sagredo, Marie de’ Medici, Eos

+ Former Portland Opera Resident Artist
* Portland Opera debut

Portland Opera singers are members of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AFL-CIO) the labor union representing professional singers, dancers and staging personnel in the United States. This recording was produced with the generous support of Tremaine and Gail Arkley, Jeannine B. Cowles, Greg and Mary Hinckley, Louis and Judy McCraw, and Mrs. Philip H. Miller; as well as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Opera fund of OPERA America.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

From the Oregon Symphony flows what you call music

Tōru Takemitsu
On Saturday evening (September 21) at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, the Oregon Symphony provided two distinct paths for concertgoers to lose themselves in music. One path led listeners into the meditative interior monologue of Tōru Takemitsu’s “From Me Flows What You Call Time.” The other path took the audience into the exterior, story-driven music of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s beloved “Scheherazade.” This unusual pairing was highlighted in the BBC Music Magazine as one of the very best concerts to attend this fall in North America. The orchestra, led by music director Carlos Kalmar, did not disappoint, giving an intensely calm interpretation of Takemitsu’s piece and a passionately dynamic version of Rimsky-Korsakov’s.

Completed in 1990, “From Me Flows What You Call Time” was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and its music director Seiji Ozawa, and chosen for the Oregon Symphony program in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Portland Japanese Garden, which sponsored the concert. Besides the orchestral ensemble, this piece required a huge percussion battery that involved glockenspiel, vibraphone, steel drums, cymbals, bells, gongs (including water gongs), crotales (small tuned disks), bowls, anklung (tuned bamboo rattles), darabuka (Arabic or Turkish drum), bells, almglocken, tuned log drums, tom-toms, marimbaphone, and five percussion soloists: Sergio Carreno, Niel DePonte, Jonathan Greeney, Luanne Warner Katz, and Michael Roberts. They moved very carefully among the arrangement of instruments and with an understanding of the highly symbolic nature of this work, which was inspired by Tibetan Buddhism. So there was a bit of choreography as Carreno, DePonte, Greeney, Katz, and Roberts slowly entered the stage from different corners of the hall after principal flutist Jessica Sindell beautifully intoned a five-note motive that was passed along to the orchestra. It was visually arresting to watch all of this slowly unfold. The percussion soloists sported Asian-styled jackets, which were similar in color to the ribbons extended above the heads of the audience. The ribbons, representing the five natural phenomena of water (blue), fire (red), earth (yellow), wind (green), and sky (white), evoked the concept of “Wind Horse” which links the elements and the human spirit to well-being or good fortune. The ribbons also were attached to a group of bells that were softly rung a few times later in the piece.

Much of “From Me Flows What You Call Time” seemed to involve a conversation of sorts between the orchestra and the percussion soloists, with the orchestra providing a light tonal foundation and then backing off. The shimmery sounds from the steel drums, the swirling tones from various cymbals, the delicate bells, and feathery gongs accented the quiet, introspective nature of this piece. The pace of the piece slowed down and seemed to lose a bit of momentum at near the end of a series of improvised solos, but perhaps that was the intent of Takemistu, who is quoted to have said, “I would like to achieve a sound as intense as silence.”

After intermission, the orchestra returned to familiar territory and delivered a thrilling performance of “Scheherazade.” Kalmar encouraged a full dynamic range, and his forces responded with stellar playing with silky strings, stirring brass, lush harp, and woodwinds that could set a scene that was smoky and faraway or jumping up and down right in front of your face. Concertmaster Sarah Kwak created sweet and evocative tones in her many solos, making it easy to let your imagination flow. The principal players of the orchestra, including cellist Nancy Ives, oboist Martin Hebert, clarinetist Yoshinori Nakao, bassoonist Carin Miller Packwood, flustist Jessica Sindell, harpist Jennifer Craig, trombonist Aaron LaVere, trumpeter Jeffrey Work, and hornist John Cox, also had many shining moments. The tempo in the last movement was very fast and loud, and it even caused a brief waggle in Cox’s sound. Work’s impeccable double- and triple-tonguing helped to propel the sonic story until it all crashed into sea foam at the end, topped off with the thrilling high notes from Zachariah Galatis’s piccolo. Kwak got the very last word with her serene high notes that vanished into the distance.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Kwak and Lewis team up for dynamic concert at the Old Church

Violinist Sarah Kwak and pianist Cary Lewis put their considerable artistic prowess on display on Sunday evening (September 15), delivering an incisive performance of works by Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Francis Poulenc, and Richard Strauss to a very engaged audience at the Old Church. The level of difficulty of the pieces in the program was on the high side of the Richter scale, and both performers held nothing back, which made this concert a terrific way to start the fall season. In particular, the concert offered an opportunity to see Kwak, concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony, work her magic up close, and she mesmerized everyone.

The concert, sponsored by 45th Parallel and All Classical Portland (KQAC), started with Igor Stravinsky’s “Suite Italienne,” whose six movements are based on his ballet, “Pulcinella.” Kwak and Lewis seemed to enjoy the way that the music shifted from Baroque to Romantic and the quirky turns of phrase that is unique to Stravinsky, including some really odd passages for the piano in the sixth movement.

Kwak and Lewis followed the Stravinsky with Prokofiev’s “Five Melodies for Violin and Piano.” Kwak imbued the long, extended lines with this piece with a golden, rich tone. Other highlights from Kwak included trills in the lower register, double-stops, a ghostly-toned segment, playfully lyric lines, and whistling high notes – all impeccably done. Lewis supported her with lively accompaniment, especially when he played tantalizing lush passages that was juxtaposed with the vibrant sound of the violin.

Lewis introduced Poulenc’s “Sonata for Violin and Piano” with a few words that described the piece as moving between Stravinsky-inflected passages and lounge lizard passages. Although it was an apt description, both he and Kwak succeeded in elevating the music so that it did reveal the emotions of the composer, who dedicated the piece to the famous Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Some of the best moments occurred in the middle movement when violinist and pianist created a seesaw of turbulence that turned later into a haunting atmosphere of closely linked phrases and finally an upwards glissando that turned everything into a question mark.

The final piece on the program was Strauss’s “Violin Sonata in E-flat,” an unabashedly Romantic piece that the composer wrote when he fell under the spell of soprano Pauline de Ahna, who later became his wife. The passionate lyricism of Kwak’s playing served the music incredibly well. She created a variety of moods that shifted all over the place: stormy, wistful, restful, heroic and grand. Her singing tone made it all gorgeous to the ears.

The audience rewarded Kwak and Lewis with a standing ovation and were treated to an encore, a lovely rendition of Edward Elgar’s “Salut d'amour.” The next time these two perform, it would be great if more violin and piano students were in the audience. That would've made the concert even better.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lang Lang and Oregon Symphony play Prokfiev

Lang Lang. Photo by Philip Glaser.
Thursday night, September 12 saw Lang Lang, perhaps the world's premier concert pianist, join forces with the Oregon Symphony under Carlos Kalmar to play Prokofiev's Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

The orchestra opened with Copland's El Salon Mexico, a sort of tone-poem that established Copland's signature style. There were some fun moments; a drunken-sounding trumpet artfully played over purposely sloppy discordance painted a delightful mental picture. However there were hiccups in the infectious rhythms demanded by this work, and the orchestra sometimes felt sluggish reacting to the maestro. Everything was there...just not always at the exact right time. By the time it was done, one almost wished they could have just started the whole short work over from the beginning and played it one more time and it would've been perfect.

Fortunately, since the next work was Copland's Suite from Billy the Kid, the desired mulligan effect was pretty much there. From the hypnotically persistent ostinato at the beginning the OSO really hit its stride. This very programmatic piece was redolent with its images: the slow, ponderous, irresistible ambling across the vast oceans of grass, a card game in which one could almost see the expressions on the faces of the gamblers, a night under the brilliant prairie stars...By this time the OSO had warmed into the precise syncopations for which Copland is so famous. There were moments of unison between piccolo and xylophone that were genuinely exquisite, and when they nabbed young Bill Bonney, you could tell this was a crowd itching for a hangin'...

Lang Lang took the stage for the Prokofiev in the second half with his customary ease, projecting an air of quiet self confidence that soon gave way to his gesticulatory showmanship, and from a physical, from an attitudinal standpoint it is certainly clear why he is so popular.  However from a strictly musical standpoint, while the solo passages were smooth and wonderful to hear, he often feels too polite...he is too deferential to the orchestra. While certainly a brilliant pianist, he's not a 'natural born' concerto soloist, so to speak, in the way that say Van Cliburn was,  nor does he display the same seemingly limitless technical wizardry and natural feel for a concerto as Yuja Wang for instance. It would be quite something to hear him give a solo or chamber music performance.

That said, there was a lot to enjoy from his performance. In the first movement it was great fun to watch his left hand, like some manic bird pecking back and forth around his right as it rumbled up and down the keyboard. His physicality is a strength in live performance...he revels in his 'rock-star' status, and rightly so. In the second movement he played with delicacy and grace at a breathtakingly fast pace, executing the most complex, keyboard-spanning arpeggiation with a style that sounded like an effortless roulade. In the finale he certainly showed his technical chops, but like always, more was wanted...more forcefulness and musical presence.

The orchestra closed with the delightful Capriccio Italien by Tchaikovsky, appropriately bombastic and festive as this chestnut should be.

San Francisco Opera conjures powerful Mefistofele

San Francisco Opera’s production of Arrigo Boito’s "Mefistofele" is one that shouldn’t be missed. It’s a stunning production that tells the story of Faust and his bargain with the devil Mefistofele, broadly paralleling Goethe’s "Faust." The "Mefistofele" presented at the War Memorial Opera House featured the formidable Ildar Abdrazakov in the title role and international stars Ramón Vargas as Faust and Patricia Racette as Margherita. Although the three principals sang superbly in the opening night performance (Friday, September 6), it was the company’s opera chorus that carried the evening with stellar contributions from top to bottom.

Because Boito’s "Mefistofele" has so many big choral numbers, the chorus, prepared by Ian Robertson, plays a much larger role than in most other operas. The volume of 90 voices opened and closed the opera impressively as a massive heavenly choir, bedecked with golden crowns that twinkled in the galaxy. They were augmented with 30 children choristers, whose voices Mefestofele found most annoying. A colorfully resplendent chorus dominated the Easter Sunday scene and their bodies, in varying states of nakedness, stamped a lasting impression of gleeful decadence during the Walpurgis Night scene. (Please note that no children were involved in that scene.)

Preened to the max in red, Abdrazakov’s Mefestofele brimmed with confidence and swagger, which gave credence to his wager with God that he could win the soul of Faust. He almost sneered when he declaimed that the task was hardly worth the effort because mankind was such a feeble entity (“I can hardly bear to tempt them to evil”), and he lost no time signing up Faust and introducing him to Margherita.

As the disillusioned old scholar who becomes rejuvenated in body and spirit, Vargas sang brilliantly, especially when he expressed fear for Margherita’s wellbeing during the Walpurgis revels and also when he tried to get her to leave prison. Racette created a Margherita that convincingly changed from a girl smitten with the love for a dashing gentleman to a woman who was distraught and on the verge of a mental collapse. Her Elena was also wonderful, although the character – representing the legendary Greek beauty – has no real warmth.

The production, co-owned by San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera, was conceived by Robert Carson and premiered by San Francisco Opera in 1989 and presented again in 1994. Under revival director Laurie Feldman, it still packs a punch and makes the episodic nature of the story unfold in a fresh way. The red flames of hell, the sky blue of heaven, the super-sized telescope, the merry-go-round garden, the cat-walk-of-a-party-table at Walpurgis Night, and the theater boxes were some of the many visual delights. Perhaps the nudity wasn’t needed, but Walpurgis Night was supposed to have a bacchanalian quality; so it did work well. Plus, Mefestofele conducted the revelers from the front of the stage, whipping them into a state of exhaustion. The orchestra, led by music director Nicola Luisotti, played with intensity. Luisotti, in fact, had no problem with his musical forces. He did have a problem with the audience. Since it was gala night, there was a lot of chatter, and after the pause in Act II, Luisotti signaled the patrons to be quiet, but they ignored him. That caused him to turn around and say, “Please be quiet.” After a lot of “shhing” throughout the hall, the music finally got underway.

Since operagoers had just ponied up a lot of money for the gala, they were probably not going to be kicked out of the opera house. Most of them weren’t in their seats when the opera General Director David Gockley and two members of the board appeared on the stage to give their opening remarks at 8:05. Consequently, the first downbeat didn’t happen until around the 8:20 mark and the curtain went down on the final scene just a few minutes before midnight. At the beginning of Act IV (where Faust travels to ancient Greece), I saw a lot of empty seats. Perhaps they didn’t want to see the Epilogue where Mefestofele protested God’s pardon as Faust got hauled into heaven with the glorious sound of the chorus shimmering about him. It was spectacular.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Agnieszka Laska Dancers to take Rite of Spring to Chicago

The Chicago Philharmonic has invited Portland-based Agnieszka Laska Dancers to perform Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" (reviewed here) at its season opener on September 29 at at Pick-Staiger Hall in Evanston, Illinois. ALD was chosen from 30 different dance companies to perform with the Chicago Philharmonic, which is resident orchestra of the Joffrey Ballet. While in Chicago the ALD will also perform The Chopin Project with Polish pianist Igor Lipinski at Copernicus Center.

The total cost for the trip is $10,000, and most of it will be covered by the Chicago Philharmonic and the Copernicus Center. But ALD still needs $2,000 to pull it off. Ergo, ALD has started a Kickstarter campaign, which has raised $826 so far. Hopefully, the troupe will find some more donors to make their quest a reality. The two performances in Chicago are a terrific tribute to the talent of the company and its artistic director and choreographer Agnieszka Laska.

Musica Maestrale's Second Season: A Chat with Artistic Director Hideki Yamaya

On a delightfully sanguine late-August evening in my back yard about two weeks ago, I sat down over drinks with my friend Hideki Yamaya, an early music plucked strings expert and Musica Maestrale's Artistic Director. We had an informal chat about his group's upcoming second season, which premiers this Saturday night September 14th at 8 pm at the Community Music Center (3350 SE Francis St.) Tickets are $16 general admission or $14 for students/seniors, and can be bought here online or at the door. They will be playing with members of the Early Music Guild of Oregon

Musica Maestrale is an early music collective that specializes in small-ensemble chamber music from before 1800. For an in-depth look at their goals, make-up and perspective, as well as video and audio links to some performances, check out this article I wrote at Oregon Music News after talking with Hideki last year.

LW: Talking with Hideki Yamaya, the Artistic Director for Musica Maestrale

HY: That’s me

LW: That’s him. So there are some big changes this year…big developments as far as...

HY: I don’t know if it’s big. We have more board members…however we are looking for a new Executive Director. In the interim I’m filling that role, doing the administrative aspect of MM. What’s exciting is going to be the first concert of this season. It is a joint project with the Early Music Guild of Oregon, run by Phil and Gail Newman, whom you may know as the leaders of the Oregon Renaissance Band, of which I am also a part. This first project that we’re doing is a concert of ‘broken consort’ music.

LW: Broken Consort? What is that?

HY: That refers to the fact that this music is instrumental ensemble music, but it’s a consort made up of different instrumental families. So when you think about a consort, you usually think about a consort of recorders or a consort of viols…instruments all belonging to the same family. This [broken consort] ensemble is made up of instruments from different groups, different families.. This is also called a ‘consort of six’ because it requires six instruments, and it is also called an English consort.

LW: Now ‘English consort…’ does that suggest certain instruments when you use this term?

HY: Yes. It is almost always the same instrument makeup. It consists of either the treble viol or violin, recorder or renaissance flute, bass viol, lute, cittern and bandora. Now the cittern and the bandora are rarest of these instruments. The cittern is a plucked wire-strung instrument of four courses and it’s related to the mandolin family but the tuning is very peculiar, and you play it with a quill plectrum. The bandora is…kind of similar to a lute but it is wire-strung and it has six courses and it’s tuning is closer to that of the guitar. So those two instruments add that ‘twang’ to the whole sound. So you have this interesting combination of sustained melodic instruments and plucked, strummy instruments.

LW: This adds a percussive effect?

HY: Exactly. It’s a very unique sound.

LW: And this is all in the first concert?

HY: That’s right.

LW: So which composers are you playing in this first concert?

HY: Well, we are doing a whole bunch of stuff from two sources for this consort music. There’s [John] Dowland, good old Dowland, and [Thomas] Morley, and Richard Allison…those are the main composers. And we’re doing a couple sets of pieces by Matthew Locke, who is a little bit later, but he called some of his pieces broken consorts even though they require fewer instruments.

LW: So…heavy on the Englishmen?

HY: Yep, it’s an all English program. I think this might be the first time some of these pieces are going to be played with a full broken consort makeup. It’s rarely done, as you can imagine, because of the difficulty of getting all these instruments and players together.

LW: Well that sounds pretty exciting. Now that’s September 14th?

HY: That’s right. And then in December we’re going to do a fundraiser event which…

LW: Details to follow?

HY: [Laughing] Yeah. It will be a holiday themed food-and-music kind of event. And then the second concert is in January, and we’re doing yet another joint project, [this time] with The Ensemble.

LW: The Ensemble?

HY:  Yes, which is…do you know about them?

LW: It seems like I should, but…refresh my memory.[laughing]

HY: [It’s] Patrick McDonough’s thing, and he’s [doing] vocal music…I think he’s focusing on early music and contemporary music. Nothing in the middle. I heard them do Haydn’s…I forgot what it was…Stabat Mater, or some such sacred piece last year, and they did a really great job. Of course you know the choral singers in Portland, they are in all the groups [laughing] but he hand-picks them…people who can really do solo work. And so we’re doing a joint project with them which is going to be a part of the Celebration Works series at First Pres[byterian], and we’re doing a concert of Monteverdi madrigals.

LW: [Me salivating] Ohhh…do you know any of the ones you are doing?

HY: Yes…all the pieces are set already.

LW: Anything you can think of off the top of your head?

HY: Oh yes. The biggest piece we’re doing is Sestina. Sestina is a poetic form. The subtitle of it is…oh I forget. I’ll tell you later. But if you look up Sestina Monteverdi it’ll pop right up. [NOTE: I did, and the subtitle is Lagrime d’Amante al Sepolcro dell’Amata {Tears of a lover at the tomb of his beloved}. ] It’s a piece that’s about 17 minutes long, and it’s in four or…five parts maybe.

LW: Is that one of the dramatic madrigals…let’s say along the lines of Tancredi e Clorinda or something like that?

HY: It’s not, and it’s not staged. It’s all five voices throughout with optional continuo which…I’ll take that option. It’s better…more dramatic with instruments. It’s an incredibly beautiful piece.

LW: Does it tell a continuous story?

HY: It’s the lamentations of a lover at the grave of the beloved. Pretty dark…

LW: One of those light-hearted 17th-century…

HY: [Laughing] Yes. All the singers should be great. Mel Downie Robinson will be singing, and she’s great…so I’m looking forward to that. It should be a good project. That piece comes from book six of the Madrigals…I think the bulk of it [the concert] comes from books six and seven, and then some other pieces here and there. The third concert is going to be me and John Lenti who plays a lot with Portland Baroque Orchestra. It’s going to be lute duets and theorbo duets…it’s going to be a pluckfest. Good stuff.

LW: So the lute enthusiasts had better turn out for that one.

HY: Yeah…they'd better. [Laughing.] Everyone should. Again, these are going to be pieces that you will rarely hear [live] because of the instruments involved.

LW: Well that’s always the fun of baroque music, because there’s just so much variety as far as instrumentation.

HY: Exactly.

LW: I mean, you don’t want to call them undiscovered, because someone knows they’re out there, but there's just a treasure trove of largely untapped compositions that’s almost bottomless at this point. It’s not the stuff that people have been playing and recording for the last hundred years, and you’re like ‘oh, I’ve got four CDs of that in my collection…’

HY: Exactly. It’s not Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in this program [laughing.] And that’s going to be in February. Now the last two concerts have not been set yet.

LW: Ahah! TBAs?

HY: Yeah. One of the things I was thinking about fell through so…I still have to come up with those. But it will be decided very soon. I’m still looking forward to doing a full season of five concerts. Just have to keep it going…keep us in people’s consciousness.

 [We chatted for a while about the first season, as well as some of the goals/needs of the second season, including his desire to develop a larger audience of around a hundred or so on a regular basis.]

LW: It takes some time to develop that groundswell, even when the quality is good and the music is good…I think that’s one of the problems inherent in living in such an arts-saturated town like Portland. People have so many choices so that even when it’s something that’s pretty unique like MM it’s still…not to call it ‘clutter,’ but it’s just that people have so many excellent options from which to choose that a new ‘start-up’ can get lost.

HY: Exactly. And since we don’t really have money yet we can’t really spend money on advertising or fancier programs or posters and things. We’re going to start applying for grants. Since we have one season under our belts we feel like we’re in that position now. And we’ve also got to find someone who wants to take on the job of being Executive Director.

LW: What is MM looking for in an ED?

HY: I’m hoping this organization will grow, but I don’t see it becoming a full-time position for anyone.

LW: So it’s a volunteer position?

HY: Not exactly…it might start out that way but we’re hoping to soon move into a position where we can pay someone, just like I want to be paid for the work I do [laughing.] But you know it’s something where if someone were to do administrative work for a few organizations like this, it could be a full-time job.

LW: What kind of duties are involved with being an ED?

HY: Someone who is in charge of all the logistics…getting a venue, getting all the programs printed, flyers printed, all the e-mailing, maintaining the website, publicity…someone who’s good at talking up what we’re doing and asking for money.

LW: Someone who knows what they’re talking about…someone who knows how to gab about the right things? Not necessarily someone who has a PhD in 16th Century music but…

HY: They would have to be knowledgeable to a certain extent, but I could take over when it comes to talking specifics about the music. Someone with good organizational skills. Of course that ED doesn’t have to do all that him or herself…they can delegate. We have a board of four right now….we might like to have one more person on the board right now and I think I know who that might be.

LW: Well thanks for talking with me Hideki, and I’m genuinely excited about MM’s second season.

HY: Me too . Thanks!