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PDX mini-fest a choral bonanza

  • May 31, 2011
From the sultry sounds of Venezuela to the glorious finale of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, the Oregon Bach Festival’s 2011 Portland concert series encompasses a wide range of choral music and reflects each of the Festival’s three main programming themes—In Praise of Women, Masterworks and the Bach legacy, and Music of the Americas. Tickets are on sale now for the five-concert series, which takes place June 27-July 9 in First United Methodist Church, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The Portland series is one part of the larger Oregon Bach Festival, the University of Oregon program which will produce nearly 50 events in Eugene as well as concerts in Ashland and Bend. Under the “women” theme, violinist Monica Huggett and the Portland Baroque Orchestra opens the series June 27 with the 17th century opera, Dido and Aeneas, the tragic love story of a queen both admired and punished for her power. PBO has become the festival’s early-music partner. Here, they take a period instrument approach to works by 20th century composer Benjamin Britten. His “Gloriana” choral dances were composed for the coronation of a real-life queen, Elizabeth II. On June 30, the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy presents an hour-long showcase. The SFYCA’s 85 high school singers audition from across the country for the opportunity to sing with inspiring conductor Anton Armstrong. Portland boy soprano Michael Meo, who starred with the Los Angeles Opera in March, is guest soloist in the Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein, with its melting-pot rhythms reflective of the “Americas” theme. That theme extends further July 6 with the Schola Cantorum De Venezuela. Conducted by Maria Guinand, an influential force in her country’s pioneering music education program, the choir sings traditional and contemporary music from Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and the USA. One of America’s leading concert organists, David Higgs commands the mighty Rosales organ of Trinity Cathedral on July 7, with a program revolving around Bach and Liszt. The series concludes in full-force July 9 with Helmuth Rilling conducting the Festival’s choir, orchestra, and soloists in the pounding revolutionary fervor of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. While this concert exemplifies the Festival’s tradition of choral masterworks, it also points to its possible future. The program opens with Handel’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day conducted by Matthew Halls, the emerging British conductor who is one of two candidates auditioning this year to succeed Rilling as the OBF artistic director. OBF-Portland tickets are available via a five-concert package or individually. To order, or for more information, call 541-346-4363 or visit tickets.uoregon.edu/obf OBF Portland Mini-Festival schedule
  • Monday, June 27, 7:30 pm Portland Baroque Orchestra with chorus and soloists performing Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and two works by Benjamin Britten (First United Methodist Church, $29-$45)
  • Thursday, June 30, 5:30 pm the Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy (Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, $10)
  • Wednesday, July 6, 7:30 pm Schola Cantorum de Venezuela, a 30-voice choir conducted by Maria Guinand (Trinity, $15-$35)
  • Thursday, July 7, 7:30 pm David Higgs recital on the magnificent Rosales organ (Trinity, $15-$21)
  • Saturday, July 9, 7:30 pm Handel-Ode for St Cecilia’s Day, Beethoven-Symphony No. 9 with conductors Matthew Halls and Helmuth Rilling (Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $17-$59)