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Spooky Sounds and Sights

Halloween traditions, choral treats and jazz tricks
Øystein Baadsvik
Øystein Baadsvik

Along with creating lots of work for area dentists, Halloween heralds a couple of happier traditions. Mood Area 52’s annual live, original, tango-tinted score (for electric guitar, cello, accordion, bass, horns, toy piano and plentiful percussion) for F.W. Murnau’s classic vampire flick Nosferatu is always a hoot, and this year, the Oct. 31 show at the Bijou Theater is augmented by the band’s bonus original string band soundtrack to Buster Keaton’s 1921 short film The Boat. Sunday afternoon’s (Oct. 27) free, family-friendly Pipe Screams concert at First Methodist Church unleashes some of the scariest organ music of the past few centuries, along with sing-along Halloween carols. Oct. 28’s free, early evening SpookTastic (wear costumes!), a kid-oriented theater piece at the UO’s Aasen-Hull Hall, features music by Bach and Shostakovich. 

There’s plenty more big brass at the university this month, including Oct. 30’s annual all-ages OcTUBAfest at Beall Concert Hall that ranges from classical to pop sounds. Oct. 27’s Beall concert stars the world’s only full- time tuba soloist, Norway’s Øystein Baadsvik, who’s been known to play the violin solos in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos on his unlikely instrument. 

Beall also boasts some recommended new music. The Oct. 26 concert puts UO composition professor David Crumb’s music in the spotlight, including his energetic Primordial Fantasy, which alternates dramatic, blustery passages with almost childlike melodies. Guest pianist Marcantonio Barone will perform two of Crumb’s compositions, including his epic, three-movement “Red Desert” sonata, a ruminative, meandering journey through rock cathedrals and hoodoos. The show also features work by leading contemporary composer Michael Fiday and some of the university’s finest faculty players. You can hear the next generation of music creators at Oct. 29’s free Oregon Composers Forum concert, as well as at Nov. 5’s University Symphony concert, whose program includes a new Sinfonietta by UO grad student composer Jacob Walls along with a Bruckner symphony.

Speaking of Bruckner, he’s only one of many famous composers, including Haydn, Mozart and Schubert, who worked or sang with the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir (founded just after Columbus’s most famous voyage); Nov. 4 brings a couple dozen of its sailor-suited young singers to Beall to deliver Austrian classics (from motets to waltzes to a Schubert Psalm setting), the most famous tune from Carmina Burana and contemporary pop and world music tunes. Nov. 3, the Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble joins Bend’s Central Oregon Mastersingers to celebrate the centennial of the great British composer Benjamin Britten by singing the “Choral Dances” from his opera Gloriana, Oregon-born composer Morten Lauridsen’s gorgeous Chansons des Roses (dedicated to that city of roses a couple hours north) and more. First Methodist hosts a Nov. 3 All Saints Day choral concert with music by Schütz, Tallis and more.

More vibrant vocals highlight this Oct. 27’s afternoon Oregon Bach Collegium concert at United Lutheran Church (22nd & Washington), when sopranos Heather Holmquest, Janene Nelson, Rebecca Sacks and baritone Philip Engdahl sing opera arias by Handel and Bononcini who, back in 18th-century London, engaged in a vocal rivalry redolent of (though less violent than) the 2Pac vs. Notorious B.I.G. conflict. At The Shedd Nov. 1-3, abetted by an excellent quintet of local jazzers, Siri Vik, one of Eugene’s finest singers, covers the songs of the great Billie Holiday. 

Speaking of jazz, fans shouldn’t miss the Kora Band’s appearance at the Oct. 27 concert in the estimable Broadway House series. Also a treat for world music devotees, the show includes Portland-turned-London pianist Andrew Oliver’s new suite commissioned by Chamber Music America, which explores the connection between contemporary jazz and West African Mandinka music. The group, which features Seattle’s Kane Mathis on the beautiful kora (West African harp) and trumpeter Chad McCullough, is one of the Northwest’s finest ensembles in any genre, and with the principals now scattered around the planet, chances to see it are rare.

In the world of world music, a trio by Henry Cowell, the California-born visionary most responsible for turning Western classical musicians on to global sounds, tops Chamber Music Amici’s concert Oct. 28 at Springfield’s Wildish Theater.