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The Next Generation

Young musicians and youthful music deck the halls in May
The jazzy Taarka quartet plays Tsunami Books May 11
The jazzy Taarka quartet plays Tsunami Books May 11

With so many American schools cutting back their arts programs, nonprofit organizations play an increasingly larger role in showing young people the beauty of making music. This month offers several kid-oriented music events, beginning with a May 9 lecture at the UO Collier House by University of Washington prof Patricia Shehan Campbell, “Giving Voice to the Children: Their Music and Musical Ideas.” Saturday morning, May 17, at the Hult Center, the Eugene Symphony plays a youth concert narrated by popular local actor Bill Hulings. Any parents worried about outbreaks of fidgeting should be relieved to hear that Carnegie Hall designed “The Orchestra Moves” program to encourage kids to explore how music moves us all, via singing and dancing. Also on May 17, one of the region’s most valuable means of fostering lifelong appreciation of music, the UO Community Music Institute, celebrates its 20th anniversary at Beall Concert Hall with chamber music performances. And May 20-22 at South Eugene High School, Eugene-Springfield Youth Orchestras, formerly Arts Umbrella, conclude their 80th season with performances by various orchestral ensembles including works by Debussy, Sibelius, Marquez and more. 

The UO Vanguard Concert Series has for two decades helped prep the next generation of composers for a career in creating music. At Beall Sunday, May 11, a combined concert and master class featuring the University Singers, Oregon Composers Forum, Ova Novi Ensemble and Sospiro Vocal Ensemble play music by one of the greatest living American composers, Libby Larsen, along with offerings by UO composers. May 18 at Beall, soprano Estelí Gomez (who sings with the Grammy-winning new music vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth) gives a vocal recital that’s one of the most attractive contemporary music events of the season.

Chamber Music Amici has long worked with young musicians through CMI, its innovative Emperor’s New Clothes project. With the great Oregon Bach Festival trumpeter Guy Few, the ensemble offers free performances for Riverbend Elementary students May 15 and workshops with middle and high school students May 16, plus its first concert at The Shedd with Few on May 19, with a deliciously uncommon program of music by Saint-Sans, Dvorak, Persichetti and Baldassare.

Another top trumpeter, the UO’s Brian McWhorter, stars in another too-rarely heard concerto by the Czech composer Johann Neruda May 10 in the Oregon Mozart Players’ concert at Beall Hall. The program also features Antonin Dvorak’s beautiful, dance-driven Czech Suite, the lush Idyll by another great Czech composer, Leos Janacek, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni overture, which premiered in Prague. Thursday May 15, the Eugene Symphony closes its season at the Hult Center with maybe the most thrilling of all symphonies, Beethoven’s mighty seventh, Hindemith’s Mathis the Painter symphony and one of the most popular and enjoyable recent American orchestral compositions, Christopher Theofanidis’s radiant Rainbow Body.

Fans of early music and vocal music can unite in three concerts this month. On May 10 at Central Lutheran Church, the fine vocal ensemble Vox Resonat joins an instrumental quartet in French medieval songs about spring, ranging from lusty dance numbers to courtly love songs. On May 16-17 at the Lane Events Center, the Eugene Vocal Arts Ensemble also celebrates spring with its always-entertaining May Festival dinner, accompanied by madrigals, Renaissance dances, a brass quintet, storytelling and more. And on May 18 at United Lutheran Church, singer Laura Wayte and lutenist/oud master/vihuela virtuoso/guitar genius David Rogers perform traditional Sephardic songs and other Spanish and Italian songs from the 16th, 17th and 19th centuries, with Rogers on a variety of instruments from those eras. Fans of more modern vocals can hear 20th-century English composer John Rutter’s popular Requiem May 18 at First Methodist Church.

Another excellent singer, Roberta Donnay, brings her Prohibition Mob Band to The Jazz Station Thursday, May 8, to sing swing music by the shady ladies of the 1920s and ’30s. The Station also hosts another recommended jazz revivalist, Bay Area flugelhornist Dmitri Matheny, who’ll apply his warm tone and lyricism to Great American Songbook standards by Gershwin, Arlen, Ellington and more Friday, May 16. And the gypsy jazz/bluegrass quartet Taarka brings its string-band sound to Tsunami Books 7 pm Sunday, May 11.