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Brews Meet Muse

Party with Siri Vik, Eugene Symphony and plenty of food and drink at SymFest
Corwin Bolt

Beer and classical music enjoy a long and storied relationship, stretching back to those monks who chanted holy praise by night and brewed ales by day, through all those Austrian and German composers who quaffed their way through compositions, performances and post-concert revelry — practices that I understand continue today.

On June 3 at the Hult Center, the Eugene Symphony nurtures that happy relationship with its second-annual SymFest. Starting 5:30 pm, the fest features traditional bluegrass (Corwin Bolt and the Wingnuts), Her Royal Slugness Eugenia Slimesworth, Mariachi del Sol, Danceability International, food carts, locally made kombucha, cider and, of course, malty, hoppy, bubbly beverages brewed right here in River City. 

At 7:30 pm the orchestra joins Eugene chanteuse Siri Vik singing some of her specialties, the music of Edith Piaf and Kurt Weill, and the energetic trio Time for Three. Young Philadelphia Orchestra fiddlers Zachary De Pue and Nicolas Kendall and bassist Ranaan Meyer met in college at the celebrated Curtis Institute.

I’ve personally witnessed rock-concert rhythmic clapping and cheering by teens and 20-somethings at Time for Three shows. This time, they’ll play music from Stravinsky’s gorgeous ballet score The Firebird, mix Mahler’s mighty Symphony No. 1 with their arrangements of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” and Guns N’ Roses’ explosive “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” then sprinkle a bit of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with tunes from Hamilton, Bernard Herrmann’s haunting score from Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” The festival closes with a post-concert dance party in the Hult lobby by DJ Foodstamp and a jazz lounge in Soreng Theater. 

There’s more partying going on around the University of Oregon, where school’s almost done. The Oregon Percussion Ensemble gives its end-of-year concert June 1 at Aasen-Hull Hall. For choral music fans, the Chamber Choir and University Singers give their closing concert at Beall Hall June 2, which hosts the Women’s Choir and Repertory Singers June 10 and the ever-popular Gospel Choirs June 11.

Beall hosts the big free Chamber Music on Campus concert June 6. Band music fans have the annual Green Garter band show to look forward to June 3 at WOW Hall, and Oregon Symphonic Band at Beall June 8, including music by contemporary American composers David Maslanka and Frani Ticheli. And then the mother of all Eugene jazz parties: all UO jazz combos and Big Band, plus LCC’s jazz groups, blowing from 5-11 pm Sunday, June 11, at the Jazz Station, which on June 3 also hosts Tom Bergeron’s Brasil Band, featuring its original pianist, the Brazilian composer Cassio Vianna

 Speaking of jazz fusion, on June 1 The Shedd brings back French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, who took over the jazz violin legacy established by earlier greats like Stephane Grappelli and Joe Venuti in the 1970s, when his jazz-rock fusion of that era was all over jazz radio.

Since then, he’s continued to merge jazz with other music, including Indian, African, orchestral and even joined that paragon of fusion, Return to Forever. At The Shedd he’ll have a quartet featuring guitar, keyboards and rhythm section.

The next night, Friday, June 2, The Shedd features another virtuoso who earned a reputation in the 1970s, guitarist David Lindley, who along with gracing pop albums by Jackson Browne and others led his own bands that melded various world music traditions.

Playing various stringed instruments, he’ll take you on a musical journey — make that party — that stops in African, Asian, Arabian, Celtic, Turkish and other musical territories.