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Winter Thaw

An oasis of music from warmer climes
Andy Irvine

Back in the 1970s, one of the major bands leading the welcomed revival of Celtic music was Planxty, a group that recreated the original energy in what could have been musty old tunes and forms and thereby revitalized Irish music. Singer Andy Irvine incorporated Eastern European elements into the band, and he later co-founded another all-star Irish band, Patrick Street, which he continues to front.

Irvine also plays frequently with many of the other legendary names in Irish music, and maintains a solo career as well, accompanying his own songs on bouzouki and mandola. He’s performing at Cozmic Pizza on Monday, Feb. 6, and no fan of Celtic or folk music should miss him. 

Singer/songwriter John Cruz is one of the hottest stars in Hawaiian music, winning major awards on the island and a Grammy for his acoustic ballads. He’s even co-written a song with Phish’s Trey Anastasio and provided hits for Jack Johnson. You can hear him at The Shedd on Saturday, Feb. 4, and maybe channel a little island sunshine during these bleak winter days.

The week’s big concert at the University of Oregon features the acclaimed Salzburg Chamber Soloists in the Chamber Music @ Beall series, performing music by Mozart, Dvorak, Janacek and Benjamin Britten’s lovely Les Illuminations, a take on the fevered prose poetry of the great French writer Arthur Rimbaud. Although the composers’ names are familiar, it’s fairly uncommon to hear these particular works because they require a small orchestra — too big for a chamber ensemble, too small for a symphony — so this is a rare and recommended musical treat Sunday, Feb. 5, at Beall Hall. 

The UO music school’s new Emerging Artist Series gives its best students a showcase every winter and spring. The Feb. 3 concert at Beall includes music by Gabriel Faure, Jacques Ibert, an original dance work and more. Just in time for V-Day, UO opera students will sing songs of love and lust Feb. 10-11 at Beall. And on Sunday, Feb. 12, the school’s other program for new and emerging artists, the always-stimulating Vanguard Series, brings award-winning soprano Estelí Gomez, who performs with Yale University early music groups, to sing music written for her by UO composers.

On Saturday afternoon, Feb. 4, the UO’s award-winning Chamber Choir joins Portland State University’s terrific Chamber Choir in a Beall concert led by famed Harvard University choral conductor Jameson Marvin, who will lead three of the state’s finest young choirs in this collaborative concert featuring music by Brahms, Renaissance and early Baroque composers as well as contemporary works, including spirituals.

You can also hear Baroque music on Sunday, Feb. 5, at First Methodist Church at 13th & Olive, when Cascade Consort performs music by Handel, Monteverdi and rarely heard other composers on lute, harpsichord, viola da gamba and voice. 

On Monday, Feb. 6, Beall hosts the venerable Eugene Symphonic Band, now celebrating its 54th season with music by Gustav Holst, Malcolm Arnold, Percy Grainger and more. Congrats — if this long-running Eugene musical institution can survive more than half a century, we can get through this winter.

Finally, another stalwart classical music institution, the Oregon Mozart Players, completes its auditions for a new music director — and an opportunity for artistic renewal in a highly recommended Feb. 11 concert featuring conductor-candidate Michael Nowak, a frequent guest conductor of the OMP. At the Hult Center, this longtime music director of the San Luis Obispo Symphony (since 1984) will lead the chamber orchestra in an attractive program of music by Stravinsky, one of Mozart’s first great symphonies, his 29th, and his lovely Piano Concerto #17, with UO piano master Dean Kramer as soloist.