Eugene Weekly : Bravo : 1.3.08

Bravo! guide to local performing arts

Music Springing Up
Highlights of the season

As usual, the best places to find interesting music are the University of Oregon and The Shedd. The university’s Feb. 3 Vanguard Series concert brings back New York’s irrepressible young Fireworks ensemble to play music by its leader, UO alum Brian Coughlin, UO prof Robert Kyr and a rockin’ version of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. And Feb. 29, the fabulous early music vocal ensemble Tapestry comes to town, joining its leader, UO alum Laurie Monahan, who’s teaching at the school this year. Also firmly recommended: the January chamber music series concert featuring outstanding performers in music from Mozart to one of today’s leading composers, Chen Yi.

Cajun masters Beausoleil (above) Ramsey Lewis and Dave Brubeck at the Shedd

Highlights of the Shedd’s typically wide-ranging assortment of riches include Cajun masters Beausoleil Jan. 22, adventurous jazz-rock trio the Bad Plus Feb. 14, the wild hip-hop-meets-Eastern European groove of Balkan Beat Box on March 4, jazz legends Dave Brubeck and Ramsey Lewis on April 27, Broadway star Audra McDonald on May 28 and one of today’s finest jazz stars, the ambitious yet accessible pianist composer Brad Mehldau and his trio June 5. The Shedd also brings back its engaging Jazz Party March 7-9.

The Eugene Symphony finally rediscovers the 20th century this spring and even gives a peek into the 21st. The January concert presents some of American music’s greatest hits by Gershwin, Copland and Barber along with a more recent work by Dominick Argento. Best of all, the February show brings the ESO’s much admired composer in residence, Roberto Sierra, for two of his works, one featuring the magnificent jazz tenor saxman James Carter in the season’s most highly recommended concert. (Prokofiev’s powerful Romeo & Juliet is, for once, not the newest work on the program.)

The Oregon Mozart Players bring us a fine program of French works, headed by Ravel’s sublime masterpieces, Mother Goose and Mozart’s “Paris” symphony Jan. 19-20. In March’s equally recommended show, the chamber orchestra performs a pair of sparkling rediscoveries: Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante for winds and Haydn’s C major Cello Concerto along with — bravo! — a new tone poem by a local composer, the UO’s David Crumb. The Eugene Concert Choir offers a pair of enchanting April concerts: The April 4-5 show featuring music from the Renaissance to today, and rarely heard Eastern European sacred works, including an American premiere, on April 26.

In fact, winter and spring bring plenty more attractions for fans of the human voice, including vocal treats like Minnesota’s acclaimed St. Olaf Choir at the Hult Center Feb. 1, the UO women’s a cappella ensemble Divisi hosting other collegiate a cappella choirs Feb. 16, and South Africa’s legendary Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the McDonald Theatre March 15.