Eugene Weekly : Music : 2.7.08

Lovely Tunes
Make a date with music


Isolationists can build all the walls they want, but the increasing prominence of Latino influences touches every aspect of U.S. culture, including classical music, and Roberto Sierra‘s music is ejemplo numero uno. After growing up in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and ’60s, Sierra studied with one of the 20th century’s finest composers, Gyorgy Ligeti. But the pupil also taught the teacher: Ligeti credited Sierra with introducing him to salsa rhythms that appeared in Ligeti’s piano concerto. Those and many other world music influences, as well as modernist ingredients inspired by Ligeti and others, permeate Sierra’s eclectic music. On Feb. 14, the Eugene Symphony will perform two works by Sierra, who’s served as its composer in residence this month: the West Coast premiere of his Fandangos and Concerto for Saxophones (featuring the incomparable jazz master James Carter), along with the music from Sergei Prokofiev’s riveting score to the ballet Romeo and Juliet. It’s great to s ee the ESO briefly embracing contemporary music again, and this looks to be the most attractive concert of its season — a must-hear for anyone interested in 21st century postclassical music.

That may be the only new music in the ESO’s season, but there’s plenty of fresh sounds coming up at Beall Concert Hall on the UO campus. Also on Valentine’s Day, the UO Chamber Choir and University Singers will perform two world premieres, motets by Irish composer Colin Mawby and UO music prof Tim Pack, along with other love music by Debussy, Byrd and others. On Feb. 17, UO baritone Douglas Webster will sing contemporary music by William Bolcom, Ricky Ian Gordon and others, plus opera arias by Rossini and Bernstein. He’ll be accompanied by pianist Victor Steinhardt, whose “Tango” is one of several 20th century works (including music by Poulenc, Dutilleux and more) in a recital by faculty oboist Amy Goeser Kolb Feb. 7. Music by UO student composers is at Beall in a free show Feb. 19. Collier House is the site of the Monday Sound-Bytes series — free, 10-15 minute 20th and 21st century music performed by Beta Collide. The Feb. 11 show features an important 1955 work by Earle Brown. Yet another free show Feb. 13 includes short recent valentines for flute by some of today’s leading composers — Michael Torke, Joan Tower, Lukas Foss, Henryk Gorecki and more.

Still another free show features the Primo Libro ensemble playing music of the Big 4 Baroque composers — Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann — as well as Buxtehude at 4 pm Feb. 10 in First Methodist Church, 13th and Olive. The group includes some fine players from the UO like cellist Steve Pologe and soprano Jamie Weaver, along with Julia Brown on harpsichord and Meredith Beck on recorder. If you want to actually hear music off campus — way off campus — try Cherry Blossom’s Eine Kleine Visual Music at the Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove on Feb. 16. This modern vaudeville revue features original music by pianist/composer Paul Safar, including the premiere of his quartet “White Canvas” with video by Eugene composer Daniel Heila, who’ll perform on flute as well. This show also boasts juggling, tap dance, flamenco, ballet and touches of Beatles and Zappa — and, yes, it, too, is free.

The UO’s fabulous women’s a cappella group Divisi hosts a major regional choral competition, featuring some of the finest student unaccompanied choirs in many styles, at the Hult Center Feb. 16.

Some fine music out in the clubs, too, starting with the great, Grammy-winning Hawaiian slack key guitarist and singer Led Ka’apana and 12-string guitar virtuoso Mike Ka’awa Feb. 7 at the WOW Hall. This breezy music is some of the loveliest on earth. And speaking of things Hawaiian, Portland ukulele virtuoso Lyle Ritz and jazz singer Rebecca Kilgore join Portland bassist Dave Captien at Tsunami Books on Valentine’s night. On Feb. 9, Porter Batiste Stoltz play the WOW Hall. The names may not be familiar, but their music sure should be. I used to see Stoltz when he was the Neville Brothers’ guitarist, and he, Porter and Batiste are members of the legendary New Orleans funk band The Funky Meters, who have been getting down and dirty for more than four decades. This will be one of the most fun shows of the season.