Auditions and Acoustics
Eugene’s search for a classical conductor
By Brett Campbell
Wanted: conductor for classical chamber orchestra. Should be familiar with music of Mozart and patient with dodgy acoustics in main performance space. High tolerance for rainy weather a plus.
The Oregon Mozart Players, the city’s fine but sometimes overshadowed small orchestra, seeks new leadership now that Glen Cortese has moved on. The orchestra, a valuable Eugene arts institution that turns 30 next year, has identified three finalists for the position. Competitions can be a provocative way to gin up public interest; too bad Simon Cowell is otherwise engaged.
The first candidate, who takes his bow Saturday, Oct. 8, doesn’t have far to travel. David Hattner has won plaudits in Portland for conducting that city’s renowned youth philharmonic orchestra, the nation’s oldest. He’s also a clarinetist who’s performed around Portland in chamber music concerts. Each candidate was required to create a program featuring a Mozart concerto, a Classical-era symphony and a 20th-century work (three areas of OMP excellence), and Hattner chose Mozart’s most popular concerto, #21, which carries the advantage of being beautiful but the risk of comparing unfavorably to listeners’ favorite version, because almost everyone will have heard it before. (If you haven’t, don’t miss this chance.)
Hattner and the other candidates are especially lucky to have UO faculty member Dean Kramer as soloist. Familiarity probably won’t be a problem with the symphony by the relatively lesser-known composer Luigi Cherubini. Aaron Copland’s delightful Three Latin American Sketches should showcase Hattner’s way with rhythmic power. This will prove a fine show regardless of the competitive element.
Wanted: chamber musician, instrument TBD. Able to play nicely with other top-rank classical players — and with music-craving kids. High tolerance for rainy weather a plus.
The area’s pre-eminent small classical music ensemble, Chamber Music Amici, is also in an acquisitive mood, having lost its founding oboist, Amy Goeser Kolb, to the Perry-esque mercies of Amarillo, Texas, where at least she won’t need to worry about an overabundance of rain. The remaining founding foursome — violinists Sharon Schuman and Pilar Bradshaw, cellist Steven Pologe and pianist Victor Steinhardt — are seeking a replacement for Kolb, and in the meantime they’re filling her spot (and more) with a total of ten guest musicians over the course of the season.
Amici’s opening concert Oct. 10 in Springfield’s Wildish Theater features cellist David Chinburg and UO faculty members violinist and violist Fritz Gearhart and violist Kathryn Lucktenberg. They’ll play a delightful program highlighting one of the most irresistibly delicious works in all of chamber music, Haydn’s “Gypsy Rondo” Piano Trio #39, as well as Brahms’s String Sextet #1 and Steinhardt’s own Tanguette for two violins.
Other forms of classical music exist besides what was created in Europe or North America, and you can hear some of the loveliest on Oct. 1 at Beall Hall when musicians from Beijing’s Central Conservatory perform Chinese classical and folk music on authentic instruments from the region. They’ll also demonstrate their techniques and instruments at 3:30 pm Friday, Sept. 30, in Room 140 of UO’s Frohnmayer Music Building.
Speaking of global sounds, Los Gringos Latinos — a new band that includes classically trained guitarist Craig Einhorn, classical/new music pianist Art Maddox, jazz/classical saxophone virtuoso Tom Bergeron, bassist Mark Hatgis and drummer Bruce Cole — will play Argentine tangos and folk music, Brazilian samba and bossa nova, as well as music by Oregon composer Mason Williams Friday Sept. 30, at Silvan Ridge/Hinman Vinyards, and Friday, Oct. 7, at Creswell Coffee House.
On Oct. 3 at the Granary, an impressive young jazz ensemble, the Le Boeuf Brothers, performs music from its ambitious new release, In Praise of Shadows. The 20-something piano and alto sax playing twins incorporate samples and other influences from electronica and a string quartet, together with the indie rock touches that graced their earlier bright, concise jazz. The guest artists won’t join them on this tour, but the well-crafted new compositions the core quartet will play should offer ample rewards.