The Eugene Symphony Orchestra continues with the most forward-looking season of any Oregon orchestra in memory this Thursday, Dec. 5, at the Hult Center, with a diverse all-American program that includes the world premiere of Puerto Rican-American composer Roberto Sierra’s Loiza, based on his native country’s famous bomba dance rhythm.
That night there will be more Latin influence with Aaron Copland’s buoyant El Salón México, his affectionate postcard to a country where he’d enjoyed sojourns in the 1930s. That same year, George Gershwin wrote his own vacation postcard, Cuban Overture, inspired by his carousing in Havana nightclubs as well as rhythms from the island.
The terrific program also includes a jazz classic, music from Duke Ellington’s 1970 orchestral ballet score, The River, commissioned by the American Ballet Theatre for choreographer Alvin Ailey. The night kicks off with that most popular and delightful of overtures, from Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide, and also includes more stage music — songs from musicals like Show Boat, Sweeney Todd, Girl Crazy and Annie Get Your Gun, sung by Elizabeth Racheva and Joseph Barron. You won’t find a more diverse and attractive orchestra program in Oregon this season.
Next Friday, Dec. 11, the orchestra welcomes one of the world’s greatest musicians, one who’s never lost his sense of adventure — cellist Yo-Yo Ma — to play a program of Eastern European classics, but it’s long sold out, so we won’t taunt you.
There’s another all-American classical program 7:30 pm Thursday, Dec. 3, at the University of Oregon’s Beall Concert Hall, when pianist Thomas Hecht plays Copland’s El Salón México, plus a movement from Charle’s Ives’s classic second sonata as well as works by early 20th-century American composers Charles Griffes and Edward MacDowell.
Like the Eugene Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music Amici is adding singing to its usual classical mix Monday, Dec. 7, at the Wildish Theater. Vocals will be provided by UO prof and renowned singer Karen Esquivel in two of Brahms’s lovely songs for alto, piano and viola.
At 3 pm Sunday, Dec. 6, the Eugene Concert Choir & Orchestra will be attired in 19th-century English garb while singing in their director Diane Retallack’s original adaptation, A Dickens of a Christmas. Starring is Eugene’s Bill Campbell (no relation) as Scrooge (also no relation) and other local actors. The wildly inventive show includes not only carols and other music of that time and place, including works by Arthur Sullivan, but also Renaissance music performed by Eugene Vocal Arts in their period Yuletide costumes. South Eugene High School’s Tyro Choir Experience will also perform, including Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” and break dancing music.
If it’s really ye olde Christmas music you crave, the 4 pm Sunday, Dec. 31, Vox Resonat concert at Central Lutheran Church offers seasonal music from the 16th and 17th centuries (Schutz, Praetorius, et al.), performed by early music specialists who really know how it sounded back in the day.
There’s still more holiday vocal music at 7:30 pm Saturday, Dec. 5, at the UO’s Beall Hall, with various UO choirs singing decidedly nontraditional music from Egypt, Russia, Spain and England. The UO’s ever-popular gospel concert follows at 5 pm Sunday, Dec. 6.
Baroque holiday instrumental music is on the program at First United Methodist Church at noon Dec. 4, 11 and 18.
The Shedd’s production of Cole Porter’s fizzy classic musical Anything Goes opens Dec. 6 for a two-week run. This time it’s the Tony-winning 1987 revival version that includes an updated script and additional Porter classics. The Shedd’s resident Emerald City Jazz Kings offer a Christmas show there Dec. 10 and 13, followed by shows in Corvallis and Florence on Dec. 16 and 17.