Angela Allen

Are we a jazz town? The 1905 closes.

Financial difficulties for the 1905, which has just gone out of business, raise larger questions about the history and future of jazz in Portland.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch November 2023

In mid-October, music fans received an email announcing that the snug beloved 1905 jazz club in North Portland’s Mississippi neighborhood was on the brink of financial disaster. The final show would be that night. Read More

Portland Opera’s colorful, comedic, costume-rich ‘Figaro’

PO kept its sixth production of the 238-year-old Mozart opera fresh with superb singing, tight conducting, agile staging, and new, historically-informed costumes.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch November 2023

If you’re new to opera, The Marriage of Figaro is usually a guaranteed good ticket. If you’ve seen several Figaros, as I have, its playful charm and tuneful music, when well conducted, rarely lets down even a jaded critic partial to contemporary pieces. Among the 10 most produced operas, the 1786 Mozart hit remains one that companies can’t resist staging over and over. Read More

A 21st-century reboot: Seattle Opera’s gender-bent ‘Alcina’

SO staged the Handel opera with six singers (including one countertenor), modern set design, and haute couture costuming.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2023

SEATTLE – George Frideric Handel’s operas don’t amass a lot of stage time in the United States. Seattle Opera has presented only four in its 60-year existence.

The fourth, which continues through Oct. 28 at SO’s McCaw Hall, is Alcina–and what a playfully sexy choice it was, cleverly stage-directed by British-born Tim Albery, known for his taut, poetic presentations. The production should convince the opera world to give Handel a 21st-century reboot.   Read More

‘The endless expanse of the African savannah’: Harriet Tubman comes to Jack London Revue

The electric jazz trio will perform at the Portland night club in October.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2023

Most of us know Harriet Tubman as a one-time-slave-turned-abolitionist who risked her life for her freedom and that of at least 70 other Black people two centuries ago.

But there’s another Harriet Tubman–for 25 years, there’s been a three-person band carrying on her name and legacy. Read More

Remembering Yaki Bergman, 1945-2023

“He led with his heart, and what a huge, open heart it was!”: The leader of Portland Chamber Orchestra and the Siletz Bay Music Festival leaves a giant gap among musicians and friends.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2023

The music community and its extended family lost a faithful friend, a visionary leader, an innovative programmer, and a beloved conductor when Yaacov “Yaki” Bergman died Sept. 20 in Portland. Read More

Real life on the fringes: OrpheusPDX’s ‘Dark Sisters’

Local production of Nico Muhly’s opera brings complex emotions and conflicting points of view to Lincoln Hall.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2016

The title alone, Dark Sisters, is enough to clue us in that the 90-minute chamber opera will touch on chilling moments, secrets, conspiracies, coverups, lies, sexual abuse, uncertainty. And mystery. These ideas and textures surface in a disturbing and beautifully anguished way in the opera about six women confined to a Texas “ranch” and controlled by one man in the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) Church. Read More

‘How about no doors?’: Joe Kye and Denzel Mendoza on top of Mount Tabor

Mobile venue SoundsTruck NW hosted an improv-based concert co-sponsored by IRCO and Montavilla Jazz.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2023

Hard to say who or what was the biggest attraction at the “Mount Immigration” concert Aug. 20 on top of Mount Tabor. The newly minted and released mobile SoundsTruck NW, multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/composer/storyteller Joe Kye, or Illegal Son? Throw into the winning and informal mix of attractions the summit of Portland’s magnificent Mount Tabor with its wide city view. With families, couples, dogs, babies and bikers hanging out on the ground at the free concert, the summit was an ideal site for the SoundsTruck NW. Read More

Kissing in the shadow: Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz at the 1905

The singer and guitarist performed a sizzling set of jazz standards and pop classics at Portland’s struggling jazz club.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2023

What a difference a night makes when the well-seasoned duo of vocalist Kate McGarry and gonzo guitarist Keith Ganz travels from North Carolina to perform at the 1905 jazz club in Portland’s Mississippi neighborhood. Read More

The choice between duty and love: Mozart’s forgotten ‘Shepherd’

In the first of two summer productions, OrpheusPDX staged a gender-bent version of “Il Re Pastore.”

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2023

Three sopranos and two tenors. Does that chorus-less combination without basses, baritones and mezzos to anchor and harmonize, make a satisfying opera?

If it’s an aria-rich piece by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, of course. Written when he was 19 in 1775, The Royal Shepherd (Il Re Pastore) is a rarely heard Mozart opera–unlike his Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and the tireless The Magic Flute. Read More

Chamber music hidden gems

Midsummer evening treats: Five surprises from CMNW 2023

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2023

Due to the relentlessly imaginative programming of Chamber Music Northwest co-artistic directors Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim, audiences are regularly hearing new music and new artists. Not that Mozart and Brahms and Beethoven are left out, but even instruments rare in the classical repertoire have been featured. Read More