Angela Allen

Songs of Love and Justice

New Portland Opera production celebrates Black composers

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 2021

When Portland Opera singers and staff began to discuss Journeys to Justice, a 75-minute program of art songs and opera about the American Black experience, they pleaded with Damien Geter to add to the list his “The Talk: Instructions for Black Children When They Interact with Police.” Read More

Bending genres to the world’s shape

"Classical music remains racist," composer DBR declares. His vital music breathes the air of Prince, hip-hop, Rosa Parks and Nina Simone.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2020

In the heatwave of the Black Lives Matter movement and the thirst to hear new multicultural classical music, composer Daniel Bernard Roumain is a force to be reckoned with. Read More

A hearty encore for David Shifrin

After 40 years, the clarinetist supreme retires as director of Chamber Music Northwest. His colleagues give him a round of applause.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2020

Even the most ardent classical-music enthusiasts may not know several details about celebrated clarinetist David Shifrin, who retired this summer after 40 years as artistic director of Portland’s Chamber Music Northwest. Read More

Her Own Wings, The Williamette Valley Chamber Music Festival

Flights of music from a barrel room

Composer Gabriela Lena Frank and the musicians of Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival create an album in the J. Christopher cellars

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2020

On a bone-chilling March day in 2018, Gabriela Lena Frank flew in from her Northern California farm to rehearse with Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival members. Bundled up in fleece and flannel, the group descended into the barrel room at J. Christopher Wines in Newberg, Oregon, a place they’d inhabited in summer 2017 with Frank as composer-in-residence and the string players bringing her music to life. Read More

Chamber music and a virtual toast

Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival, known for blending sounds and wine, pops the cork on its fifth vintage – this time, via streaming

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2020

Minus the barrel room and live applause, members of Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival will play music for three August weekends at three stellar wineries (J. Christopher Wines, Archery Summit Winery and Sokol Blosser Winery) beginning Saturday, Aug. 8. Though you’ll have to savor the vintages at home in front of your computer, it’s a small sacrifice for these dedicated musicians’ performances. Read More

Keeping the winter alive

Yardbird, Onegin and Portland jazz festival stir up the Northwest

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch March 2020

In a 1954 radio interview, jazz saxophonist and bebop shaper Charlie Parker said that he wanted to play music that was “clean, precise, something that was beautiful, has a story to tell.” He insisted humbly that “my prime interest is in learning to play music. I never want to lose my horn.” Parker said that around the time he played Seattle’s Civic Auditorium, now McCaw Hall. That was one year before he died at 34 in New York City. Read More

Breathing fresh air

Portland Opera’s ‘American Quartet’ of one-act operas

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2020

An American Quartet sold out–and for good reasons. Portland Opera’s seven-performance black-box show, which opened Feb. 9 at Hampton Opera Center and closed Feb. 22, was witty, short, well performed, utterly charming, and for once the spotlight shone on American opera composers. Read More

Vision 2020: Niel DePonte

A Portland musical standout for more than 40 years, the percussionist, composer and conductor thinks about the thorny issues ahead

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2020

At the Oregon Symphony’s June 1 concert this year, Niel DePonte will play the famously energetic snare drum part in Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. The spring season will end his 42-year career as the symphony’s principal percussionist, a job he’s had since he was 24 years old. Read More

A game of reflections

Gaming-themed opera commissioned and staged by Portland State University places women's voices centerstage

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch December 2019

Mirror Game, a new opera commissioned by Portland State University’s Opera program, made its world premiere in PSU’s Lincoln Hall Studio Theater. The opera is an intriguing effort to bring women into the limelight in a male-dominated tech world. Read More