Angela Allen

A beautiful combination: Billy Childs at the 1905

The pianist-composer and his touring bandmates performed an early set of new and recent tunes.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2023

On May 4, when Billy Childs and his stellar touring quartet took over the snug 1905 jazz club in NoPo’s Mississippi neighborhood for two back-to-back shows, nothing was missing–except CDs for sale. Childs’ most recent and perhaps most evocative album, Winds of Change, produced by Mack Records and released in late March, was sold out according to the band, so CD-seekers were out of luck. Read More

A short flight into the pasts: Catalyst Quartet uncovers remarkable composers

CQ concert for CMNW at The Old Church featured Fanny Mendelssohn, Germaine Tailleferre, and short works by several contemporary composers.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 2023

Funny–when Catalyst Quartet played April 16 at The Old Church, its touted new-music repertoire didn’t thrill the audience as much as Fanny Mendelssohn’s early 19th-century String Quartet in E-Flat Major, No. 1, Op. 22. She wrote the piece in 1834 when she was 28 years old. It languished, unpublished, until 1989. Queen Victoria loved it, though she thought Fanny’s famous brother Felix wrote it, a logical conclusion in those only-male-composer times. Read More

“The power to transport”: Emilie-Claire Barlow at the 1905

The Canadian jazz singer performed selections from her new album “Spark Bird” at the Portland jazz club.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 2023

At first glance, she appears to be the girl next door, dimples and all. But open your ears for a minute or two, and you’ll discover that Emilie-Claire Barlow is a sophisticated Canadian jazz singer. Her soft-swinging style, which she pulls off exactingly, yet casually, in English and French is easy to listen to. Her lithe voice, clean articulation and rhythmic intelligence echo aspects of Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder, her performing role models. Read More

“There is always room for something beautiful to grow”: Flute magic at Alberta Rose

Local flutist Amelia Lukas curated and performed a multi-media benefit concert celebrating Ukrainian heritage.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 2023

Who hasn’t heard Amelia Lukas’ flute magic around Portland? She plays with Fear No Music, Chamber Music Northwest, and countless other groups showcasing experimental and straight-up music.

To see and hear her on a barebones stage with her several flutes glittering on a plain black cloth as she celebrated her paternal Ukrainian heritage (and benefited Ukrainians) proved a full-on concert deal. Read More

After Gang Rape, Hope In Pakistan: An Opera Honors Transcendence

Originally Published in Classical Voice North America March 2022

For once, the soprano survives.

Different from many operas where the tragic and transgressive soprano dies, Thumbprint’s heroine lives. Portland Opera’s current production tells the real-life story of Mukhtar Mai (soprano Samina Aslam), the Pakistani woman who chooses life over traditionally shame-induced suicide after she is gang-raped for a supposed “honor” crime. Read More

A woman’s face: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” in Seattle

Seattle Opera premieres a newly-commissioned opera based on the novel by Afghan-American novelist Khaled Hosseini.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch March 2023

With any world premiere, the big question arises: Will it last? Does it have legs to get around the world – or even the country?

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Seattle Opera’s world premiere that opened Feb. 25 and continues through March 11 at McCaw Hall, has a good chance of spicing up the repertoire – despite its remote cultural landscape.  Read More

An all-around, all-age success: Portland Jazz Festival 2023

Neither snow nor Covid could cool this year’s jazz festival.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch March 2023

No doubt the unanticipated blizzard that shed 10.5 inches of snow on Portland Jazz Festival’s mid-winter party Feb.16-25 had some impact on concert-goers. But not much. 

Four sold-out concerts scheduled for Feb. 22 — Storm Large, Charlie Musselwhite and Curtis Salgado, Mark Guiliana and Mel Brown B-3 Organ Group — were postponed, but otherwise the show went on, if audiences were smaller on the final icy nights.  Read More

Sharing the absurdity of existence: Isabel Hagen and Fear No Music

The violist-comedian joined Kenji Bunch at The Old Church for a concert of music and jokes.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2023

The viola is often the butt of musical jokes. Overshadowed by the weighty cello below it and the showy violin above it, the viola is bullied. And the boring loser-instrument joke goes on and on.

“If you don’t know what the viola is, you shouldn’t. There’s so much more to know,” said Isabel Hagen, the New York-based star violist — and comedian — Feb. 13 at The Old Church in downtown Portland. Read More

Cupid’s arrow to the brain: The neuroscience of music and love

The Reser hosted a nearly sold-out multimedia Valentine’s Day presentation with scientist Larry Sherman, singer Naomi LaViolette, and Portland Chamber Orchestra.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2023

The Gershwin brothers had a gift for telling the truth in their music:
In time the Rockies may crumble
Gibraltar may tumble
They’re only made of clay.
But our love is here to stay.
“Our Love is Here To Stay.” Read More

Summiting Bach’s Everest: Alisa Weilerstein in Portland

The star cellist enraptured a crowded church performing Bach’s complete cello suite cycle for CMNW.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2023

Alisa Weilerstein, a 40-year-old cellist and new mother dressed in an off-the-shoulder tangerine top, black leggings and 4-inch sparkling spikes, was all alone on the stage for 3.5 hours at a sold-out Chamber Music Northwest concert Feb. 4 at First Baptist Church in downtown Portland.  Read More