Angela Allen

Crushing the temple: “Samson & Delilah” in Seattle

Seattle Opera produced the Saint-Saëns opera with minimal sets and big voices.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2023

Ending with a 5-minute curtain call, Camille Saint-Saëns’ single major opera, Samson & Delilah, proved a hit with the Seattle Opera audience on Jan. 20 at McCaw Hall. SO staged it Jan. 22 for a second performance. Read More

To music we’re uncomfortable with: Fear No Music traces a history of Western music

FNM’s Legacies 1 concert followed a throughline backwards, from YCP composer Nathan Campbell and Ukrainian-Swiss composer Victoria Poleva past Schnittke and Mahler to Brahms and Wieck-Schumann.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch December 2022

Fear No Music’s artistic director Kenji Bunch is a talented programmer, not to mention, composer and violist. He plans concerts that open ears to music we’ve never heard–and, sometimes, to music we’re uncomfortable with. Read More

A study of power: ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ at San Francisco Opera

SFO premieres the latest from John Adams.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2022

SAN FRANCISCO – In John Adams’ new opera Antony and Cleopatra, one goes back and forth between the grip of the lush rush of music and the production’s stunning visual minimalism. The world premiere tells Shakespeare’s towering tale of passion, global power shifts and loss, but it’s neatly delivered in part with Mimi Lien’s taut set that creates windows, doors, steps and funeral pyres out of dark wood, helping to make order and shape(s) out of a potentially unwieldy story. Read More

The real deal: Sphinx Virtuosi at The Reser

The conductorless chamber orchestra premiered music by Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman, Carlos Simon, Michael Dudley, and Ricardo Herz.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2022

When Sphinx Virtuosi performed Oct. 11 at Beaverton’s Reser Center, the stage looked very different from one at traditional chamber or orchestral concerts.

For one, it was full of 18 Black and Latinx musicians, and they were young — OK, 21 to 41 years old, or so. And there was no conductor, common for chamber groups but unusual for one this large. Read More

Beautiful and uncanny: ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’

OrpheusPDX closes its inaugural season with chills and goosebumps.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2022

After seeing the terrific L’Orfeo earlier this summer produced by the new opera company, OrpheusPDX, I expected the best from their second production, The Fall of the House of Usher, on Aug. 28, the final day of the four-performance run at Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall. Read More

Tapas in Siletz Bay

Multi-week Siletz Bay Music Festival brings classical, jazz, hip-hop, and a relaxed vibe to Lincoln City Cultural Center.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2022

With this month’s 10-day Siletz Bay Music Festival concerts as dissimilar as Sept. 10’s Beethoven double-bill and Sept. 11’s hip-hop medley, it was no surprise that the Sept. 4 Musical Tapas sprung from all over the musical map. Read More

“All of these wonderful sounds can meld together to create the atmosphere”: CMNW 2022 in retrospect

A consideration of Chamber Music Northwest’s five-week summer festival.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2022

When Soovin Kim and Gloria Chien were hired in 2020 as Chamber Music Northwest’s artistic co-directors, they didn’t imagine that 2022 would be the year they could show their stuff, due to Covid restrictions that limited live concerts.

This summer’s festival unveiled their brilliance, even if attendance was down from pre-Covid years. Read More

The light that once put the sun to shame: Orpheus in Portland

New opera company OrpheusPDX debuts at Lincoln Hall with a magnificent new production of the Monteverdi classic.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2022

Claudio Monteverdi’s 1607 L’Orfeo, credited as the first operatic masterpiece, is based on a magnificent myth and captivating story. But four centuries ago is a long time! Yet, OrpheusPDX’s debut show Aug. 4 at Portland State University’s almost full 475-seat Lincoln Hall illustrated a successful revival, ensuring the opera’s staying power. Read More

Killin’ it with Gilles Vonsattel and the Sinta Sax Quartet

The sax quartet and virtuoso pianist joined forces for a surprising CMNW concert.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2022

The Sinta Saxophone Quartet, alarmingly good and ravishingly charming, took the audience by surprise with its highly diverse program, American Voices, July 24 and 25 (I heard the July 25th concert at the Kaul Auditorium). Theirs was the tightest and brightest concert at the spectacularly varied Chamber Music Northwest’s five-week festival. Read More

All these ways of being: The musical worlds of Reena Esmail

An exchange with the Indian-American composer, featured recently at Chamber Music Northwest and set to return next month as this year’s Willamette Valley Chamber Music Festival composer-in-residence.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2022

Reena Esmail’s cross-cultural music is making star turns in Oregon concerts this summer.

At two Chamber Music Northwest concerts July 17 and 18, violinist Vijay Gupta–who happens to be Esmail’s husband–played her Darshan: Bihag and When the Violin. After the concert, Portland composer David Schiff called Gupta “a rock star” and was blown away by Esmail’s music, which was preceded by poetry and delivered with an intensity that the couple holds in common. Read More