Angela Allen

Voice in the Wilderness: opera singer Nicholas Meyer

Childhood friends shape new made-in-Oregon opera 'Two Yosemites'

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch September 2017

Nicholas Meyer’s friendship with Justin Ralls began decades before they collaborated on Ralls’s new Two Yosemites opera. The two boys  grew up kicking around the soccer ball in their southeast Portland neighboring ‘hoods of Eastmoreland and Sellwood. They played in the Sellwood Middle School jazz band (Meyer on clarinet, Ralls on drums) and sang in the Cleveland High School award-winning choirs. Read More

Yasko Sato, photo by Jacob Lucas

‘Madame Butterfly’ review: caged dreams

While confronting social and cultural issues, Seattle Opera's new production of Puccini's classic doesn't neglect the music

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch August 2017

Giacomo Puccini’s Madame Butterfly debuted in 1904 and it has been jerking tears ever since. The opera classic remains resilient and fresh when done well, as it is in this Seattle Opera production playing through Aug. 19 at Seattle’s McCaw Hall. Read More

Composer Kati Agócs.

Chamber Music Northwest preview: women’s work

Portland's annual summer classical music festival throws the spotlight on female composers past and present

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch June 2017

Since 1971, Chamber Music Northwest has brought world-class musicians and a deep (mostly) classical repertoire to Portland’s summer-hungry listeners. This year marks the first that women composers take center stage during the five-week festival from June 26 through July 30. Read More

Anat Cohen and Eliane Elias previews: double dose of Brazilian jazz

Two PDXJazz concerts this week showcase fruitful combinations of Brazilian and American music

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2017

Fifty-seven years after the birth of bossa nova, Brazilian music continues to stir up listeners with its danceable rhythms, beguiling melodies, and sweet soft Portuguese lyrics. In less than a week, Portlanders will have the chance to hear radically different styles of buoyant Brazilian jazz from two popular artists. Anat Cohen… Read More

Gerald Clayton preview: family man

Springing from a respected musical legacy, pianist creates his own jazz 'family' atmosphere with his band

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2017

Gerald Clayton says he was a “normal kid” growing up in Los Angeles pursuing ordinary things like soccer, skateboarding, school. What was extraordinary was his family. His father, John Clayton, is a renowned bassist and band leader, and his uncle, Jeff Clayton, a saxophonist supreme. With such blue jazz blood,… Read More

‘Suor Angelica’ & ‘Gianni Schicchi’ review: tearful tragedy and family farce

Portland State University Opera’s spring Puccini double-bill strikes a fine and fun balance

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 24, 2017

PSU Opera always surprises me with the high quality of its productions and the skill of its young singers, many of them undergraduates. This is not professional opera (though advisors and directors are professionals), but it can reach impressive heights, and does in this double bill of two very different, very… Read More

Dave Holland

Dave Holland Trio preview: All about the bass

Jazz bassist and bandleader’s starry career has a Portland connection

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch April 5, 2017

Even before he steps onstage for his Friday concert in Portland, Dave Holland has made a sizable contribution to Oregon jazz. The world renowned jazz bassist owns the upright bass instrument that belonged to the  late “The Walker” Leroy Vinnegar. “Rather, I’m its custodian,” Holland said this spring from his… Read More

“Katya Kabanova” review: Tragic thrills

Set in a world that might be pre-Bolshevik Russia or Cold War America, Seattle Opera’s first production of a rarely staged Leos Janacek opera might even draw tears from Puccini fans

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch in March 2017

Unoccupied seats are often the price an opera company pays when it tries something new and off the oft-beaten path of French and Italian opera. There were plenty of empty rows opening night, February 25, at the Seattle Opera, but perhaps by the end of the Katya Kabanova run, seats will… Read More

Maria Schneider Orchestra and Kneebody: Many voices, one vision

PDX Jazz Festival opening weekend bands share fondness for diverse influences. But there’s one big difference.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2017

“I have always loved a lot of different kinds of music,” Maria Schneider said in February from her Manhattan apartment where she’s lived for decades. In her multiple Grammy-winning jazz orchestra’s music, “the colors and forms and textures come from classical, flamenco, and Brazilian influences.” They’re tied together. “I love melody,”… Read More

Photo of Corrine Winters as Violetta. Photo by Philip Newton.

Seattle Opera’s ‘La Traviata’: Stripped-down tragedy

Shorn of lavish accoutrements and other inessentials, revelatory 21st century production gains force and focus

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2017

There is nowhere to hide in this Traviata. Running only an hour and 50 minutes, German director Peter Konwitschny’s spare version, playing through January 28 at Seattle Opera, focuses keenly and persistently on its characters, on Giuseppe Verdi’s lush and ever-building music, and on the extreme emotions surrounding dying Violetta. She has struggled,… Read More