Angela Allen

Portland Opera preview: Rebuilding a magical world

Portland‘s ‘re-premiere‘ reincarnates Maurice Sendak‘s destroyed design for Mozart's ‘The Magic Flute‘

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2016

To imagine that The Magic Flute is merely beguiling child’s play is to sell W. A. Mozart’s masterpiece short. His last staged opera’s enchanted world, clear-cut good vs. evil themes, lyrical music, and fanciful characters like Queen of the Night, Papageno and Tamino appeal to children of all ages. Read More

Darrell Grant

“Sting: The Jazz Remix”: New look at a past master

Portland jazz musicians revisit the music of the Police singer and solo star

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2016

“Sting is one of the seminal artists of my generation,” says Portland pianist/composer Darrell Grant. As the leader of The Police (1977-1984) and as a solo artist, the former Gordon Sumner sold more than 100 million records, and his eclectic genre-crossing solo career exerted a huge influence on both Grant and fellow Portland singer and Sting-lover Marilyn Keller when each was shaping a musical career in the ‘80s. Read More

Portland Jazz Festival review: Pianists prevail

Though the spotlight shone on saxophones, keyboard masters tickled heartstrings and ivories at the 2016 festival

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch March 2016

Virtuoso saxophonists were the Coltrane-centric Portland Jazz Festival’s backbone Feb. 18-28: Joe Lovano, Gary Bartz, Nicole Glover, Charles Lloyd, Sonny Fortune, Renato Caranto, Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane — not in that order.

The keyboardists, though, stole my heart — not only the soloists but the sidemen who played in trios and quartets, duos and big bands, alongside the headliners. Read More

Vivacious Figaro

Seattle Opera’s Figaro is full of vim and vigor, like new SO director Aidan Lang.

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch January 2016

At last we see a full-fledged production led by Seattle Opera’s new general director Aidan Lang. Hired 18 months ago to fill Speight Jenkins’ large shoes, Lang shows with this Marriage of Figaro that he can put together the pieces of a production with genius and charm. What a vibrant Figaro it is! Its sets, singing, timing, costumes and supra-titles make this production, which continues through January 30, as far from ho-hum as one of the 10 most often performed operas could be. Read More

Ton Koopman & Tini Mathot preview: Playing together

Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra director returns with his companion in life and on keyboard

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch March 2016

Imagine a balmy June afternoon in Riberac, one of southwest France’s charming hilly villages. There you are – there I was with my Dutch-born husband – in a sun-filled church renovated for performances rather than worship. In strides Dutch world-renowned baroque conductor and keyboardist Ton Koopman wearing a bright red tie (and black suit) and his signature irrepressible bring-it-on smile. Read More

European street musicians: Classical music on the corners

A Portland writer/photographer follows her ears to find singers and buskers bringing life to central squares

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch October 2015

Telemann? Fasch? The notes pave a route, like Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs. We keep walking, ears wide open.

After twists and turns, we locate the source. The melody resonates under an arch near the Zwinger, one of Dresden’s opulent Baroque buildings. A brass quartet is blowing in baseball hats and rain parkas. Read More

Nicole Glover

Portland Jazz Festival preview: Trane’s Tracks

This year’s jazz extravaganza celebrates the 90th birthday of the great saxophonist, composer, improviser and bandleader John Coltrane

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch February 2016

“Coltrane has the power to move people,” says up-and-coming Portland-grown saxophonist Nicole Glover. “He can reach that special place in you that only you have access to. Some people may call it soul. … But you don’t have to be a spiritual person to feel it move you.” Read More

Portland State Opera review: Tasty amuse-bouches

PSU double bill menu features a pair of frothy, lightweight comedies

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch December 2015

Double-billed with Georges Bizet’s silly Dr. Miracle, Bon Appetit is the more delicious of the one-acts cooked up this month by Portland State University Opera. It’s an indisputable hoot about Julia Child making a real-life “gateau chocolat.” The show plays through Dec. 13 at PSU’s Lincoln Hall’s 84-seat Studio Theater, a small space to contain such a lot of laughs – but it works. Read More

Chamber Music Northwest review: Artistic alliances

Youthful exuberance shaped the mood, while collaboration stitched a common thread throughout festival’s first weekend of performances

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch July 2015

Chamber Music Northwest hitched up with Portland’s Northwest Dance Project and Korean-born pianist Yekwon Sunwoo in Friday’s performance of Chopin’s music and original dance. Saturday showcased top Argentine tango musicians with Reed College and CMNW Artistic Director David Shifrin on clarinet. And Sunday, the Oregon Bach Festival’s youthful Berwick Academy, led by the dynamic and equally youthful Matthew Halls, played Beethoven with Portland Baroque Orchestra’s Artistic Director Monica Huggett. Now that’s some crossing over. Read More

Northern Exposure: Washington chamber operas entice Oregonians

Music of Remembrance’s After Life: Stein and Picasso duel over art and morality

Originally Published in Oregon ArtsWatch May 2015

How do art and moral responsibility intersect? Or do they?

That’s the endlessly intriguing debate enacted in the new chamber opera After Life, whose world premier was staged on a Monday in early May in a small-ish recital hall at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. Two weeks later, After Life played to a sell-out crowd in San Francisco’s Temple El-Manuel. Read More