May 16, 2011



(PORTLAND, Ore.) – An hour after the Oregon Symphony’s Carnegie Hall performance last Thursday, May 12, word was spreading fast at the celebration in New York’s Hilton Hotel: respected author and music critic Alex Ross had tweeted “Triumphant debut for the Oregon Symphony!” 

In the next 24 hours, Ross’s tweet was followed in greater detail with a rave review from the New York Times’ Allan Kozinn who wrote that it was “hard to believe the Oregon Symphony had never performed in Carnegie Hall until Thursday evening” and called the orchestra a “highly polished precision instrument” and the program “vivid, often wrenching.”  He described the performance of Britten’s Sinfonia da Requiem as a “taut, passionate account” and said the orchestra and its music director Carlos Kalmar played Vaughan Williams’ Fourth Symphony with a “furious, incendiary energy.”

Kozinn’s enthusiasm was shared by Portland-based critics David Stabler of The Oregonian and James Bash of Oregon Music News.  Stabler, who had been documenting details of the Symphony’s first trip to Carnegie Hall for his paper all week, called it a “searing debut” that proved the Oregon Symphony “did indeed belong on the stage at Carnegie Hall.”  Bash wrote that the orchestra “stunned the audience with a performance that was outstanding in every way.”

Ross added on his blog, The Rest is Noise, that the Oregon Symphony’s performance was “pretty extraordinary” and promised a review in greater detail to follow in the New Yorker.

Oregon Symphony president Elaine Calder has described the Carnegie debut as a “game-changer”.   Hundreds of supporters travelled to New York to hear the performance and have now experienced the full dynamic range of the orchestra in an acoustically superb concert hall.  The relatively small regional orchestra has seldom ventured beyond the borders of the state, and hasn’t released a recording in years.  Fortunately, the Carnegie program “Music for a Time of War” was recorded live in two performances in Portland prior to the New York trip and will be released in the coming year on the PentaTone label.

Calder also noted that the Toledo Symphony has informed her that they will program Music for a Time of War in a future season – a lovely compliment and further endorsement of the creativity and power of the Oregon Symphony’s presentation.

Like the performances in Portland, the Carnegie concert was dedicated to one of the Oregon Symphony’s greatest supporters, the late Harold Schnitzer.

Even with the support of the Spring for Music festival and Carnegie Hall, the trip to New York cost the orchestra some $300,000.  The Carnegie program book acknowledged in detail the hundreds of donors whose generosity ensured that all expenses of the venture were fully covered.

Today, music director Carlos Kalmar and members of the Oregon Symphony are back on the stage of Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall rehearsing their final program of the 2010/11 classical season.  Aptly titled “Celebrating the Orchestra,” the concerts feature eight members of the orchestra in solo roles on the first half the program, and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra after intermission.   Full details of these concerts follow:


Our Classical season wraps up with an orchestral showcase


Jim Fullan
Vice President, Communications, Marketing & Sales