Inside the Orchestra
Taking Europe by Storm
Portlanders know Resident Conductor Gregory Vajda mostly for the talent, wit and élan he shows on the podium when he’s leading the Oregon Symphony in concert. But over in Europe, music-lovers increasingly know him as Gregory Vajda, composer.
Case in point: In late November Vajda was honored in Brescia, Italy, when his 2008 composition “Conversations With Children” for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano won special recognition at the annual Camillo Togni International Composition Competition and was performed in a concert broadcast on Italian radio.
Then, in December, Vajda was in his home town of Budapest to conduct a concert at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music marking the 100th birthday of American composer Elliott Carter. On the program: works by Carter, John Adams, György Kurtág … and Vajda himself. (This time it was the world premiere of his new composition “Vakuum.”) Pretty good company, we’d say.
And a not-so-well-known fact that positively delights us: Vajda, who’s still only 30-something, is already the composer of two operas, The Giant Baby (2001) and Barbie Blue (2006.)
You’ll find more details on his thrill-a-minute life – and even a few audio and video clips of works he’s composed – on his web site: vajdag.com.
Outside the Schnitz …
The musically (and typographically) challenging ensemble that goes by the name “fEARnoMUSIC” celebrates Oregon’s 150th birthday in its next series of concerts by performing the world premieres of four new works written especially for this grand occasion by Oregon composers. How festive is that?
We love fEARnoMUSIC’s concerts for lots of reasons, not least of which is the fact that two of its four core performers, violinist Inés Voglar and violist Joël Belgique, are Oregon Symphony members. But these birthday concerts are a special treat because they’ll be joined on stage by, among others, their orchestra colleagues Nancy Ives (cello), Alicia DiDonato Paulsen (flute) and Evan Kuhlmann (bassoon).
The sesquicentennial concerts are called “Home Grown: Fresh, Delectable Sounds by Oregon Composers,” and they all come together for the first time at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, at Southeast Portland’s Imago Theater. Repeat performances are also planned for Feb. 17 at the University of Oregon in Eugene and Feb. 19 at Willamette University in Salem.
Complete details and ticket info: fearnomusic.org.
Von Trapps at Macy's Parade
The streets were alive – with the sound of music, of course – as the Von Trapp Children, in town to perform a pair of holiday concerts with the Oregon Symphony, led off the 2008 Macy’s Parade. The four teen-age singers from Kalispell, Montana, followed up their Thanksgiving weekend pavement performance with two near-sellout concerts at the Schnitz.