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Oregon Symphony to record Gabriel Kahane commission, emergency shelter intake form, in a free community concert August 31 at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

July 17, 2018

The Oregon Symphony’s groundbreaking 2017/18 Sounds of Home season culminated in May with the world premiere of Gabriel Kahane’s emergency shelter intake form, an oratorio that examines the scourge of deep poverty in America through the lens of homelessness and housing insecurity. As the lead commissioner, the Oregon Symphony will record emergency shelter intake form in a reprise performance at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on August 31. This concert will be free to the public with a pay-what-you-will suggested contribution. All proceeds will be donated to a consortium of social service agencies who partnered with Oregon Symphony during the Sounds of Home initiative.

When approached by the Oregon Symphony about this project, Kahane’s initial response was mired in skepticism. “I wasn’t sure how to navigate the ethics of a project about homelessness that would, somewhat incongruously, live in a space that has traditionally served the economic elite,” says Kahane. But his desire to write for the OS was strong, and as the idea lingered, he saw an opportunity to widen the lens of the conversation about homelessness to encompass the historic resurgence of income inequality that has become endemic in the United States over the last three decades.

The 50-minute piece features soprano Measha Brueggergosman; a mordant trio – The Chorus of Inconvenient Statistics – comprising Portland’s own Holcombe Waller and Holland Andrews, as well as Kahane himself; and, in the final movement, the Maybelle Community Singers, many of whose members have themselves experienced deep poverty and homelessness. At once haunting and darkly humorous, emergency shelter intake form grew out of Kahane’s research into housing policy, the federal tax code, and the history of income inequality, as well as one-on-one interviews with individuals who have experienced homelessness, and hours spent volunteering at a homeless shelter in New York City.

Reaction to emergency shelter intake form was immediate, powerful, and complex. “We sought to bring people together around a pressing issue in our community,” commented Oregon Symphony President, Scott Showalter. “In the diversity of impassioned responses, we see a piece that, for all its inventiveness, belongs squarely in a tradition of art that has invited debate.” The work, which will be performed next at the Britt Music and Arts Festival on July 27, has attracted the interest of major orchestras across the U.S. “In part because of its challenging nature, we are proud to record it and share it with our community and the artistic world at large.”

LIVE recording project: emergency shelter intake form

August 31, 2018 | 6 pm | Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Attendance is free with a suggested pay-what-you-will donation and requires an advanced reservation for tickets. Tickets can be reserved at orsymphony.org beginning Monday, July 30.

Proceeds will be donated to:

  • Central City Concern
  • Rose Haven Day Center for Women and Children
  • IRCO (Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization)
  • Catholic Charities
  • Portland Homeless Family Solutions
  • Maybelle Center for Community

ABOUT OREGON SYMPHONY The multi-Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony ranks as one of America’s major orchestras. Led by Music Director Carlos Kalmar, it serves over 300,000 people annually through more than 110 performances and award-winning education and community engagement programs. Now in its 123rd year, the Oregon Symphony is the oldest orchestra west of the Mississippi.

The Symphony’s ground-breaking 2017/18 Season set box office and fundraising records and was marked by an initiative to connect more deeply with the Portland community. The organization embarked on the year-long Sounds of Home series, which revolutionized the role of the arts in addressing three of the most critical social issues of the day: immigration, the environment, and homelessness. This series made a powerful impact in the community through innovative art, cross-sector partnerships with 37 organizations, and civic leadership. Sounds of Home community concerts hosted in venues across the city reached nearly 3,000 attendees and were viewed thousands more through live streaming on social media.

The Symphony reached over 15 million radio broadcast listeners in the 2017/18 Season via All Classical Portland as well as American Public Media’s SymphonyCast and Performance Today. The season additionally featured three world premieres, including the first-ever play commissioned by an American orchestra.

Season subscriptions, including Choose Your Own packages and Gift Cards, are available through the Oregon Symphony Ticket Office at 503-228-1353. Photos for media use are available at orsymphony.org/newsroom.