Carl Herko
Vice President, Media & Public Relations

April 28, 2008



(PORTLAND, Ore.) – The biggest crowds of the year are expected May 17-19 as the Oregon Symphony brings its concert season to a clamorous close by performing one of the past century’s most thrilling – and most popular – musical compositions, Carmina burana.

But – as if massing a large orchestra, three soloists and two choirs on the stage for a full-out performance of Carmina burana were somehow not theatrical enough – these concerts will also have the kind of innovative twist that Portlanders have come to expect from Music Director Carlos Kalmar. Paired with Carmina burana – a spectacle famous for its bawdy lyrics extolling mankind’s obsessions with love, lust and the pleasures of drink – is the one work that just may be its polar opposite: French composer Olivier Messiaen’s L’Ascension (The Ascension), four symphonic meditations based on Scriptural texts, which will receive its first Oregon Symphony performance ever.

Talk about sacred and profane. The two works, written within five years of each other in the mid-1930s, could not be more different. Messiaen, a lifelong devout Catholic who was organist at a prominent Paris church for 61 years, once explained the connection between his faith and his compositions in this way: “This is the main aspect of my work, the most noble … the sole aspect which I will not perhaps regret at the hour of my death.” L’Ascension is his contemplation on the Biblical story of Christ’s ascension into Heaven.

Then comes Carmina burana, the most famous work ever to emerge from the pen of German composer Carl Orff, which also has a religious connection of its own. Orff set to music a series of medieval poems he discovered in a Bavarian monastery. It begins and ends with the unforgettably tuneful O Fortuna – “O Fortune, variable as the moon” – a melody that probably qualifies as immortal today, thanks to the appearances it has made over the years in hundreds of movies, television commercials, ice-skating competitions – and even, lately, hilarious parodies on YouTube (“Oh, Four Tuna.”)

Joining Kalmar and the Oregon Symphony in Carmina burana will be soprano Cyndia Sieden, tenor Nicholas Phan, baritone Stephen Powell, and the 140 vocalists of the Portland Symphonic Choir and the Pacific Youth Choir. Three performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 17 and 18, and 8 p.m. Monday, May 19, in downtown Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Ticket availability for all three performances is extremely limited, with sell-out crowds expected. Patrons are advised to purchase the remaining tickets early for the best selection.

Tickets are available for $15 to $120 at the Oregon Symphony Ticket Office, 923 SW Washington St., in downtown Portland. Ticket office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased by phone at (503) 228-1353 or (800) 228-7343 during the same hours, or online at any time from the orchestra’s web site,

Tickets are also available through or by calling (503) 790-ARTS. Discounted tickets for groups of 10 or more are available through the symphony’s group sales hotline, (503) 416-6380.

Presenting sponsor of the concert is First Independent Bank, with additional support from Lufthansa. Media partners are The Oregonian, KINK-FM and KBPS All Classical Radio.

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