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Portland Youth Philharmonic bassist Maggie Carter, age 13, recently won the Age 14 and Under division of the International Society of Bassists competition. Her journey to this achievement has only been four years, and PYP’s free bass class plays a leading role in her story.

Maggie’s mother, Mollie, shared with PYP how she became interested in the double bass, the largest instrument of the string section. “As a very young child, Maggie was intrigued watching a double bassist playing in a trio at a Portland Farmers’ Market. She was indelibly impressed by the size of the instrument. It took a few years for her interest in the bass to percolate, but then she began to ask so doggedly to play it that we finally agreed when she turned 9. Shortly thereafter, we learned of the PYP free double bass class, an unbelievable opportunity to connect her to all of the Oregon Symphony double bassists, who collectively inspired Maggie and ignited in her the desire to become a professional musician like them someday.”

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Our friends at Chamber Music Northwest just kicked off their 2019 Summer Festival and Clarinet Celebration!

PYP Musical Director David Hattner will conduct Peter Schickele’s Monochrome III for Nine Clarinets on Saturday 6/29 at Reed College.

Hattner will also conduct Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto on Sunday 6/30 at 4:00 PM at PSU’s Lincoln Performance Hall, and again on Monday 7/1 at 8:00 PM at Reed College. The orchestra will include PYP musicians and some alumni.

Free pre-concert picnic starts at 6:00 PM at the Reed College Quad. Bring your own picnic from home (don’t forget the wine!) or purchase a meal there. If you’re interested in picnicking with PYP, please email our by Monday morning.

Find tickets and full program details, as well as CMNW’s full Summer line up on their website.

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Congratulations to all of our graduating seniors!

Thanks to all of you for your commitment to PYP. We wish you the best on all of your adventures ahead, and hope you will keep in touch with us!

Special thanks to the seniors who shared their plans for next year.


Sydney Thomas, viola in PYP’s Conservatory Orchestra

Sydney will attend Portland State University to study Environmental Sciences.

She played in competitive soccer for 12 years, in addition to her work with the orchestra.

“PYP shown me new avenues in life through music and helped me make new friends outside of school.”

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Portland Youth Philharmonic | Portland O.. by Josh@portlandyouthphil.org - 1M ago

By Bill Spady, PJS alumni 1957

December 28, 2018

My trumpeting career has been going on, in one way or another, since I was 8 years old.

My recent trumpet adventure actually began 13 months ago when I received an email from the Portland Youth Philharmonic announcing its Christmas concert and inviting all PYP alumni (who were willing and able) to join its Alumni Orchestra to perform Brahms’ “Academic Festival Overture” at that event.  Having played the piece as the PYP’s first trumpet in 1956, I knew that it was not a technically demanding piece, and that playing the second trumpet part was possible for me if I got out the horn and started practicing A LOT every day for the next three weeks to get my lip in enough ‘shape’ to handle it.  I did.  I joined the 2017 alums, and had an exhilarating experience at the concert.  As soon as the final majestic chords ended that evening, I decided to play in 2018 too. 

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I played second clarinet in the Portland Youth Philharmonic from 1981 to 1983 during my senior year at David Douglas High School and freshman year at Reed College. College students dominated the wind and brass sections back then (with the exception of wunderkind clarinetist Theresa Schumacher), and I felt completely out of my league. My first concert with the orchestra included some of the most famous symphonic music: Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Bolero, and Afternoon of Faun. Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 was also on that concert, and it remains my favorite Beethoven concerto. Other PYP musical highlights for me were Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky Cantata and Dohnanyi’s Suite in F# Minor. During this time, I experienced my first (but not last) tears on stage listening to Barber’s Adagio for Strings. This exposure to learning and performing such masterworks was a huge influence on me, and my experience in the Portland Youth Philharmonic was the single biggest factor that led me to enroll as a music major when I transferred to the University of Oregon.

I suspect that Mr. A regretted his decision to bring me into the orchestra, as I was not a very good clarinetist, and I remember being called out a lot in rehearsals. PYP rehearsals were two evenings each week. (I believe they were Wednesday and Thursday). One was a wind and percussion sectional and the other was the full orchestra. My friends were playing a concert with the Greater Portland Youth Wind Ensemble on one of those rehearsal evenings, so I decided that I would attend their concert. I thought it was important that I stop by before rehearsal to inform Mr. A that I would not be attending his rehearsal. You can imagine the lecture that followed after Mr. A got over the shock of what I had just told him. I don’t know what I was thinking, except that it had been very clear in my head that one would be excused from rehearsals to attend a concert.

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PYP Musical Director David Hattner shares what’s currently on his playlist. Revamp your own playlist with selections from our PYP Playlist on his Twitter every #MusicMonday.

This month, I would like to present some recordings by Leopold Stokowski, one of the most fascinating of all great conductors. Perhaps no other musician has had as much pure conducting talent as Leopold Stokowski. Everywhere Stokowski conducted, he seemed to get results that elevated the quality of the orchestra. In addition, every orchestra seemed to take on a sonority uniquely associated with Stokowski himself. Many musicians who played for him in their orchestras mentioned this. He would arrive, begin rehearsing and without him saying much at all, the orchestra would begin to take on a new quality of sound. When Stokowski left town, the sound went with him.

Stokowski was trained in England as an organist and began his American career as an organist in New York City. In 1912, after a few years with the Cincinnati Symphony, Stokowski took over the Philadelphia Orchestra, a partnership that not only created one of the world’s greatest orchestras but one which redefined orchestral playing forever. By hand-selecting each musician of the orchestra, Stokowski created a virtuoso ensemble with a sound and style unheard before. During his years, the Curtis Institute of Music was founded. With the Philadelphia Orchestra closely associated with the Curtis Institute, the type of players Stokowski had selected helped create the entire “American” style of orchestral playing, particularly for woodwinds and brass instruments.

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Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

“Chimera”:  The Backstory

Commissioned by the Dusseldorf Symphony, John Fiore conductor.  Premiered 11/10/2006.

MOVEMENTS

1. Aegri somnia (The sick man’s dream)
2. Post tenebras lux (After darkness, light)
3. Gargoyles
4. Et in Arcadia ego (I [death] am here, even in the perfect countryside)
5. Siste, viator (Halt, traveler)
6. Humum mandere (To bite the dust)
7. Requiem for Icarus

chi·me·ra /kīˈmirə,kəˈmirə/  Noun

1. (in Greek mythology) a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail.

2. a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve.

3. BIOLOGY
an organism containing a mixture of genetically different tissues, formed by processes such as fusion of early embryos, grafting, or mutation.

All three of these definitions resonate throughout the seven movements of Lera Auerbach’s first symphony.  But why “Chimera”? And why those particular titles?  We must remember that Auerbach learned to write music and words at the same age, and is internationally renowned for both her music and her poetry (as well as her visual art).  Just as her body of work crosses and blurs artistic boundaries, so every aspect of any of her creations, whether text, image, or music, makes a vital contribution to the overall experience.

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from Lera Auerbach, “Rooforisms” (reproduced in Excess of Being).  Photo used with permission of auerbach.studio © All rights reserved.

An abundance of associative ‘connective tissue’ joins the characters of Mermaid, Chimera, and Icarus; all of them are, in different ways, more-than-natural, impossible beings.  While Chimera is a mythical mix of species, both Mermaid and Icarus try to escape the natural forms which imprison them, re-form themselves as beings of art(ifice), and pay the ultimate price for their attempted transcendence.

For her part, Auerbach has said that she wrote The Little Mermaid with all the “hunger, maximalism, idealism of youth”, words that describe both herself and the character of Icarus.  The similarities continue: “Every concert…is about being transformed. If we’re not transformed, we’ve just wasted two hours.  For an artist, it’s important never to lose the life and death intensity [emphases mine].” 

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According to DeStella, the symphony is “a ‘chimera’ of two different versions of The Little Mermaid: the original 3-hour version that premiered in Copenhagen, and the 2.5-hour version done in Hamburg, conducted by the late Klauspieter Seibel.  Certain parts cut to make the Hamburg version later found their way into the symphony. Seibel also conducted the US Premiere of “Chimera” in New Orleans with his Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra in 2008.  He loved the piece so much that he was editing the recording of it on his deathbed, and requested that the transcendent, ethereal final movement, “Requiem for Icarus”, which corresponds to the “Coda in the Stars” in The Little Mermaid, be played at his funeral.

Auerbach’s choice to ‘chimerize’ The Little Mermaid into her first symphony attests to the deep significance the music and the story hold for her. In the interview with Rodrigo Couto, she offered it as an example of one piece that could represent her entire oeuvre:

“In my life there is a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ this work. It was very complex to write, but it is also the most successful, since it has been represented more than 150 times in several countries. The Little Mermaid has been such a transcendent work for me that at the end of it I have signed with my own blood.”

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Photo from the BBC

Paris in the 1860s, the home stretch of the brief, eighteen-year Second Empire, between two bloody wars: Haussmann’s boulevards bringing light and fresh air into the city; industrial and infrastructure growth, along with the first department stores and investment banks, leading to the birth of the bourgeoisie; the everyday landscapes and still lifes of Manet and Monet shaking up the dignified neoclassical mythological/history painting tradition of decades before. The time was right for German-born cellist/composer/practical joker Jacques (Jacob) Offenbach to bring that fresh air to the comic opera tradition, creating the even more comic light opera or operetta which would later inspire Gilbert & Sullivan, Johann Strauss, and others.

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