Greetings from all of us at Classical Up Close from this newly designed website. You'll find all the same info here as our old site, with a fun new logo (more about that below).
2018 was a wonderful year for our mission. We reached more people than ever, and found new ways to bring classical music to those who may have never experienced it. Our new Pop-up Performances have given us an opportunity to play for underserved communities, and we have more in store for 2019 (more details about that in January).
The big news is that the dates and times have been set for all of the Spring festival’s performances, and you are the first to know. While we haven’t firmed up the programs for these concerts, we can confirm the following:
Our 2019 Festival of Free Performances:
EVENING CONCERTS - all 7:30 pm
• April 23, St. Mary’s (NW Portland) with Suzanne Nance
• April 24, Mt. Scott Park Presbyterian Church (SE Portland)
• April 26, German American Society (NE Portland)
• April 30, Tigard United Methodist (SW/Tigard)
• May 1, Bethany Presbyterian Church (NW/Beaverton)
• May 3, Milwaukie Lutheran Church (SE/Milwaukie)
• April 20 - 10 am, Mt. Scott Park Community Center
• April 20 - 12 pm, Powell’s City of Books
• April 24, 10 am, Symposium Coffee, Tigard
• April 25, 1 pm, Fleur de Lis Café
• April 29, 5 pm, Bethany Public House, Bethany Village
• May 1, 1:30 pm, Milwaukie Center
• April 7, 11 am, Multnomah Co. Central Library
• May 5, 1 & 2:30 pm, Tigard Public Library
We hope to see YOU at as many of these performances as possible. SAVE THE DATES!
Thank you again for all your support over the past six years. Classical Up Close is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (Tax I.D. 46-5255081). We welcome your tax-deductible donation to support our mission. Click here to learn more.
And remember if you do donate, you can get an Oregon Community Trust tax credit. Learn more at https://culturaltrust.org/get-involved/donate/.
Our new logo was inspired by the idea that we are a unique, diverse, fun festival. The three instruments in the logo show the diversity of the music performed and we chose a softer, more playful font for the letters to reinforce the casual nature of our concerts. We are in the midst of producing merchandise with the new logo for the Spring festival, and we can't wait to show you the new t-shirts!
Happy New Year!
We have the details almost finalized for Classical Up Close 2019, but that isn’t all we’ve been doing these last few months! In September, we inaugurated a new series of Pop-Up Performances, one each month until the Spring festival, and we’ve already presented three of these.
As you know, we are Oregon Symphony musicians and friends who want to broaden access to live classical music and create community through free performances in places that are especially convenient for members of the community. Due to time constraints, our Spring festival comprises a maximum of six full-length concerts each year along with our fun, small-scale Blitzes, which are designed to drum up interest for each evening concert within its general neighborhood. We love how many parts of town we get to visit while doing these, but we’ve come to feel that there were more communities and populations we hoped to share the music with which weren’t being reached by these programs. We were also inspired by the joyous experiences many of us had performing for the Sounds of Home series created by the Oregon Symphony last season. This new series of short events is our response! Our new Pop-Up concerts fit into more varied spaces than the full-length evening concerts and we’re enjoying these opportunities to find new partners to help us connect with more neighborhoods and communities. Genuine inclusivity is very important to us and sharing the experience of live classical music is a great way to celebrate unity and build community!
The series kicked off on September 18 with Mousai Remix performing at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization. On October 17, Ruby Chen (violin) and Kevin Kunkel (cello) played for a packed house at The Historic Kenton Firehouse under the auspices of Catholic Charities. Most recently, on November 6, the Bridge City Four String Quartet performed works including jazz, the American Songbook and other modern genres at the Old Town Recovery Center.
The audiences for each of these performances ranged from 30 to 60 people, including clients of the partner organization and varying proportions of people from the surrounding neighborhood. For example, Kenton Women’s Village is a venture of Catholic Charities for women without homes that has been embraced by the Kenton neighborhood, and the concert in the Historic Firehouse was attended by people from both, celebrating that neighborhood’s inclusiveness and unity. Most of the time, these concerts have been and will continue to be open to the public, but some Pop-Ups may be in facilities that serve a clientele in need of privacy and may not be open to the public, or may require entering with security procedures. We’ll make sure this aspect is clear when we put the events on the website.
It is our privilege to see first-hand how music brings joy and a sense of belonging to audiences. At one Pop-Up, the mother of a preschooler in a wheelchair told us, “She loved it. You could see it in her eyes and the way she was so still while the musicians were playing.”
People thank us for coming to their neighborhoods, and they express to us that the experience of live classical music brings enjoyment and even peace. “I enjoyed this so much today. I forgot all about the election for a little while.”
This act sharing gives us joy, and we are so grateful for the opportunities to do so. It is the support of the community — churches, businesses, charitable foundations, and individuals like you — that makes it possible We look forward to continuing to bring the music we love to our community!
Most people think that the new year begins on January 1st. But for Oregon Symphony musicians, the new year starts at the beginning of September. Many of us have been traveling (to play in festivals, or visit family and friends around the world) or staying put (to teach and practice). Now, as the weather turns cooler and children go back to school, we gather together to find our seats on the stage of the Schnitzer and prepare for a new season of making music.
The new year also means it's time to start planning for the next Classical Up Close festival! Our organizing committee met at Sarah and Vali's house on Monday, September 3rd to discuss dates, venues, and performers. The committee has seen a little change over the summer, as we welcome our two newest members: Mai Nguyen and Alicia Waite! Their experience and input is invaluable.
Details about our seventh festival of free chamber music will be coming soon, but first, we have some very exciting news! This month we will begin a series of monthly outreach concerts for under-served communities throughout the Portland area called Pop-up Performances. We are excited to partner with agencies and facilities who do so much for our community.
Our first Pop-up Performance will be from the always exciting Mousai Remix at 1 pm on September 18, at the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization at 10301 NE Glisan St., Portland, OR 97220. The performance will last an hour, and members of the public are welcome.
As always, thank you for your continued support. None of what we do would be meaningful if it weren't for you!
Wow! Summer is almost over and all of us here at Classical Up Close hope you’ve had a good one. Have you been able to take in some classical music? We hope so! Leave us a comment and let us know.
August is generally a quiet time for music, a quiet pause before the excitement of a new season for many cultural groups. Oregon Symphony musicians are returning from festivals out of town and picking up the music for the first few concerts, starting with one at the Zoo on Saturday, September 1st. It seems like a good time to reflect on our last festival of Classical Up Close free chamber music concerts, our sixth season. Wow! Six years of sharing music our musicians are passionate about and getting to know you up close, where you live, work and play!
We have some numbers to share from 2018’s Classical Up Close festival:
Six full-length evening concerts, six daytime blitzes, four concerts for kids, and one live radio broadcast from the studio of All Classical Portland FM, our media sponsor.
53 Oregon Symphony musicians and 10 guest musicians performed for 2,400 of you.
??? (who knows how many) memories! You can relive them in dozens of photos in our 2018 photo gallery: http://www.classicalupclose.org/photos-2018.html
We’re working on a new logo, so look forward to a new t-shirt design. We love seeing you in our t-shirts! And we'll have a new look to our website soon.
We continue to be on the lookout for venues that enable us to reach a large swath of the metropolitan area. We value having the ability to get to know people who already love classical music while at the same, providing opportunities for those who haven’t been exposed to it or have found it hard to access. The surveys we collect at concerts — 402 of you filled them out, thank you! — indicate that we are achieving both of these goals, and that thrills us. If you have an idea for a venue please send us a quick email and let us know about it.
Stay tuned for the announcement of our NEW FALL SERIES! Spring will be here before you know it, and we look forward to seeing you at Classical Up Close 2019.
As we are sure you know, putting on a festival of free chamber music concerts takes a lot of preparation. Practicing and rehearsing the music is only the tip of the iceberg! For our Springtime festival, we start work in earnest in late Summer, finalizing the schedule and lining up community partners. Now, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, the schedule of events is almost complete and you can find out more on our Events page.
Another facet of our preparatory work is to raise the funds we need to keep the events free of charge. Like most 501(3)c non-profit organizations, we depend on foundations and individuals to support our mission, because even with our lean and efficient operation, it takes thousands of dollars to present each full-length concert. We are thrilled that James and Linda Hamilton, who sponsored the NW Portland area concert last year, are with us again. It’s such a vote of confidence to hear from them that they want to support us again!
You don’t have to sponsor a whole concert to help us reach neighborhoods all around the metro area with free classical music. Building community is the work of many, and we are grateful for all the support we get from all of you! If you would like to make a donation click here and know that your gift will be made safely and securely.
And if you do donate, please consider taking advantage of the unique state tax credit offered through the Oregon Cultural Trust. Here's how it works: if you donate to an Oregon cultural nonprofit (we are one!), then donate the same amount to the Oregon Cultural Trust by Dec. 31 you will qualify for a state tax credit. Win, Win, WIN! Click here to go to the Oregon Cultural Trust donation site.
Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Classical Up Close!
It’s hard to believe it was more than a month ago that we completed Classical Up Close 2017. Our annual potluck gathering of all the performers and volunteers and the committee’s wrap-up meeting have taken place and we’re already talking about next year.
We didn’t blog during the festival because we were seeing you in person at the events. Plus, we didn’t really have time! You can imagine how busy we keep, producing and performing in all those Blitzes, Kids’ Concerts and full-length evening concerts — on top of our Oregon Symphony schedule! We’ve all caught our breath now, and it’s a pleasure to look back at Classical Up Close 2017.
Here are some numbers:
Six evening concerts, seven Blitzes, four Kids’ Concerts. 32 pieces of great classical music at the evening concerts alone! 49 Oregon Symphony musicians, six guest artists, many helpful volunteers and the support of individuals and foundations who contributed so that we can continue to offer these performances absolutely for FREE.
We want to thank everyone who filled out the questionnaires, either on paper or online. Not only does it help us fulfill the requirements of some granting organizations, it gives us valuable feedback — and sometimes we get the kind of positive feedback that makes us feel really good! Here are some of the comments you shared with us:
“I’ve always loved classical music, but everything comes more alive and seems more immediate in this sort of venue. It’s marvelous to able to watch the musicians playing their instruments only feet from my eyes and ears. Thank you so much for doing these concerts! They make me feel incredibly lucky to be living in Portland.”
“I enjoyed the variety of the music prepared for tonight and the obvious enjoyment of the musicians in playing.”
“I think these events are fantastic. I’ve studied music for a long time and I love that these events bring people out into their neighborhoods and teach them that classical music doesn’t have to be stuffy — it’s lovely.”
“As a beginner to classical I find this very educational and easy to participate.”
These comments, among many others, confirm that our hard work is well worth it. Our series is doing just what we hoped it would do: share our love of music in a fresh way, get to know you, give you a chance to get to know us and see behind the curtain a bit, and invite new music lovers into the community of classical music aficionados.
We were aware that there were quite a few new and adventurous pieces on this year’s programs. These were all things the musicians wanted to present, and we were pleased to see from the comments that many of you were happy to hear new sounds and go on an adventure with us. You told us that our passion and joy in music-making was clearly evident, and no doubt that plays a part in “selling” the more unusual pieces to fans of the traditional repertoire.
“It is such an insight into what people play when THEY have a choice. Very personalized.”
“Wonderful program! Love hearing stuff new to me. Classical Up Close is one of the best features of Portland.”
Another thing we gained from the surveys was a snapshot of how you found our concerts. All Classical Portland was an invaluable resource for spreading the word — no surprise there! — and word of mouth was a major contributor, so we want to urge you to help spread the word next season. As you know, this is a great way to introduce a friend to classical music.
We want to keep in touch with all of you, so be sure to visit our Facebook page. We’ll be posting vacation photos from the musicians this summer. We know some of you are curious about what we do in the off-season! We’ve already started planning for next year, so stay tuned!
April is here, and that means that Classical Up Close 2017 is fast approaching! The flyers are printed (thank you, DocuMart!) and the locations for all the events and the programs for the six FREE evening concerts are posted on our website. After a phenomenally well-attended pair of Kids’ Concerts at the Beaverton City Library on March 29, the festival will begin in earnest on April 22 with a cello quartet Blitz at Powell’s City of Books on the third floor (Pearl Room).
Once again, participating Oregon Symphony musicians have come up with a fascinating and eclectic array of music. There is a wide range of ensembles performing on the evening concerts, presenting everything from iconic pieces for large groups, like the Beethoven Sextet in E-flat Major, L’Histoire du Soldat by Stravinsky, the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings (even a violin octet!) to duos and trios by composers from Bach to Piazzolla. With Blitzes, you never know what you’ll hear, but it will be fun, personal and intimate, courtesy of the musicians listed on the Events page. Thanks to graphic designer Susan Shepperd, our website is chockfull of information and very easy to use. All the events are listed with programs and performers, and new this year, there’s an interactive map to help you find the venues!
Forty-nine Oregon Symphony musicians are participating is this year’s festival, and six friends of the orchestra who believe in the music and love sharing it with the community in this way. Returning this year as special guests are our beloved divas; Pink Martini’s China Forbes will sing arias at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, and Vice President of Programming and the afternoon on-air host for All Classical Portland Suzanne Nance will share art songs at Milwaukie Lutheran Church. Speaking of Milwaukie, we are looking forward to a Blitz at the Bob’s Red Mill Store and Restaurant, our first time there.
We continue to have a growing presence in Washington County, with an evening concert at Oak Hills Church in Beaverton, a Blitz in downtown Tigard, and children’s concerts at the Tigard Public Library. A concert that would be convenient for many on the West side is at Nordia House, but heads up! Due to limited seating, and at the request of our hosts there, those who wish to attend need to RSVP to reserve their free seats. The RSVP form is available here. Other than Thursday’s @ Three at the studios of All Classical Portland (which also requires an RSVP), this is the only concert with this requirement. Feel free to show up spontaneously to any of the other events!
We continue to be thrilled and humbled by the support we are getting from the community. Individuals send us words of encouragement with their donations, and foundations and businesses are affirming the value to the community of what we’re doing with their support. All Classical is continuing as our media partner, and this year, Classical Up Close was honored to receive a significant gift, the Musicians’ Award, from Jordan Schnitzer.
We can’t wait to see you, share our music with you, and have this chance to get to know you. Get your questions ready, and please consider helping us spread the word about these FREE events! It’s all about music, community and bringing the music to all of you, where you live, work and play.
The Oregon Symphony 2016-17 season is underway, and that means that the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall will be ringing to the rafters with music of all styles for months to come. It also means that it’s time for the Classical Up Close committee to start planning the next festival of free chamber music concerts!
We had our first meeting last week (pictured above) between Symphony rehearsals. The first task is always to nail down the dates. The Oregon Symphony schedule generally makes it pretty clear when the musicians of the orchestra will be able to find the time to perform their favorite chamber music all over the Metro area for Classical Up Close, and this year was no exception. We won’t announce dates until we have the venues confirmed, but expect a Springtime festival again. The number of concerts and blitzes will be about the same as last Spring, and the popular concerts for children will continue.
The next order of business is discussing which venues we want to approach. We aim for a mix of old and new as well as geographic distribution. Returning to a previous location helps build on neighborhood awareness created by the previous visit, and new places offer new opportunities. This approach fits with our twin goals of thanking old friends and making new ones for classical music. Speaking of new places, we would love your help with suggestions for venues in NE Portland, both for a full-length concert and for a blitz to create neighborhood buzz for it. Let us know via comments or email if you have any ideas, and thanks!
One agenda item was especially delightful. A wonderful couple, Jim and Linda Hamilton, approached us with a generous offer wrapped around a great idea: their offer to sponsor a concert in their neighborhood! In their own words:
“Enclosed is our check for $2,500 to support the wonderful work of Classical Up Close. We sincerely appreciate your efforts to provide exposure to classical music for people in Portland who would not otherwise have this opportunity.
The presence of a symphony orchestra and classical music station in Portland was a major factor in our decision to move here four years ago. Music is important to both of us and we support your efforts to make it available to a wider audience.”
Music to our ears! Thank you, Jim and Linda! The vote of confidence in our mission from people like the Hamiltons who understand the value of classical music to the community is a real inspiration to us. With this financial support from them and from many others, we are working to make Classical Up Close sustainable into the future.
Classical Up Close 2016 had its finale on Friday, May 6 at Maranatha Church. The evening began early with a prelude performance by some young string players from Bravo Youth Orchestra playing alongside Oregon Symphony musicians. There were viola duos, bassoon duos, and the delightful combination of oboe, horn and piano. A string quartet showed considerable stylistic range by playing Beethoven and Piazzola back to back. The entire bassoon section of the Oregon Symphony was on hand, because in addition to Principal Bassoon Carin Miller and Bassoon Adam Trussel playing duos by Mignone, Assistant Principal Bassoon and Contrabassoon Evan Kuhlmann was on hand to stage manage. (Evan may well have the longest title in the orchestra!) The bassoons really evoked some interesting questions from the audience!
This year's festival was thrilling for all of us who played, organized and volunteered. 47 Oregon Symphony musicians participated and 9 special friends joined us, along with behind the scenes help from 10 volunteers. Attendance was fantastic, with many of the venues being filled to capacity. There were approximately 1300 in attendance at the concerts and about 460 at the Blitzes. As in the past, we had a cadre of repeat audience members who followed us around the metro area with smiles on their faces. Our mission to thank the loyal supporters of the Oregon Symphony certainly was met, and our other dearly held goal to make new friends had some delightful successes. One young woman told us after a Blitz that she used to think the Symphony was something "fancy people" did, but now she realizes that" it's people sharing something they're excited about." So true!
One thing we particularly loved this year was how readily audience members took us up on our offer to sit on stage. At Maranatha, a young boy sitting on stage was clearly paying close attention and asked the bassoonists about how they used their air to make the sound. Others told us that they love the opportunity to see us as individuals in such close proximity, in contrast to their relatively distant seats in the Schnitz. (We're glad they took advantage of the opportunity. It's part of why we're doing this!) The questions continued to be really fun, spanning a wide range from quirky requests to a wish to know the basics all the way to some detailed queries that revealed deep knowledge on the part of the questioner.
If you came to a concert and didn't have a chance to fill out the questionnaire on the back of the program, we would be grateful of you took the time to do it here! We are looking forward to reading all the surveys and learning more about our audience and hearing what worked and what we can do better next time.
Here is a sample of the fun we had in pictures. For more, check out our Facebook page!
"This has been a GREAT night! Loved the casual, Q & A, 'learn more about us' tone of the evening I can't imagine anyone NOT loving classical music (and the Symphony musicians!) after experiencing this concert. THANK YOU!!"
"I felt connected with the music and musicians."
"It makes classical music more personal."
"I love learning about the instruments!"
"I thought that classical music was slow and repetitive, but this concert proved me wrong."
By now, with Classical Up Close 2016 less than two weeks away, you may have seen brochures popping up all over town. (At least, we hope so!) Perhaps you've checked out the events page with links to every program. Either way, you may be wondering about some of the pieces -- what they're like, where they come from, and why Oregon Symphony musicians chose them for Classical Up Close. We are always fascinated ourselves at the interesting programs that emerge from our process. There are so many factors we can't really control, and yet, somehow the combinations are unfailingly cool!
The first full-length concert, at Trinity Episcopal Church on April 26, has some especially unusual combinations of instruments. First up, you will get to hear the rare combination of trumpet, cello and piano. Principal Trumpet Jeff Work, Principal Cello Nancy Ives, and Cary Lewis will present Semordnilap Number 2 by Charles Knox. This work was commissioned by Cary and his cellist wife, Dorothy, so they would have a piece to play with different friends. (What a perfect fit for Classical Up Close!) This is the second version, rewritten for trumpet to join the piano and cello.
Jeff Work explains the unusual, dare I say, unique, title: "If you know what Semordnilap might mean, then you know what this piece is about! (Try spelling it backwards...) Knox filled the piece with musical palindromes, small and large. Effectively, he only composed half a work because in the middle of the second movement the piece turns around and returns, not for note, back to the beginning! It's a musical puzzle of sorts that you'll enjoy listening to, forwards or backwards."
The first half concludes with special guest China Forbes of Pink Martini, joined by seven Oregon Symphony musicians accompanying her arias with arrangements by Assistant Principal Bassoon Evan Kuhlman. Talk about multi-talented! Not only did he create these arrangements -- he is a very fine composer as well as arranger -- he is playing piano!
The second half will begin with the lushly romantic trio by Klughardt for oboe, viola and piano. Principal Oboe Marty Hebert, Asst. Principal Viola Charles Noble and Pianist and CLUC Friend Extraordinaire Cary Lewis are sure to do it justice! Here's a sample on YouTube.
The final selection of the evening will be the beautiful Mendelssohn Quintet, featuring Concertmaster Sarah Kwak. This ensemble includes two violas, which is only slightly out of the ordinary, but be assured: the music is extraordinary!
Up Close and