Happy Valentine's Day
Happy Valentine’s Day! We like to take any excuse to express our affection for you, our audience of friendly music lovers. Today we find ourselves a little less than two months away from the 2020 festival, and very soon we will be announcing the programming for this year’s concerts. But for now, we have a few bits of news to share with you.
Pop-Up PerformancesSince September, we've performed at several organizations as part of our Pop-Up Performance series: Central City Concern, The Muslim Educational Trust, and Rose Haven to name a few. These short concerts are designed especially for the underserved members of our community, and we only post information on the website for the Pop-Ups that are open to the public. So, if you don’t see something for a particular month, just know that we went somewhere to share the experience of live classical music with people who almost certainly would not otherwise have had that opportunity. It means a lot to us, and we know from your support that it does to you, too. The March 18th Pop-Up is open to the public and will be at the Historic Kenton Firehouse at noon. Click here for details.
Focus on the FestivalThis Spring marks our eighth festival — we start on Monday, April 13! The full festival is comprised of six casual full-length evening concerts (all at our new time of 7:00 pm), seven intimate Blitzes, four fun concerts created for kids, and one special event at a winery in Dallas, Oregon. The calendar with venue locations (and soon, programming) is posted on the Events page of our website. As always, these performances will feature Oregon Symphony musicians and their special guests, sharing repertoire with you from their personal favorites, up close, in comfortable settings in your neighborhoods — and always free of charge.
In past festivals, we’ve been delighted to feature special guest artists such as sopranos China Forbes (of Pink Martini) and Suzanne Nance (CEO of All Classical Portland.) This year, we are excited to announce that baritone Damien Geterwill be performing with us at our Gresham High School concert on April 17. He has recently finished a run of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. He is also a composer whose An African American Requiem will be premiered by the Oregon Symphony on May 23, 2020. Stay tuned to find out what he’ll be singing along with a string quartet of Oregon Symphony musicians!
You can get a sneak peek of our upcoming festival on April 9 when we perform for Thursdays @ 3 on media sponsor All Classical Portland. You may listen to it on the radio, by streaming live online or the ACP app, or join us at the station (reservations required). If you miss it, don’t fret, the program will be available in the Audio Archive at AllClassical.org for two weeks after the performance.
Video SpotlightOn our home page, you will see a video from Tualatin Valley Community Television featuring cellist Nancy Ives and violinist Sam Park talking about the origins of Classical Up Close and how it has evolved. We are excited about our collaboration with TVCT. It is not only a wonderful opportunity to spread the word about our mission to a broader community, but a chance to share a performance on free public access TV. A group of us recorded a video featuring Samuel Park in Vivaldi and LeClair: talk about bringing music to people where they live, work and play! Watch the video here.
As Nancy Ives mentions in the TVCT video, we know that people who care about this art form want other people to have access to it, and your support, both financially and through word of mouth, helps us provide that access. Thank you!
“Classical Up Close is like a big thank you note to the community, but it has turned out to be even more than that.” — Sam Park
It’s a wrap on our seventh season
Classical Up Close 2019 — our 7th year! — is a wrap, and we are delighted to note that we expanded our offerings and our geographic reach. This last year saw the introduction of our new Pop-Up Performances series aimed especially at underserved communities, and we ranged around the metro area more widely than ever before. Thanks to generous sponsors, we were able to share the music with an audience of Yamhill County residents. 150 people from the Carlton area streamed into Ken Wright Cellars and heard a program of Dvorak, Prokofiev and Schubert, seated next to huge stacks of barrels holding one of Oregon’s signature agricultural products!
Our Kids' concerts, created by Oregon Symphony musicians under the leadership of violinist Emily Cole, have been so well-received, we presented more of them in more places. The Spring Festival was a continuation of what has worked so well for the previous six years, with programming comprised of pieces chosen by Oregon Symphony musicians themselves and shared with passion. We saw many old friends and made some new ones, and as always, enjoyed your questions and your enthusiasm!
Things are already underway, with a thrilling and jam-packed Kids concert last Sunday!
We tend to focus on our six full-length concerts as the centerpieces of our annual Spring festival of free chamber music events, but there are more ways we’ve found to achieve our goal of making great music accessible to as many people as possible! One of the best ways to reach many ears for free is to perform live on the radio, and thanks to our Media Sponsor All Classical Portland — who make classical music available to all, year round and 24/7! — we will be doing just that on Thursday, April 18 at 3:00. You may still be able to join us in the studio by going to the All Classical Thursdays at Three reservation page, or you can tune in on your radio at 89.9 or stream live at AllClassical.org. The performance will also be available for your listening pleasure in the archive for two weeks. Another way this is a great preview of our programs is that our MC for all six evening concerts, Christa Wessel, is the host of Thursdays@3, so you’ll get a sample of her warm, inviting presence.
We are offering events during the entire symphony season now, with our Pop-Up concerts, but it all begins with a brief and intense festival of Blitzes and concerts in which we circumnavigate the Metro area in less than two weeks. What we’ve come to think of as the Spring Festival begins in earnest on April 20, in a way that is emblematic of how our festival works. At 10 am, we have a Blitz at Mt. Scott Park Community Center and at noon, a pair of basses and a pair of violins (including Concertmaster Sarah Kwak!) will perform in the Pearl Room on the third floor of Powell’s City of Books. These two partnerships illustrate something about how we do what we do, by finding community partners, whether non-profits or civic-minded businesses, to bring live performances of great music by top-notch musicians to our community, where you live, work and play.
We’re getting close!
Spring is in the air and the 2019 Classical Up Close festival of free musical events is almost here! Just as classical music is ever renewing itself with fresh ideas and inspiration, so are we. Last September, we launched a new monthly series of Pop-Up Performances in locations that worked with underserved communities in our city. And now we’re excitedly planning a concert in wine country this May. For our seventh season, we have a fresh look for the website and our merchandise, with a new logo and a fun pop of color. We see our original t-shirts all over town, and now they’re on their way to becoming collector’s items. You can see the new styles above.
We have kept the features that have made our series so successful in fulfilling our mission to make great music accessible, you can count on that! The Kids’ Concerts — created by our musicians (led by Emily Cole) to be both kid-friendly and fun for the grown-ups — are an important part of the festival. This year, they’ll take place at the Multnomah County Central Library (April 7) and the Tigard Public Library (May 5). See the Events page for details! All Classical Portland is our media sponsor once again, and their CEO Suzanne Nance will be wearing her other hat as an extraordinary soprano in a guest appearance on the April 23 concert at St. Mary’s Cathedral in NW Portland. This is a rare opportunity to enjoy her gorgeous singing! Also, we’re happy to announce that All Classical host Christa Wessel will emcee every full-length concert this year. We couldn’t be more pleased to have her warm, welcoming presence with us!
We often hear from audience members (please keep filling out those surveys; we love reading them!) that hearing Oregon Symphony musicians performing musical works of their own choice is one of the best parts of Classical Up Close. You’ve told us that you can feel the passion and excitement when a musician is sharing a personal favorite with you in our friendly format. Once again this year, we have an exciting array of composers in addition to well-known favorites: living composers, including Andy Akiho and Pulitzer Prize winner Carolyn Shaw; women including unjustly neglected African-American composer Florence Price; and composers from South America and China. Groups will vary from duos to octets, and as always, we’ll invite you to sit as close to the musicians as possible, take pictures and post to social media if you feel like it, and we’ll make sure to answer your questions.
We continue to have a broad base of financial support from businesses, foundations, organizations and individuals who contribute money and in-kind donations — you can see many of them in the footer of our website. With their help (and yours) we look forward to ensuring that every single one of our events is FREE!
New Year News & a New Look
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 look forward, with gratitude
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!
Happy New Year!
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.
Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving
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!
Up Close and