Northwest Winter Music

Symphonic Scenes at 3 NW Concert Halls

by Nickolas Neely | Photo © Oregon Symphony

With the digital age, we rarely pine for music of a certain flavor. Nearly all forms of musical experiences exist at our fingertips. Except, of course, the experience of live music. This winter, why not treat yourself to a live performance and experience what no recording can offer?

Laugh Out Loud

Performing duo Aleksey Igudesman and Hyung-ki Joo make classical music accessible to a larger audience through humorous renditions of well-known pieces. Their first show, “A Little Musical Nightmare”—a title parody of Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”—feels much in the same strain as performances by Victor Borge. The show garnered over 28 million views online and aired in multiple countries. The performance included a seamless blend of Mozart’s Symphony no. 40, the James Bond theme, and a riverdancing violinist.

In fact, Igudesman and Joo set the world record for most dancing violinists on stage at once during a performance on New Years Eve of 2011. Throughout the years, Igudesman and Joo have performed with Joshua Bell, John Malkovich, Sir Roger Moore and many others.

On January 9th, Igudesman and Joo will perform with the Seattle Symphony in their new show “A BIG Musical Nightmare” at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall. This show incorporates many of the skits from “A Little Musical Nightmare,” which have been retooled to work with a full supporting orchestra.

For concert information, go to seattlesymphony.org. For information about visiting Seattle, go to visitseattle.org.

Ready for Rachmaninoff?

Sergei Rachmaninoff came to prominence in the beginning of the 20th century for his Russian nationalist pieces. His engaging and intricate works marked the last flourish of the Romantic Era.

Casual listeners find the compositions accessible, while veteran connoisseurs appreciate the mental exercises his pieces provoke. Rachmaninoff’s work remains notorious today for requiring both virtuosic skill and conspicuously large hands to play the massive chords found in his works.

It requires a rare musician to successfully play many of his signature pieces. Luckily, the Oregon Symphony will host former London Royal Academy of Music piano professor Arnaldo Cohen to play Rachmaninoff’s astonishing Piano Concerto No. 2.

The performance plays February 22 – 24 in Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. For concert information, consult orsymphony.org. For information about visiting Portland, go to travelportland.com.

East Meets West

Like the finches of the Galapagos Islands, musical composition and instruments evolved in radically different fashions between Asia and Europe. Western music values intonation and balance while using tone to represent feelings. In contrast, eastern music puts more weight on the narrative of the piece and utilizes extreme timbres to accentuate different emotions. In folk songs, eastern music relies far more on the five-note or pentatonic scale.

On February 9th, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra seeks to bridge the gap of the Pacific Ocean with their “Pacific Rim Celebration: Korea.” The concert includes pieces from both Korea and Europe, including Verdi and Busch. Both folk and classical music comprise the Korean pieces.

During this performance, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra enjoys the opportunity to play with famous American-Korean violinist Sarah Chang. Honored as one of the top eight achieving females by Newsweek, Sarah Chang toured with the New York Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic and many other orchestras.

For more information about Sarah Chang, visit her website at sarahchang.com. For concert information, consult vancouversymphony.ca. For information about visiting Vancouver, B.C., go to tourismvancouver.com.