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Oregon ArtsWatch: "For this show alone MYS takes the gold”

By Matthew Neil Andrews. Full article here.


Of the three orchestras we’re discussing, MYS has the most exciting program this month. We’re obliged to tease them a little bit for playing Beethoven’s Seventh on their fall concert, but it actually doesn’t matter: kids should play Synecdoche van Beethoven, not just as part of their musical training but also as part of their upbringing as conscious human beings.

Most importantly, MYS nailed it. Beethoven’s Seventh has quite honestly never sounded so good to these ears. In fact, MYS nailed it so well I’m wondering if youth orchestras should be the only ones playing the chestnuts. What if it was actually difficult to go hear Beethoven performed live? What if you looked over the OSO’s season offerings and thought, “crap, nothing but new stuff, guess I’ll have to go listen to the youth symphony”? Even then, lucky you: the youth orchestra is going to crush that Beethoven symphony.

Anyways, the double zinger for that concert was the two Americans they played: Joan Tower and Matthew Kaminski. Not content to simply rip through one of those rib-rattling Tower Fanfares, they then welcomed Kaminski himself–a student of Fear No Music’s Young Composers Project and one of the brightest composers in town–to conduct his own orchestral Hidden Voices.

We’ve been keeping an ear on Kaminski for a couple years now, as he’s blazed his way through YCP and Cascadia Composers chamber music concerts with sensitive and well-crafted music that is as close to “normal” in the complimentary sense as I’ve ever heard. This is my first time hearing his orchestral voice, and Hidden Voices was more of this same lovely normalcy, from its quiet and reflective opening through its Shosty storminess and Mahlerian melancholy to its long fade-out ending. Kaminski also has one distinct advantage over many other contemporary composers: his willingness to compose a wistfully expressive melody and then unabashedly get it stuck in everybody’s head.

This weekend–Sunday afternoon at the Schnitz–it’s the MYS concert we’ve all been waiting for: “An Evening with Regina Carter.” Portland-based composer David Schiff composed his violin concerto Four Sisters specifically for Regina Carter,  a superstar violinist who has built her career crossing jazz and classical traditions, and although Schiff hasn’t exactly said that no other violinist is able to play the piece, he has spoken of Carter’s enthusiastic devotion to the work, praising her ability to never play it the same way twice. Carter will also perform a set of jazz classics and new work by students of the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble young composers program. MYS will also be premiering a new work by Grace Miedziak, a young composer based in Bend, Oregon.

Not that it’s a competition, but for this show alone MYS takes the gold.


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