Portland Chamber Orchestra plays two world premieres at Reed

See youngsters meet the composer of a new orchestral work, moments before it’s played at its world premiere ‚Ķ

Duncan Neilson, composer of “Heart of the Wild” takes a moment to talk with young music lovers, moments before his latest work is rehearsed for the evening world premiere concert.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
The Portland Chamber Orchestra typically performs in the Kaul Auditorium at Reed College. But their afternoon rehearsal and evening concert were special events on January 27.

“We have two world premieres tonight,” Rosalie Neilson, vice president of the orchestra told us. “This is a special day for us. Portland Chamber Orchestra plays the classics. But, we also are bringing arts together with a multimedia presentation.”

The free afternoon dress rehearsal was special for kids. Many of the dozens of kids who came were treated to snacks and face painting.

Before the rehearsal began, the composer of “Heart of the Wild” ‚Äì a work about to have its world premiere ‚Äì Duncan Neilson talked with the youngsters about his work.

“I’d been studying bear imagery in folklore around the world,” Neilson told them, “and found the bear is frequently associated with rejuvenation. The bear sleeps in the winter, and wakes up in the spring — much like springtime awakens plants and animals.”

Neilson’s orchestral piece was accompanied by visuals projected on a screen above the orchestra, and narration.

Maestro Vaacov Bergman, Portland Chamber Orchestra music director, leads the musicians at their free afternoon rehearsal.

The other world premiere was composer Forrest Pierce’s “Great River of the West”, another composition highlighting the importance of Nature.

The youngsters were also inspired by Andy Liang, a 15-year violin student. He’s the concertmaster of the Portland Youth Philharmonic. Liang was the featured soloist performing Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, opus 14.

We learned that this 38-member orchestra has been a part of Portland for 60 years. Their season will continue through the spring. For more information, see www.portlandchamberorchestra.org.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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