Bob Keefer on art and music around Eugene, Oregon

Author: Bob Keefer (Page 1 of 8)

Eugene Art Talk: Looking back and looking ahead

Your editor at Eugene Art Talk world headquarters , near the Lane County Jail

Your editor at Eugene Art Talk world headquarters, near the Lane County Jail

When I kicked off Eugene Art Talk last year, I told myself two things:

First, I’d give it a year, no matter what. Second, I’d re-evaluate what I was doing at the end of six months.

That half year is just about up, and so I’ve taken the opportunity in the past few days to go back and look at what I’ve accomplished so far in my first serious effort at online arts writing.

First, the basics. I’ve written 75 articles – oh, wait, they’re called “posts” now, aren’t they? – since opening the doors at Eugene Art Talk on July 31, 2014, with a piece called “What Was I Thinking, Anyway?” That averages out to nearly three articles a week – oddly enough, just slightly more than I used to write for a certain daily newspaper in town.

Those pieces have ranged from some fairly complete stories, such as a visit to Playa, the arts colony in eastern Oregon, or what it’s like to be in the orchestra pit at the Hult Center during a rehearsal, to brief newsy pieces such as this odd bit of information I discovered the other day in a new report from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Along the way I’ve broken some stories, beating the rest of the state’s news media and watching with some satisfaction as they followed along behind. If you’re an Art Talk reader, you found out here first about the University of Oregon’s bizarre decision to cancel a long-running figure drawing class, and about the sudden, unannounced and still badly explained departure of the executive director of the Oregon Bach Festival.

I’ve also been writing more reviews, both of local theater and classical music performances, neither of which I did in my newspaper days, as well as visual art reviews, which I’ve written for years. A bit to my surprise, this has become the backbone of the site – no one else in town is going to events and writing about them – usually the same evening – with any regularity. Want to know what you missed at the symphony last night? This is the place to find out.

Finally, I’ve been able, on several occasions, to feature work by a former colleague from that local daily newspaper, Serena Markstrom Nugent. Her stories on former Coburg singer Taylor John Williams’ appearances on “The Voice” pretty much blew my web analytics out of the water, with thousands of page views arriving from around the world. I hope to draft Serena to write more often in 2015.

Which brings up a question I’m sometimes asked: How many readers does Eugene Art Talk have, exactly? The answer, of course, is, it depends. Right now I’m cooking along with somewhere from a hundred to a few hundred visitors each time I post a new story. That’s pretty good, in my book, and better than I used to have at a certain daily newspaper.

My vision for the site is changing. Originally I envisioned something much more like a weekly newsletter or magazine, with a prominent weekly featured story and maybe occasional other posts. I also thought I would lock up most of the site behind a subscription wall.

As Eugene Art Talk has evolved, though, and as I’ve begun writing more quick-turnaround reviews of performances, I’m seeing it more as an ongoing blog and less as a weekly publication. And I’ve certainly been enjoying the freedom that a blog format offers.

I’m also less inclined to lock up stories. Originally I intended most of Eugene Art Talk to eventually lurk behind a pay wall. To my delight, a lot of you readers have subscribed anyway. I will continue to lock up breaking news stories (such as the departure of John Evans from OBF) and perhaps the occasional big feature, and trust that readers will continue to subscribe in much the same way as they might support public radio. I’m not making a fortune, believe me.

I see a few changes in the near future.

First, I will most likely abandon the magazine format of the site. I’m strongly considering changing back to a conventional blog format, with stories appearing in a single vertical column in reverse chronological order. If I do that, I’ll also try to post more often – at least four times a week. Some of those posts will be briefs, and some will contain only photos, as I love photographing the arts world and its people.

The format change will also allow me solve a vexing problem with the site, and that is its current lack of readability on phones and other mobile devices The WordPress theme I’m using – Expound – was supposed to be a responsive design, meaning it would scale itself properly to small screens. It doesn’t, but I was too close to going live when I discovered this annoying fact to change it.

One thing that won’t be changing is that I want to hear from readers. Like something, hate something, have an idea or a new tip? Posy a comment on the site, email me at eugenearttalk /at/, or call me at 541-357-9262.

And thanks very much for reading!

Oregon leads America in art museum, gallery attendance

Eugene's White Lotus Gallery

Eugene’s White Lotus Gallery

Oregon leads the nation in the percentage of its population who visit art museums and galleries.

That’s a tidbit of information buried in a massive new report that came out Monday from the National Endowment for the Arts. The information comes from the most recent Survey of Public Participation in the Arts, taken in 2012 by the US Census Bureau for the NEA.

It shows that 36.5 percent of Oregonians went to an art museum or gallery in 2012. That compares to roughly 28 percent in Minnesota, Maryland, and California, the runners-up. (It’s also close to the level of participation, 37 percent, measured in the San Francisco metro area for the same period.)

At the bottom of the barrel were Alabama and Georgia, with 8 percent.

Oregon is also near the top in the percentage of people who attend visual arts festivals or craft fairs, at 34 percent. (Colorado won that category, with 37 percent.)

More than a quarter of Oregonians – more than twice the national average of 12 percent – report taking photographs as an artistic activity. (All those selfies, no doubt.)

All in all, the numbers show that Oregonians are very attuned to the visual arts.

Attendance at arts events of all kinds, not surprisingly, is linked to childhood exposure to the arts, the report concludes. “The pattern evident in state-level attendance at arts events … is likely related to access to the arts in childhood, as well as factors such as education and socio-economic conditions,” it says.

What the NEA report doesn’t address is this: If we’re tops in the nation for attendance at art museums and galleries, why are all our art galleries constantly struggling to stay alive?

‘A Bright New Boise’ shines at Oregon Contemporary Theatre


Russell Dyball as Will and Steven Coatsworth as Leroy in “A Bright New Boise”

It’s one of the cliches of our time to say that certain works of art are transcendent. But no other word comes close to describing the production of “A Bright New Boise” that opened tonight at Oregon Contemporary Theatre in Eugene.

First the basics. Samuel D. Hunter’s 2010 play is a well told story wrapped around five captivating characters who haunt the employee break room at a Hobby Lobby store in Boise. It’s there that Will — played with perfect affection by Russell Dyball, who leads a splendid cast — has just, as the lights come up, arrived to apply for a job.

Hunter’s deft storytelling and quick wit pull us easily into a slightly dysfunctional but overall loving workplace “family,” with Pauline (Ruth Madsagar), the foul-mouthed and harried boss at its head, and with employees Alex, Anna and Leroy as its quarreling but loyal children.

From the moment Will is hired, despite a hole in his resume, for the minimum-wage, 38-hour-a-week “part time” job, it’s clear he is in Boise, and at this particular store, on a personal mission, a quest that starts with an effort to reconnect with a long-lost son and ends in a moment of stunning — yes — transcendence in the store parking lot.

A deeply religious man with an intense but flawed faith, Will grapples along the way with pedestrian manifestations of love and sin and repentance that seem, at every turn, more humble and less important than final salvation he seeks — and it’s ultimately his tragedy that he can’t find his real salvation in those humble, craft-store details.

Director Tara Wibrew lets the playwright (who won, by the way, a MacArthur “genius” grant last year) and excellent cast tell the story easily and quickly, without gimmicks. Zach Twardowski is energetic as the long-lost son, Alex; Kari Welch is sweet as Anna, whose real-life attraction to Will can’t measure up to his unfortunate ideals; and Steven Coatsworth is wonderful in the role of Leroy, the would-be contemporary artist who alone understands and takes care of Alex.

All this is played out on a simple, beautiful set by Amy Dunn.

The play will stick with you, all the way from the fast-moving performance to the script’s sharp reflections on the dull brain torture that is corporate retail America.

“A Bright New Boise” runs through Jan. 31. Do go see it.

A potent, ravishing ‘Elixir’ from Eugene Opera


When people think of opera – especially people who don’t much go to the opera – they imagine one of two things: Either a stout lady in a horned helmet belting it out in German, or a luscious soprano singing luscious Italian melodies about painfully luscious love and heartbreak.

Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love,” which Eugene Opera presented as its season opener at the Hult Center on New Year’s Eve and will perform once more on Sunday afternoon, is a frothy version of one of the latter: Sweetly Italian romantic comedy with music and harmony to thrill the heart.

To cut to the chase, this is an opera you want to go see – especially if you’re an opera beginner. “Elixir” is a delicious rom-com, offering a simple, straightforward story line that’s easy to follow. Yes, of course, it’s all in Italian, but there are English supertitles projected above the action to help you keep up.

The Eugene Opera production is skillful and moving throughout, with charming singers, all of whom have crack credentials (including stints at the Metropolitcan Opera for Marco Nistico, who sings the happily sleazy Dr. Dulcamara) and smooth voices.

The story, as often distilled by EO’s general director Mark Beudert, is this: “Class nerd beats out quarterback to win hand of prom queen with help from the Wizard of Oz.”

The class nerd, in this analysis, is the shy, awkward Nemorino – the name practically translates to “a little nobody” – who is sung gently here by Chad Johnson. Nemorino is wild about the rich, vivacious and fickle Adina, but can’t seem to make romantic headway compared to the swaggeringly handsome sergeant Belcore (Harry Baechtel).

Into this triangle arrives Dr. Dulcamara – by hot-air balloon, no less – who is peddling all manner of quack remedies guaranteed to take effect tomorrow, or when he’s already left town. Nemorino spends his last money on a bottle of magic elixir, guaranteed to bring about romance, and which is, of course, nothing but cheap wine.

Dulcamara is the catalyst of this story. His character will pop up more than a century later on Broadway in the form of Harold Hill from “The Music Man.” Both are charming shysters who prey on people’s deepest hopes and fancies, selling dreams to the desperate. Nistico does a commanding job with this entrancing role.

Donizetti’s music is rich and perfect, ranging from lyrical and moody to a fast-paced comic rhythm that almost feels like Gilbert & Sullivan.

Andrew Bisantz is back as music director and conductor; Patrick Hansen is stage director and choreographer. The show is done in traditional costume and on a traditional set, which you’ve probably seen before if you’re a Eugene Opera regular.

The best surprise of the evening came not during the music but from Beudert’s curtain speech before the show. The opera, which has more than once been on financial life support and has done just two productions a year recently, is adding two smaller shows to its calendar next season.

So in 2015-16, the opera plans to perform “Eugene Onegin,” with Anton Belov as Onegin, and “Lucia di Lammermoor,” with Leah Partridge (Violetta in EO’s “La Traviata”) as Lucia, on the big Silva Concert Hall stage. But it is also hoping to bring two smaller productions – Benjamin Britten’s “Turn of the Screw” and Mark Adamo’s “Little Women” – to the Soreng Theater next door. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the company is looking ahead to its second production of the current season. The opera will perform Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” on March 13 and 15.

The Elixir of Love

Eugene Opera

Hult Center Silva Concert Hall
2:30 p.m. Sunday, January 4



The best and worst of the Eugene arts world in 2014

The end of the year is a traditional time for looking back, both to see where we’ve been and to sort out what happened when we were there. Here’s my own personal list of what I liked best – and least – in the local arts world in 2014. It’s heavily skewed toward the second half of the year, as I didn’t begin writing Eugene Art Talk until August.

Stephen Beus performing with the Oregon Mozart Players. Beus, a young pianist from Othello, Wash., came to town in the fall to play a concert with OMP at Beall Hall but also offered a recital, held at the Eugene Piano Academy downtown. Both were exquisite – Beus, who made his musical mark early by winning competitions, is definitely a musician to keep an eye (and an ear) on.

Visiting the Arlington Club in Portland. Most of you have probably never heard of the Arlington Club. I hadn’t either, until my son got invited to speak there and I tagged along. What made this an artistic experience was the fact that throughout the early 20th century four-story brick building – the Arlington is an old-fashioned gentleman’s club, which, like many, has only quite recently opened membership to ladies as well – you find real, original Northwest art. Paintings by artists like James Lavadour and Rick Bartow. There was even an original Carl Morris over the bed in our suite. (I don’t know this for a fact, but I suspect the art comes from the collections of Jordan and Arlene Schnitzer, who are said to be members.) Being a rich gentleman wouldn’t be such a bad gig.

President Johnson (Jack Willis) dictates a letter to the parents of a soldier lost in the fighting in Vietnam. Photo by Jenny Graham.

President Johnson (Jack Willis) in OSF’s ‘The Great Society.’  Photo by Jenny Graham.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “The Great Society.” This would be Act II of “All the Way,” which went on from its opening in Ashland two years ago to win the Tony Award for Best Play in a Broadway production also directed by OSF’s artistic director Bill Rauch. Since taking over in Ashland, Rauch has pushed OSF into the big time in a big way. Regional theater in the U.S., he once said to a question I posed, has become our national theater in the United States. He’s right.

Ben Lerner’s 10:04. OK, Lerner isn’t local, but you can buy his stunningly beautiful novel here in Eugene, so I guess it counts. I read 10:04 for the first time this summer as I was headed to New York City for a visit. I turned right around and read it again – it’s that good, and requires that much attention that a second read is deeply satisfying. Unlike most writing I enjoy, it’s not big on plot. It’s just really, really good writing, absolutely contemporary, and sucks you into its narrator’s world and mind with no apparent effort. On a Lerner jag, I also read his (2011) Leaving the Atocha Station – also twice. I may cram in one more reading of each before the winter is out. Order it here: 10:04: A Novel.

Irene Hardwicke Olivieri‘s paintings at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. Olivieri, who lives and works outside Bend, is a fantastic, imaginative painter of the natural and personal worlds. She also graced Eugene with one of the Lane Arts Council’s new First Friday Art Talks this past fall, mesmerizing an audience at Oveissi & Co.

John Evans

John Evans

And, now, the worst: Why did John Evans suddenly leave the Oregon Bach Festival? I was a newspaperman too long to believe in conspiracies when simple incompetence will suffice as an explanation for bad behavior, but Evans’ sudden and veiled departure as managing director of the prestigious festival was just plain weird. Even the UO would have to work hard to screw up the process this badly, unless there was something else going on. But I still have no clear idea what that something else really was.

Happy New Year!

A sketchy show at Eugene’s Watershed Gallery


Sketching, both as an activity and as an art form, is a perfect medium for our time. It’s informal, claims very little artistic pretension, and just about anyone can do it. It’s a great democratizer of art – no MFA required.

Retired University of Oregon art professor Ken O’Connell has made practically a second career of teaching sketching to students, many of whom accompany him on trips to Italy. And a new show at Eugene’s Gallery at the Watershed features work by him and his followers.

Vallo di Nera, Italy | Tricia Clark-McDowell

Vallo di Nera, Italy | Tricia Clark-McDowell

There is something just flat inviting about these sketches, whether they come from accomplished hands like O’Connell’s (or some other professional artists with work in the show, such as Satoko) or from people who signed up for the class, perhaps on a whim, and found they were able to knock out a few interesting pages of visual travelogue.

One important ancestor to today’s personal sketchbook is old scientific notebooks, dating perhaps back to Leonardo and complete with technical observations written onto the page. Some of the works that Watershed owner Amy Isler Gibson has framed and hung here – there are 67 in all – are reminiscent of 19th century travel journals by explorers seeing places like Antarctica for the first time.

Tricia Clark-McDowell’s sketches from Italy are in this vein – with observations like “Pink petunias spilling out of a flowerbox beneath a window that perfectly reflects the sky. How sweet is that?”

But there is also an element of whimsy and performance here. O’Connell, of course, takes a fairly sophisticated approach in images like his picture of the onion truck, above; and some of Satoko’s sketches are simply her watercolors, done perhaps smaller and more realistically than her usual gallery fare.

And some are just great, small art works. Micahel Maszk has three small pencil/colored pencil drawings of birds – a woodpecker, a meadowlark and a lazuli bunting – that seem to be finished works that might have been inspired by field sketches (though perhaps Maszk, whose images I haven’t previously encountered, is just one of those artists who produces highly finished work on the spot).

Another artist whose work is new to me is Alessandria Pignatelli. She has three panoramas that are pulled from a small Moleskine sketchbook, perhaps the Cadillac of sketchbooks. Moleskine books are utterly warm and tactile, almost to the point of annoyance, so this makes these pictures even more appealing.

The show is up until Jan. 17. O’Connell will give a free gallery talk from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 8.

Works are for sale, with varying prices. Caveat emptor: Most of the exhibited works are not original drawings, but inkjet prints. This, curiously, is not reflected in the wall tags, which list the medium of the original drawings only. If this distinction is important to you, and it would be to me, ask before buying.

World Sketches

The Gallery at the Watershed
312 Mill Street., No. 6
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday; closed Christmas and New Year’s days.

Through January 17




Go Baroque this weekend with the Oregon Mozart Players

The Oregon Mozart Players, Eugene’s intimate classical orchestra, went all Baroque Friday night with their annual holiday concert at First Christian Church downtown — and in the process presented a Bach warhorse as I’ve never before heard it played.

First, the concert itself. OMP presents its “Candlelight Baroque” concert each year at First Christian, rather than Beall Hall or the Hult Center, because of the wonderful Christmassy atmosphere you get when you light a traditional church interior with scores of actual candles. This might amount to a fire marshal’s nightmare, but it’s lovely to behold. Best of all, it’s a Christmas-time concert, in a Christmas-like setting, without a single note of actual Christmas music.

Friday’s program — and, yes, the concert will be repeated Saturday night — consisted of two pieces by J.S. Bach — his Orchestral Suite No. 1, which opened the program, and the second Brandenburg Concerto, which closed it — along with C.P.E. Bach’s Symphony No. 2 and Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos.

The music was great. Soloists for all four pieces were drawn from the OMP ranks, and I was pretty much entranced listening to cellists Ann Grabe and Dale Bradley trade off musical lines in the cellos-only largo movement of the Vivaldi. (The movement also included a fair amount of action from OMP cellist Heather Blackburn, playing on her own as the orchestral accompaniment. Vivaldi should have called this “Concerto for Two and a Half Cellos.”)

But the piece that made me sit up straight tonight was the closing Brandenburg. Without beating this into the ground, it turns out Bach wrote this piece for four soloists, including a valveless trumpet called a clarino, something like a miniature French horn. Clarinos don’t hardly exist any more, or few people play them, so the whole thing gets awkwardly shifted to a modern trumpet.

But OMP trumpeter Dave Bender performed it on his piccolo trumpet, which shimmered and twinkled and shone like I’ve never before heard. (By weird coincidence, as I was driving home after the OMP concert I happened to catch a recording of the second Brandenburg performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony on KWAX, perfectly illustrating the different trumpet sound.)

The OMP musicians, conducted by Kelly Kuo, perform the program again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Go enjoy a Christmas concert without Jingle Bells.

Candlelight Baroque

Oregon Mozart Players
First Christian Church, 1166 Oak Street
7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 20






A last-minute musical stocking-stuffer: New Millennium Music for Horn


While hanging out with Orchestra Next the other night at the Hult Center, I was reminded that I’ve been meaning to do a quick review of a new CD from horn player Lydia Van Dreel — who, not coincidentally, performs with ON.

A new solo album from Van Dreel, a music professor at the University of Oregon, “New Millennium Music for Horn” is an hour-long collection of eight pieces for horn, written — yes — since the turn of the century/millennium 15 years ago. It features work by a number of current or former UO musicians.

As you might have guessed, this isn’t exactly your father’s brass band music. We’re not talking Sousa here. Some tracks — like Brian McWhorter’s “Build,” which concludes the album, may sound to more than a few listeners like a horn player tuning up, though it’s a good deal more fun than that.

My own favorite is Thomas Hundemer’s “Gently Weep,” which actually does allude, lightly, to the Beatles tune.

You can get New Millennium Music for Horn on Amazon, either as an MP3 or a physical CD (And where you can also hear sample), as well as at CDBaby and other music outlets.




A night in the pit with Orchestra Next and Eugene Ballet’s ‘Nutcracker’


The first thing I encountered as I entered the orchestra pit at the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall last night was a music stand with a sign-in sheet and two bags of bright-orange disposable ear plugs. They looked just like Cheetohs, and I stuck a pair in my pocket, just in case.

I was at the Hult to hear Orchestra Next in its first rehearsal for this year’s “Nutcracker,” which will be performed on the Silva stage this weekend by Eugene Ballet.

Now in its third season, Orchestra Next – a training orchestra that allows student musicians to play alongside professionals – started off by providing live music for the ballet’s traditional holiday show, which had been done in some previous years to taped music.

BKPIX-4894This season, the orchestra also provided music for the ballet’s fall production of “Cinderella”; it has previously performed with Cirque Musica at Matthew Knight Arena.

The orchestra was founded by trumpeter Brian McWhorter, a high-energy musical madman who conducts the musicians, and by trumpeter Sarah Viens, who handles administration.

McWhorter kept, and used now and then for emphasis, a slapstick by his side on the podium at Wednesday’s rehearsal.

“Play like you know there is some kid out there in the audience hearing ‘Nutcracker’ for the first time!” he exhorted the 52 musicians, about a quarter of them professionals who play with groups such as Eugene Symphony or the Oregon Mozart Players.

I had arranged to hang out at the rehearsal in part because I wanted to know more about Orchestra Next, but also because I had never before been in an orchestra pit while musicians were playing.

BKPIX-5009That’s an experience worth going out of your way to have, as it turns out. The music is not just full-bodied, it’s like rock and roll volume (yes, those earplugs, though I forgot to put them in). As I wandered through the orchestra photographing the players and watching them in action, the music came at me from all sides. The woodwinds were definitely here and the violins were absolutely over there, a surround-sound effect you miss entirely from the audience.

The pit itself is dark and industrial, with lots of electrical fixtures, and walls and floor painted in well scuffed dark hues. The stage floor reaches out like an overhead shelf, making a low ceiling above half the orchestra’s heads, and, with no dancers performing during this rehearsal, a rope was stretched across the stage front with a couple red, white and black industrial signs, the kind that often say “high voltage,” warning: “Open pit.”

(When I went up to watch from above, I noticed the rope was just about high enough off the floor to trip on.)

BKPIX-4940Rehearsals offer an interesting mix of casual atmosphere and honest hard work. At one point, as the rest of the orchestra played feverishly, the keyboardist was reading a book (pianist Leon Fleisher and critic Anne Midgette’s “My Nine Lives,” as it turned out); one of the two harpists was knitting; a bass player was checking his phone; and percussionist Crystal Chu was quietly tapping out rhythm on her stomach.

A doctoral student in music at the University of Oregon, Chu, who is from Hong Kong, was playing for the second year with the orchestra, which meant she occasionally reached, as the score required, for a triangle to ding or a tambourine to shake to add a bit of rhythmic color to Tchaikovsky’s lush melodies.

Next to her, Adam Dunson, a master’s student from Las Vegas, awaited his moment to pop a wooden box with a mallet. “Nailed it!” he said, having done his part on cue. “I enjoy playing here a lot. It’s fun to be able to play with professional musicians as well as my contemporaries.”

McWhorter kept up a zany pace, delivering direction and criticisms in a stream of sometimes-profane consciousness. “It’s a Christmas ornament,” he said of one stretch of music. “It’s a fucking Christmas ornament on a fucking Christmas tree.” The musicians laughed, and poured more Christmas into their music.

BKPIX-4785Or, again: “Look: In this section I don’t care what notes the strings play for those 16th notes. But it’s a storm. I want it to be wild! I want your violin strings to pop and hit you in the eyeballs.”

Then he turned his attention to the violinists in the back ranks. “I want to have someone do that in the back like they’re vying to get up front. Got that?”

During a 20-minute break in the middle of the three-hour rehearsal, McWhorter laughed about his over-the-top persona. “I used to think I had to tone things down,” he said. “Now I’m more myself, and it works.”

McWhorter enjoys the raw energy he gets from working with students, who he says are more likely to reflect his own enthusiasm for any given musical approach than jaded pros might be.

But Michelle Stuart, a sometime-professional horn player from California who is a fellow, or student member, of Orchestra Next, likes the high-energy approach. “I have worked under a lot of conductors,” she said. “The first time I saw Brian I was blown away. He is so genuine and authentic!”

BKPIX-4863“The Nutcracker” has become a holiday favorite for ballet companies across the country because, among other more-artistic reasons, it features a lot of roles for small children who are just learning to do ballet.

Multiply all those baby mice and party girls by several parents, friends and relatives each, and that adds up to a lot of tickets sold to each production.

And McWhorter will be among this weekend’s proud parents, as he announced to the musicians at rehearsal. “At the beginning of this movement on Saturday night my daughter is going to be up there on stage for the first time,” he said. “And I’m going to lose my shit. She’s a mouse. So I won’t care what you guys are doing right then. I’ll be standing here taking pictures.”

The Nutcracker

Eugene Ballet does the Tchaikovsky Christmas favorite, with live music by Orchestra Next

7:30 p.m. Friday, December 19
2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 20
2 p.m. Sunday, December 21

Hult Center Silva Concert Hall


A couple happy news items for a Monday morning


Here are a couple upbeat arts items to start the week off:

Joe Zingo and Jim Roberts, the driving forces behind (and owners of) the delightful Actors Cabaret of Eugene, got married over the weekend, according to a much-commented on Facebook post.

It took them only 45 years to get to the altar!

Anyone who’s been to a show at ACE — or had a kid in a production there — knows how much Jim and Joe have meant to the Eugene theater community. So best wishes to both of them.

In other news, the two winners in the Oregon Mozart Players’ inaugural Young Soloists Competition, held Sunday evening at the University of Oregon School of Music and Dance, are 13-year-old Eugene violinist Claire Wells (Junior division) and 14-year-old Bend violinist John Fawcett (Senior division).

ClaireWells-224x300Claire is a violin phenom. When I met her four years ago — she was 9 — she and her father played a short piece for me at her Eugene home.

I wrote then in The Register-Guard: “The music flowed from the little violin like a voice from beyond. She literally leaned into the music as she played, her bare feet splayed in a wide, athletic stance on the carpet, her entire being focused on the commanding sound she was producing.”

They will be invited to perform at OMP’s regular season concert in Beall Concert Hall on Jan. 31.

Congratulations, all!


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