So long, Portland & Chamber Music Northwest

 28 rehearsals, 11 concerts, 4 dancers, 2 educational outreach events, 2 world premieres, 1 photo shoot, and 1 day-long video shoot. I think it’s safe to say we accomplished a lot during our residency as the Protégé Project ensemble at Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, OR these past two weeks. 

Today we flew back home, Tim got his wisdom teeth removed (ouch), and we will reconvene again in September for more fabulous music-making. 

Our adventures began when we arrived in Portland on Saturday, July 11th. We immediately searched the city for a hearty breakfast joint and settled in for some local eats at Fat Albert’s. We inhaled delicious local coffee and saw bikers, lots of greenery, and many dogs. 

We immediately got to work the following day rehearsing the challenging and rewarding music we would be performing and in some cases premiering throughout the festival. This included David Schiff’s new Nonet No. 2 for us and the Dover Quartet and our new commission of John Steinmetz’s Sorrow and Celebration for reed quintet and audience. We even began polishing our memorization on Robbie McCarthy’s Four-Letter-Word, as we would be performing it with choreography and dancers from the BodyVox Dance Company

Our first concert took place at Alberta Rose Theater on Wednesday, July 15th. We did a short set of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Suite la Triomphante to open for a fabulous evening which culminated with David Shifrin’s memorable performance of Messaien’s Quartet for the End of Time with three other protégé artists. 

We were lucky to have the opportunity to reach young musicians at two outreach events while in Portland. These youngsters were at clarinet and band camps during the height of summer, showing real dedication. We were impressed by the keen attention they paid us as well as their thoughtful questions. They even came to see us perform at the festival throughout the week! 

One of our first stops in Portland was a fun and funky outdoor photo shoot at the urban Keller Fountain Park (thankfully without running water) with local Portland actor and photographer Gary Norman (you may have seen his appearances on locally filmed TV show, “Grimm”). We haven’t had new individual head shots in seven years, so hopefully these look a bit more up to date. 

During our second week, we were fortunate to collaborate with two of the United States’ most accomplished artists, the Dover Quartet, based in Philadelphia, and BodyVox Dance Company based here in Portland. Alongside the Dover strings, we assembled David Schiff’s second nonet, his first work for reed quintet and string quartet, in just a few rehearsals. The piece was challenging & dynamic and was a huge hit with CMNW’s audiences. With BodyVox Dance, we truly got to see our music come to life (video coming soon!) BodyVox didn’t merely design 9 minutes of matching coreography; they created a story out of our music and assigned us each different characters to embody. They pushed us about the stage, encircled us, and battled the quintet throughout the piece. Finally, let’s not count out Sam Slater and Jonathan Dick, local Portland filmmakers who stopped by to film a promotional video for us!

In Portland we encountered polite drivers, a lot of bridges, and great food (they weren’t joking about food trucks).  

Don’t forget to check out our Facebook page for more stories, our Flickr page for more photos, and stay tuned for video and audio from our many performances!

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