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April 16th, 2008 BRETT CAMPBELL | Theater
 

Too Cool For Words

NYC’s Wordless Music Series comes to Portland.

     
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STRINGS AND THINGS: Stars of the Lid at Holocene.

Despite corporate music’s attempts to squish creativity into tidy, discrete pigeonholes, the more out-there manifestations of alt rock, free jazz, post-classical avant garde and electronica share overlapping audiences who care more about adventure than category.

That’s the philosophy behind Wordless Music, a not-for-profit concert series in New York City that since 2006 has transgressed genre boundaries by bringing rock, electronic and so-called classical musicians to intimate chamber music spaces. With acts from John Adams to Wilco’s Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche to the American premiere of Radioheadman Jonny Greenwood’s “Popcorn Superhet Receiver,” the series has forged a strong, young audience, selling out 400- to 800-seat venues. Now the series is branching out to other cities, starting with Minneapolis and Portland.

Of course, New York isn’t the only source of this exploration-trumps-genre attitude. San Francisco’s Classical Revolution, for example, takes classical and postclassical music into bars and clubs. One of its members, violist Mattie Kaiser, moved to Portland last year and started Classical Revolution PDX, which now counts more than 30 local members and will perform Shostakovich’s gripping String Quartet No. 8 and Arvo Pärt’s mesmerizing “Spiegel im Spiegel” at the first Portland Wordless Music show at Holocene on Thursday. The concert also stars the inventive Bay Area composer-guitarist-electronic musician-video artist Christopher Willits, and Austin ensemble Stars of the Lid, whose somber, murmuring ambient soundscapes will be accompanied by a string trio and layered 16 mm films by Luke Savisky.

Wordless Music continues the next evening at The Old Church with two ambitious local faves: Eno-influenced ambient wizard Eluvium and always-intrepid new music ensemble Third Angle, who’ll play string quartets by Chinese-American composer Chen Yi (her 1986 “Sprout,” and “Burning,” a response to the Sept. 11 attacks) and by the dean of Portland composers, Tomás Svoboda (a new quartet that reacts to the unprovoked American war on Iraq).


SEE IT: Stars of the Lid, Classical Revolution PDX, Christopher Willits: Holocene, 1001 SE Morrison St., 239-7639. 9 pm Thursday, April 17. $12-$14. Eluvium, Third Angle New Music Ensemble: The Old Church, 1422 SW 11th Ave., 222-2031. 8 pm Friday, April 18. $12-$14
 
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