The Oregon Symphony Is Expanding Its Open Music Program

The third season of the concert and events series dedicated to contemporary music begins this October.

Gabriella Smith (Courtesy of Gabriella Smith)

Two years ago, Oregon Symphony creative chair Gabriel Kahane established Open Music, a program spotlighting the work of contemporary composers. Now, the series is expanding, starting with Stay On It, an evening exploring the past, present and future of minimalist music at the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts on Oct. 6.

“Expanding and organizing Oregon Symphony’s new music activities under a single heading, Open Music, sends a message to our community,” said Kahane in a press release. “Namely, that an orchestra’s vitality is inextricably linked to its commitment to living composers, whose work reflects—and helps us to better understand—the world we live in.”

With concerts and events at the Reser, the Alberta Rose Theatre and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, this 2023-24 season of Open Music promises to be a multilayered extravaganza, building to an evening of music and conversation with environmentalist composer Gabriella Smith on June 5, 2024. “I wanted to bring the joy of environmentalism to the music, not the despair,” Smith said.

Open Music’s events at the Reser include two concerts performed by members of the Oregon Symphony. Curated by Kahane, they will feature new music by composers and musicians, including Julius Eastman, Andy Akiho, Shelley Washington and Curtis Stewart.

As for Stay On It, the concert (which will feature Kahane on piano and vocals and conductor Deanna Tham) has been mysteriously billed as a combination of “minimalist figureheads with a quintet of dynamic new voices.” And no, minimalism nerds, that probably doesn’t mean a duet between Hildur Guðnadóttir and the ghost of Jóhann Jóhannsson.

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