Program areas at Oregon Symphony Association
The 21/22 season marked a joyful return to live performance, coinciding with a celebration of our landmark 125th anniversary. We are moving music forward with our investment in new music and emerging artists, while also experimenting with different concert formats and delivery methods for sharing music digitally. As the covid-19 pandemic continues to affect our operations, however, we face decreased government investment and an audience that remains concerned about public safety downtown. Despite this uncertainty, our board, patrons, and donors remain highly engaged in the organization and are investing in an exciting future for the arts in Oregon.
Investing in communitythe health, safety, and wellbeing of our community remained our top priority as we shared music with children and adults from all backgrounds. We were able in some cases to return to in-person work, while pivoting some education programs to digital formats. Our musicians remained flexible in the face of changing circumstances. Their commitment to our community goes beyond the Oregon Symphony, including coaching students, creating and performing with nonprofit ensembles, serving on college faculties, and organizing free performances throughout the region that bring joy, healing, and connection to countless people. (continuned on sch o)their presence in our community enables a rich ecosystem of artistic opportunities that share the power of music to educate, inspire, unite, and heal. As schools limited field trips, we adapted our signature youth programs for use in the classroom. We produced a digital version of our young people's concert, which we shared for free on our website in may and distributed in partnership with music workshop, a nonprofit that shares music education videos with teachers around the world. Called sinfnica!, these four 20-minute episodes are fully bilingual and take students on a journey across latin america and the caribbean. We also disseminated the videos directly to more than 50 school district partners throughout Oregon and sw Washington for use in classrooms. We provided carnegie hall's link up curriculum to 28 school partners throughout and beyond metro portland. Students in grades 3-5 learned to sing songs and play the recorder throughout the year, culminating in a pre-recorded version of the final concert which allowed them to play along with a full orchestra. Finally, a third season of Symphony storytime has finished production and new episodes in english and spanish are being released throughout august and september, just in time for teachers to incorporate them into their school year curricula for 22/23. Music is an essential part of a thriving community, and we were proud to offer three free, large-scale concerts throughout the year serving tens of thousands of people. Particularly during such politically fraught times, music creates space for people of all backgrounds to experience art together and begin to heal from the many challenges facing our community. The waterfront concert over labor day was our first full performance in 545 days, and a joyful return to the heart of downtown. In april, more than 700 of our community-based arts, education, and social service partners filled the concert hall during the 125th anniversary celebration concert, made possible by our gala patrons. And in may, we were proud to perform the rose city reunion concert as part of portland's iconic rose festival. As Oregon's largest and most visible music organization, we are committed to helping lead the cultural, social, spiritual, and economic life of our region. With the return of live performance in our concert hall, we were pleased to welcome back both prelude performances and orchestra rehearsal visits for students. These opportunities are an important way that young musicians can see performances with no financial barriers to entry. We also arranged for student groups to visit with world class artists like violinist joshua bell, and the jazz at lincoln center orchestra featuring wynton marsalis. In a typical year, roughly 1,000 students access these inspiring opportunities, many of whom would be otherwise unable to attend a Symphony concert. Combined with our arts for all $5 tickets for ebt cardholders, deeply discounted student tickets, and free radio broadcasts on all classical and american public media that reach more than 20 million listeners worldwide, we are removing barriers to allow all people to access great art. We undertook a fifth year of the lullaby project in partnership with portland homeless family solutions. Their covid protocols prevented our typical large group gathering for songwriting, so instead our singer-songwriters worked one-on-one with families living at phfs to write their pieces together. The lullaby project celebration concert, during which the families, singer-songwriters, and Oregon Symphony musicians will share the lullabies with the public, will take place in september at lents park near the phfs family village in east portland. Each family will receive a professional-quality recording of all the lullabies from the year, allowing them to listen to and sing them for years to come. In this way, the project is fulfilling its goals to strengthen family bonds and improve health outcomes for families experiencing homelessness.
Innovating artisticallythroughout 21/22, we navigated many covid-related production challenges to bring full seasons to the stage in portland and salem. Ongoing challenges included international travel restrictions, finding substitute musicians in response to positive covid tests, and repertoire changes that required additional licensing, sourcing of scores and parts, and approval of the conductors, artistic staff, and musicians union. Despite these behind-the-scenes challenges, the product onstage remained consistently excellent, and we were able to present more than 100 concerts with minimal cancelations, bringing life into the downtowns of Oregon's two largest cities. (continued on sch o)in his first full season as jean vollum music director, david danzmayr led the orchestra's triumphant return to the stage, fittingly beginning with mahler's "resurrection" Symphony and concluding with beethoven's "ode to joy." In between, our classical series featured an artist of color or a female artist on every program as composer, conductor, and/or featured soloist, a rare feat as both women and artists of color remain underrepresented in the field.we brought new works to life that enrich the orchestral canon, particularly in conjunction with the artists of our creative alliance. Artist-in-residence johannes moser premiered a cello concerto from composer robin holloway, and we premiered an orchestral arrangement of nathalie joachim's suite from fanm d'ayiti based on the music of her haitian heritage. Two co-commissioned pieces also came to life this spring: creative chair gabriel kahane debuted his piano concerto with his father, jeffrey kahane, as soloist, and our own jttik clark performed a new tuba concerto by the world-renowned wynton marsalis. Beyond our classical programs, our pops, popcorn, and specials series treated audiences to a wide diversity of genres including rock, indie, film scores, rap, r&b, afro-cuban jazz, and more. Artists from gladys knight to the mambo kings, leslie odom jr. to ben folds, and the jazz at lincoln center orchestra to the mexican folk-inspired music of beloved pixar film coco brought a rich tapestry of musical traditions to our stage. We also invested in Oregon artists, with featured solos from Symphony musicians sarah kwak (concertmaster), martin hebert (oboe), and michael roberts (percussion), alongside works from portland-based composers kenji bunch and andy akiho. In may, together with resonance ensemble, we gave the world premiere of an african american requiem, a 20-movement piece for orchestra, choir, and soloists, by portland composer damien geter. This work honors victims of racial violence through centuries, from past lynchings to present-day deaths by police violence. Geter's requiem integrates the traditional latin requiem text with contemporary texts, drawing upon the classical, jazz, and gospel traditions and incorporating lyrics from african american spirituals, civil rights activists, and poets. A group of african american community leaders, including board member chabre vickers, helped the Symphony to design opportunities for post-concert reflection in the concert hall. Local organizations also joined us in the lobby to share resources supporting the black community in portland. The requiem has already had deep impact both locally and nationwide. The piece was the capstone of a civil rights curriculum developed in partnership with resonance ensemble and portland public schools. Pps students learned about the history of racial violence in portland and throughout america, studied the requiem, attended the concert for free, and afterward discussed it and their responses in structured dialog. The premiere reached a national audience thanks to live radio broadcast on all classical portland and wqxr in new york. Many radio stations around the country re-aired our broadcast as part of their juneteenth celebrations, and the piece has already been performed by other orchestras, including at the kennedy center in Washington, d.c. we embraced new concert formats, innovating by aligning with the evolving tastes of a younger market, remaining culturally relevant, and reaching outside of downtown portland. Gabriel kahane curated two original performances at the new reser center for the arts. He also hosted our new open music series, which explored the creative processes of three composers on the season: kenji bunch, missy mazzoli, and nathalie joachim. These concerts featured chamber ensembles that allowed us to deploy our musicians in different combinations and in more intimate venues like revolution hall, Mississippi studios, and alberta rose theater. We also launched our first livestream series of six concerts, an effort to expand music access. People unable to come to the hall due to physical, geographical, or economic barriers can now access Oregon Symphony performances from their homes.we experimented with new subject matter, in keeping with our commitment to explore timely societal themes through music. We adapted taylor mac's pulitzer-nominated a 24-decade history of popular music for its first orchestral staging. This bold work focuses on historically marginalized communities while poking fun at the patriarchal, homophobic, and racist systems that oppressed them. Indie artist kishi bashi joined us to perform improvisations on eo9066, his visually stunning multimedia piece exploring the impact of the japanese internment order during wwii. 2022 marked the 80th anniversary of executive order 9066, an action that deeply affected Oregon's japanese-american community in ways that are still felt today. In addition to programming works from underrepresented composers, we also invested in a more equitable future for classical music. In april, we hosted earshot, a program of the american composer's orchestra that supports young composers by giving them an opportunity to have their works rehearsed by a professional ensemble. We hosted four young latinx composers two men and two women who had their pieces read by the orchestra, and worked with mentor composers kenji bunch, andy akiho, and andreia pinto-correia to further develop their compositions. Orchestra rehearsal time is exceedingly rare, especially for young composers, and by participating in programs like earshot we invest in the development of diverse voices that will fill orchestra halls in the years to come. Additional work at a systemic level to support equity in our industry includes our partnerships with the national alliance for audition support that helps black and latinx artists afford to travel for auditions, and the sphinx qualified artists program that identifies underrepresented artists for substitute and audition opportunities.