Oregon Historical Society Museum Thursday, Aug 3 2017 

Oregon Historical Society

Oregon Historical Society

“Oregon My Oregon” is a permanent exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society Museum that breathes life into Oregon history by focusing on the people who make up that history. The exhibit, divided into several segments, places the Oregon story in a larger context. “The Land of Many Faces” uses shoes and hats to focus on the diverse landscapes and peoples of Oregon. “The First Oregonians” display features the history of Oregon’s native peoples. A Plank House demonstrates how Native Americans lived in semi-permanent dwellings, and utilized local resources to make shirts, fish hooks, baskets, and canoe paddles. “Lure of the West” is divided into two parts. One segment recounts the stories of European and American sea captains spanning the 1500s through the 1840s. They expanded their country’s territory claims and developed commercial trade routes with Asia. A second segment, focusing on the period from the 1840s through 1870, presents the influence of missionaries and how Euro-American re-settlement dramatically changed Native American lifeways. “What Shaped Modern Oregon” identifies immigration, industrial growth, and transportation development as the major forces that shaped modern Oregon. It was interesting to see a reference to Gilchrist as a company town from 1938-1991. The final section of the exhibit, “Oregonian Culture,” adds yet another chapter to the Oregon story and draws attention to various controversies. In “High Hopes: The Journey of John F. Kennedy” we learned about this president’s strong connection with the State of Oregon. I wasn’t aware that Senator Wayne Morse was a presidential candidate.

Parking on the street of downtown Portland, if you can find it, costs $1.60 per hour. Parking below a commercial building cost us $6 per hour. Take the light rail if you can! After spending the day in Portland, we headed back to our campground and encountered stop and go driving. While we were stopped, a large commercial truck rear ended us?! Fortunately, the damage isn’t stopping us from driving our tow vehicle.

Ashland, Oregon Saturday, Jul 29 2017 

Mount ShastaOn our drive to Ashland, we stopped at the Mount Shasta City Park where the headwaters of the Sacramento River emerge from rocks on a hillside. After collecting some water, we walked on a trail with multiple bridges that cross the fast-flowing river. We glimpsed massive Mount Shasta whose top was shrouded in clouds.

 

 

Allen Elizabethan Theatre

Allen Elizabethan Theatre

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a major draw in Ashland from May through October. We took in three very different plays. Beauty and the Beast, of course, is a Disney based musical. The open-air Allen Elizabethan Theatre attracted a goodly number of young people joining their parents or grandparents for this performance. The stage has three levels. The musicians played from the second level. The set was very simple, but used creatively. A high-backed chair, for example, also served as a bed. Our second play, in the same theatre, was an interesting version of Shakespeare’s comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor. Interestingly, a woman successfully played the sexist rascal Falstaff. This production used music from the 1980s to enhance the storyline for a modern audience. Most of the adults in the audience assumed that the sexual references were over the heads of the young people who were not as numerous as the previous evening. Our last performance was in the front row of the small Thomas Theatre for a world premiere performance of Hanna and the Dread Gazebo. This play explores family dynamics from a perspective examining South and North Korea issues as well as Korean children born in the United States returning to their parents’ home country. The simple set made use of an area that opened and a table, for example, could be lowered out of sight. A wall that was used initially for showing film footage was later angled down and used as a stage. This production made excellent use of lighting. The actors for all three plays were talented professionals.

We also did some hiking while in Ashland. Lithia Park, adjacent to the Ashland theatres, offers a wonderful wood chip lined trail along Ashland Creek. We found parking spaces around this park for each evening theatre performance.

The entrance to the Emigrant Lake Recreation Area was only a quarter mile south of Glenyan RV Park, our campground while in Ashland. We hiked almost a mile around the lake from the Point Campground until we faced a massive mound of rocks.

 

Prescott Bluegrass Festival Sunday, Jun 25 2017 

Old Blue Band

Old Blue Band

Yesterday we joined the crowd on the south side of the Yavapai County Courthouse for two sets of the 36th Annual Prescott Bluegrass Festival. We especially enjoyed the performance of the seasoned professionals of the Old Blue Band who are dedicated to the preservation of the music from the past and the continued presentation of its character in the present day. They were followed by the Heidi Clare and Ron Thomason duet. The power and athleticism of Heidi Clare contribute to lauding her as the best old-time fiddler of her generation. It was interesting to learn that she was a member of the two-woman, one-horse team that won the 2010 Ride ‘n Tie World Championship. Although I didn’t appreciate the red-neck humor of Ron Thomason, he is a master of the mandolin who also plays the guitar and claw-hammer banjo.

This past Tuesday six of us explored the Greenways Trail from Aubrey to Caleton Street. We found the following wildflowers: yellow flowered warty caltrop, pink flowered lizard-tail, reddish purple flowered ribbon four o’clock, yellow flowered buffalo gourd, light pink striped flowered common mallow, pinkish flowered little globemallow, tiny white flowered horehound, white flowered field bindweed, white sweet clover, yellow sweet clover, violet flowered alfalfa, white flowered bluestem pricklepoppy also known at cowboy’s fried egg, white flowered bastard toadflax, yellow flowered prickly lettuce, and yellow flowered curlytop gumweed.

Rachel Barton Pine Performs With the Phoenix Symphony Sunday, Apr 23 2017 

Last night we attended our last Phoenix Symphony concert of the season. Franz Schubert’s Symphony in C Major, D 944 was the main attraction advertised, for example, on our tickets. However, the featured soloist, Rachel Varton Pine, performed the world premier of a violin concerto by Earl Maneein, Dependent Arising. As the concert notes detail, this new work converges with heavy metal intersecting with classical music based on the Buddhist concept that all things arise in dependence upon other things. Conductor Tito Munoz commissioned this piece and he and Pine reviewed the score at various stages of completion and made suggestions. The Phoenix audience enthusiastically applauded this new work and the composer joined the orchestra on stage to receive our appreciation. In a departure from our experience with most soloists with the Phoenix Symphony, Ms. Pine performed an encore. And, not just any encore, but an extremely difficult Paganini Caprice. Amazing! In May Avie Records will release her performance of all 24 Paganini Caprices. I look forward to adding that to our personal CD collection. Last night’s performance started with another new work, Christopher Cerrone’s Invisible Overture which was originally intended at part of his opera Invisible Cities. The Phoenix Symphony is very progressive about introducing new or little known works. We were fortunate to attend a memorable concert.

Those British Girls Saturday, Mar 4 2017 

Those British Girls

Those British Girls

We attended last night’s performance of Those British Girls at the Elks Opera House. We fit the profile of the crowd – older adults. From the balcony we had a good view of the stage. Three musicians played guitar, keyboard, and percussion. The “British girls” (Laura Berger, Payton Bioltto, Mariela Deangelis, Kayla Kenzior, and Crystal Stark) hail from Anthem, Glendale, Phoenix, and Peoria. Their high energy performance included songs by Adele, Petula Clark, Lulu, Dusty Springfield, and Amy Winehouse among others including three theme songs from James Bond movies. There were several costume changes that required different wigs and shoes. I especially liked the sparkling glitter on the British flag outfits. The dance floor featured several locals showing their moves. “Shout” was just one of the songs that garnered audience participation. A crowd favorite involved a fellow from the front row selected to go on stage to caricature Elton John wrapped in a boa, adorned with huge glasses, and sporting a big mouth piece that was manipulated like a puppet. What fun!

Feddeck Conducts the Phoenix Symphony Sunday, Feb 19 2017 

James Feddeck conducted the Phoenix Symphony in the concert we attended last night. The concert notes informed us that he studied oboe, piano, organ, and conducting at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Thus, it is likely there is some connection with Michael Christie, the former musical director of the Phoenix Symphony. We particularly enjoyed the Ralph Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 5 in D Major that concluded the concert. Interestingly, in the first movement we hear a distinctive horn call (given that a horn soloist was featured in the Benjamin Britten work). We especially liked the violin solo that conveyed the serene but passionate third movement. The fourth movement has the cellos introduce a theme echoed by other instruments, and ends with the horn theme from the first movement. Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn & Strings, Opus 31 featured Paul Appleby as tenor and Cassi Walck on horn. Without a doubt the horn is a difficult instrument to play, and not often included as a solo instrument, but some of the sounds in the Prologue seemed harsh and not quite right to me. I was glad that the concert notes included the words of the six poems of the Serenade. Several of the movements effectively intertwined the words with the horn. The Epilogue with the horn offstage was quite effective. The evenings performance began with The Walk to the Paradise Garden by Frederick Delius. I had selected this concert because it was advertised as “romantic” music. Since it so closely followed Valentine’s Day, I misinterpreted the word “romantic.” The Delius and Britten pieces give significant time to dying. So, this concert, like Phoenix weather this weekend, was dreary.

Next Page »