Portland, OR. Most piano teachers and students aren’t able to sit side-by-side these days; they’re learning via zoom. That’s the case with the young teachers at the Play It Forward Foundation. It was originally established by famous Portland pianist Michael Allen Harrison and has aimed to keep young musicians moving forward since its inception. It primarily operates with two distinct missions: the first is to take in donated instruments (primarily pianos) to rehouse them in public school programs and student homes; the second aims to keep these musicians in lessons while offering new teachers consistent work.
The first mission, wherein donated instruments are rehoused into public school programs and particularly talented young musicians’ homes, is just a part of how the Play It Forward Foundation is helping the community. The program’s Executive Director, Marietta Harrison, says that they look at nearly three hundred pianos a year, ultimately accepting around one hundred of these (with sometimes up to five calls a day for potential donations). These pianos are vetted and reconditioned prior to being donated in order to offer better services to the school programs or child’s home they end up in. In a time when public school’s art funding seems to be ever-declining, the organization pays for these services out of pocket in order to better serve the community.
With classes moved entirely online for the foreseeable future, potential barriers are further erased.
Rather than simply donating and dipping, so to speak, the second part of their mission aims to keep a consistent hand within Portland’s musical community. The nonprofit’s goal here is to remove any potential barriers between the students and their music– whether that be economic, logistical, or otherwise. Started in 2017 with a mere twelve students, the program was up to one hundred students by 2019.
Online piano recitals with both Michael and Marietta Harrison present.
Prior to the COVID pandemic, the program would offer work to young teachers seeking experience who would often travel to the school or the student’s home in order to better erase these potential barriers faced. Currently, the program has gone completely online and classes are being held through Zoom meetings. Given everything going on in the world right now, Marietta Harrison says that this program has always aimed to be proactive rather than reactive; establishing itself in the community as an organization that erases barriers for students and encourages musical growth.
About Play it Forward:
Nearly 20 years ago, the City of Portland passed a measure that cut critical funding to music education in our public schools. Having benefited from free music education in public schools, that eventually led to a successful career as a composer and pianist, Michael Allen Harrison could not watch this happen silently. Play It Forward, affectionately known as PIF was born. Play It Forward distributes gently used instruments gifted by donors to students and music programs throughout the Portland Metropolitan Community.
If you’d like to donate to a great cause, you can do so here.
Portland, OR. Last month the Cascades AIDS Project (CAP) raised over $405,000 through their Art Auction: Reimagined. While the traditionally celebrated annual cocktail reception, patron dinner, and live art auction were missed, this year’s virtually-hosted event expanded access to sponsors around the world. The Co-chairs were Molly King and Deb Kemp (pictured above.)
Dale Johannes Program Host and Johnna Lee Wells Auctioneer
The live-video benefit, recapped here, highlighted more than 150 artists and featured an appearance by Governor Kate Brown. Raffle prizes included a two-hour, private visit to Powell’s with a $200 credit. CEO Tyler Termeer weighed on the imperative times facing Portland during his appearance, noting, “We are standing at the crossroads of dueling pandemics: COVID-19 and white supremacy. It’s a defining moment in our existence as an organization. This moment is a reminder that we cannot relent in our pursuit of equity and racial justice.”
Tyler Termeer is the CAP CEO and Karol Collymore is the Board Chair President.
Celebrating the 35th anniversary of its incorporation, CAP is known as “the oldest and largest community-based provider of HIV services, housing, education and advocacy in Oregon and Southwest Washington,” according to their website. Providing social-services and health care for people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS – as well as for the LGBTQ+ community in the Northwest – CAP’s budget has grown to over $14 million and its volunteer base to over 600. These services include assistance in finding secure housing, essential medical care, and emotional support to those who have been ostracized by their community.
Looking forward, CAP will continue to focus on HIV while investing in tackling health disparities that affect the community. CAP recognizes connections between these inequities and factors like race, ethnicity, sexual identity, and gender and is committed to adopting plans to address such concerns.
About Cascade AIDS Project:
Founded in 1985 as a grassroots response to the AIDS crisis, Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) is now the oldest and largest HIV-services and LGBTQ+ health provider in Oregon and southwest Washington, with more than 100 employees working across four locations. Our organization seeks to prevents new HIV infections; support low-income people living with HIV; and provide safe, welcoming, and knowledgeable healthcare for the LGBTQ+ community. Through our vital health, housing, and other social services, we help ensure the well-being of more than 15,000 people each year. More information can be found at www.capnw.org.
Portland, OR. The NW Dance Project, a Portland-based contemporary dance company, had to make significant COVID-19 adjustments since it went fully virtual on March 13th. The nonprofit’s phased reopening began on August 3rd, with the renewal of some in-person classes and continued reliance on video communication platforms. Jeff George (pictured above) is one of the instructors for the limited in-person classes that take place with strict safety protocols.
The initial shutdown of NW Dance Project meant all events, classes, and training programs were canceled, as well as the furloughing of all company dancers and some staff. Like many arts organizations, NW Dance Project is currently unable to generate income with performances, so outreach to supporters has become vital.
NW Dance Project members pose for a fundraising promo shot
Social distancing guidelines have posed a challenge for everyone, but perhaps no one is more affected than dancers. Executive Director Scott Lewis points out how, unlike other performing arts such as theater or music, maintaining social distance removes a core element of what constitutes this art form. For example, the pas de deux, which Lewis describes as an intense duet, is now entirely off the table.
“There’s so much in dance that relies on the electricity in the air when humans are experiencing something simultaneously,” says Lewis. “At some point, it just hit me that everything we do is not bringing people together.”
The dancers’ response to these challenges highlights their pragmatism and flexibility. “They quickly saw the dance world embracing technology and accepted that this is the reality,” Scott Lewis explains. Company members have shifted their focus toward individual projects and sharing their skills over social media. In addition to individual enterprises, dancers now attend classes via video call — streamed either from NWDP’s studio or from the instructors’ homes — and students served by North Portland’s Aspire Project (closed as of June 7th, 2020) were invited to join NWDP’s virtual summer session.
These virtual classes will continue even as NWDP’s studios have reopened for limited in-person classes. Safety protocols are strictly enforced: for example, tape outlines on the studio floor mark out 100 square feet of space per person. In September, youth classes are scheduled to begin in-person with similar restrictions. Next month also brings an outdoor performance and a film-based project that unites NW Dance Project company dancers and special guest choreographers.
Lewis encourages readers to keep an eye on these upcoming projects or even attend a few classes if they are so inclined. Those with skills they are willing to share can seek out volunteer opportunities with the company or even serve as board members if they are willing to accept the time commitment.
“Any support possible will be helpful,” says Lewis. “It doesn’t need to be said how destabilizing the confluence of events has been for artists. We’re still in the first act, stay with us, stay in touch, stay supportive. This is going to be a long crawl.”
NW Dance Project was founded in Portland in 2004 by acclaimed dancer, mentor, and choreographer Sarah Slipper. NW Dance Project is dedicated to the creation and performance of innovative, new contemporary dance works from established and emerging dance makers created in an open and artistically stimulating environment.
NW Dance Project has fostered the creation and Portland premiere of nearly 300 original contemporary dance works to date. Our dedication to providing dancers and dance-makers the resources and creative room needed to realize new inspired dance works led Dance International Magazine to proclaim that we are “changing the way dance is created” and that NW Dance Project has become “a laboratory, factory, and repository for risk-taking new works from the next generation of choreographers from Europe and North America.”
Portland, OR. The Portland Book Festival will look different than the picture above this year. Book Lovers won’t be crowding in to hear from noted authors as in the past. The literary staple of the Pacific Northwest since 2005 is changing its long-standing event from in-person to entirely online. This news comes in the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that has essentially curbed all social events and gatherings for the foreseeable future. Rather than canceling the annual festival scheduled for November, event organizers at Literary Arts say they want to continue community outreach during a time when people need it the most.
In years past, Portland Book Festival focuses on bringing families and the community together by offering their events for free and across many platforms.
Perhaps the most important change that Literary Arts has offered is to make the festival almost entirely free this year. This change comes during a time when many individuals may be uncertain about their financial stability and may not have been able to afford the previous cover charge for the event. Andrew Proctor, Executive Director of Literary Arts, says that this decision was made in order to better support the community during a national pandemic
Author readings will be viewable both live and backlogged for the attendee’s convenience.
Alongside the change in format, the festival will also be held across a fifteen-day span (Nov. 5-21) rather than staying as a single-day event. For this year’s attendees, that means that every seminar, class, and author reading can be accessed over the two week period, and often at their own leisure. It also means that the event becomes more accessible to everyone living here in Portland or anywhere else in the world. With formats ranging from podcasts, online blogs, and live streaming events, participants will have a range of options to suit their needs and limitations during these unprecedented times.
While things like book signings may not be available this year, online formats will still allow for attendees to interact with the festival’s many artists.
From Literary Arts:
To find out more about the upcoming 2020 Portland Book Festival, check out the Literary Arts website page on the event here. If you’d like to support a great organization, you can donate here.
Portland, OR. With quarantine keeping people at home, Literary Arts was forced to rethink how to best support the literary community of Oregon.A month ago, the organization released the winners of its annual Oregon Book Awards. Unlike previous years,where writers like Samiya Bashir (pictured above) accepted their awards in person, for the 2020 event, writers stayed home and tuned into a radio broadcast.After being rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic from April to June, Literary Arts partnered with Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) to make the event happen. The winners of this year’s Oregon Book Awards were Beth Alvarado, Cathy Camper, Kesha Ajọsẹ Fisher, Deborah Hopkinson, Greg Means, MK Reed, Julian Smith, Ashley Toliver, and David Wolman.Winners would typically tour Oregon later in the year, reading from their works at various schools, bookstores, workshops, and libraries, but plans for this are yet to be determined due to the pandemic. Such tours help promote public knowledge of the authors and their diverse works, creating a significant influence on the success of their career.
The works of the Oregon Book Awards winners
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn, Literary Arts decided to grant funds to writers and artists in need. The Board of Directors unanimously agreed on turning a portion of the Brian Booth Writers’ Fund into the Literary Arts Booth Emergency Fund for Writers. Literary Arts received applications for the firsts round of grants beginning at the end of April. One-hundred lucky applicants received a grant of $1,000. The second round of grant applications is currently underway.
In giving to the community, Literary Arts put special focus on providing for people of color. Surveys found that 45% of first-round grant winners identified as people of color.Literary Art’s website states: “COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting communities of color. Literary Arts is prioritizing funding for writers identifying as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who meet the eligibility criteria.”
Associate Director of Communications Jyoti Roy expressed the organization’s intentions to work with the community to create space for people of color, whether through specialized workshops, funds, or other means.
Literary Arts also works to inspire youth and help them develop their own voices. Back in April, Literary Arts adapted their slam poetry competition for teens known as Verselandia! Youth Poetry Slam. Although the competition itself did not occur, Literary Arts created an alternative event geared toward the same audience.
Authors Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Rion Amilcar Scott, and Lesley Nneka Arimah discussed the art of short-form on a virtual panel moderated by Dantiel Moniz.
Roy described their thought process as: “How do we serve the students who benefit from this event in a different way?”
Local poets led a virtual slam poetry workshop at the time the event was to occur. Participants were then invited to share their creations with Literary Arts, which are still being collected, to create a video featuring the youth’s talent.
From Literary Arts: Literary Arts is a community-based nonprofit with a mission to engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature.For the past 35 years, Literary Arts has built community around literature, books, and storytelling, and the essential ideas and issues they raise. Literary Arts is committed to remaining a dynamic and responsive organization that will continue to evolve with our community’s needs and deepen our equity work across all our programs.
Many Portlander’s know Darcelle XV as the beloved “world’s oldest working drag queen,” who has been a staple of the Portland LGBTQ+ and nightlife scene for five decades. But what many may not know about Walter Cole—Darcelle XV when he is in drag—is that he lives in the historic “Elmer and Linnie Miller” Residence in Northeast Portland. The home was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Walter Cole in his home, the Elmer and Linnie Miller Residence.
The new exhibit will feature the work of Portland photographer Tom Cook, and showcases Darcelle XV in the historic residence.
According to a press release: “Cook’s portrait series captures the unique character of the 1896 Queen Anne style house and its longtime owner, Walter Cole, best known as the female impersonator and performer Darcelle XV. The home’s décor has taken on the lavish style of Darcelle XV while still maintaining its original layout and details. Among the house’s features are stained glass windows created by Jerry Bosco and Ben Milligan, glass artists, work and life partners, and founders of the Bosco-Milligan Foundation, under which the Architectural Heritage Center operates.”
On top of being an example of historic architecture, the home has been a gathering place for political activists and gay rights events over the years. The residence also shows the indelible mark that Darcelle has left on the home.
Elmer and Linnie Miller House, Portland, Oregon.
The exhibit will be open to Architectural Heritage Members July 24–25, and will open to the public after that on Thursdays–Sunday’s from 11am–5pm. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, safety protocols will be in place for those who visit the exhibit, and masks will be required.
“My home is overdone, over-decorated and over jeweled, just like Darcelle, but it reflects me,” Cole recently told The Oregonian. “If someone gave me a framed photo, I wouldn’t have one spot on the wall to hang it.”
Darcelle XV sitting in the Elmer and Linnie Miller Residence.
Owned and operated by the non-profit Bosco-Milligan Foundation, we empower people in the Portland region to preserve both landmark buildings and the regular “vernacular” vintage homes and storefronts that collectively define our neighborhoods, traditional downtowns, culture, history, and quality of life.
Portland, OR. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Portland Youth Philharmonic is finding new ways to connect musicians with each other as well as the community at large. Following the cancellation of its 96th concert season, musicians and directors have replaced in-person practices, concerts and lectures with Zoom calls, YouTube videos and Facebook live streams.
As the PYP continues to adapt to COVID-related changes, the public can engage with the nonprofit via Facebook and YouTube, where PYP posts live streams and a series of video talks entitled “Conversations with the Conductor.” Young musicians interested in joining the PYP may submit virtual auditions in preparation for next year’s season. You can see an example below:
Society Page interviewed four young musicians and composers — 14-year-old violinist Francie Lenhart, 11-year-old double bassist Rowan Lenhart, 13-year-old violinist Haruka Sakiyama, and 15-year-old violinist Koharu Sakiyama — to learn their perspectives on the changes they have had to make.
In general, these musicians find virtual practices challenging. “You don’t actually get to hear your teachers or your actual sounds,” Haruka Sakiyama, explains. The musicians also point to technical glitches as a major setback: Rowan explains that the audio sometimes takes on a metallic quality or sounds as if the teacher is underwater.
Nevertheless, the musicians offer positives to the situation, all while keeping their good humor. “We don’t have to do the long car ride to practice,” says violinist Francie Lenhart, laughing. Haruka cites increased family time as a positive, while Koharu states: “In some ways, things are less chaotic. We have more time to just concentrate on practicing.”
From the Portland Youth Philharmonic’s website: In 1924, a group of visionary citizens established the Portland Junior Symphony Association (later renamed the Portland Youth Philharmonic Association or PYP for short). Building on the pioneering work of Mary V. Dodge, whose Irvington School Orchestra was the nucleus of the first Junior Symphony, the Association engaged Russian émigré Jacques Gershkovitch as conductor. PYP is the oldest youth orchestra in the United States. The structure and standards that it established for training young musicians in the 1920s became the prototype for youth orchestras across the country.
Over the years, thousands of young musicians have played in one or more of PYP’s ensembles. Some have gone on to professional careers in orchestras across the country, including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, the Oregon Symphony, as well as Juilliard and American String Quartets. Others have achieved great success in teaching music or exploring non-musical fields, while continuing to be accomplished amateur musicians and active supporters of the arts in their communities. Alumni often attribute much of their success in life to the discipline and teamwork they experienced as members of the Portland Youth Philharmonic.
Portland, OR. “Kids are at home, parents are home-schooling, and we believed we could help,” explains Norman Hunyh, the Associate Conductor of the Oregon Symphony. It was because of the dearth of summer activities for kids that Symphony Storytimewas born. In each episode of the new virtual series, a narrator reads a classic children’s book while members of the Oregon Symphony provide background music and sound effects. Assistant Principal Oboist Karen Wagner and host Amy Haroldson (seen in the photo above) tell the story of a “Top Cat” who doesn’t want to share his house and favorite things. (photo credit, Jacob Wade).
A lesson on the featured background instrument makes these 15-minute episodes both entertaining and educational. On June 25, the first episodes of Symphony Storytime were released. One was called “Mole Music,” and features the Cello. When Mole finally learns to play the violin, his music has an effect more magical than he will ever know. Written by David McPhail. Hosted by Amy Haroldson and featuring Marilyn de Oliveira, assistant principal cello.
Assistant Principal Oboist Karen Wagner and host Amy Haroldson perform for the Oregon Symphony’s new children’s program, Symphony Storytime (Jacob Wade).
Hunyhprovided the artistic vision for Symphony Storytime by setting educational objectives and establishing the flow of each piece, among other responsibilities. Hunyh described this project as “new and exciting territory”.
Assistant Principal Second Violinist Inés Voglar Belgique (Jacob Wade)
Assistant Principal Cellist Marilyn de Oliveira (Jacob Wade)
Each story was chosen because it meant something special to the musicians.
“I really like [Mole Music] because it talks about how music changes Mole’s life, and it also shows us how music can change the world around us,” says cellist Marilyn de Oliveira in the first episode.
Guitarist and vocalist Edna Vazquez and percussionist and host Sergio Carreno maintain social distance on set. Hunyh’s top priority was the health and safety of musicians and staff. (Jacob Wade)
Many participants in the project are native Spanish speakers, such as guitarist and vocalist Edna Vázquezwho performs in the Symphony Storytime episode “Necesito un Abrazo”, which helped inspire the creation of unique Spanish episodes. The Spanish episodes are not translations of the English episodes, rather their own stories, intended to support and engage the Latinx community.
Symphony Storytime’s first release included “Mole Music”, “Top Cat”, and “Goodnight Bob”in English featuring cello, oboe, and percussion, respectively.“Necesito un Abrazo” and “Ve, Perro. ¡Ve!”were released in Spanish, featuring guitar and violin. More episodes will be released on July 2 and July 9.
The power of music to unite and inspire is boundless. Music lifts us higher on our most joyful days, and draws us together in challenging times. As soon as it’s safe, we’ll be back – performing for you in our concert hall and reaching out to children and adults across our region.
Portland, OR. The Northwest Academy hosted Club Cabaret, “The Mad Hatter’s Cocktail Party” at The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland. The event raised $295,000 for academic programs and student scholarships. Supporters at the February 29th benefit included Amy Hillman, Nicholas & Megan O’Toole, Todd McCoy & Tawnya Fox. (Photo credit, Andie Petkus) More than 200 guests came for the silent auction, cocktail party, an original musical performed by Northwest Academy students, and a live auction.
Students perform an original production called, “The Mad Hatter’s Cocktail Party.”
Educators say the Northwest Academy in downtown Portland strives to provide students with an enriching education consisting of developing their fine and performing arts skills, rather than implementing the arts only as a bonus to students education. Northwest Academy emphasizes the importance of the balance of academics and art fostering curiosity and creative thinking.
Mary Vinton Folberg, Chris Schuck, McKenzie Kerman, and Lauren Partington
Serena Schulz-Rodriguez, Sarah Santangelo, Chiharu Olsson, Lori & Peter Buss, James Olsson, Terence Barr, in back row: Marilyn Beach, Bronson & Marisa James
Zach Levow, Joe & Linda Rosinski, and Holly Levow
The Quest Foundation, along with a challenge match from Arlene Schnitzer and Jordan Schnitzer, contributed to programs and scholarships for the students.
From Northwest Academy:
Mission: Northwest Academy is committed to inspiring students to discover their intellectual and artistic voices in a creative and supportive atmosphere fueled by curiosity and constructive challenge. Vision: Northwest Academy will be recognized as a center of excellence in proficiency-based education, artfully blending academic instruction and experience. Graduates of the school will be innovative thinkers who chart their own futures and excel in a diverse global society. Core Values: Education in both academics and arts, results in a more complete and balanced individual who, while being productive, also leads an inspired and meaningful life, talented faculty, passionate about their subject areas, and the support of free and open inquiry motivates students’ interest in learning and creative thinking, student engagement, curiosity, and creative thinking expand when nurtured by accomplished and energetic faculty who promote participation and welcome debate, students thrive in an environment where both individuality and collaboration are encouraged and fostered, proficiency-based placement enhances students’ motivation and initiative while allowing a student to work through education at relatively accelerated or a more leisurely personal pace.
Portland, OR. Music, dance, artistic freedom, censorship, and a 1920’s lesbian love story, collide with the looming threat of the Holocaust in an award-winning play now being staged by Artists Repertory Theatre. Indecent by Paula Vogel, is part of Artists Repertory Theatre on Tour (ART) season, which is taking place as the company’s theater is undergoing renovation. The play features Michael Mendelson (picture above) and is being produced with Profile Theatre; the production takes place at Portland State University. Indecent is described as a backstage drama filled with music and the history of Jewish theatre. (Photo credit, Kathleen Kelly)
Miriam Schwartz and Jamie M Rea
“Our need to tell our own stories is one of the most ancient needs we have,” says Artistic Director of Profile Theatre and director of the play, Josh Hecht. “It’s not just the telling that is important. It’s the witnessing. It’s the confirmation that comes from speaking our truths and having someone else say, “Yes, that’s me, too. Yes, I recognize that. We may be different, but in this way we are the same.”
“This original production of Vogel’s acclaimed, moving, and ultimately joyous play is a collaboration between Profile Theatre, Artists Repertory Theatre (ART), and Portland State University (PSU),” says Dámaso Rodríguez, Artistic Director of Artists Repertory Theatre. “This ambitiousness and scale of this project, which affords opportunities for PSU students to interact with and learn from some of our city’s most accomplished theatre artists, might have been out of reach for all of our companies had we not combined our resources to make it possible.”
Here’s a video about the production:
Indecent runs through March 8th, at Lincoln Hall, Portland State University, 1620 SW Park Ave. ART descriptions include the following: A boldly touching portrayal of the original theatrical company that presented Sholem Asch’s The God of Vengeance. The creator, Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Paula Vogel based scenes off of Asch’s play portraying the risk-taking group that brought the script to the stage.
Tickets are $60 regular price; $30 preview/student/under 35; $15 PSU student with ID. Special Discounts include Sliding Scale Sunday (tickets start at $10): applies to Sunday evening performances, 20for20: 20 tickets available at every performance for $20, Artists Rep participates in Arts for All and the Multnomah County Library’s Discovery Pass Program. Tickets at 503.241.1278 or www.artistsrep.org
Here’s a video about Artist Repertory Theatre:
More about Artists Repertory Theatre:
ARTISTS REPERTORY THEATRE’S mission is to produce intimate, provocative theatre and provide a home for a diverse community artists and audiences to take creative risks. Artists Rep gratefully acknowledges our theatre rests on the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other tribes who made their homes along the Columbia River. Artists Rep is Portland’s premiere mid-size regional theatre company and is led by Artistic Director Dámaso Rodríguez and Managing Director J.S. May. Founded in 1982, Artists Repertory Theatre is the longest-running professional theatre company in Portland. ART became the 72nd member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) in 2016 and is an Associate Member of the National New Play Network (NNPN). Artists Rep’s 2019/20 season can be found here.
Artists Rep has become a significant presence in American regional theatre with a legacy of world, national, and regional premieres of provocative new work with the highest standards of stagecraft. The organization is committed to local artists and features a company of Resident Artists and professionals of varied theatre disciplines, who are a driving force behind Artists Rep’s creative output and identity.
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