Pat O’Scannell on the allure of early music


Pat O'Scannell (2)

Pat O’Scannell is now in her fourth year as director of Musica Matrix, a nonprofit music organization promoting early music in the Rogue Valley.

O’Scannell spent 27 years at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as a singer and multi-instrumentalist, then as music director with her ensemble, The Terra Nova Consort, in residence.

I have had the pleasure of listening to two of The Terra Nova Consort’s superb CDs: “Renaissance en Provence” and “¡Baylado! Music of Renaissance Spain.” I recently chatted with O’Scannell about her love of early music.

PO: This music is incredibly beautiful. I believe that a lot of people haven’t heard early music, or they haven’t heard the type of early music that would appeal to them. We are talking about 600 years of music, going back to the Middle Ages. It rivals any music that was written from the time of J.S. Bach on.

When I think back on my classical training, I’ve loved about 75% of it. There was about 25% that was a bit too bombastic for my taste. My personal taste was toward Chopin rather than Rachmaninoff. I like the delicacy and intricacy of something, where I can hear the individual lines as opposed to something that is very heavy handed. Continue reading Pat O’Scannell on the allure of early music

Music elevates the power of silent film

donald sosinViolinist Alicia Svigals and pianist/composer Donald Sosin were scheduled to accompany “The Ancient Law” at the Ashland Independent Film Festival. The 1923 German silent film is based on a true story, in which the son of an orthodox rabbi breaks with tradition and becomes an actor.

With luscious production values and great acting, “The Ancient Law” relates the experience of great theater (Shakespeare) to religious devotion. We chatted one morning about live music and silent film.

DS: It’s an amazing story that people go nuts over, in a way that I’ve not seen before. I’ve played for about 4,000 films. This film produces a reaction that’s over the top.

EH: How does music relate to the structure of storytelling in film?

DS: In classical and pop music, there are different musical forms that are at the composer’s disposal. When you’re working with a film, everything has to be based on what’s going on emotionally and pictorially. Continue reading Music elevates the power of silent film

Damien Genardi on finding your resonance

DSC_1105 (5)Opera singer Damien Genardi recently opened The Resonant You Studio on North Main Street in Ashland.

Genardi, who sang with the Portland Opera for a decade and taught voice for 15 years, is also a photographer and cinematographer. His philosophy is, “The world is on fire. Art is the answer.”

We met at his vocal and spiritual healing studio, complete with digital healing pools, magnetic treatment mats and Tibetan singing bowls.

 

DG: I love to sing everything, jazz and everything.

EH: How were you first introduced to music?

DG: When I was 1 year old, my mom and dad gave me a record player and all my own music. I listened all day long to jazz, Billie Holliday, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Vaughn, a lot of Motown, and kids’ stuff. I loved music. Continue reading Damien Genardi on finding your resonance

Talking Jazz with Thor Polson

Jazz pianist Thor Polson has recently released a new CD, “Thor Polson & Friends, The Portal.” Besides performing, Polson teaches piano and languages: Latin, ancient Greek and German. One afternoon, we met at Bloomsbury Coffee House in Ashland.

EH: Tell me about your performances.

TP: It’s just an expression of pure joy. We play the music that I and other band members love. It’s flipping the joy switch. I count it down, and we’re just off to the races. I suppose I feel responsible for having prepared all that music; but when I’m playing it, I feel that it has gone through me, that I haven’t generated it. To me, musicians are conduits, not vessels: I don’t feel responsible for the music. When people compliment me, I don’t know what to say. I suppose, if I were playing a completely written-out piece of music, OK. But when it gets into improvising, I don’t know what will come out. It will depend on my mood, or my health, or the angle of the sunlight, or moss growing on a tree. Who knows what will happen?

Continue reading Talking Jazz with Thor Polson

Randall Theatre to Expand Beyond Theater

Randall Theatre Artistic Director Robin Downward is expanding the theater’s entertainment offerings. While maintaining its community theater, the venue will host a variety of performers, including bands, comedians, drag shows, burlesque shows, murder mystery dinners, singles mixers and an improv troupe.

Downward, a director and performer, will continue to act and direct while hosting a new artistic director for the theater.

I met Downward at Mellelo Coffee Roasters in Medford.

EH: Tell me about the Randall Theatre’s new direction.

RD: It’s different styles of things for different kinds of people. The Randall Theatre building is now the Randall Entertainment and Show Hall. It houses the Theatre Company and Event Works Productions. Most of these new events will be hosted under my Event Works production company.

We are still planning on doing live theater. For the theater demographic, there are lots of choices in the Rogue Valley, but there’s no place for people who want entertainment, especially for people between the ages of 21 and 45. There’s bars, bowling and movies. We are looking at that highway 5 corridor, and of attracting those acts that are driving through. That’s what I’m trying to focus on.

Looking at bands, I’m being very selective. We’re concentrating on more of an eclectic style of band that people haven’t really seen in the area. I love the local stuff, but people can see it in a number of other venues. In the Rogue Valley, other than Grants Pass, there are no live entertainment venues that are like this: with a stage, lights and seating, other than the Craterian, or the Holly (when it opens), but those have 600 to 1,200 seats; this has 99. It’s fun and it’s intimate.

Continue reading Randall Theatre to Expand Beyond Theater

Camelot Officials Ready for 2020 Season

Camelot Theatre’s Artistic Director, Shawn Ramagos, a former Disney lighting and special effects technician, brings considerable stagecraft expertise to Camelot productions. Executive Director, Dann Hauser, came to Camelot with an extensive marketing background. We met in the theater’s board room to discuss their plans for an eclectic 2020 season.

SR: With this season, I wanted to reach all of the demographics that we have, young and old. I think there’s a little bit of something for everybody.

EH: How does the Camelot experience differ from other Rogue Valley theaters?

SR: We focus on large-scale musicals and musical spotlights.

EH: How has Camelot changed in the past two years?

DH: [Ramagos] has brought a whole new stagecraft to the quality of our shows. Before, our sets used just a small portion of the stage. Shawn goes from edge to edge and beyond that, taking in the whole proscenium, better lighting, better sound.

SR: When we talk quality, we don’t just talk about great acting and great singing. We also look at the technology and the scenery. I created our “Behind the Curtain” series. It’s a YouTube channel that we have. It shows how we do what we do on stage.

Continue reading Camelot Officials Ready for 2020 Season

CTP Aims to Alleviate Election-Year Stress

Susan Aversa-Orrego is managing director of Collaborative Theatre Project, now in its third year in the Medford Center. We met at Boulevard Coffee to discuss CTP’s 2020 season.

SA: We wanted to have an interesting, more intriguing, and happier season. It’s an election year, and people are already overly stressed. Why not do something that alleviates stress? We start with Ken Ludwig’s “Sherwood: The Adventures of Robin Hood.” It’s a true swashbuckling epic. It fits into this fun, quirky season that we’re shaping: a combination of new and classic plays.

EH: What effect does live theater have on a community?

SA: I think it starts conversations. It’s a place where people who don’t know each other can experience the same thing at the same moment in time. Then you see the conversations happening in the lobby, strangers starting to talk to strangers. Theater and the arts create a community. Our lives are very bare without them.

Continue reading CTP Aims to Alleviate Election-Year Stress

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