Leave a comment



Dear Friends, and Family,

The time has come for me to address you, and ask for you to support something that holds a vision to inspire the community to grow, to appreciate and respect each other, and to challenge what we think of Contemporary Music.

This year, on March 22nd The Contemporary Portland Orchestra Project participates for the very first time in the March Music Moderne annual music festival here in Portland, Oregon.

We are very excited, and delighted to be able to work with so many composers on this program. Joe Colombo, Danny Clay, Justin Ralls, and Charles Copeland all currently residing in either San Francisco or Portland have written pieces for this program. I just want to congratulate them all for creating truly unique, contrasting, and limitless pieces.

This day and age we are bombarded with so many technological things, so many new advances on a monthly, even weekly basis that are available to us (especially music) that as musicians, classical, jazz, pop, any genre, we can no longer ignore the electronic boom of this decade. It truly is a wonder how advanced our civilization is becoming, and we want to honor that, incorporate it, but also keep in mind the beauty that we must protect. From the natural world that is always in danger by our ever-growing needs to the environments around us that we affect on a daily basis. This concert is meant to unify those two worlds, to unify the younger generations by not just letting this be another “Contemporary Music” concert, but by actually trying to reach out to those that may not be into “Classical” music but that love, understand, and appreciate the electronic sound of the next generation.

This program will be unusual. It will be Special. It will be something that we all hope you enjoy, and that you can take something away from. I’m not going to give away much about what’s on the program, but I will say it’s a treat to have a trio for three glockenspiels! (twice)

Please, take a moment to mark this event on your calendar, and show your support to these young, and talented composers, and the wonderful virtuosic musicians who made this possible. This music is hard to learn, but it’s beautiful, it’s worth the effort, and it’s something every one of you should get to experience.

Attached below is the information about where the concert will be held, the ticket prices, and March Music Moderne’s Calendar.

Inline image 1

Leave a comment

CPOP At The Someday Lounge This Saturday!

We’ll be playing several new works by composers Emyli Poltorak, Jay Derderian, Troy Ramos, and Charlie Copeland. The program is looking something like this:

Opening band – Truth or AAAAA!


Chase Scene – Emyli Poltorak
Le Mal – Troy Ramos
Optical Delusion – Jay Derderian
Two Pieces for Two Saxophones – Charlie Copeland

*Free Improvisation With All The Musicians*

Performers: Travis Chapman, Julia Kosanovic, Emyli Poltorak, Lisa Lipton, Jay Derderian, Brandon Becker, Charlie Copeland, Jase Springer and Linse Sullivan.

Admission is $5 suggested donation (no one turned away!)

The Someday Lounge is located at 125 NW 5th, Portland, Oregon 97209. Show starts at around 5pm and will go until 7:30-8ish.

COME IF YOU CAN! This will be a fun show in a relaxed environment, and it will be nice to see some shiny happy faces.

Leave a comment

It’s gonna rain It’s gonna rain It’s gonna rain…

When it rains, it pours. As goes the adage, so goes our lives here in Portland since, well its been awhile since its hasn’t been raining. Yet, I’m feeling it. I’ve recently made it out between showers at dusk to get some great avian recordings. I recorded an up-close pair of woodpeckers  and several humming birds, chickadees, and blackbirds, all in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, in Portland. Whenever the water is this high many birds normally in the reeds or inner forest come to the edges to feed and socialize, luckily the edge is where the path is. Today also marked my first sighting of a beaver. I will definitely be using some of today’s recordings in my final soundcape mix for Anthrophony, composed for Third Angle Ensemble. Along with the birds the piece is composed for Flute, Violin, Cello, Electric Guitar, Percussion and Piano.

It has been a real pleasure working with 3A, their clarity, commitment, and passion to contemporary works and community in my mind makes them one of the premier ensembles of their kind active today, anywhere. Other works on the concert by UK compser Tom Coult, mid-westerner and Swede Mathew Peterson, and Greg Steinke of our own Depot Bay will be presented, as well as runners up in 3A’s upcoming New Ideas in Music Concert this week. I am happy Oregon will be represented well, but looking forward to hearing from across the pond, and in between. In fact if one made a line of the winners and runners up it would connect on a line roughly 10-15 degrees latitude 45th N Parallel – U.K. – Indiana – Oregon -China (I don’t where everybody may actually be from but it’s an interesting coincidence). I am having a great time not having to be “impresario” for this concert, though I am conducting, the related tasks like inviting people that read this blog (does anyone read this blog?) and organizing everything else has been expertly executed by team 3A led by Executive Director, Lisa Volle. It’s not often that one has the opportunity to hear SIX international premiers, performed twice in one week–a treat I highly recommend, however there will recordings available to download on 3A’s website. Hope to see folks there and who knows, the sun may even be out this spring.  Oh, and yes I’ve recorded the rain, several times.

Leave a comment

March 17 photos, more coming soon…

Diane Chaplin performing 'Cymatica 2'
photo credits: Gretchen Drilling

vegetable improvisation, Lisa Lipton with 'Carronet'

'Cymatica 1' from left: Brandon Becker, Brandon C. Nelson, Wille Gibbs, Aaron Banfield. First row from left: Lucia Conrad, Virginia Feldman, Erin Winemiller. Justin Ralls conducting. Photo: Karen Parrott

From left: Dan Cox, Ryan Babichuk, Aaron Banfield, Justin Ralls

Justin Ralls

Lisa Lipton performing 'Cymatica 3 / Anima Mundi' with the whales...

Leave a comment


yay. everyday.

Leave a comment

The Classical Empire of Illusion

“In a decaying society, art, if it is truthful, must also reflect decay. And unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.” ~Ernst Fischer

Music is one of the few cultural forces that allow societies to confront their demons, revolt against oppression and illusion, and express despair, hope, and love; classical music historically has been the most emotionally complex, formulaically innovative, and relevant as a leader and arbiter of social and cultural conditions. It is an invaluable prism and window into the very psyche of a social organism.

A society that is morally, psychologically, and culturally bankrupt will reflect this in the general apathy, ignorance, and disengagement from the Fine Arts–the last cradle of humanity and creative force that nurtures, for lack of a better word, the soul. If music is to rise to this known purpose it must not fall prey to illusion and entertainment. Music is a language, an extension and expression of the Self within the cosmos, not distraction or a gratified indulgence to satiate what we have lost or are missing.

In our contemporary world, truth, all truth, has fallen prey to the vast landfill of illusion, misinformation, distortion, and commodity. It seems our artistic expressions, like our ideas, are only valued in terms acceptable to the systemic workings pervading the larger social organism. These workings characteristically do not hold humanitarian values and ideas for what they are, they degrade them to equal the lowest common denominator. We are asked to believe we chose to listen to this garbage on the TV, the “market” made it this way, it is democratic if everyone wants this CD or that video, if everyone wants to be badgered and manipulated into buying and selling–our minds, our bodies, our souls. In this way oppression is voluntary and absolute, the ideological sinew of a society that supports institutions and the status quo while destroying what is relevant.

The Arts have always been the historical enemy of despotic powers, our current situation is no different. Rather instead of pogroms, censorship, and the incarceration of free thinkers and composers (as occurred in Soviet Russia, McCarthy America, and present day China), instead the systems control and its elite guardians manufacture a world where legitimate voices, opinions, facts, and truths are buried in a malaise of commodity, propaganda, and illusion. We are led to believe that Classical music is not relevant because it cannot compete with a commercialized, materially intellectual culture that praises spectacle. We are led to believe and accept that this is the world as it is. The integrity of artistic statement can only be measured by how well it fits into this relationship, how well it “sells.”

We are trained (indoctrinated more appropriately), and skilled at fulfilling the menial tasks of the corporate state and are given constant entertainments to satiate the natural emptiness that inevitably arises from this condition. Never mind that most of our music, movies, books, discourse is a regurgitation of the same thing over and over, a huge derivatives market creating a culture of vomit.  Our identities, aspirations, and beliefs have no where to reside except in the system and its cannibalism. It is participatory fascism at its finest.

It is true that classical music’s historical greats were treated and supported by the elites. The Church, then the aristocracy, then the philanthropist all took turns preserving their connoisseur whims and aims. However, Beethoven, though supported all his life by wealthy patrons, returned the gift by providing the society he lived in (and future societies) with beacons of what humans should and can aspire to as ethical beings, navigating fate and chaos. His Ninth Symphony reminded those elites that attended grand, candle-chandelier basked concerts and banquets, that the chorus they heard is the chorus of of their fellow human being, Beethoven reminded them of their humanity. His message to elite patrons: nurture your environment, nurture your culture, nurture your neighbor, nurture your souls–or, as Goethe and Schiller knew well, your society will forsake you along with everything else.

Classical music exists now largely the same way a huge mechanical monkey might, splashing the finely timed cymbals–crashing away the artistry and innovation of the past for a kind of predictable exercise in entertainment, self-indulgence, and delusion. The ‘symphony’ with its endowments and patronage, cater to elite tastes and ignorant aesthetics; manufactured ideas of the “Fine Arts” that are coaxed, traded, and flaunted like jokes and phrases at a corporate banquet. ‘Patron Services’ has become devoid of merit or passion, or knowledge of the arts but replaced by ‘sales’ and crass telemarketing, new works are not commissioned because the money “isn’t there”, and if it was there it would be spent on something else, probably marketing. The symphony, like all other entities is reduced to a petty preoccupation with grifting, hitting people up for money, to try and sell them what should be the intangible, the invaluable, the transcendental experience of music leading its culture.  And for those that buy and can afford box seats it is a place to meet their colleagues and like-demographic friends (though the men would prefer to meet at the gym-clubs or golf courses, if only they weren’t so behooved by their wives who bought the season tickets to make them feel cultured, worthy, or committed). Intermissions are synonymous with ‘half-time’: the arena of spectacle is complete. Audiences are led to the trough by great soloists, virtuosos and the “classics” –not meaning. They don’t pay to be challenged, moved, or provoked to thought as they doze in and out and check their iphone messages. They live in a world where those things are no longer valued and barely exist at all.

When the symphony advertises their concerts they do not cater to a cultural realm, but a material realm of predictability and entertainment. If they did anything else they couldn’t compete in a culture that is in obvious decline. And even then many of our greatest cultural organizations and institutions are falling away, forsaken by a disgruntled, confused, and abused populace that has been denied access to a thriving and relevant culture. They come to hear Joshua Bell and be wowed, maybe some come to hear Brahms or Mendelssohn, though they would probably prefer to just sit at home and listen, without worrying about parking, and lines, and cramped stuffy halls. They don’t like to hear the things they don’t like (never mind that hardly anything relevant was liked when it was first created). The modern concert is seldom an experience of greater fulfillment and wisdom, but rather a ritual: dinner and a show. It is widely known that it is a privileged, esoteric, and exclusive ritual.

Here comes Joshua Bell or Hilary Hahn, or the Lang Lang’s or Wrong Wrong’s, the last “icons of cultural visibility” and legitimacy reduced to celebrity parlor tricks. When Joshua Bell can play for hours in a subway without being noticed we realize just how culturally empty we have become. Just as we ignore the homeless on our streets, ignore the lies we are told, the lies we tell, and con ourselves into believing that we still have actual beliefs, that we have actual cultural meaning.

The future of meaningful music and art will not exist within the confines of the current systems of economy or thought. The challenge for those that long for true artistic purpose and meaning must find ways to completely disengage from this facade and openly resist its participation. The real future belongs to those that foster their endeavors in spite of the systems failings, perversions, and constructs; those that value true culture–not the illusion and lip-service to culture.

Incrementally we may being again a renewed and meaningful ode to joy.

Leave a comment


Collapse Proof Orchestra Project