THE BLOG
04/24/2013 06:25 pm ET | Updated Jun 24, 2013

Fanfare for the Uncommon Manitoban

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This weekend, Portlandia's ultimate cover band ended their program with Aaron Copland's Symphony #3 -- a composition whose well-known brassy chorales of American triumph made it an easy dedication to the recently terrified people of Boston. What preceded this symphonic sympathy note, however, was a pair of works so filled with palpably resilient energy, they were more than equal reminders of what's best about the human condition. Kicking off the show was A Jazz Symphony written by the über-intriguing figure of George Antheil. Its herky-jerky syncopation, unpredictable insanity and super sick stylings resulted in 8 solid minutes of perma-grinning for over 2,000 folks. (In my book, the kick-ass piano chops of Carol Rich were independently worth the price of admission.) And the evening's soloist was Manitoban genius James Ehnes, whose deft display of violin virtuosity throughout the entirety of Bernstein's Serenade was almost unnerving. Even from Row Y in the Upper Balcony bleachers, my ears were struck by the cool brilliance and unstoppable technique of Mr. Ehnes and his 298-year-old Stradivarius. Glimpsing the sublime moments when Jimmy's fiddle teamed up with Nancy Ives' cello or Jennifer Craig's harp or Michael Robert's xylophone was like capturing sonic encomiums of love, tenderly delivered within a Schnitzer symposium. Oh, another night of wonders with Carlos Kalmar and the Oregon Symphony!