Kent Nerburn | Yukiyo Kawano And Meshi Chavez | PSU Chamber Choir | Peter Sears | KUOW News and Information

Kent Nerburn | Yukiyo Kawano And Meshi Chavez | PSU Chamber Choir | Peter Sears

Aug 4, 2017
Originally published on August 8, 2017 6:04 pm

During outgoing director Eloise Damrosch’s 30-year tenure, the Regional Arts and Culture Council has grown from a small Multnomah County bureau to a flourishing tri-county arts council. In the first of several stories, we look at the search for her replacement to oversee the $9 million arts office. It could be one of the most important hires for decades to come.

A notable writer has quietly relocated to Portland from Minnesota. Kent Nerburn has written and edited more than a dozen award-winning books and has been praised as one of the few authors who can respectfully bridge the gap between Native American and non-Native cultures. His 1994 book, “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” — about his travels with a Lakota elder — has become a cult classic, and now it’s been made into a movie that’s currently screening in Corvallis and opening in Portland Aug. 11 at Cinema 21, with dates still to come in Bend, Ashland, Salem, Pendleton, Klamath Falls and Sisters. (You can find confirmed theaters on the film's Facebook page.) It also recently made a splash in the U.K. due to an unlikely fan: musician Robert Plant.

Listen to our extended interview with Nerburn.

A Portland visual artist and a choreographer have come together for a performance work that bears witness to the nuclear annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the lingering, complex Japanese and American narratives that have evolved since. Yukiyo Kawano is a Japanese visual artist living in Portland who grew up in Hiroshima, and choreographer and dancer Meshi Chavez is from Albuquerque. They’ve performed their collaboration, "Suspended Moment," in places with strong ties to atomic history, like Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the Hanford Site, and are now bringing it to Portland on the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, as part of an event organized by Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility: Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki - from Despair to Hope on Aug. 9.

The Portland State University Chamber Choir sings way above its weight class, regularly challenging professional choirs to top laurels at international competitions, and a lot of the credit goes to PSU’s dynamic choral director, Ethan Sperry. Sperry has formed creative partnerships with collaborators from around the globe, including one of Europe’s hottest young Mozarts, Eriks Esenwald.

The Portland State Chamber Choir has premiered a number of Esenwald’s works over the years, and this week it is releasing the first U.S. album of his music, “The Doors of Heaven.”

Sperry stopped by OPB while they were recording the album last year, and he told Aaron Scott about how he came across this young Latvian composer well before he was discovered by the likes of the Boston Symphony.

Counties and towns in the path of the coming eclipse are all wrestling with two huge questions: Just how many people are going to show up for this massive celestial event, and how do we prepare for them? After all, travel officials are estimating 1 million people are headed to Oregon alone.

Grant County is in the odd position of having experienced big influxes of people a couple of times, from large firefighting teams to the annual Rainbow Gathering earlier this summer. We checked in with business owners to hear what they’ve learned about staying open for the extra patrons — or not.

Poet and teacher Peter Sears died July 20. Sears came to Oregon in 1974 and was active in the state’s literary community for more than 40 years, serving as Oregon’s seventh Poet Laureate from 2014 to 2016. One of his goals as Poet Laureate was to broaden the base of the “global linguistic community” — instead of reading by himself as he traveled the state, he sought out people creating works in their native languages to share the stage and read with him.

In 2014, he spoke with OPB’s “Think Out Loud” about the importance of reading and of how much he enjoyed sharing the stage with other writers. Listen to the full conversation here.

Once upon a time, a few hundred years ago, there were two kinds of keyboards: soft ones and loud ones. If you wanted to play loudly and softly on the same instrument, you were out of luck. Then one man in 17th century Florence changed that. Portland author Elizabeth Rusch tells his story in her new children’s book, “The Music of Life.” She and pianist collaborator David Saffert joined OPB’s Dave Miller to talk about the book and to illustrate what makes a piano so special.

Listen to the full conversation and performance here.

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