Oregon Arts Watch

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

This historic downtown performance spaces houses the Oregon Symphony and hosts many touring acts.

3 min read Downtown

Oregon Arts Watch

The huge “Portland” sign that dominates Southwest Broadway in downtown Portland belongs to the city’s most important theater space, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The concert hall is home base for the Oregon Symphony and several other large performing arts groups. Close to downtown parks and restaurants and part of the city’s Cultural District, the Schnitz (as locals call it) resounds with large-scale music, dance and lecture events.

History of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Designed for vaudeville shows and silent movies and opened in 1928, the 2,776- seat space switched gears in 1930 and became a “talkie” movie palace. Then called the Paramount, it also hosted occasional performances by big stars (Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Bob Dylan, among many others). As the movie business declined, the Paramount shifted gears in the ‘70s, becoming a central rock ’n’ roll tour stop. The era’s rock royalty, from Stevie Wonder and Queen to Frank Zappa and Talking Heads, held court in this hall.

In 1983, the city purchased the Paramount, began a major renovation, and restored the theater to something close to its original splendor, the last of the old vaudeville and movie houses that once dominated Southwest Broadway. It was named for the leading private donor for the renovation, Arlene Schnitzer, a leading local arts philanthropist.

Resident Companies at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Oregon Symphony Orchestra

The Oregon Symphony, the oldest symphony west of the Mississippi River and the sixth oldest in the country, is a prime tenant of the concert hall. Under the baton of music director Carlos Kalmar, the Oregon Symphony offers a busy schedule of classical concerts, an innovative pops program, and multimedia concerts designed for families.

Classical Music in Portland

Portland's opera, symphony and other companies offer an ongoing lineup of inspiring performances, from timeless works to modern interpretations.

Portland Youth Philharmonic & Metropolitan Youth Symphony

Two youth orchestras also call the concert hall home. The Portland Youth Philharmonic is the oldest orchestra of its kind in the country, established in 1924, and is known for its adventurous programming, which began with legendary conductor Jacob Avshalomov, whose 43-year tenure (1954-1995) was marked by collaborations with many composers, including Leonard Bernstein. The orchestra regularly graduates its student musicians into major music academies and adult orchestras. So does the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, now in its 44th year, which also includes jazz ensembles among its many musician groupings.

White Bird

The city’s biggest dance presenter, White Bird, began in 1997 with a concert of dances by the late Paul Taylor. The company now brings both large-scale modern dance and big showcases of dance from around the world to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. (White Bird also presents at the Newmark Theatre, across the street from the Schnitz, and Lincoln Hall, five blocks away).

The Portland Book Festival

Portland Book Festival (formerly “Wordstock”) returns every November with an impressive (and extensive) lineup of local and national authors.

Literary Arts

The central producer of lectures by visiting authors is Literary Arts. A key sign of the importance of literary matters to the city is how often it fills the concert hall to overflowing with its readings and lectures. Literary Arts also stages the Portland Book Festival each November, bringing marquee authors to the stage at the Schnitz.

Touring Performances at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Although resident companies occupy much of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall’s calendar, the venue also hosts many other events and touring shows. Lectures (Dan Rather, Madeleine Albright, and Anderson Cooper, for example), concerts (Tony Bennett, Andrew Bird, Thom Yorke), regular showcase events from the Portland Jazz Festival, and many others, pop up through the year.

Dance in Portland

Portland dance has an inventive spirit that welcomes collaborations and often spills beyond the generally accepted boundaries of “dance.”

Upcoming events

At the Schnitz

Editor's Pick
Shostakovich’s Eleventh
Feb. 22–24, 2020

Shostakovich’s Eleventh

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24

Concertmaster Sarah Kwak takes center stage in opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti’s sensuous and expressive Violin Concerto. Dmitri Shostakovich’s cinematic Eleventh Symphony depicts the struggle and drama of the Russian Revolution of 1905 in vivid detail. “These concerts feature a pair of mid-century compositions: an American violin concerto and a Russian symphony. Oregon Symphony concertmaster…

Editor's Pick
Music
Editor's Pick
Prohibition Party with the Oregon Symphony
Mar. 21–22, 2020

Prohibition Party with the Oregon Symphony

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24 – $110

Relive the 1920s in all its decadence. The Oregon Symphony will take you through the dark cabarets and speakeasies of New York, Paris, Berlin, London and Atlantic City, featuring the top hits of the decade, from Rudy Vallée to Josephine Baker and from Kurt Weill to King Oliver. This concert will feature vintage imagery and…

Editor's Pick
Music
Tituss Burgess In Concert
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020

Tituss Burgess In Concert

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $32–$112

Long before he became the breakout star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Tituss Burgess was wowing music lovers with his larger-than-life performances on Broadway and beyond. Now the Emmy-nominated star brings his incomparable flair and joyful energy to songs from The Wiz, Porgy and Bess, Bette Midler and more.

Music
Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020

Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $40

Presented by Oregon Symphony. Singer, composer and actor Lyle Lovett has broadened the definition of American music in a diverse career that spans 14 albums. The Grammy-winning Texas trailblazer and his backup band perform for the first time alongside the Oregon Symphony, combining his rich sound, singular gift for storytelling, and wry sense of humor…

Music
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert
Feb. 28–Mar. 1, 2020

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in Concert

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $35

Presented by Oregon Symphony. Get ready to fight a dragon, swim with merpeople, and find out just who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire. For the first time ever, audiences can rediscover the magic of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire while the Oregon Symphony performs Patrick Doyle’s unforgettable score.

For Kids
Music
Oregon Symphony Dance Party
Sunday, Mar. 8, 2020

Oregon Symphony Dance Party

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $11

Presented by Oregon Symphony. The best dance parties are brought to you by a full orchestra! With “Mambo” from West Side Story and Leroy Anderson’s Sandpaper Ballet, this is a line-up sure to get you off your feet and dancing in your seat.

For Kids
Music
Berio’s Sinfonia by Rose Bond
Mar. 14–16, 2020

Berio’s Sinfonia by Rose Bond

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24

Presented by Oregon Symphony. A musico-cultural portrait of New York life in the late 1960s, Luciano Berio’s monumental Sinfonia is a bubbling crucible of sounds, styles, ideas, texts and moods. Portland’s own award-winning media artist Rose Bond, whose previous collaboration with the Oregon Symphony packed the hall, returns to craft eye-popping animation to illuminate this…

Music
Nas: Illmatic - 25th Anniversary
Thursday, Mar. 19, 2020

Nas: Illmatic – 25th Anniversary

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $50-$110

Hip hop icon Nas teams up with the Oregon Symphony to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his critically acclaimed debut album, Illmatic. Experience one of the defining records of ’90s hip hop, showcasing the rapper’s meticulous rhymes and cutting social commentary in this unforgettable symphonic rendition.

Music
Beethoven’s Ninth
Apr. 4–6, 2020

Beethoven’s Ninth

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24–$125

Beethoven’s profound musical statements about freedom, equality and humanity resonate even more powerfully today than they did when the Ninth Symphony premiered almost 200 years ago. Oregon Repertory Singers join the orchestra and four soloists for a full-throated celebration of Beethoven’s final masterpiece.

Music
The Flaming Lips with the Oregon Symphony
Monday, Apr. 13, 2020

The Flaming Lips with the Oregon Symphony

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Tickets start at $40

The Flaming Lips will perform their iconic 1999 masterpiece The Soft Bulletin in its entirety, joined by the Oregon Symphony. The ever-evolving psychedelic pop-rock group led by legendary front man Wayne Coyne will create an unmissable, moving, and magical experience. The band’s career breakthrough album featured hit singles “Race for the Prize” and “Waitin’ for…

Music
Kristin Chenoweth in Concert – For the Girls
Thursday, Apr. 16, 2020

Kristin Chenoweth in Concert – For the Girls

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $45-$135

The wildly talented star of Broadway, film and TV joins the Oregon Symphony for a spectacular evening featuring songs from her latest album, For The Girls. Celebrated for originating the role of Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway smash hit Wicked, the Emmy and Tony award-winning actress will pay heartfelt tribute to remarkable women…

Music
Oregon Symphony Annual Community Concert
Sunday, Apr. 19, 2020

Oregon Symphony Annual Community Concert

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Free

Everyone’s invited! Join the Oregon Symphony for its annual FREE community concert. The program will include a side-by-side piece with members of the David Douglas High School orchestra, winner of the 2019 Schnitzer Wonder Award. Tickets are free but you must reserve a ticket by calling the Oregon symphony ticket office at 503-228-1353 Tickets: Limit…

Music
Michael Curry’s Night of the Mayas
Apr. 25–27, 2020

Michael Curry’s Night of the Mayas

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24–$125

Award-winning designer Michael Curry – whose 2017 imagining of Stravinsky’s “Persephone” dazzled three sold-out halls – returns to the Oregon Symphony, drawing from ancient Mayan tradition to create a mysterious, supernatural setting for Revueltas’ 1939 film score La Noche de los Mayas.

Music
China Forbes: 50!
Saturday, May 2, 2020

China Forbes: 50!

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $30–$105

Join Portland legend China Forbes for a 50th birthday celebration of her favorite songs as she takes the stage for her first solo performance with the Oregon Symphony!

Music
 Chris Botti
Monday, May 4, 2020

Chris Botti

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $40–$115

There’s nothing like a Chris Botti concert. He’s the complete package: a dazzling trumpeter, a brilliant bandleader, and a born showman whose joy at being on stage is infectious. Now he returns to dazzle hometown fans with the unparalleled crystalline and poetic sounds that have made him one of the most successful performers of all…

Music
Joshua Bell
May 9–11, 2020

Joshua Bell

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24-$125

The consummate violinist returns to perform Dvořák’s gloriously melodic Violin Concerto. Composed during World War II, Shostakovich called his Eighth Symphony “a poem of suffering” and “an attempt to reflect the terrible tragedy of war.”

Music
Bronfman Plays Mozart
May 16–18, 2020

Bronfman Plays Mozart

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24–$125

Yefim Bronfman, “a marvel of digital dexterity, warmly romantic sentiment, and jaw-dropping bravura” (Chicago Tribune), performs Mozart’s dramatic C Minor Piano Concerto. An American in Paris, inspired by George Gershwin’s Parisian escapades during the Roaring Twenties, portrays the cheerful hustle and bustle of the city of love.

Music
Performing Arts
The Dandy Warhols with the Oregon Symphony
Thursday, May 21, 2020

The Dandy Warhols with the Oregon Symphony

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24–$115

Since forming in 1994, alt-pop darlings The Dandy Warhols have emerged as one of the most innovative bands on the international scene. Now the Dandys return to share the stage with their hometown orchestra for the first time ever, in a show featuring new favorites and classics from the band’s 25-year career.

Music
Performing Arts
An African American Requiem
Saturday, May 23, 2020

An African American Requiem

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $20–$100

Oregon Symphony and Resonance Ensemble join forces to present the World premiere of An African American Requiem, Portland composer Damien Geter’s bold, thought-provoking musical response to violence against African Americans in the United States. Combining traditional Latin Requiem texts with civil rights declarations, poetry, and the famous last words of Eric Garner, “I can’t breathe,”…

Music
Performing Arts
Oregon Symphony Presents Ravel’s Bolero
May 30–June 1, 2020

Oregon Symphony Presents Ravel’s Bolero

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24–$125

The longest crescendo in the repertoire, Ravel’s magnificent Boléro begins at pianissimo and builds up to such astonishing intensity that it brings audiences to their feet every time.

Music
Performing Arts
The Moldau and Water Music
June 6–8, 2020

The Moldau and Water Music

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24–$125

Handel’s joyful Water Music, Smetana’s beloved Vltava (The Moldau), and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ masterful “Sea Symphony” close the Classical Season in a program that celebrates the beauty, power, and mystery of bodies of water the world over.

Music
Performing Arts