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).

Dance in Portland

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

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.

The Portland Book Festival

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

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.

Upcoming Events at the Schnitz

Visit Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall for one of these upcoming performances.

Beethoven’s Ninth
Apr. 4–6, 2020

Beethoven’s Ninth

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24–$125

EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. 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
Ten Grands 20th Anniversary Show
Saturday, Apr. 11, 2020

Ten Grands 20th Anniversary Show

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $28 to $95

Ten Grands Celebrates 20 Years of Supporting Music Education Ten Amazing Pianists – One Sensational Stage Featuring local legends and rising stars from the Pacific Northwest, with special guests Hunter Noack (In A Landscape: Classical Music in the Wild) and Thomas Lauderdale (Pink Martini) Performers include: Vocal legends Julianne Johnson-Weiss, Erin Tamblyn, Haley Johnsen, Molly…

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

EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. 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…

Music
Changmu Dance Company
Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2020

Changmu Dance Company

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Varies

Founded by celebrated choreographer Kim MaeJa in 1976, ChangMu Dance Company has transformed Korean dance through innovative choreography combined with poetry and painting. Along with its creativity, ChangMu also displays the troupe’s mastery of traditional Korean dance, including shaman dance, Buddhist dance, folk dance, and court dance. ChangMu’s mixed repertory program will showcase the impressive…

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

Kristin Chenoweth in Concert – For the Girls

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $45-$135

EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. 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…

Music
Jim Jefferies - Oblivious
Friday, Apr. 17, 2020

Jim Jefferies – Oblivious

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $39.50 – $59.50

Jim Jefferies is one of the most popular and respected comedians of his generation, entertaining audiences across the globe with his provocative, belief-challenging, and thought-provoking comedy. He was recently named one of the top 5 touring comedians in the world. After receiving rave reviews for his 2018 international stand up tour, The Unusual Punishment Tour,…

Comedy
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

EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. 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
 Oregon Historical Society Presents: Erika Lee
Tuesday, Apr. 28, 2020

Oregon Historical Society Presents: Erika Lee

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $30 – $80

One of the nation’s leading immigration and Asian American historians, Erika Lee teaches American history at the University of Minnesota, where she is a Regents Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and the Director of the Immigration History Research Center. She is the author of four notable books, including most recently, America…

Readings & Talks
2020 Verselandia!
Thursday, Apr. 30, 2020

2020 Verselandia!

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $10-$70

Verselandia! is the annual high school poetry slam presented by Literary Arts. It is the Grand Slam for the winners from individual school slams hosted by public high schools. High school poets compete for five great prizes. Join us on April 30, 2020, for the ninth Verselandia!

Readings & Talks
China Forbes: 50!
Saturday, May 2, 2020

China Forbes: 50!

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $30–$105

EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. 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
Portland Youth Philharmonic Presents: Nielsen's Sinfonia Espansiva
Sunday, May 3, 2020

Portland Youth Philharmonic Presents: Nielsen's Sinfonia Espansiva

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $10-$60

We wrap up our 96th season with not one, but TWO pianists – the second prize winners of the 2019 PYP Piano Competition, presented by Portland Piano International. 16-year-old Zayan Akmal performs Oregon native’s Ernest Bloch’s Scherzo Fantasque for Piano and Orchestra, and 16-year-old Jenna Tu presents César Franck’s Symphonic Variations for Piano and Orchestra….

Music
 Chris Botti
Monday, May 4, 2020

Chris Botti

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $40–$115

EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. 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…

Music
The Wailin' Jennys
Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Wailin' Jennys

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $27.50 – $45.00

One of today’s most respected folk groups, The Wailin’ Jennys are touring for their most recent release, Fifteen. This long-awaited follow-up to Bright Morning Stars finds the trio bringing their passion and stellar musicianship to a carefully curated collection of some of their favorite songs, including tracks by Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton….

Music
Colson Whitehead
Thursday, May 7, 2020

Colson Whitehead

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $90.00 – $355.00 (series)

Colson Whitehead is a novelist, essayist, and reviewer whose most recent works include 2019’s The Nickel Boys and 2016’s The Underground Railroad, a New York Times best seller which won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the National Book Award and was named one of the Ten Best Books of the Year by theNew York…

Readings & Talks
Joshua Bell
May 9–11, 2020

Joshua Bell

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall $24-$125

EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. 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