Chamber Music Northwest (CMNW) manages an unusual combination: classical music played by musicians of the highest caliber in an informal, intimate setting. Since 1971, chamber musicians have flocked to Southeast Portland’s Reed College to play the great classic repertoire with their friends. Music fans share picnics and wine on the campus lawn before heading indoors to hear the sublime music.
Returning annually, the festival is one of Portland’s rites of summer. The festival returns June 22–July 26, 2020, with concerts held daily. View their festival catalogue for a full lineup of events. (CMNW also produces a shorter winter festival in January, but picnics on the lawns of Reed College aren’t involved.)
History of CMNW Summer Festival
The festival was created by violinist Sergiu Luca, who served as artistic director until 1981, when he was replaced by clarinetist David Shifrin. Prior to becoming a professor of music at Yale University and artistic director of the Chamber Music Society at Yale series, Shifrin was artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center from 1992 to 2004. Those connections have kept the pipeline of excellent musicians flowing to Portland, summer after summer. These include young musicians and ensembles chosen for the Protégé Project, who receive coaching from great musicians before rehearsing and performing with them at the festival.
Over the years, the summer festival has evolved, spreading out from its Reed College base to clubs and concert halls across the city. The music has changed, too, extending to include music from the 20th and 21st centuries, exploring musical Americana like classic jazz standards from artists like Dizzy Gillespie and a composer’s take on 1960s rock-n-roll fantasy.
Upcoming Dates & Times
- June 22
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…
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.
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.
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,”…
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.
Cellist and composer Zoë Keating is a one-woman orchestra. She uses a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to record layer upon layer of cello, creating intricate, haunting and compelling music. Zoë is known for both her use of technology – which she uses to sample her cello onstage – and for her DIY approach, releasing…
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.
Chamber Music Northwest’s annual summer festival combines high-caliber classical music with a laid-back atmosphere.