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Portland Chamber Orchestra offers two world premieres at Reed

by: David F. Ashton, Duncan Neilson, composer of “Heart of the Wild” takes a moment to talk with young music lovers, moments before his latest work is rehearsed for the evening world premiere concert.

The Portland Chamber Orchestra typically performs in the Kaul Auditorium at Reed College. But their afternoon rehearsal, and the evening concert, were special events on January 27th.

'We have two world premieres tonight,' Rosalie Neilson, Vice President of the orchestra told us. 'This is a special day for us. Portland Chamber Orchestra plays the classics. But, we also are bringing arts together with a multimedia presentation.'

The free afternoon dress rehearsal was special for kids. Many of the dozens of kids who came were treated to snacks and face painting. Then, before the rehearsal began, Duncan Neilson, the composer of 'Heart of the Wild' - a work about to have its world premiere - talked with the youngsters about his work.

'I've been studying bear imagery in folklore around the world,' Neilson told them, 'and found the bear is frequently associated with rejuvenation. The bear sleeps in the winter, and wakes up in the spring -- much like springtime awakens plants and animals.'

Neilson's orchestral piece was accompanied by visuals projected on a screen above the orchestra, and by narration.

The other world premiere was composer Forrest Pierce's 'Great River of the West', another composition highlighting the importance of nature.

The youngsters were also inspired by Andy Liang. He's the concertmaster of the Portland Youth Philharmonic and he's a 15-year violin student. Liang was the featured soloist, performing Samuel Barber's 'Violin Concerto, opus 14'.

This 38-member orchestra has been a part of Portland for 60 years. Their season will continue through spring. For more information, visit their Internet website, www.portlandchamberorchestra.org.