It’s that time of year in Portland, when the Vaux’s swifts take their graceful, choreographed arc down Chapman Elementary School’s chimney, a momentary lodging on their journey south. This year, they get their own musical accompaniment, with two pop-up concerts taking place September 23–24 that riff on swiftean themes of migration and harmony. In partnership with the Audubon Society, contemporary ensemble Fear No Music kicks off its 2018–19 season, “Worldwide Welcome,” with a celebration of migration and inclusivity, centering around one of Portland’s most breathtaking natural events—and showcasing some of Oregon’s best classical musicians.
Acclaimed pianist and Portland native Kathleen Supové will host both concerts, guiding the audience through a soaring and diving musical exploration of the swifts, while touching on themes of home, immigration, and open borders.
Sunday’s event at the Steel Door Gallery, just two blocks from the school where the birds bed down, is titled “Song of the Swifts,” and premieres new work by three musical champions: Jay Derderian (a Portland State alum and rising star in the classical music world), Randall Woolf (who, among many other accomplishments, worked with Maurice Sendak to compose the music for the ballet version of Where the Wild Things Are), and Paula Matthusen (an experimental, award-winning composer). Visual art by Portlander Kris Jones will be on display, depicting the swifts in rusted steel, frozen in flight as they descend upon that famous chimney.
Monday night’s concert, “Shared Paths: The Music of Migration,” will be held at the Old Church and features will feature Fear No Music musicians, alongside guest clarinetist James Shields (the Oregon Symphony’s principal clarinet) performing several pieces from around the globe, including one that was born close to home—a composition by Oregonian Katie Palka.
Both performances are offered, fittingly, in partnership with the Audobon Society.
4 p.m. Sun, Sept 23, Steel Door Gallery, $10–20
7:30 p.m. Mon, Sept 24, The Old Church, $10–25