The Essentials

Portland Cello Project’s 10th Anniversary + An Oral History of Death: November’s Pop Culture Hot List

The concert, book, and festival you can’t miss this month.

By Fiona McCann October 10, 2016 Published in the November 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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The Band

A decade ago, 10 cellists took to the Doug Fir stage to blast the milling, booze-swilling crowd with a kind of music more traditionally associated with concert halls. What became known as the Portland Cello Project went down so well, they did it again—at other clubs around the city (Mississippi Studios, Holocene), and then around the country, in high-energy performances that led to records and raves, fluctuating lineups, and, this month, an anniversary show at the Schnitz (November 25) that promises new compositions alongside old favorites. 

The Book

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“Our fear of death and our desire for human connection are a package deal,” says Casey Jarman (author and Portland Monthly contributor, pictured) in the introduction to his book Death: An Oral History (October 25, Zest Books), as he proceeds to connect us to a cast of people interacting in various ways with the Grim Reaper. Among those he interviews in this thought-provoking plunge into the dark are a grief services coordinator who notes the importance of a funeral buffer buddy; a 30-something whose twin brother shot himself at 13; a scientist who puts forth her idea for a “psychedelic hospice”; a community organizer who recalls the toll gang violence took on her peers; and a self-described “Life-Cycle Celebrant” who name-checks what she says is the largest death café in the world. (Spoiler: it’s right here in Portland.) 

The Festival

The annual Siren Nation Festival—showcasing original art by women—returns for its tenth year (November 3–14) with comedy (featuring Caitlin Gill, JoAnn Schinderle, and Alyssa Yeoman), burlesque, storytelling, and shows from Jenny Hval and Natasha Kmeto among the offerings. Heed the call!

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