Tuesday night’s performance by the Portland Cello Project demonstrated the group’s commitment to blending the classical with the contemporary, pop music with the avant garde, and world influences as well as local artists. The 12 members packed the Wonder Ballroom as they worked their way through an eclectic mix of music with grace and power. One chair in the center allowed each performer to lead a song.
Several guest artists played, including Adam Shearer (John Weinland), Nick Jaina, Laura Gibson, and Musee Mecanique, among others, adapting their own music in collaboration with the cellists. Often these simple orchestrations added weight to or deepened the emotional intensity of the original songs. Their performance of “Take Five” was a stellar foray into jazz, as was their performance of “CelloBop” music in collaboration with Gideon Freudmann.
After the intermission, four members played a solid rendition of Barber’s Adagio for Strings in honor of the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. I always associate this song with the movie Platoon, which features it several times, and I remember reading once that it is the most performed piece of music in American repertories (a claim which I cannot verify, though it was rated as the saddest piece of classical music by listeners of the BBC’s “Today” program).
It was a treat to see the Portland Cello Project on such a large scale, and in such a large venue with a crowded house. Their music is well-suited to the space and I look forward to seeing and hearing them again. Plus, they played the themes from The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Brothers between sets! On cellos!
Posted by Dusty Hoesly