The Portland Cello Project Monday will conclude the 2011-2012 Club Weisiger series at the Norton Center for the Arts.
Created in 2007, the Portland Cello Project — or PCP, as their fans affectionately call them — has wowed audiences all over the country with extravagant performances, mixing genres, and blurring musical lines and perceptions, wherever they go.
No two shows are alike. With a repertoire now numbering more than 800 pieces of music, most of which were not even originally designed for an ensemble of cellos.
“(PCP) concerts are purposely suitable for all demographics: boogie-ing grannies, head nodding hipsters, budding middle-school musicians and everyone in between because bringing everyone together in a spirit of collaboration only adds to the philosophy of diversity that PCP proudly upholds,” said CMJ magazine.
As a special Central Kentucky bonus, the Portland Cello Project will welcome cellist and Richmond native Ben Sollee as a guest artist for the Danville performance. Sollee, who has been playing the cello since grammar school, is also well known for his genre-bending mix of music styles, which include folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B. PCP, along with Sollee, will perform works from both repertoires.
As an additional layer of fun, “Tweet Seats” will be available for this concert by calling the box office in advance. Those in these specially-designated seats will be invited to tweet their comments live during the concert, participating in conversation with the performers, local journalists, and Norton Center staff. Comments will be projected on screen during breaks, giving everyone a chance to follow along. Join the Twitter conversation at #NortonLIVE.
“The Club Weisiger series proved to be an exciting addition to the Norton Center season,” said Steve Hoffman, Norton Center executive director. “The Portland Cello Project is unique and making grand gestures into a new blending of classical music with indie sensibility. Or perhaps indie music with classical sensibility. Adding local favorite Ben Sollee to the performance and offering ‘Tweet Seats’ furthers how this concert is a perfect ending to a series of club-meets-arts concerts.”
More about PCP
The Cello Project’s mission is three-fold: 1. To bring the cello to places where people wouldn’t normally hear it (sports bars in Texas, punk clubs in Boston, halftime at Portland Trailblazer games). 2. To play music on the cello not normally heard on the instrument (from Beethoven to Arvo Pärt, Kanye West to Britney Spears). 3. To build bridges across all musical communities by bringing a diverse assortment of musical collaborators on stage when they play.
PCP has collaborated with musicians such as Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul and Mary), The Dandy Warhols, Mirah, Laura Gibson, Thao, Eric Bachmann (Crooked Fingers), Matt Haimovitz, Dan Bern, among many others.
The cello is more-or-less the only constant in this amorphous collective from Portland, Ore. The ensemble, led by Douglas Jenkins, who often pens 15-20 new scores for each performance, has led the band through two previous CDs of original songs and covers, and has been at the heart of the band’s rise to immense popularity in its hometown.
The group’s newest full-length recording, “Homage,” was released May 1. It features orchestral covers of hip-hop favorites, including Lil Wayne’s “She Will,” Kanye West’s “All Of The Lights,” OutKast’s “Hey Ya,” and an epic take on Jay-Z and Kanye’s “H.A.M.”
Although it’s no longer an anomaly for popular musicians to work with an orchestra, it tends to be on the symphony’s terms, in the symphony’s concert halls, and for the symphony’s exclusive rates.
The classically trained cellists of The Portland Cello Project are working to reverse that tradition by making their talents accessible to their guests’ wildest dreams.
The Norton Center engagement with Portland Cello Project is recognized as the 2012 Stafford Memorial Concert. Annually, one concert honors the memory of Jack Stafford, former manager of the Danville Whirlpool facility.
A grant from the Whirlpool Foundation to Centre College helped fund the original Musica da Camera Series. Later, the fund was expanded and continues to enable the Norton Center to offer exceptional performances.
IF YOU GO
Portland Cello Project
7:30 p.m. Monday
Weisiger Theatre, Norton Center for the Arts
Tickets: (859) 236-4692 or www.nortoncenter.com