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Regional Interests

Oregon Symphony brings back Portland waterfront concert

Members of the Oregon Symphony perform for a large crowd at the annual Waterfront Concert and Festival. After a four-year hiatus, the Symphony is bringing the festival back.
Members of the Oregon Symphony perform for a large crowd at the annual Waterfront Concert and Festival. After a four-year hiatus, the Symphony is bringing the festival back.

After a four-year hiatus, the Oregon Symphony will bring back the Waterfront Concert and Festival on Sept. 4.

The festival played each summer from 2003 to 2017 until the city cut public funding — forcing the Symphony to temporarily suspend the annual festival. Oregon Symphony CEO Scott Showalter said that the Symphony was able to secure enough private funding to put on the free event for this year.

“We’ll hope to be able to do it in future years, but we will have to see how funding works,” he said.

The free event will be the Oregon Symphony’s first live concert in 18 months.

“Oregon Symphony as the largest performing arts institution in the largest city in this state feels it’s imperative that we show support, help encourage locals and visitors alike to return to downtown Portland in a safe manner,” Showalter said.

Other musical acts including the Portland Ballet and Portland Opera are also slated to perform at the festival.

The festival will also serve as a swan song of sorts for outgoing music director Carlos Kalmar. On Saturday, Kalmar will ceremonially transfer his duties to incoming director David Danzmayr during the concert.

“We will be having a literal baton handoff between our now music director laureate, Carlos Kalmar ... to our incoming music director, David Danzmayr,” Showalter said. “And now we welcome our newest leader and we debut him on our stage for the entire community to see.”

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Oregon Symphony has had to adopt certain safety measures to ensure that everyone, from the audience to the musicians, is safe. They are requiring that all attendees show either their vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test for at least 72 hours.

“Additionally, people will be required to wear masks when not eating or drinking. We will enforce social distancing and limit the capacity of the number of people who are able to view it. So we encourage people to come early where they will be directed to a spot that is spaced out from other people on the lawn,” Showalter said.

Those who aren’t able to attend can still listen to the live concert on All Classical Portland, 89.9 FM.

Despite the challenges, Showalter said that the concert is a chance for the community to come together again and listen to live music in a year that has been difficult for many.

“This is what arts can do, they bring people together. And while we want to ensure the safety of our greater community, we also want to create opportunities for people to reconnect and rejoice around live music,” he said.

For a full list of performances, click here.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting