Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Music professor composes busy year

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Don Appert wrote music for John Donne’s “Holy Sonnet 14” in 2009. The Clark College Concert Choir was going to sing its debut, but that didn’t work out. So more than a year after he wrote it, Appert turned to the First United Methodist Sanctuary Choir, which he directs, to give life to the notes he wrote.

The choir premiered the piece in a Feb. 27 church service.

“That’s a pretty good place to do it,” said Appert, chairman of Clark’s music department. “The text is religious text.”

The past year has been a productive one for Appert. He wrapped up a concertino for bass clarinet and strings, which he wrote for renowned clarinetist Rocco Parisi. The Clark College Orchestra, which Appert directs, will premier the piece in a year. He wrote a trombone quartet, which a former teacher recorded. He wrote two pieces for his daughters’ weddings, one last summer and one planned for this summer.

His conducting duties keep him busy, as well. In Vancouver, he conducted the Clark College Orchestra as it performed Josef Suk’s “A Fairy Tale, Opus 16,” among other pieces, in a free concert Wednesday at the Vancouver School of Arts & Academics. He will travel to Bacau, Romania, to guest conduct the philharmonic orchestra there March 24. In Portland, he will conduct a concert by the Oregon Sinfonietta at 3 p.m. March 13 at Sunnyside Adventist Church.

“I’m really excited about the concert because it’s wonderful music and the orchestra has been working hard,” he said.

Comedy veteran joins Vancouver improv troupe

Improvisational comedy veteran Jill Headen has performed in cities throughout the United States and England.

When she moved from Dallas, Texas, to Vancouver in November, Headen joined up with ComedySportz-Portland and Sideburns, another Portland-based improv troupe.

Headen found it to be a smooth transition, as the improv sensibilities of Dallas and Portland are similar, she said.

Headen, a 37-year-old technical writer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, has performed with Sideburns at Slocum House, and now she’s making her Magenta Theater debut.

Sideburns and Magenta Improv Theater are offering a double-feature show on March 18. Magenta Improv Theater’s performance begins at 7:30 p.m., followed by Sideburns at 9:30 p.m. Doors open at 7.

Admission to both shows is $7. For the Sideburns show only, there is a suggested donation of $5. Magenta Theater is at 606 Main St., Vancouver (http://www.magentatheater.com).

Headen said she’s looking forward to the performance. She enjoys the spontaneity of improv, and the collaborative, supportive culture of her troupe.

“It’s kind of like playing,” she said. “You’re 7 years old again. I get to be a pirate or a princess or whatever other crazy character I want on stage. It’s a hoot.”

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