Port Townsend’s bandoneon player brings tango music and more to not one but two stages in January.
This Saturday sees the return of Bertram Levy and his Tangoheart Quintet to The Rose Theatre, followed by a solo performance by Levy at Trinity United Methodist Church’s first Candlelight Concert of the year.
The Jan. 14 Tangoheart concert marks the third Rose Theatre performance for the authentic Argentine “orquesta tipica,” which Levy founded. The premier Pacific Northwest tango ensemble last appeared on the theater stage in a sold-out concert in 2013, and most recently appeared in Port Townsend in the fall, giving a cameo performance at the PT Deep Squeeze Accordion Festival.
The group is to perform the orchestral repertoire of three composers from the “golden age” of tango – Osvaldo Pugliese, Julian Plaza and Astor Piazzola – each of whom have a different style and approach to the art form. Levy is to offer some commentary between pieces, and said that the audience can expect to both have fun and become informed listeners.
“I believe, in a concert, that people should not just be entertained, but there should be some form of education as well,” Levy said.
Levy has dedicated the past 25 years to the Argentine tango, which he describes as an art form similar to American jazz. “It has African rhythms and operatic themes; the orchestral repertoire is very highly evolved.” The highly rhythmic music is created without drums, Levy said, and the beat is created through the accents of the different instruments.
Tangoheart is composed of jazz arranger, performer and longtime tanguero Andy Carr on piano; Todd Gowers, Seattle’s “bassist for all seasons”; world music specialist Ruthie Dornfeld on violin; Seattle Symphony’s emeritus violist Dorothy Shapiro on viola; and Levy on the bandoneon.
The Candlelight Concert on Thursday, Jan. 26 features Levy in a solo performance. The first part of the program includes classical organ repertoire, with pieces by Scarlatti, Bach and Mozart, followed by compositions and arrangements by Rodolfo Daluisio, with whom Levy studied at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica “Manuel de Falla” in Buenos Aires.
Levy said that he has been playing and studying the classical pieces only in private, thus making this concert a debut for him. The program serves as a benefit for Jefferson County Food Banks.
Levy came to PT from the United Kingdom in 1976, finding the aesthetic of the seaport town similar to the villages with which he was familiar. The following year, he founded the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes at Centrum. He has recorded numerous albums, and has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and U.K. He has also been highlighted in several national broadcasts of “A Prairie Home Companion” with Garrison Keillor. In 1996 he was invited by the Mexican government to represent the United States in the Juan Reynosa festival that toured Mexico.