The Oregon Symphony has enjoyed working with Elizabeth Schwartz for many years. Her program notes for our classical subscription concerts have provided our audiences with interesting and engaging ways of connecting with the music and enriching their concert experience. The measure of audience appreciation for those notes can be found in the fact that they are one of the most widely read sections in the program book. Add to that Elizabeth’s professionalism, her attention to detail, her timeliness in delivery and her willingness to adapt to our audience’s needs and you have a partner you can count on, week after week throughout the entire season.
- Jim Fullan, VP of Communications and Marketing 2011-17, Oregon Symphony (retired)
Elizabeth Schwartz, a free-lance writer and musician based in the Portland area, has been writing program notes for classical music ensembles since 1994. She currently provides notes for the Oregon Symphony, Chamber Music Northwest, Portland Piano International, The Sunriver Music Festival and the Oregon Bach Festival. In addition, Ms. Schwartz has also written for the Britt Festival, Cascade Festival of Music, the Portland Baroque Orchestra, the Orquestra Sinfonica de Sao Paulo (Brazil) the Canterbury Festival (England), the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra (MA), and Ashmont-Hill Chamber Music (MA). From 1996-2000, Ms. Schwartz wrote articles, artist profiles and interviews with artists and composers such as George Crumb and John Adams, conductor Helmuth Rilling and violinist Pamela Frank to Sforzando magazine, a monthly guide to the Pacific Northwest’s performing arts scene.
Ms. Schwartz currently writes about arts and culture for Oregon Jewish Life, including artist profiles of Emmanuel Ax, Itzhak Perlman, and David Shifrin. She has also appeared on NPR’s “Performance Today” (now heard on American Public Media), where she was featured as an occasional commentator. Since 2008, Ms. Schwartz has co-hosted the oldest continuously-running Jewish music and culture radio program west of the Mississippi River, The Portland Jewish Hour (formerly the Portland Yiddish Hour), on 90.7 fm KBOO.
Ms. Schwartz holds a B.A. in music from the University of California and an M.M. from Boston University. She has also pursued extensive graduate studies in musicology, focusing on women in music history.
Standard Program Length: Notes are tailored to fit the requirements of each ensemble or concert. Typical orchestra concert notes (e.g., an overture, a concerto and a symphony) are approximately 1200 words (not including texts and translations). Concerts with more than three compositions require commensurately longer notes.
Concert Sound Bites: A brief paragraph summarizing each piece (usually 60-75 words per work). Concert sound bites provide a glimpse into what makes the work interesting and unique. They are used by several orchestras, in addition to full-length notes, as a quick entry point for engaging people with the music. Samples available upon request.
Composer biographies: Short 250-word biography of composers featured on a concert, in addition to notes on specific works. Samples available upon request.
Customization: Whenever possible, Ms. Schwartz includes discussions of unifying concepts or themes among the works on a given program. She welcomes the opportunity to interview guest soloists and artistic directors, in order to share their insights about the music with your audience.
I thought the notes you sent me were excellent - clear, substantive, and not frightening to people who are inclined to be frightened by such things - and I enjoyed reading them.
- Email from the late Michael Steinberg, musicologist and former annotator for the San Francisco Symphony
You've done a fine job with the programmes. As someone who writes them myself, I know the amount of work each one takes! It is an essential tool for a listener, as so much music requires context and understanding for true appreciation.
- Email from Michael Francis, Chief Conductor and Artistic Advisor, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra; Music Director Designate, The Florida Orchestra