Dana Reason, the founder of the “Between the Cracks” performance series, is devoting this year’s series to the work of female composers and musicians – with a special nod to a creative force who’s been vital to Reason’s own development as a musician.

This season’s series is meant in part as a tribute to Pauline Oliveros, an accordionist and composer who is a pioneer in the development of modern art music and also has crafted a philosophy around the notion of “Deep Listening.” Each performance in this year’s series will feature an Oliveros composition.

Reason, the director of Oregon State University’s Popular Music Studies program, has studied and performed with Oliveros, who recently turned 80 and still teaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and Mills College in the Bay Area.

“She’s been a pioneer on so many levels,” Reason said of Oliveros. “She’s been sort of a role model.”

And Oliveros’ work, which explores the relationship between the performer and the audience, is right on target for the mission of “Between the Cracks,” which aims to explore contemporary and creative music performance and development.

This year’s season starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Arts Center in Corvallis with a performance featuring Reason on piano and Seattle cellist Lori Goldston.

“She’s pretty much a phenomenon in Seattle,” Reason said of Goldston, who likely is best known for her cello work during Nirvana’s famous performance on “Unplugged.”

Reason said she’s planning a concert tour through Europe with Goldston this summer. For Saturday’s performance, expect a date heavy on improvisation – another Reason passion. “We have a style that’s emerging,” Reason said.

The other concerts in this year’s series also feature female musicians, composers and improvisers – and Reason said women increasingly are coming into their own in a field that tends to be dominated by men.

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Today, she said, “The playing field is a little more level for women composers and improvisers. Is it 100 percent level? I would say not.”

And Oliveros has been an inspiration for a number of these women, Reason said: “She’s not looking for permission to create this type of music.”

This year’s series does feature one disappointment for Reason: It will not feature an appearance by Oliveros herself. “We couldn’t raise the money,” she said.


Some odds and ends that didn't fit into the Entertainer story:

-- The group in which Reason played with Oliveros was called The Space Between, which prompted me to ask if there was a connection between that group and the name of the "Between the Cracks" series. Reason said, in essence, maybe, and noted at least one similarity between the group and the series: "It's the sort of music that ultimately falls between the cracks."

-- It turns out that Reason has spent time studying and writing about female improvisers, and that work has included interviews with nearly 20 notable women in the field. It is a field where it can be difficult for women to make a mark. "If you don't speak," Reason said, "somebody speaks for you." But there are signs that women are making progress, including the recent Grammy-winning album "The Mosiac Project" by Teri Lyne Carrington, which features all female jazz players. 

-- Speaking of improvisation, that's the goal of another Reason project, "The Red Room," occasional evenings of all-improvised music at Corvallis' Interzone. Watch your Entertainer calendars for the next installment of "The Red Room."

-- Reason's next CD is due sometime this fall, according to her website. 

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