Artwise, as one might say, Portland, Oregon, is a special place. It is the home of a statewide symphony orchestra, its own opera company, a visual arts museum, a historical museum, various kinds of theater, and all the mutually supportive enterprises which go to make up what is locally called an Art-quake. Even—or especially—the incoming Portland mayor has joined the parade: Bud Clark is none other than the sensitive soul who posed, backside to the camera and rain coat flung open before an art object, for that memorable poster captioned “Expose yourself to art.” How’s that for class?

At the present moment all the Portland artshearts are throbbing to the beat of a new space for symphony concerts. Dubbed the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in honor of its major donor, this edifice is the old Paramount Theater, a movie house dating from the late 1920s, that halcyon era when...


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