Eugene Symphony’s SymFest: The Classiest Beer Fest in Oregon


On Saturday, April 2, you may experience sensory overload – in a good way – at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts. In a special event of its 50th Anniversary Season, the Eugene Symphony is hosting SymFest, an experiment with the orchestra concert experience. The 7:30 p.m. concert is the centerpiece of an evening-long celebration of Eugene’s vibrant cultural scene – from beer, wine and food carts, to other local arts groups representing a variety of genres from bluegrass and jazz to Javanese drumming, Russian folk and contemporary ballet.

5:30 p.m. Pre-Concert Activities – Food, drink, music and more
The celebration begins with wine, beer, and cider tastings in the Hult Center Lobby, while Bluegrass bands Betty and the Boy and Corwin Bolt & The Wingnuts entertain.

The tastings, included in your concert ticket purchase, feature some of Eugene’s craft breweries and wineries: Claim 52, McKenzie Brewing, Ninkasi Brewing, Oakshire Brewing, Sam Bond’s Brewing, Atlas Cider (Bend), Silvan Ridge Winery, Iris Vineyards, and King Estate Winery.

Here’s the beer and cider that will be pouring –

  • Sam Bond’s – Crankshaft IPA/Filbert Brown
  • Claim 52 – Kolsch/Insta IPA/Admiral Red/Mt. Pisgah Pale/Barrel-aged samplings
  • Ninkasi – Easy Way IPA/Dawn of the Red IPA/Tart & Soul (Blackberry Kettle Soured)/Barrel-aged Ground Control
  • Oakshire – Espresso Stout/Amber/Hopollo 7/Vintage reserve items
  • McKenzie – Twisted Meniscus IPA/St. Bernard Brown
  • Atlas Cider – Blackberry/Apricot/Cinnamon Pear

When hunger strikes, take your pick from the wide offerings of two food carts, Kun Fusion and Sammitch, that will be parked outside on the concourse between the Hult Center and the Hilton.

Additionally, the pre-concert festivities stretch into the smaller cabaret style theater of the Hult Center, Soreng Theater, where you can enjoy a showcase of Eugene arts groups, hosted by Eugene Symphony Principal Timpanist Ian Kerr.

  • 5:45pm – Gamelan Sari Pandhawa
  • 6:05pm – Duende Saxophone Quartet
  • 6:35pm – Trio Voronezh
  • 7:00pm – Trio Voronezh with Ballet Fantastique

7:30 p.m. Concert featuring Adams, Bernstein, Mahler & Johnson
The concert itself is also worth noting, even for those who may not consider themselves fans of orchestral music. Leading the orchestra will be Conductor Laureate and former Eugene Symphony Music Director Marin Alsop, who began her conducting career in Eugene from 1989 until 1996 and is now revered worldwide for her bold creativity and leadership, especially as a female in a male-dominated field.

The first piece to open the concert is a quick one, coming in at just over 4 minutes. “Short Ride in a Fast Machine” by living American composer John Adams evokes a thrill ride on a motorcycle. Then, Alsop turns her baton to the lush Adagio from Austrian composer Gustav Mahler’s unfinished Symphony No. 10. After that, you’ll hear Leonard Bernstein’s music from the 1954 Academy Award winning film On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando, which uses eloquent horn themes and prominent percussion to show a gritty portrait of life in New Jersey. The concert ends swinging with Victory Stride, a vigorous foot-tapper by American jazz pianist and composer James P. Johnson.

9:00 p.m. Post-Concert Activities – DJs, dancing, and a jazz lounge
After the concert, DJ Billy & DJ Food Stamp provide music for you to spin to on the dancefloor in the lobby. Beer, cider and wine from the companies sampling before the concert will be available for purchase.

Plus, The Jazz Station will take over Soreng Theater, making it a jazz lounge to round out the showcase of Eugene’s dynamic cultural landscape.

This is not your grandma’s typical symphonic concert or your run-of-the-mill beer fest. This is art to indulge every one of your senses.

Tickets start at $25 and are available on Eugene Symphony’s website.