May 12th, 2023

Third Angle New Music set to perform at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

A graphic that includes the Spruce Goose, a man looking through a monocle and a woman smiling.
Image courtesy of Third Angle New Music

Philip Glass’s musical melodrama 1000 Airplanes on the Roof isn’t officially part of this year’s UFO Festival in McMinnville, but the timing of two upcoming performances by Third Angle New Music at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum couldn’t be better.

It’s about extraterrestrials.

Well, more to the point and in alignment with Portland-based 3A’s interpretation of the piece, it’s about a character, “M,” who recalls an encounter with extraterrestrial life and is questioning her own sanity. With a single actor and the minimalist instrumentation Glass is famous for, this rarely performed chamber opera will play out under the tail of the Spruce Goose airplane for two performances only, May 20-21, the same weekend as the UFO Festival.

3A’s 2022-23 season has explored the human mind and sought to destigmatize mental illness. To some extent, M is a reflection of Howard Hughes, the billionaire industrialist who struggled with his own mental health issues. 

Sarah Tiedemann, 3A’s artistic director, got the idea in January 2022 when she saw that the group’s upcoming season coincided with the 75th anniversary of the HK-1’s only flight and the 30th anniversary of its arrival in McMinnville. 

“I felt to my core that we were meant to do a performance here,” she said. “Between the character M’s alien abduction, her psychosis and some of the sounds she’s hearing, including airplanes, the parallels with the aviation and space sides of Evergreen and with Howard Hughes’ mental issues made it feel like destiny.”

M will be played by Ithica Tell, and the instrumentation consists of a few keyboardists on synthesizers, wind players each performing on several instruments and an electronic wind synth.

“The synths, the immensity of the Spruce Goose, the alien abduction story, Ithica’s powerful stage presence … it’s euphoria, a hanger full of endorphins,” Tiedermann says. “These nights will affect people on a cellular level.” She encourages those attending to leave their expectations and rational thought at the door and just immerse themselves in the experience.”

3A is a musically adventurous Portland organization that is all about creating a rich aesthetic experience, both on stage and in critically acclaimed albums. The McMinnville performance of this Glass piece is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Tickets range from $25-60, and the music begins at exactly 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday, May 2023 (Tickets are sold out for Saturday, but you can join a waitlist.) at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum out on Three Mile Lane across from the airport. To purchase tickets and for more information, visit, or call 503-331-0301.

A cartoon of David Bates

David Bates is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.