Who doesn’t love music? You’re not going to believe this, but we actually found someone. JoAnna Wendel experiences musical anhedonia, a condition in which songs seem like an over-stimulating pile of melodies and beats — think of the feeling most of us experience when listening to noise. But Wendel notwithstanding, music remains — for most of us — one of the most intuitive tools to work out our feelings.


Composer and instrumentalist Mary Sutton, who performs as Saloli, created a new work for the Oaks Park Wurlitzer in spring 2019

Composer and instrumentalist Mary Sutton, who performs as Saloli, created a new work for the Oaks Park Wurlitzer in spring 2019

Claudia Meza/OPB

Pulling Out The Stops: Mary Sutton Composes For A Musical Treasure — 5:09 - 20:00 

Composer Mary Sutton, who records and performs as Saloli, has created gorgeous, thoughtful ambient music for many instruments, but the commission she premiered for Spoiler Room at Oaks Park Roller Rink last month was one of the biggest challenges of her composing career. Her music was played on Oaks’ antique Wurlitzer organ, the last of its kind in the world. Sutton tells us about writing for an instrument that’s almost too big for one musician to play, and how she coaxed it into a new sound for some eager roller skaters.


Roberto Carlos Lange of Helado Negro performed songs from "This is How You Smile" at Type Foundry Studio in April 2019.

Roberto Carlos Lange of Helado Negro performed songs from “This is How You Smile” at Type Foundry Studio in April 2019.

Claudia Meza/OPB

Helado Negro Centers Voice On “This Is How You Smile”21:09 - 32:55

Roberto Carlos Lange’s imagination is a renewable resource of musical ideas. Since the early 2000s, he’s been releasing music under various names, including the one he uses for his most lyrically driven compositions, Helado Negro. He’s a master of surreal textures and dreamy, ambiguous themes. This opbmusic session features three new songs from the record, “This Is How You Smile,” in a stunning acoustic arrangement, recorded at Portland’s Type Foundry Studio.


Composer Chris Thomas in his Central Oregon Community College studio in Bend, Ore., on April 8, 2019.

Composer Chris Thomas in his Central Oregon Community College studio in Bend, Ore., on April 8, 2019.

Emily Cureton/OPB

A Symphony Seeks Healing 33:56 - 40:37

The Malheur National Wildlife Refuge became a household name in 2016, not for its beautiful scenery or the 300 bird species who flock there, but because a militant, anti-government group had taken over the headquarters for 41 days. Composer Chris Thomas was commissioned by the Central Oregon Symphony Association to celebrate the natural wonders and communities in the Harney Basin, an area which has supported human imagination for more than 10,000 years. The resulting symphony conjures the history of the Harney Basin in five movements. OPB’s Emily Cureton brings us the story.


Pendleton Schools' tradition of string education has created a life-long musical relationship for hundreds of players.

Pendleton Schools’ tradition of string education has created a life-long musical relationship for hundreds of players.

April Baer/OPB

Pendleton Plays For Keeps With Strings In The Schools40:38 - 50:03

Pendleton may be best known for its rodeo, but it’s also one of the few cities of its size (roughly 17,000) with its own symphony orchestra. A big part of what keeps the institution going is the tradition of classical string instruction in Pendleton’s school district. This unique partnership between the schools and the symphony has awakened thousands of young people to a life in music. We wanted to know more about how the string program started, and what keeps it going. 

Music Heard On 'State Of Wonder'

A Spotify playlist to share all the music we feature on our show and anything else that inspires us while we’re making it.