LSM Newswire

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PSO'S Magic of Christmas a True Celebration of Local Talent

A full list of performance times and dates follows at the end of the release.
Images for Magic of Christmas can be downloaded at


PORTLAND, Maine For their 29th annual family holiday spectacular Magic of Christmas, the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has again brought together an exceptional collaboration of local talents making the event a veritable "who's who" of current and past artistic performance in Maine. In the true spirit of the holidays, and now extending through three generations of New Englanders, the PSO continues to create a holiday event not to be missed. This year's shows include a Portland favorite returning conductor, two southern Maine professional ballet companies, a well-known voice from Maine public radio, southern Maine's most prolific high school choral group, and more.

Bruce Hangen returns to Maine this year from Boston to conduct Magic of Christmas. PSO's Music Director for ten seasons (1976 through 1986), Hangen conducted the first Magic of Christmas performances in 1980. Hangen is a founder of Portland's PORTopera and was its first artistic director. He is currently the Director of Orchestral Activities at the Boston Conservatory and Artistic Director of Indian Hill Music in Massachusetts. He was the principal guest conductor of the Boston Pops from 2002 to 2006, a culmination of a 30-year relationship with the Boston Pops, beginning in 1979.

"From its beginnings, Magic of Christmas has always been an exciting local artistic partnership, and this year is especially rich because of the diversity of Maine talents involved, old and new," says Hangen. "It is always a pleasure to return to Portland, and I am thrilled to be back to conduct Magic this year. I will always be connected to Portland's audiences and artistic communities, so it feels like coming home to me."

The PSO is pleased to announce that the Maine State Ballet (MSB) and the Portland Ballet Company (PBC) will be represented in the Magic of Christmas performances this year. MSB dancers will perform in the December 12-18 performances; PBC dancers in the second half of the performances, December 19-21. The dancers will perform variations from the Nutcracker.

MSB dancers:

Frederick Bernier (Arabian Prince). Bernier is a resident of South Portland.

Glenn Davis (Russian Cossack). Davis is a resident of Windham.

Leslie Flores (Chinese Dancer). Flores is a resident of Portland.

Michael Holden (Chinese Solo). Holden is a resident of Falmouth.

Rebecca Purser (Arabian Princess). Purser is a resident of Portland.

Courtney True (Chinese Dancer). True is a full-time student at USM and a resident of Windham.

PSC dancers:

Emily Belanger (Chinese Dance). Belanger is a resident of Portland.

Derek Clifford (Arabian Dance). Clifford is a resident of Bath.

Leah Fournier (Chinese Dance). Fournier is a resident of Lewiston.

Arianna Lawson (Olivia). Lawson is a resident of Scarborough.

Emily Lutts (Arabian Dance). Lutts is a resident of Portland.

Adam Mosey (Russian Dance). Mosey is a resident of Gorham.

Anastasia Street (Russian Dance). Street is a resident of Gorham.

Hannah Wallace (Chinese Dance). Wallace is a resident of Cape Elizabeth.

Singer, actor and broadcaster Suzanne Nance narrates Magic of Christmas this year for the first time. Audiences will recognize her voice from Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN), where she serves as music director as well as producer and host of the weekday morning classical music program from 9 a.m. to noon. An opera singer, Nance has enjoyed performances on PBS and NPR as well as a guest appearance on Good Morning America, and has most recently performed onstage in Prague, London, Philadelphia, Chicago, New York and Bangor and Portland, Maine. She is a resident of Bangor.

For the first time, the PSO is pleased to welcome the Windham Chamber Singers to the collection of voices in Magic of Christmas. Directed by Dr. Richard Nickerson, the Chamber Singers consist of 37 students, all of whom are enrolled at Windham High School. Selected by audition, the Chamber Singers have traveled extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Europe; have performed the National Anthem for the Boston Celtics, Boston Red Sox, Portland SeaDogs and Portland Pirates; and made their debut at Carnegie Hall in 1998. They have appeared on CBS This Morning and the Today Show and have performed for two U.S. Presidents, including a command performance at the White House for the Congressional Ball. Each year the choir tours the Northeast, presenting assemblies and workshops at area schools in addition to holding public concerts.

This year's Magic of Christmas Chorus is a group of over 120 volunteers who are members or friends of the Portland Community Chorus. Rehearsals began in October, and most members will perform in at least ten of fourteen concerts. Every year singers come from as many as 27 communities extending from York to Brunswick and Baldwin to Otisfield. They represent a varied range of vocations including homemakers, students, nurses, educators, retirees, and executives.

Ray Cornils, Municipal Organist for the City of Portland since 1990, will perform the popular Organ Prelude on the Kotzschmar Organ one hour before each performance. Cornils is a member of the music faculty at USM where he teaches organ and harpsichord, as well as teaching at Bowdoin College and the Portland Conservatory of Music. He also serves as Music Director of First Parish Church in Brunswick where he leads an extensive choral and handbell program. Cornils is a resident of Brunswick.

Sponsored by Hannaford Supermarkets, IDEXX Laboratories, KeyBank, and Northeast Delta Dental, a total of thirteen performances will run December 12 - 21. Tickets to all shows are currently still available. Prices range from $20 to $60, with special pricing available for students and seniors. Groups of 10 or more also receive special pricing and personalized assistance.

For tickets call PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or, and new this year, the website offers real-time online seat selection. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office at 20 Myrtle St., Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. For complete season information, including artist biographies and program notes, visit


Full list of 2008 PSO Magic of Christmas performance dates and times:
(All concerts take place at Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland, ME)

December 12, 2008 7:30 p.m. (preview)

December 13, 2008 3:00 and 7:30 p.m.

December 14, 2008 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.

December 18, 2008 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.

December 19, 2008 2:00 and 7:30 p.m.

December 20, 2008 3:00 and 7:30 p.m.

December 21, 2008 1:00 and 5:00 p.m.

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