LSM Newswire

Thursday, May 14, 2009

PSO Closes Robert Moodys Inaugural Season at Season Finale Concert, June 9



PSO Closes Robert Moody's Inaugural Season at Season Finale Concert, June 9

PORTLAND, Maine For a thrilling finale to his inaugural season, Music Director Robert Moody leads Rites and Rhythms featuring the virtuosity of the Portland Symphony Orchestra's members, and a unique "sonic travelogue" uniting symphony orchestra with African drumming and dancing. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 9 at Merrill Auditorium.

Rites and Rhythms opens with Bla Bartk's Concerto for Orchestra. Widely considered one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, Bartk was an accomplished pianist from a very young age. Concerto for Orchestra was the composer's final completed work and combines elements of Western classical and Europeam folk music. The piece is called a concerto rather than a symphony because each section of instruments is treated in a soloistic and virtuosic way.

The headlining piece of the evening, James DeMars' Sabar: Concerto for Senegalese Drums & Orchestra was composed in 2000 on a commission from the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, and was first performed by that orchestra under the direction of Robert Moody in 2001. American composer DeMars wrote Sabar "for the purpose of creating a work that would integrate the musicians of two cultures to celebrate a new millennium." The Arizona Republic called the piece, "Ķa sonic travelogue, that was stunningly entertaining as well as culturally engaging." Guest drummers Mark Sunkett, Sonya Branch, Medoune Gueye and Abdou Kounta, as well as an ensemble of traditional Senegalese dancers, will join the symphony for this unique season finale.

Sponsored by JetBlue Airways and generously underwritten by Mr. and Mrs. Albert B. Glickman, the PSO's performance of Sabar is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with a Concert Conversation led by Maestro Moody at 6:15 p.m. in the Rehearsal Hall. A radio broadcast of the performance can be heard on Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) on July 29 at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets range from $17-$65 and are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com, and new this year, the website offers real-time online seat selection. Phone and internet orders are subject to $5-per-ticket handling fees. 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.



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Monday, April 27, 2009

PSO Percussion Kinderkonzert Series, Beginning May 18

Portland Symphony Orchestra Presents Kinderkonzert Series on Percussion Instruments Beginning May 18
Introducing young children to instrument families and musical concepts

PORTLAND, Maine The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) begins its last Kinderkonzert series of the 2008-09 season with "Percussion: Wood, Metal, Skins!" The programs will travel to six Southern Maine locations May 18 through May 29.

The PSO Percussion trio will introduce kids aged three to seven to their fascinating array of both standard and unusual percussion instruments. They'll see and hear how wood, metal and "skins" are used to create rhythms and melodies. The "Percussion: Wood, Metal, Skins!" program opens on May 18 at the South Hiram Elementary School and then travels to five other locations for a total of 15 performances.

Kinderkonzerts are entertaining, interactive programs with Portland Symphony musicians where kids ages 3 - 7 can sing, dance, wiggle, clap, and have fun listening and learning about music and instruments. School systems can coordinate the Kinderkonzert visit with Science and English Language Arts instruction in addition to Visual and Performing Arts. Specially prepared worksheets designed to support Maine's Learning Results are available online or by contacting the PSO.

Sponsored by Time Warner Cable, all Portland Symphony Orchestra Kinderkonzert tickets are $3 per person with advance reservation, $4 at the door (adult or child). For additional information, reservations and ticketing information visit www.portlandsymphony.com or call (207) 773-6128.

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PSO Kinderkonzert Schedule for Percussion: Wood, Metal, Skins!:

May 18, 2009 | 9:30, 10:30 AM
South Hiram Elementary School
213 South Hiram Road, South Hiram

May 19
, 2009 | 9:30, 10:30 AM
South Portland High School Auditorium
637 Highland Avenue, South Portland

May 21, 2009 | 9:30, 10:30 AM, 1:00 PM
Brunswick High School's Crooker Theater
116 Maquoit Road, Brunswick

May 27, 2009 | 9:30, 10:30 AM
Reiche Community School
166 Brackett Street, Portland

May 28
, 2009 | 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 AM
Olin Arts Center, Bates College
75 Russell Street, Lewiston

May 29, 2009 | 9:30, 10:30* AM, 1:00 PM
C.K. Burns Elementary School
135 Middle Street, Saco

* SOLD OUT

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

PSO Presents a Tribute to Dance, April 4-5

PSO Pops! Presents Dance! Dance! Dance! April 4-5

Concert is part of the first national food drive sponsored by America's symphony orchestras

PORTLAND, Maine Music Director Robert Moody leads the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO), guest ensemble Neos Dance Theatre and tap dancer Fred Strickler in a dynamic PSO POPS! tribute to dance and dancers through the ages. Two performances of Dance! Dance! Dance! will be staged at Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street in Portland, Saturday, April 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoon, April 5 at 2:30 p.m.

Dance! Dance! Dance! leads audiences through a tribute to dance and dancers throughout the ages, from the charlestons and foxtrots of Twentiana, to the razzle-dazzle of A Chorus Line. Along the way there will be a Tap Dance Concerto, showcasing the musicianship of the art of tap (composer Morton Gould notated all the rhythms for the dancer in the same way he would for a drummer), the "Hoe-Down" from Aaron Copland's classic American ballet Rodeo, music from Babes in Arms and My Fair Lady, plus plenty of fancy footwork, leaps, lifts, and more.

Led by Artistic Director Robert Wesner, the dancers of Neos Dance Theatre have performed all over the United States and abroad. Firmly centered in classical ballet technique, the Neos dancers have a modern versatility and sense of the eclectic in dance that allows them to move easily through the ages and styles of dance in a single show. Referring to the Neos dancers as "young and energetic," the Cleveland Plain Dealer said, "Ķthey pull the audience into their performance with bright personalities, warm rapport and a palpable love of dance." Neos Dance Theatre has collaborated for over a decade with maestro Robert Moody for various symphony orchestra programs.

Having danced and choreographed since 1961 for film, television, musical theatre and the concert stage, Fred Strickler is a virtuoso tap dance artist acclaimed by audiences and critics for his originality and musicality. Equally at home in classical, jazz and modern styles, in his tap dances he revels in the complex interactions of rhythm, sound and movement. Mr. Strickler is the Artistic Director for Fred Strickler & Friends New Ideas on Tap, which focuses on innovations in tap dance choreography and often includes nationally known guest dancers and musicians. In addition to his own dancing and choreography career, he is also a Professor of Dance at the University of California, Riverside, where he has taught since 1967.

During the Dance! Dance! Dance! performances, volunteers will be in the lobby of Merrill Auditorium collecting non-perishable food donations through the PSO's participation in Orchestras Feeding America, the first national food drive sponsored by America's symphony orchestras, inspired by the soon-to-be-released film The Soloist. All food collected will be donated to Preble Street. For more information, visit portlandsymphony.com.

Sponsored by MPX/Maine Printing Company and The Portland Press Herald, the Saturday evening concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $17-$62 and are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com. New this year, the website offers real-time online seat selection. Phone and internet orders are subject to $5-per-ticket handling fees. 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

PSO Joins Orchestras Feeding America to Benefit Preble Street, April 4 & 5

Portland Symphony Orchestra to join Orchestras Feeding America to Benefit Preble Street, April 4 and 5
National food drive inspired by the upcoming film The Soloist

PORTLAND, Maine The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) will participate in Orchestras Feeding America, the first national food drive by America's symphony orchestras. Volunteers will collect non-perishable food at the PSO's "Dance! Dance! Dance!" concerts featuring Music Director Robert Moody conducting with Fred Strickler, tap dancer, and Neos Dance Theater on April 4 and 5 in the lobby of Merrill Auditorium. All food collected will be donated to Preble Street. For hours and collection details visit portlandsymphony.com.

To date, almost 200 orchestras have come together to combat hunger in their communities through Orchestras Feeding America, and the number of participants is growing daily. The project will take place in March and April, and is organized by the League of American Orchestras (representing the nation's professional, volunteer and youth orchestras) and Feeding America's network of over 200 food banks and 63,000 agencies. The drive was inspired by the true story characterized in the upcoming film The Soloist starring Jamie Fox and Robert Downey Jr.

Ari Solotoff, PSO's Executive Director, stated, "We all are feeling the effects of this economic crisis, but we cannot let that stop us from helping our neighbors in greater need. Our orchestra's music uplifts people, but with this project we can do more to support the community that has supported us for so long."

One in eight Americans is at risk of hunger. According to the USDA, there are 36 million people at risk of hunger in the U.S.; 12 million of them are children. Maine is one of the two most food-insecure states in the nation, and at Preble Street, the demand for emergency food assistance has increased 30%. The food pantry and soup kitchen have served a record number of meals in the past four months.

The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright, will be released by Paramount Pictures to theaters nationwide on April 24. A Dreamworks Pictures/Universal Pictures presentation in association with Studio Canal and Participant Media, the film is based on the true story of the relationship between Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers, a gifted Juilliard-trained string player whose mental illness landed him among the homeless on the streets of Los Angeles. Their relationship expanded to include staff and musicians of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The Soloist, which also features the Los Angeles Philharmonic, is a testament to the redemptive power of music and a reminder of our connections to the most vulnerable among us.

Ticket prices for the "Dance! Dance! Dance!" concerts range from $17 to $62, with special pricing available for students, seniors and groups. All Portland Symphony Orchestra tickets are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com. (Phone and internet orders subject to $5 per ticket handling fee.) Tickets may also be purchased in person at the box office at 20 Myrtle St., Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.

Serving the city of Portland, the State of Maine, and Northern New England, the PSO is the largest performing arts organization in Maine. With critically acclaimed performances and broad community engagement, the PSO is widely regarded as one of the top symphony orchestras of its size in the country. For more information visit portlandsymphony.com.

Preble Street works to make sure that youth, adults, and families who have no home will not go hungry, will not have to be on the street when they are tired or sick or cold, will not have to live in fear and danger, and will have a chance to move beyond homelessness. For more information visit preblestreet.org.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

PSO Welcomes Grammy Award-Winning Guest Conductor JoAnn Falletta, March 24

PSO Welcomes Grammy Award-Winning Guest Conductor JoAnn Falletta, March 24

PORTLAND, Maine For a concert featuring Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique," and other celebrated works, the Portland Symphony Orchestra welcomes guest conductor JoAnn Falletta, winner of two 2009 Grammy Awards, and guest violinist Michael Ludwig. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24 at Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street in Portland.

The PSO's Symphony 'Pathetique' concert opens with Robert Schumann's Overture to Manfred, Op. 115. Guest soloist Michael Ludwig joins the PSO for Beethoven's Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61, one of the most celebrated works of the violin concerto repertoire.

The program closes with the Symphony No. 6, "Pathetique," by Tchaikovsky. Exquisitely passionate and intensely emotional, with some of the most beautiful music ever written, the composer considered it "the best and most open-hearted" of his works.

Guest conductor JoAnn Falletta, acclaimed by The New York Times as "one of the finest conductors of her generation," serves as the Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra (BPO) and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. This season, her 10th with the BPO, a recording by the Orchestra received a double Grammy Award for the first time in its history. The world premiere recording of John Corigliano's Mr. Tambourine Man was honored for Best Classical Vocal Performance and Best Classical Contemporary Composition. Both on and off the podium, Maestro Falletta is a vibrant ambassador for music and an inspiring artistic leader.

Violinist Michael Ludwig has been hailed by Strad Magazine for his "effortless, envy-provoking techniqueĶ sweet tone, brilliant expression, and grand style." Ludwig enjoys a multi-faceted career as a recording artist, chamber musician, and as a highly sought-after soloist he has performed on four continents with the likes of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Pops, and Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. He is Concertmaster of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, under Ms. Falletta.

Sponsored by Gorham Savings Bank, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with a Concert Conversation led by Maestra Falletta at 6:15 p.m. in the Rehearsal Hall. A radio broadcast of the performance can be heard on Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) on April 29 at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets range from $17-$65 and are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com, and new this year, the website offers real-time online seat selection. Phone and internet orders are subject to $5-per-ticket handling fees. 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

PSO Annual Wine Challenge & Auction, March 30


Portland Symphony Orchestra's Annual Wine Dinner Benefit Features Australian Wines and an Unusual Challenge for Chefs, March 30

FREEPORT, Maine The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO)'s eagerly awaited annual Wine Challenge and Auction turns the traditional standard of pairing wines with a particular menu on its head instead of matching wines to the food, chefs prepare each course to complement the wine selections. Held March 30 at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport beginning at 5:00 p.m., this year's benefit will feature Australian wines, world-class Maine chefs and live and silent auctions.

Presented by Acadia Trust, N.A. the Australian Wine Challenge features Peter Lehmann Wines from the Hess Fine Wine Estates. The festive evening begins with wine and hors d'oeuvres during the silent auction at 5:00 p.m. Following the silent auction, guests will begin a carefully-crafted multi-course meal representing Maine finest culinary talents including:
  • Jonathan Cartwright: Executive Chef, White Barn Inn, Kennebunkport
  • Steve Corry: Proprietor & Executive Chef, Five Fifty-Five, Portland
  • Mitchell Kaldrovich: Executive Chef, Inn By the Sea, Cape Elizabeth
  • Gallit Sammon: Chef de Cuisine, Harraseeket Inn, Freeport
  • Melody Wolfertz: Proprietor & Executive Chef, In Good Company, Rockland
Dinner is followed by the live auction and dessert beginning at 8:30 p.m. The live and silent auctions feature diverse and unusual items donated by Maine artists and businesses in support of the PSO. Items include exciting getaways, event tickets, fine dining, unique gifts, accommodations, services, jewelry and more. A highlight of the live auction offerings is a tour of Australian wine country.

All proceeds from the Australian Wine Challenge & Auction benefit the Portland Symphony Orchestra and its education and community outreach programs.

The Wine Challenge sells out quickly, but reservations can be made now by calling (207) 773-6128 x309 or emailing events@portlandsymphony.com. Tickets to the dinner are $150 each. Tables of ten guests may be hosted for $1,500.

For more information about the Portland Symphony Orchestra, its events and activities, visit www.portlandsymphony.com.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Renee Fleming with the PSO

Rene Fleming Benefit Concert with Robert Moody and Portland Symphony Orchestra Merrill's Highest Grossing Show in History
In the wake of financial hardship at the PSO, concert brings record sales

PORTLAND, Maine Some much-needed good news for the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and the arts community in Maine: last night's once-in-a-lifetime endowment benefit concert featuring superstar soprano Rene Fleming in her Maine debut was the highest grossing show in the history of Merrill Auditorium.

The concert sold out a week in advance and will contribute over $50,000 to the PSO's battered Endowment Fund. This is the first time in the almost 85-year history of the PSO that the organization has held an endowment benefit concert.

Rene Fleming charmed audiences at Merrill with her performances from both the classical and popular repertoire including: Richard Strauss' Four Last Songs, "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, "Summertime" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and more.

The PSO's endowment provides financial security for the PSO's concert and education activities, and acts as a safety net especially during fluctuations in the economic climate. "This concert was a positive step in the right direction for the PSO during this time of increasing financial hardship," said PSO Executive Director Ari Solotoff. Solotoff added, "Rene Fleming was a smashing success with the PSO it was a thrill to have her perform, and a coup for our city, the Symphony, and the community members who had the opportunity to see Ms. Fleming in this unprecedented concert opportunity."

Serving the city of Portland, the state of Maine, and northern New England, the PSO is the largest performing arts organization in the state. With new musical leadership, critically acclaimed performances, and broad community engagement, the PSO is among the top symphony orchestras of its size in the country. For complete season information, including artist biographies and program notes, visit www.portlandsymphony.com.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Despite Successes, Portland Symphony Orchestra is Fighting for Survival



Despite Successes, Portland Symphony Orchestra is Fighting for Survival
Safety net eradicated, Maine's largest performing arts organization is forced to confront immediate needs and develop a path to sustainability

PORTLAND, Maine In this inaugural year of Robert Moody's tenure as Music Director, and on the eve of its 85th anniversary season, the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is experiencing record ticket sales, with attendance at Classical and Pops concerts at the highest levels in its history.

Despite these successes, however, a combination of market downturn leading to decreased endowment value and years of producing community-oriented programs that operate at a loss has forced the PSO to make cutbacks in every area of the organization, including staff layoffs, reducing education programs and canceling the popular Independence Pops concerts.

Music Director Robert Moody stated: "We are experiencing such an exciting time in the life of PSO, with tremendous energy and electricity coming from our wonderful musicians, and amazing support from our community. But these are challenging times, and we must rise to these challenges in a way that is true to our most basic mission of highest artistic quality and fiscal integrity. I am confident that we can come together as a community to provide a stronger foundation for our PSO, one of New England's foremost and prized cultural assets."

The PSO's invested assets (also referred to as the endowment) have lost more than a third of their value since September 2008. A healthy orchestra has at least a three-to-one ratio of endowment to operating expenses. Even at the peak of the market in 2007 the PSO's was 1:1; now it is well below that.

School budget freezes across the state have had a significant impact on the PSO's ability to provide the same level of education programming as in years past, and foundation grants for education are down 60% from last year.

While the 2007-08 season ended with record levels of individual giving, so far this year over $108,000 has been lost through donors decreasing or withdrawing their past support, most citing the economy as their reason.

Executive Director Ari Solotoff explained: "We have great artistic momentum and had taken steps before the financial fallout to reduce costs; however those actions are simply not sufficient to cover the gap between our expenses and our income, especially given our depleted endowment. We are facing a possible shortfall of over $220,000 this year, an untenable risk given that the PSO has incurred an accumulated deficit of almost $2 million over the past eight years. Even with these painful cost reductions, we could face more drastic cuts in the next three to six months."

Board President Gordon Gayer added: "An organization's endowment is its safety net. You can spend the money, but there are consequences. In recent years we have drawn on our endowment to support programs like Independence Pops and KinderKonzerts. These programs have real value and benefit to the community but they do not pay for themselves. And now the stock market crunch has driven down our endowment to the point where it can no longer function as our financial safety net."

Details of the cost savings measures are as follows:

Independence Pops Canceled:
Ģ Has lost on average $65,000 each year; the PSO cannot sustain this loss in the current environment, despite a desire to present summer programming throughout southern Maine
Ģ Corporate sponsorships for Independence Pops are down by 65% since 2003
Ģ Attendance is highly weather dependent and has declined over 50% in the past 5 years
Ģ Last year performed in four locations: Bridgton, Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Sanford

Administrative & Overhead Expenses Reduced:
Ģ Senior staff 10% pay cut effective February 1
Ģ 20% workforce eliminated (2 positions); staff reorganized
Ģ Non revenue-generating budgets frozen or cut
Ģ Renegotiating fees and seeking in-kind services wherever possible

Education Programs Reduced
Ģ Even before the economic downturn in October, PSO took steps to adjust KinderKonzert schedules in locations where the program expenses exceeded revenues. The Freeport site has been eliminated entirely, six other sites have fewer performances. Those sites are Center Conway, Portland (Reiche School), Shelburne, South Hiram, South Portland, and Waldoboro
Ģ Elimination of two performances of spring 2009 Youth Concerts, and adjusted repertoire for remaining concerts to require fewer musicians and lower music rental costs

Canceling Side By Side program with Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra
Ģ This would have been the third year for this program which places the region's most talented young musicians on stage with PSO musicians
Ģ Funding applications to local foundations were rejected

Artistic Expenses Reduced
Ģ Saved $40,000 by reducing production elements for Magic of Christmas 2008
Ģ Orchestra will hold more rehearsals in Rehearsal Hall vs. on stage to reduce Merrill rental fees
Ģ Changing repertoire for March 24, 2009 Tuesday Classical concert to reduce number of extra musicians
Ģ Reducing the number of rehearsals for select concerts (reducing services and therefore income for musicians)
Ģ Seeking reduced guest artist fees for the remainder of the season

Economic and Community Impact
Maine's largest performing arts organization, the Portland Symphony has a $2.8 million budget. Taking both organizational and audience spending (such as parking, eating out before concerts, etc.) into account, the estimated economic impact of the PSO in Portland is $4.6 million, representing 16% of the total economic impact of the arts in Portland. (Source: Americans for the Arts "Arts and Economic Prosperity" survey and impact calculator.)

With critically acclaimed performances and broad community engagement, the PSO is widely regarded as one of the top symphony orchestras of its size in the country. Over 80,000 people are reached each year by PSO performances, including 30,000 schoolchildren through its educational programs. Thousands of tickets are also provided to social service agencies such as Portland West's Neighborhood Arts Access program.

"Any attractive community places a very strong emphasis on the sustainability and growth of arts and culture, and the PSO is a cornerstone of the arts not just in Portland, but throughout the region. In fact, organizations like the PSO are critical to attracting a diverse workforce and growing business," said PSO Trustee Jonathan Ayers, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of IDEXX Laboratories. "I am particularly proud that the PSO makes it possible for Maine schools to have superb musicians available to teach our young people, and I am confident that the PSO will remain an integral part of our very special arts community."

"The news that the PSO will not be performing their Independence Pops this summer at Fort Williams on July 4th weekend is tragic, but should not come as a surprise, " says Alex Fisher, Founder/Chairman of Planet Dog. "The increase in costs to put on a show of such magnitude has become cost prohibitive for organizations like the PSO."

"Quality of life is a central element in Portland's continuing vitality. The PSO is a critical part of our region's cultural richness, and we are lucky to have the PSO adding their special magic to our community," states Christopher Hall, Senior Vice President of the Portland Regional Chamber. "It's also important to remember that the PSO contributes many millions of dollars a year in direct economic benefits to area employees, small businesses and non-profits. In short, the PSO is an important part of what makes our region thrive, both culturally and economically."

Matt Jacobson, President/CEO, Maine & Company adds: "The strength of Maine's economy, and recovery from our current state, is dependent on the sustainability and growth of ALL sectors. And for the state's largest city, Portland, the arts and entertainment community is led by the Symphony. The PSO has been a cultural leader for our families and community. It's important that all Maine residents and business leaders realize the significant contributions the PSO has provided to the city and state for years, and how our individual and corporate support are needed to continue this great artistic treasure."

"The Portland Symphony Orchestra is essential to the vitality and financial well-being of Portland," notes Richard Lucas, president, Maine District, KeyBank. "It is especially important to recognize the PSO's role in education and outreach to the youth of our community through their programming. There is a strong correlation between students involved in music and the likelihood of their attaining a higher level of education. We are truly fortunate to have access to live classical music, performed by professionals, in one of the most beautiful halls in the country right in our own community. The importance of supporting this historical cultural institution cannot be underestimated."

Brian Petrovek, Managing Owner/CEO, Portland Pirates: "A thriving arts and entertainment community is vital to the quality of life we enjoy in Portland, and the Symphony plays a key role in the artistic and cultural makeup of our city and our region. As we continue to support local businesses, restaurants, sports and other entertainment venues during these challenging times, we share an equally important responsibility to preserve this local treasure, which brings live music of the highest caliber to each of us, and to our children."

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

PSO Presents Tribute to Bygone Radio Days of the '40s, February 21-22



PORTLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENTS A TRIBUTE TO VOCAL GROUPS AND BIG BAND MUSIC OF THE 1940s, FEBRUARY 21-22

PORTLAND, Maine For a musical time capsule tribute to the bygone radio days of the 1940s, guest conductor Charlaes Latshaw leads the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and special guest ensemble "Five By Design" in a PSO POPS! retro concert production, "Radio Days." The concerts will be held at Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street in Portland, Saturday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, February 22 at 2:30 p.m.

Paying tribute to the vocal groups and big bands of the 1940s, the PSO will be joined by "Five By Design," one of the nation's leading symphony pops artists and interpreters of the American popular song. The Minneapolis-based international touring artists' Kennedy Center debut with the National Symphony was heralded by the Washington Post as "one of the best pops programs of the season." Combining their signature harmonies with vintage fashions, stage and lighting design, and a captivating storyline, they'll perform music by the likes of Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey with segments from vintage serials, comedies, and quiz shows.

The PSO and Five By Design will be led by Guest Conductor Charles Latshaw, a vibrant and versatile young artist currently serving as Music Director of the Bloomington (Indiana) Symphony Orchestra, Assistant Conductor of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, and Music Director of the Columbus Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. Maestro Latshaw made his debut with the Indianapolis Symphony in March 2008, and will be making guest-conducting appearances in several cities across the United States during the 2008-09 season.

The Saturday evening concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m. Tickets range from $17-$62 and are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com. New this year, the website offers real-time online seat selection. Phone and internet orders are subject to $5-per-ticket handling fees. 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

PSO Opens Search for Next Designers' ShowHouse



PORTLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OPENS SEARCH FOR NEXT SHOWHOUSE

PORTLAND, Maine The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is opening the search for the next PSO Designers' ShowHouse. For three weeks during fall 2009 or summer 2010, the PSO will conduct its 13th Designers' ShowHouse, a fabulous fundraiser where the region's finest interior designers and artisans transform a house of historic or architectural interest, room by room. Greater Portland homeowners now have the opportunity to offer their home to be the next transformed for ShowHouse.

With tours open to the public and special events including an opening night Preview Gala, ShowHouse draws extensive community and media attention. The PSO's leading fundraising event, ShowHouse generates as much as $80,000 to support the artistic and education programs of Maine's largest and most prominent performing arts organization.

Greater Portland homeowners are invited to join the rich tradition that is ShowHouse. Interested homeowners should write 100 words or less about why their home would make a great ShowHouse, and mail along with photos and contact information to: PSO, P.O. Box 3573, Portland, ME 04104, or events@portlandsymphony.com.

Designers' ShowHouse must be located in the greater Portland area, have ample parking on street or property, handicap accessibility considerations, landscaping possibilities, and a garage or other outlying building for a boutique. If the home is multi-level, there must be two staircases for ease of access and evacuation. The house would need to be vacated for approximately three months. A formal contract will be negotiated with the homeowner.

For more information about the Portland Symphony Orchestra, visit portlandsymphony.com.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Renee Fleming Makes Her Maine Debut with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, February 17



PORTLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENTS AN EVENING WITH RENE FLEMING, FEBRUARY 17

Concert is PSO's first endowment benefit event and Fleming's Maine debut

PORTLAND, Maine At a once-in-a-lifetime event, superstar soprano Rene Fleming makes her Maine debut with the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO), honoring Robert Moody's inaugural season in an endowment benefit concert. The event will be held at Merrill Auditorium on Tuesday, February 17 at 7:30 p.m., with a Concert Conversation, in partnership with PORTopera, in the Rehearsal Hall at 6:15 p.m.

One of the greatest sopranos of this, or any, era, Rene Fleming is at the peak of her powers. Her purity of tone, musical intelligence and grace allow her to excel on operatic stages and in orchestral settings, but it is in recital where her subtlest gifts shine through. With the PSO she will perform works from both the classical and popular repertoire including: Richard Strauss' Suite from Der Rosenkavalier and Four Last Songs, "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady, "Carousel Waltz" from Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel, and more.

Rene Fleming charms audiences with her performances throughout the world. Her voice has been described as "one of a kind, with a combination of incredible technical control, emotional vividness and presence, and sheer, incandescent beauty of sound." She performed as the soloist at New York's Metropolitan Opera's Opening Night Gala on September 22, 2008 and returns in Massenet's Thas and Dvok's Rusalka. Later this season, she appears in La Traviata at London's Covent Garden.

Illustrative of her stature, in the last year Fleming has launched her own fragrance, La Voce by Rene Fleming, and has even had a flower (The Rene Fleming Iris) and a dessert (La Diva Rene, by famed chef Daniel Boulud) named in her honor. A two-time Grammy winner, Fleming's most recent CD is Strauss: Four Last Songs, conducted by Christian Thielemann (2008). She is featured on the Metropolitan Opera's recording of Eugene Onegin which is currently under consideration for a 2009 Grammy. Her numerous awards include Sweden's Polar Prize (2008); the Chevalier de la Lgion d'Honneur by the French government (2005); Honorary Membership in the Royal Academy of Music (2003); and a 2003 honorary doctorate from The Juilliard School, where she was also commencement speaker.

This is the first time the PSO has held an endowment benefit concert. The PSO's endowment provides financial security for the PSO's concert and education activities, and acts as a safety net especially during fluctuations in the economic climate. "Though orchestras typically maintain a minimum 3:1 ratio of endowment to operating budget, the PSO's is less than 1:1, which makes this special event all the more significant," said Gordon Gayer, president of the Board of Trustees. "We are thrilled to welcome Rene Fleming for this special event, especially during Robert Moody's inaugural season, and are grateful to the patrons who are supporting the future of the PSO through their ticket purchases to this concert, as well as those who support the Symphony throughout the year."

Serving the city of Portland, the state of Maine, and northern New England, the PSO is the largest performing arts organization in Maine. With critically acclaimed performances and broad community engagement, the PSO is widely regarded as one of the top symphony orchestras of its size in the country.

Tickets to An Evening with Rene Fleming range from $65 to $140 and are available through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com. (Phone and internet orders are subject to $5 per ticket handling fee.) 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.



Full Program for An Evening With Rene Fleming
Portland Symphony Orchestra February 17, 2009 7:30 PM

  • Suite from Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss)
  • Four Last Songs (Richard Strauss): These songs for soprano and orchestra were written in 1948, a year before Strauss' death at age 85. He never saw them performed. Ms. Fleming has recorded Four Last Songs twice and is well-known for her Strauss repertoire.
  • Morgen (Morning) (Richard Strauss): Strauss composed "Morgen" as the final piece in a set of four songs in 1894. Known for his large-scale operas and tone poems, Strauss' lieder are examples of his genius for delicate intimacy as well. "Morgen" is filled with late romantic musical language but requires in performance the clarity and exquisite simplicity of any Mozart aria.
  • A Letter from Sullivan Ballou (John Kander): By the composer of Cabaret and Chicago, the song is a story of a touching letter by a Union major expressing his love for his family and country before heading off to fight in the Civil War. Featured on Ken Burns' PBS documentary, The Civil War.
  • "Carousel Waltz" from Carousel (Richard Rodgers)
  • Two Rivers Medley (arranged by Dave Grusin and Lee Ritenour): A blending of the songs Shenandoah and The Water is Wide.
  • "Summertime" from Porgy and Bess (George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward, Ira Gershwin)
  • "So in Love" from Kiss Me Kate (Cole Porter)
  • "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady (Alan Jay Lerner/Frederick Loewe)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

PSO's First 2009 Concert Features Returning Soloist, Orion Weiss

PSO'S FIRST CONCERT OF THE NEW YEAR FEATURES PIANIST ORION WEISS, JANUARY 13

PORTLAND, Maine For their first concert of the new year, Music Director Robert Moody leads the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in a program of Gershwin and Shostakovich at 7:30 PM on Tuesday, January 13 at Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street in Portland.

The Tuesday Classical concert opens with George Gershwin's jazz orchestral piece Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra with soloist Orion Weiss. Full of Gershwin's distinctively American energy and self-assured orchestration, the first movement brims with melodic ideas, the second is a sultry blues, and the third turns into a barrelhouse frenzy. To close the concert, the PSO takes on Dmitri Shostakovich's famously explosive condemnation of Russia's Stalin era, Symphony No. 10 in E minor, Op. 93, written by Shostakovich shortly after Stalin's demise and filled with unstoppable fury and passion. It is a musical summary of that bleak and terrifying era; hearing it performed live is a tremendously exciting and moving experience.

Pianist Orion Weiss is one of the most sought-after soloists and collaborators in his generation of young American musicians. He returns to Portland after his acclaimed substitute performance with Robert Moody and the PSO in November 2007; the Portland Press Herald called Weiss "a technically flawless pianist..." and referred to his performance as seeming "Ķboth improvised on the spur of the moment and well thought-out, as if the composer himself were at the piano."

Sponsored by Verrill Dana, the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. with a Concert Conversation at 6:15 p.m. in the Rehearsal Hall. A radio broadcast of the performance can be heard on Maine Public Broadcasting Network (MPBN) on January 28 at 8:00 p.m.

Tickets range from $17-$65 and are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com, and new this year, the website offers real-time online seat selection. Phone and internet orders are subject to $5-per-ticket handling fees. 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.

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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 www.portlandsymphony.com/media_library


IN THE SPIRIT OF THE HOLIDAYS, PSO's 2008 MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS IS A TRUE CELEBRATION OF THE DIVERSITY OF LOCAL TALENT

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 www.porttix.com, 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.

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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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Thursday, October 23, 2008

PSO POPS! to Perform with Beatles Tribute Band, November 15-16


PORTLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA POPS! WELCOMES BEATLES TRIBUTE GROUP, NOVEMBER 15-16
Featuring original members of the Broadway sensation BEATLEMANIA performing live in concert with the Portland Symphony Orchestra

Imagine The Beatles playing in concert with a symphony orchestra. What would that have sounded like? Find out for yourself at Classical Mystery Tour - a tribute to The Beatles featuring original members of the Broadway sensation "BEATLEMANIA" performing live in concert with the Portland Symphony Orchestra at Merrill Auditorium on Saturday, November 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, November 16 at 2:30 p.m.

The four musicians in Classical Mystery Tour look and sound just like The Beatles, but Classical Mystery Tour is more than just a rock concert. The show presents some 20 Beatles tunes sung, played, and performed exactly as they were written. Hear "Penny Lane" with a live trumpet section; experience the beauty of "Yesterday" with an acoustic guitar and string quartet; enjoy the rock/classical blend on the hard edged "I Am the Walrus." From early Beatles music on through the solo years, Classical Mystery Tour is the best of The Beatles like you've never heard them: totally live.

Classical Mystery Tour features Jim Owen (John Lennon) on rhythm guitar, piano, and vocals; Tony Kishman (Paul McCartney) on bass guitar, piano, and vocals; Tom Teeley (George Harrison) on lead guitar and vocals; and Chris Camilleri (Ringo Starr) on drums and vocals. Music Director Robert Moody conducts.

Classical Mystery Tour is sponsored by New England Coffee and Holiday Inn by the Bay. Ticket prices range from $17 to $62, with special pricing available for students, seniors and groups. All Portland Symphony Orchestra tickets are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com, 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

PSO Presents a Concert for Peace, November 11


PORTLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PRESENTS DONA NOBIS PACEM TUESDAY NOVEMBER 11

PORTLAND, Maine The Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) explores themes of peace and reconciliation on Tuesday, November 11. Music Director Robert Moody conducts Christian Zeal and Activity by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams, followed by Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5, "Reformation," inspired by Martin Luther. The evening concludes with Dona Nobis Pacem, a glorious plea for peace composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams, featuring soprano Tracy Dahl, baritone Troy Cook, and the Choral Art Society.

Limited seating is still available for this concert which begins at 7:30 PM in Merrill Auditorium. A Concert Conversation with Robert Moody will be held at 6:15 PM in the Rehearsal Hall.

Canadian Soprano Tracy Dahl has sung at La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera and Canadian Opera Company and more. She has "a voice filled with sunshine, rainbows and laser light" according to Opera Magazine, and the San Francisco Chronicle finds her "bright, sparkling, and bouncing, accurate and winning."

Baritone Troy Cook has just performed with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Pacific, Opera Omaha, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Berkshire Opera and others. His voice has been called "supple" and "resonant with a warm tone and solid musicality."

The Choral Art Society, led by Robert Russell, was founded in 1972. Singers are selected by audition and perform in several concerts a year in Greater Portland.

This concert is sponsored by the Canadian Consulate General.

Ticket prices start $17 with special pricing available for students, seniors and groups. All Portland Symphony Orchestra tickets are sold through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or www.porttix.com, 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 www.portlandsymphony.com.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra will next perform on November 15 and 16 with Classical Mystery Tour, a tribute to the Beatles.

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