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Portland Symphony's Moody sees adventure in upcoming season

Lifestyle

Portland Symphony's Moody sees adventure in upcoming season

PORTLAND — The Portland Symphony Orchestra recently announced the lineup for next season, including several new commissions, genre-bending performances and throwback Pops concerts.

"I enjoy a kind of adventure with programming," PSO Music Director Robert Moody said. "Everyone is on a journey together. I like there to be that arc of experience."

The 2010-2011 season will be Moody's third as music director. The exuberant, young director has made several changes, including repeating several of the Tuesday Classical programs on Sunday afternoons.

The season opener, on Oct. 3, will bring Grammy-winning bassist Edgar Meyer to the stage to perform 19th century Italian composer Giovanni Bottesini's Concerto No. 2 and Meyer's own composition, Concerto No. 1, both approximately 16 minutes in length.

The concert will conclude with Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36, which will be the first time Moody has conducted a Tchaikovsky symphony with the orchestra since he conducted the composer's second symphony in his audition three years ago.

The Nov. 21 Sunday Classical performance will feature the genre-bending trio Time for Three, whose recent cover of Imogene Heap's "Hide and Seek" was a featured download on iTunes. The young trio will perform "Travels in Time for Three," a commission by Chris Brubeck, who is famous jazz pianist Dave Brubeck's son.

The PSO will help Elliot Schwartz celebrate his 75th birthday by commissioning a work from the Maine composer for the Jan. 25 "From Russia With Love" program. The concert will also include works by Soviet composers Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich.

"Elliot's parents emigrated from Russia," Moody said. "Each movement will represent every 25 years of his life."

While the work has not yet been completed, Moody said he has met with the composer several times. He said the composition will certainly include some of Schwartz's humor and the modern movement may even include cell-phones as instruments.

In addition to a wide variety of classical selections, the PSO will take audience members back in time to celebrate the music of some of the most influential pop musicians of all time. While tributes to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley will certainly be the attention-getters, acclaimed Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers and her band Immigrant Soul will kick off the Pops concerts with what promises to be a lively and exciting performance.

"Eileen Ivers is one of my favorite artists," Moody said.

The PSO's ever-popular "Magic of Christmas" concerts will continue this year, inviting tenor Joe Cassidy back to the stage as Charles Dickens' Scrooge for a rendition of "A Christmas Carol."

"I had a ball with 'Magic' this year," said Moody, who conducted his first "Magic of Christmas" concert last December.

Other concert highlights include Claude Debussy's "La Mer," Benjamin Britten's "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra," and J.S. Bach's "Passion According to St. John," which will take advantage of the strong relationship between the PSO and the Choral Arts Society.

While financial difficulties plagued the organization early last year, the PSO managed to finish the season in the black with help from grants and private donors. Executive Director Ari Solotoff said the organization is building a cash reserve to help diversify its revenue sources.

While subscription prices have increased between 3 percent and 10 percent, single ticket prices will remain the same. The PSO has also added student rush tickets to its pricing, which will be available to college students for $10 between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. the night of performances.

If a season can be defined by its last note, Maurice Ravel's turbulent "Daphnis and Chloe" will almost certainly propel the PSO into the future with Moody at the helm.

"I'm so excited about this season," Moody said. "It feels like a very complete season."

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net