Friday is Saint Patrick’s Day, and that means a celebration of Irish culture. Portland’s One Longfellow Square will get into the kelly green scene when two Irish-American acts are slated to appear. Top billing goes to Fodhla, a trio of three women, two of whom live in Portland. Second billing goes to Shannon Heaton, who plays mainly in Boston, venturing occasionally to Maine.
Also on Friday, New England poets and composers will be celebrated at the next University of Southern Maine School of Music faculty concert in Gorham, which will feature soprano Elisabeth Marshall and baritone Scott Wheatley.
The Philharmonia Quartett Berlin will play on Sunday afternoon, hosted by Portland Ovations. The Quartett is a unit of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and is rated as one of the world’s best small classical ensembles.
Maine’s Midcoast-based DaPonte String Quartet will open a series of five concerts on Sunday, with the Portland venue scheduled for March 23.
Fodhla and Shannon Heaton
March is International Women’s History Month, and Friday is Saint Patrick’s Day. So why not combine the two celebrations by gathering four women who play traditional Irish music? That’s exactly what’s happening when Portland’s Fodhla trio and Boston flutist Shannon Heaton play a joint gig this Friday.
Fodhla is the name of an ancient Irish goddess of the pre-Christian era, and she’s the namesake of this outstanding traditional musical ensemble. Fodhla comprises flutist Nicole Rabata, fiddler Ellery Klein and guitarist Bethany Waickman. Rabata and Waickman live in Portland, while Klein hails from Boston.
Their specialty is Irish instrumental music – especially reels, jigs and hornpipes. Fodhla has played at a number of traditional music gatherings, including Maine’s Saltwater Celtic Music Festival. The trio is also influenced by the depths of Rabata’s virtuosic classical music career, Klein’s Americana sounds, and Waickman’s soft-spoken, yet driving, guitar playing.
Heaton, a flute virtuoso, lives in The Hub, where she co-founded the Boston Celtic Music Festival in 2003. She’s amassed a slew of honors, including Female Musician of the Year, by the Irish American News in 2009. On Friday she’ll be joined by husband Matt, who plays guitar and bouzouki.
With engaging stage presence and masterfully crafted music, the Heatons offer well-travelled Irish music from the heart. Steeped in sessions in the Emerald Isle and developed in the acoustic music scenes of Chicago and Boston, their flute/guitar/bouzouki instrumentals and sweet husband-and-wife harmony singing draw deeply from the Irish tradition.
Catch this double bill at 8 p.m. March 17 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.
University of Southern Maine School of Music
New England is one of our country’s birthplaces, and our region is steeped in artistic traditions. Set against this cultural backdrop, the University of Southern Maine School of Music’s March faculty concert program features texts and tunes from New England poets and composers.
Voice artist faculty members Elisabeth Marshall and Scott Wheatley, with accompanist Bridget Convey on piano, present a dramatic and emotional musical program of poems and stories from Maine and New England.
Marshall, a USM graduate, is a radiant soprano with extensive experience in the classical repertoire. Wheatley sings baritone, and his resume bursts with important operatic roles. He also teaches at the Portland Conservatory of Music and serves as music director of Portland’s First Parish Church, a position once held by Hermann Kotzschmar.
The evening promises an interesting juxtaposition of historical poetry with contemporary composition. Marshall will sing the world premiere of a cycle of love songs based on poems of Emily Dickinson, with music by James Kallembach, a professor and choral director at the University of Chicago. Wheatley will follow with a premiere of the song cycle “Two in the Careless Dark” by Maine composer Roger Ames, based on poetry by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer James Agee.
Catch this concert at 8 p.m. March 17 at Corthell Hall on USM’s Gorham campus. Call the music box office at 780-5555.
Philharmonia Quartett Berlin
Call them all-stars. That’s how the Philharmonia Quartett Berlin is assembled. Start with the Berlin Philharmonic, one of the world’s top-rated symphony orchestras. Then take the top player from each of the four string sections and make them a semi-autonomous ensemble.
That’s who’s playing this Sunday, when Portland Ovations hosts the Quartett in a concert featuring a trio of masterworks from three eras of classical music.
Formed in 1985, the Quartett has traveled the world for more than 30 years and recorded 21 CDs, with an emphasis on German composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Max Reger and Paul Hindemith.
For their Portland concert, three composers representing three different periods have been scheduled. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart represents the classical school, while Beethoven is the icon of the early Romantic period and Dmitri Shostakovich is a 20th-century master.
Portland Ovations presents Philharmonia Quartett Berlin at 3 p.m. March 19 at the Abromson Center for Community Education, 88 Bedford St. on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus. Call PortTix at 842-0800.
DaPonte String Quartet
Maine’s own DaPonte String Quartet, now celebrating its 25th year, will roll out its spring concerts next week, with the Portland venue slated for March 23. And they’ll also roll out a guest artist, violist Katherine Murdock, who has performed with many distinguished string quartets, including Emerson and Guarneri, as well as with the New York Philharmonic and Boston Symphony.
She’ll join the regular DaPonte crew: violinists Dino Liva and Lydia Forbes, plus violist Kirsten Monke and cellist Myles Jordan. (Liva and Jordan are original members who established the ensemble in Philadelphia in the early 1990s, then moved to Mid-Coast Maine a couple of years later.)
The program is titled “Bees in Your Bonnet,” which will focus on classical music’s “Three B’s” – Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. The latter two will be represented by string quintets – works where a second violist is added to the normal string quartet formula. Bach, who never wrote a string quartet, will be represented by some fugues.
Five performances are slated: March. 19 at 3 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House, 6 Central St. in Rockport; March 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St. in Portland; March 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St. in Damariscotta; March 25 at 4 p.m. at St. Columba’s Church, 32 Emery Lane in Boothbay Harbor; and March 26 at 3 p.m. at the Unitarian Church, 15 Pleasant St. in Brunswick. Call 529-4555.
Fodhla, a trio that specializes in Irish music, is the featured act this Friday, when One Longfellow Square celebrates Saint Patrick’s Day.