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Out & About: Season draws to a close with musical theater, concerts

Lifestyle

Out & About: Season draws to a close with musical theater, concerts

The end is coming. That’s one message from this week’s arts and
entertainment calendar, as several of the region’s producers and presenters
call it quits for 2011-2012.

Lyric Music Theater calls down the curtain on its subscription season of
musicals with a fine community production of “Pirates of Penzance,” a
Gilbert and Sullivan operetta that has enjoyed enduring success for well over
a century.

Oratorio Chorale puts the coda on its season with a pair of concerts
titled “Cold Fusion,” that features a collaboration with the Orchid
Ensemble.

Portland Symphony Orchestra closes its Pops season with a pair of concerts
this weekend. Titled “One Vision,” Maestro Robert Moody’s program
focuses on the music of pop rockers Freddie Mercury and Queen.

Portland Ovations wraps up its season on May 3 with a performance by
Jennifer Koh, a virtuoso classical violinist.

One Longfellow Square – which isn’t ending anything – brings in Canadian
fiddling champion April Verch on April 27.

‘The Pirates of Penzance’

In the late 1800s, the librettist-composer team of William Schwenck Gilbert
and Arthur Seymour Sullivan dominated British and American musical
theater.

Perhaps the ultimate G&S show is “The Pirates of Penzance,” a whimsical
and satirical look at Victorian society of the 1870s. With extremely clever
lyrics and extraordinarily fine melodies, “Pirates” endures in South Portland
via a fine community production by Lyric Music Theater.

The plot follows a band of pirates who are so kind-hearted that they’re
utterly ineffective in capturing ships or booty of any sort. But they’ve
captured the hearts of theater-goers since 1879.

Director Don Smith has assembled a fine cast, topped by three men and one
woman. Mark Dils as a pirate king, Bill McCue as a British major-general,
and John U. Robinson as a police captain, are the best of the men, while 17-
year-old Michaela K. Boissonneault is superb as the ingenue.

They’re among a cast of two dozen, with musical direction by Sylvia
Infantine and choreographer Celeste Green.

Lyric Music Theater, 176 Sawyer St. in South Portland, presents “The
Pirates of Penzance” through May 5 with 8 p.m. performances Fridays and
Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Call 799-1421.

Oratorio Chorale

The Midcoast-based Oratorio Chorale is venturing far from its artistic home
base this weekend with a pair of concerts and an innovative collaboration
with the Vancouver-based Orchid Ensemble. The program, billed as “Cold
Fusion,” explores the music of the Chinese-Jewish diaspora. One example is
Moshe Denberg’s composition which looks at the Jewish presence along the
famed Silk Road, which linked pre-Renaissance Europe to China.

The Chorale will perform with the Orchid Ensemble’s Lan Tung, of Taiwan
and Canada, on the erhu (Chinese violin), Yu-Chen Wang, of Taiwan and
the U.S., on the zheng (Chinese zither), and Jonathan Bernard, of Canada,
on percussion. This ensemble blends these ancient instruments and traditions
from China and beyond. Add the Chorale’s 20-plus voices and the result will
be very interesting.

Two performances are scheduled: April 28 at 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery
Theater at Morse High School in Bath, and April 29 at 3 p.m. at Woodford’s Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St. in Portland. Call 798-7985.

Portland Symphony Orchestra Pops

“We are the champions of the world.” Concert-goers will hear that
audacious musical assertion this weekend as the Portland Symphony
Orchestra wraps up its Pops season.

Champions of the world? Have Maestro Robert Moody and the orchestra
copped some sort of global competition?

No, but rock fans will recognize the familiar phrase as one of the iconic
lyrics of Freddie Mercury and Queen, a British pop group that ruled the
Billboard charts in the 1970s through the 1980s. And Moody’s Pops
program, titled “One Vision,” will focus on music of Queen and its
irrepressible front man, Freddie Mercury.

For this weekend’s two concerts, singer and song stylist Michael Shotton
will play the Freddie Mercury part (the original died in 1991) and lead a
Queen tribute band. Additional vocal power will be provided the University
of Southern Maine Chamber Singers. Plus, of course, the PSO itself, with
Moody on the podium.

Musical selections include most of Queen’s best-remembered hits,
such as “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Will Rock You,” “Under
Pressure,” “We Are the Champions” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

There are two performances at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall:
April 28 at 7:30 p.m. and April 29 at 2:30 p.m.. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Jennifer Koh

Portland Ovations reaches the end of its 2011-2012 season when American
violin virtuoso Jennifer Koh presents a recital on May 3. Recognized for
her passionate and commanding performances, Koh is known for both
consummate musicianship and the probing intellectual acuity that she brings to both the traditional and contemporary repertoire.

A graduate of the Curtis Institute, Koh earned a silver medal in the 1994
Tchaikovsky Competition. Her seven CDs include one nominated for the
Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance.

With a rousing musical curiosity Koh chooses works that both inspire and
challenge her while constantly searching for similarities of voice among
diverse composers and associations within the works of a single composer.

Believing that past plus present form a continuum, the May 3 program,
titled “Bach and Beyond,” pairs sonatas and partitas written by Johann
Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) with works by modern and contemporary
composers.

The 7:30 p.m. concert is slated for Hannaford Hall in the Abromson
Community Education Center at 88 Bedford St. on the University of
Southern Maine’s Portland campus. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

April Verch

Canadian national fiddle champion April Verch is what’s called a complete
package: She’s not only a consummate fiddler, but she also sings, dances
and composes. Now on tour promoting her eighth album, Verch and her
two-man band will be stopping at One Longfellow Square in Portland this
Friday.

Expect a little of all three four talents as Verch sings old songs and new
compositions from “That’s How We Run,” her latest CD. This project,
released earlier this year, ventures south from her native Ontario into the
Appalachian Mountains of the U.S. south.

Her native idiom is Celtic fiddle, which has a musical vocabulary that’s not
far removed from other varieties of roots music. Verch’s band, comprising
guitarist Hayes Griffin and bassist/banjoist Cody Walters, jibes perfectly
with the new artistic directions and geography on this album, which includes
several bluegrass stylings plus other numbers that might have come from a
Nashville recording studio in the 1950s.

Catch April Verch at 8 p.m. April 27 at One Longfellow Square, corner of
Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.