Out & About: Suzy Bogguss drives north to Portland
Lots of music is coming up over the next week, with the biggest name being Suzy Bogguss, a golden-throated country singer with several gold records to her credit.
Maine is blessed with two superb string quartets, and the season-opening concerts of both are slated for this weekend. The DaPonte String Quartet has four concerts scheduled Thursday through Sunday. The Portland String Quartet, operating in “with friends” mode, holds forth on Sunday.
The Portland Symphony Orchestra will have a “Cello-bration” on Oct. 30. Maestro Robert Moody’s program revolves around two concertos for two cellos.
And perfectly jibing with the theme of pairs, on Nov. 1 Portland Ovations presents a concert by two stellar pianists: Soyeon Kate Lee and Ran Dank.
“Hey Cinderella, what’s the story all about?” That unforgettably plaintive refrain has become the musical signature of Suzy Bogguss, a country singer-songwriter who has sold millions of records and will appear this Saturday at One Longfellow Square.
Bogguss’ performances are characterized by a clear voice and a simple, straight-ahead style. Her songwriting invokes simple emotions within an older and simpler Nashville aesthetic. She enjoyed her greatest fame in the late 1980s and early 1990s, releasing one platinum and three gold records. Her best-known singles are “Drive South,” “Letting Go” and “Hey Cinderella.”
After taking a few years off to start a family, Bogguss returned to the concert circuit in the early 2000s and she’s been active ever since. Her most recent project is “The American Folk Songbook,” which was released in 2011, and features hit music from the 19th-century and early 20th.
Catch Suzy Bogguss at One Longfellow Square, corner of State and Congress in downtown Portland, at 8 p.m. Oct. 27. Call 761-1757.
DaPonte String Quartet
Portland’s Congress Street Arts District has a major new resident these days: Beginning this weekend, the DaPonte String Quartet will present its concert series at Portland Public Library’s recently renovated Rines Auditorium.
“We have long wanted to find a space to perform in the Arts District,” says Executive director Amy MacDonald. “It’s an ideal spot for us and a chance to showcase the auditorium’s greatly improved acoustics.”
The first program in the 2012-2013 series is entitled “The Austro-Hungarian ‘Invasion.’” It features works by three vastly influential composers who span three centuries: Franz Joseph Haydn’s Quartet in D Major (“The Lark”), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Quartet in D Minor, and Bela Bartok’s String Quartet No. 6.
The DSQ formed in Philadelphia in the early 1990s and moved to Maine a few years later on a rural residency program grant. When the grant term expired, the four musicians surprised many by embracing Maine as their new home state and base of operations. They have performed all over the U.S. and have an annual academic residency at the University of North Texas.
In addition to the Oct. 27 Portland Public Library concert, the series will be performed Oct. 25 at St. John’s Church in Thomaston, Oct. 26 at the Lincoln Theater in Damariscotta and a matinee at Oct. 28 at the Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Performances are at 7:30 p.m., except for Brunswick, which is at 3 p.m. Call 529-4555.
Portland String Quartet (with Friends)
Two works by New England’s best-known woman composer will be spotlighted this Sunday when the Portland String Quartet opens its 2012-2013 season. The composer is Amy Beach, who was born in New Hampshire in 1867 and spent most of her professional life in Boston. Beach was the first woman in America to achieve major recognition as a composer and she remains among the most admired and influential.
Two guest artists from Maine are featured on the program. Dean Stein will sit in as first violinist; he’s a friend of the PSQ who has been substituting during Steven Kecskemethy’s illness. Pianist Cheryl Tschanz is another longtime PSQ friend who will do the solo honors in Beach’s Piano Quintet in F Sharp Minor as well as her “Balkan Variations.”
Other composers on the program will be Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms. The concert is scheduled for 2 p.m. Oct. 28 at Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St. in Portland. Call the LARK Society at 761-1522.
Portland Symphony Orchestra
The cello has always been an essential element of classical music, but the big string instrument is the theme of Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Oct. 30 program. Maestro Robert Moody is calling the concert a “Cello-bration,” and he’s programmed a number of pieces representing different styles and eras of music to highlight its rich baritone voice.
One of the major pieces is Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos. This work calls for two solo cellos, which will be performed by guest artists Joel Noyes and Brian Thornton. Noyes is a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and is the son of two PSO musicians, Richard and Clorinda Noyes. Thornton plays cello for the Cleveland Orchestra.
The Concerto for Two Cellos by contemporary composer David Ott is next on the slate, followed by Gioachino Rossini’s popular William Tell Overture. Rossini’s famous piece is best known for its thrilling martial passage that was used for many years as the theme music for the “Lone Ranger” television broadcasts. Hi-yo Silver! Away!
Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1, the most famous of his symphonies, rounds out the program. Plus there will be a bonus piece that will involve maestro Moody in an unfamiliar role -- playing the cello.
Soyeon Kate Lee and Ran Dank
The centennial of Igor Stravinsky’s precedent-shattering “Rite of Spring” is one of Portland Ovations’ major themes for the current season, and the celebration begins with a Nov. 1 concert by two pianists.
Soyeon Kate Lee (from Korea) and Ran Dank (from Israel) have received many awards and accolades in their young careers, including taking the top two prizes at the prestigious 2010 Naumberg International Piano Competition.
These young artists make their Portland Ovations debut with a program that features several works for two pianos that will include Darius Milhaud’s “Sacramouche,” Claude Debussy’s “Nocturnes” and Maurice Ravel’s “La Valse.”
The program will conclude with Lee and Dank performing Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” in the seldom-heard four-hand arrangement -- meaning one piano played by two musicians.
The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTix at 842-0800.