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Out & About: Go out to see 'The Outgoing Tide'

Lifestyle

Out & About: Go out to see 'The Outgoing Tide'

Spring may be just around the corner, but there’s no reason to wait for the equinox to get out of the house and enjoy southern Maine’s bountiful arts and entertainment offerings.

Good Theater is winding up its four-part 2013-2014 subscription season with the New England premiere of “The Outgoing Tide,” Bruce Graham’s powerful drama that revolves around end-of-life issues.

Pianist Anastasia Antonacos, a prof at the University of Southern Maine School of Music, holds forth this Saturday with a concert that features “something new, something old.”

Portland Symphony Orchestra has two upcoming concerts, March 16 and 18, featuring three works by American composer Leonard Bernstein.

Midcoast Symphony Orchestra has a pair of concerts slated this weekend, in Lewiston on Saturday and Topsham on Sunday.

‘The Outgoing Tide’

The ebbing tide in Chesapeake Bay is used as a metaphor for life’s twilight in a play that got its New England premiere last weekend at Portland’s Good Theater.

Bruce Graham’s “The Outgoing Tide” is a powerful drama that revolves around end-of-life issues, and Good Theater’s inspired professional production is the latest of 12-year-old company’s many outstanding contributions to Maine’s artistic landscape.

I loved the principal actor, Will Rhys, who plays a pugnacious, irascible old man who suffers from a progressive case of dementia, but still has plenty of lucid moments. He concocts a very unconventional scheme to advance his family’s financial position, and the resulting tension between him and his wife and son – replete with numerous flashbacks to prior incidents in their lives – provides the emotional horsepower that drives this fascinating drama.

The old man’s wife is played by Florence Lacey and their adult son by J.P. Guimont. Rhys and Lacey are Broadway veterans who live in New York, while Guimont is a longtime professional actor who lives in Portland.

Good Theater presents “The Outgoing Tide” at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St. (top of Munjoy Hill) in Portland through March 30, with 7 p.m. performances Wednesday and Thursday; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Call 885-5883.

Anastasia Antonacos

University of Southern Maine School of Music piano professor Anastasia Antonacos is about to release her first CD, and a public pre-release concert is planned this Saturday.

The CD, which is being produced by Gateway Mastering Studios of Portland, will include the first commercial recordings of several works by up-and-coming British composer Cecilia McDowall.

Saturday’s concert is titled “Something Old, Something New,” and the “new” items include a pair of McDowall pieces.

The program will begin with “something new,” McDowall’s “Four Piano Solos,” a work that was inspired by memories of places and people, according to Antonacos.

“The solos are full of fascinating colors and textures,” she said. “McDowall’s music really speaks to me, whether it is driving bass rhythms or meditative high-passage colors.”

Antonacos will then journey back to “something old” with “Auf dem Wasser zu Singen,” a Franz Lizst transcription of a Franz Schubert art song. Antonacos noted that the pianist is responsible not only for the original piano part, but also for the vocal line, adding that “it’s a very beautiful song about time and life and how fleeting it is.”

Other composers on Saturday’s program include Leos Janacek and Einojuhani Rautavaara.

The concert will close with McDowall’s “Colour is the Keyboard,” which was inspired by a painting by Wassily Kandinsky, a pioneering abstract artist.

Catch Anastasia Antonacos in solo recital at 8 p.m. March 15 at Corthell Hall on the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus. Call the music box office at 780-5555.

Portland Symphony Orchestra

Leonard Bernstein was one of the most influential musicians in American history, equally well known as a Broadway composer, music director of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and a classical composer of many works. He was born to Ukrainian Jewish immigrant parents in Lawrence, Mass., and received his early training and inspiration in Boston.

A celebration of Bernstein the classical composer is the central theme of the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s next two concerts, which will be led by music director Robert Moody. Guest artists include the Choral Art Society, directed by Robert Russell, the Boston Children’s Chorus, soprano Mary Wilson, and Jamie Bernstein, daughter of the famous composer.

The concert will open with Symphony No. 3 (subtitled “Kaddish”), a piece composed in 1963 on a commission from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and first performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in Tel Aviv.

Kaddish is an important part of the Jewish prayer service, acting as an ancient liturgical prayer praising God. Bernstein combines the prayer with a narrative in which man questions God, creating a tension between the two halves of the piece. The PSO’s presentation will be narrated by Jamie Bernstein.

The second major work will be “Chichester Psalms,” a piece comprising three movements, each containing a complete Psalm in Hebrew, in addition to part of another. The concluding work will be “Simple Song,” an excerpt from a larger piece that was scored for as many as 200 performers.

There are two opportunities to hear this program at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall: 2:30 p.m. March 16, and 7:30 p.m. March 18. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Midcoast Symphony Orchestra

Three popular works by Russian Romantic composers will be featured this weekend when the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra performs the third program in its 2013-2014 season.

Two guest artists have been invited to perform. Pianist Charles Floyd will be the soloist in Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 in C Minor, a three-movement piece characterized by long melodic lines adorned with lavish and inventive embellishments. The concerto was well received at its 1990 premiere and has remained a staple of symphony orchestras ever since.

On the podium this weekend will be guest conductor Yoichi Udagawa, who has led the MSO several times before. He teaches at the Boston Conservatory and conducts several orchestras in eastern Massachusetts.

The MSO will also perform Mikhail Glinka’s overture to the opera “Russlan and Ludmilla” plus Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor. The latter is one of the most popular and accessible classical pieces ever written, and is always a favorite with audiences.

Two performances are slated: at March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston (formerly St. Mary’s Church, at the corner of Chestnut and Oxford), and March 16 at 2:30 p.m. at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham (Mt. Ararat Middle School). Call 371-2028.