Out & About: Get ready to be 'Blown Away' in Portland

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As the calendar flips to April an incredibly broad range of musical opportunities beckon concertgoers.

The top draw will be a megastar in the Nashville firmament: Carrie Underwood’s “Blown Away” tour motors into the Cumberland County Civic Center on Tuesday, April 9.

A few blocks away on that same night, the Portland Symphony Orchestra holds a classical concert that features Brunswick piano virtuoso Martin Perry as soloist.

Looking at this weekend, legendary banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka will be Portland Ovations’ guest on Saturday.

Modern and traditional Celtic music will be featured Sunday when Alaska-born songstress Kyle Carey and Boston-based Long Time Courting appear at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland.

Also at the St. Lawrence, Good Theater will produce a reprise of A.R. Gurney’s “Ancestral Voices” April 3-14.

Carrie Underwood

Of all the “American Idol” winners, none has enjoyed more commercial and artistic success than country singer Carrie Underwood, who took the honors in 2005.

Since winning the TV show, Underwood has become a multi-platinum singer/songwriter who’s been showered with honors. These include six Grammys, seven American Music Awards, and 10 Academy of Country Music Awards. She became a member of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry in 2008.

Underwood possesses a powerful, emotive voice that projects well in concerts and in recordings, plus she’s got an unerring ability to pick new songs and reinterpret standards to fit her style and delivery. These range from traditional country and gospel to crossover hits such as “Before He Cheats” and “Jesus Take the Wheel.”

Currently she’s on tour promoting her fourth CD, “Blown Away.” As a single, the album’s title cut sold more than 2 million copies and the recording as a whole earned the singer her sixth Grammy. Underwood’s bus-and-truck caravan motors into the Cumberland County Civic Center for one April 9 performance at 7:30 p.m. Hunter Hayes opens. Call the CCCC at 775-3458.

Portland Symphony

Three major works by English-speaking composers from both sides of the Atlantic will be featured when the Portland Symphony Orchestra continues its Tuesday Classical series on April 9.

Led by maestro Robert Moody, the concert features the exquisite, powerful and serene Symphony No. 2, nicknamed “Mysterious Mountain,” the best-known work of Armenian-American composer Alan Hovhaness.

Brunswick-based keyboard virtuoso Martin Perry joins the PSO in Samuel Barber’s exuberant Piano Concerto, and the evening concludes with Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations,” an intriguing musical tribute “to friends pictured within.”

Perry is a masterful and innovative interpreter of both solo and collaborative music. A graduate of the Juilliard School, Perry has toured the U.S. and abroad several times as soloist. His orchestral appearances include the Moscow Philharmonic, Baltic Philharmonic, Boston Pops, Arkansas Symphony and Florida Philharmonic.

Catch this concert at 7:30 p.m. April 9 at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Tony Trischka

Bela Fleck and Steve Martin call him “mentor” and The New York Times calls him “the godfather of … new acoustic.”

The object of this high praise is banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka, who will be appearing on Saturday with a band comprising local string band stars from Yarmouth’s 317 Main Street music center.

Trischka is considered the most influential banjo player in the roots music world. For more than 35 years, his stylings have inspired a generation of bluegrass and acoustic musicians. He is not only ranked among the very best pickers, he is also one of the instrument’s top instructors, responsible for teaching some of the biggest names in bluegrass.

The 317 contingent, mostly teachers at the center, will be led by fiddler Darol Anger, a Portland resident who boasts a formidable national reputation and also teaches at Boston’s Berklee College. The performance will also feature students from the first annual Maine Acoustic Festival.

Portland Ovations presents Tony Trischka and friends at 8 p.m. April 6 at the Abromson Community Education Center, 88 Bedford St. in Portland, on the campus of the University of Southern Maine. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Kyle Carey, Long Time Courting

A few weeks ago I wrote about an all-female Irish ensemble, noting the longtime predominance of men in the traditional music of the Emerald Isle. Another show in a similar vein will be presented this Sunday evening at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland.

Songstress Kyle Carey, whose specialty is “Gaelic Americana,” is on a co-bill with Long Time Courting, four women who specialize in traditional Irish music.

Born in Alaska, Carey now travels the world teaching Gaelic, writing poetry and interpreting the traditional music of Ireland, Scotland, American Appalachia and the Canadian Maritime Provinces as well as performing her own compositions that honor those traditions.

Long Time Courting is based in Boston and comprises four women who combine exquisite vocal harmonies with formidable instrumental prowess: Liz Simmons on guitar, Shannon Heaton on flute and accordion, Valerie Thompson on cello and Katie McNally on fiddle.

Carey writes about the double bill: “Audiences can expect the introspective and the beautiful alongside energy and verve — stunning slow original compositions served up next to timeless, toe-tapping traditional Irish jigs and reels.”

Catch this concert at 7 p.m. April 7 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St. (top of Munjoy Hill). Call 775-5568.

‘Ancestral Voices’

About a year ago Good Theater presented a wonderful little chamber drama by A.R. Gurney, “Ancestral Voices,” for a one-weekend run. Based on its success, artistic director Brian P. Allen is bringing it back April 3-14.

I saw it last year and was moved by Gurney’s writing and Good Theater’s production.

“Ancestral Voices” is set in the years leading up to World War II. As told through the eyes of young Eddie, this sweet, touching and very funny play deals with three generations of family members and their issues with a changing world.

“I fell in love with this play the minute I read it,” comments Allen, who directs and acts the part of the central character. “Eddie’s take on the family situation is priceless, much to his parents’ dismay. I love this character in this play. Audiences warm to the very real nature of the piece as they do to the other characters in Gurney’s works.”

Good Theater is the resident company at the St. Lawrence Arts Center, 76 Congress St. (top of Munjoy Hill). “Ancestral Voices” performances are slated for 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Plus there’s a 2 p.m. matinee on April 13. Call 885-5883.

Sidebar Elements

Carrie Underwood, a multi-platinum country singer with broad crossover appeal, brings her “Blown Away” tour to the Cumberland County Civic Center on April 9.