Out & About: Jaime Laredo to take PSO podium, play violin

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A number of fine musical events are coming up this weekend in the run-up to the Ides of March.

Biggest in terms of audience and influence will be this Sunday’s concert by the Portland Symphony Orchestra. During the PSO’s maestro-less 2018-2019 season, guest artist Jaime Laredo will appear in a dual role, both as virtuoso violinist and conductor.

Two new collaborations between traditional acoustic musicians will be showcasing their talents in Portland’s One Longfellow Square, and both feature prominent Portland artists in combination with others from beyond the local orbit. On March 9 the Barnes-Gordy-Walsh Trio, specializing in bluegrass, will appear. The third-named member is Joe K. Walsh, Portland’s premier mandolin virtuoso and music educator. Then on March 14, Josephine County will take the stage, anchored by Mainers Matt Shipman and Erica Brown. Although this husband-wife duo is best known for bluegrass, Josephine County is a new ensemble that aims for a distinctly Irish tinge.

Portland Symphony Orchestra

In the rarefied atmosphere of top-tier classical music there’s hardly anyone who can match the credentials and longevity of superstar violinist Jaime Laredo. Since his orchestral debut at the age of 11 with the San Francisco Symphony, Laredo has won the admiration and respect of audiences, critics and fellow musicians with his passionate and polished performances.

This Bolivian-born artist excels in several facets of music: as a globetrotting violin virtuoso and guest soloist with orchestras, as a chamber musician with the long-running Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson Trio, as a pedagogue with numerous conservatories and as adjudicator of classical music competitions. Plus there’s one more: Laredo is renowned as a conductor of orchestras.

This Sunday the Portland Symphony Orchestra has engaged Laredo for two of his roles. He’ll play violin and conduct.

His program comprises a trio of audience favorites, beginning with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Violin Concerto No. 1. Georges Bizet’s Symphony in C will follow, and the afternoon will wrap up with Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, commonly nicknamed “Scottish.”

A principal theme for the latter work was jotted down while the young composer was visiting Holyrood, home of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the scene of her illicit love affair with an Italian musician.

Catch the Portland Symphony Orchestra at 2:30 p.m. March 10 at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Barnes-Gordy-Walsh Trio

Mandolin virtuoso Joe K. Walsh is one of the masters of bluegrass, with many gigs and collaborations to his credit. Among these are several national tours with the Gibson Brothers. As a Maine resident, he’s also active in the local music scene as a performer and teacher. Plus he’s got a regular teaching assignment with the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Recently Walsh has teamed up with two musicians for a new project, the Barnes-Gordy-Walsh Trio, which is currently touring the northeast. The trio formed last year at a music camp in the mountains of Wyoming, where each had been hired to teach.

The trio is anchored by banjo player and singer-songwriter Danny Barnes, who was the 2015 winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.

Guitarist Grant Gordy went from being a rabid fan of David Grisman to playing in the David Grisman Quintet for six years. Gordy has been featured on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” “Tiny Desk Concerts” and “All Things Considered,” as well as The Fretboard Journal, Acoustic Guitar Magazine and Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.

Catch the Barnes-Gordy-Walsh Trio at 8 p.m. March 9 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

Josephine County

When I first started writing about Erica Brown, she was a pre-teen fiddling phenom from the Lewiston area who was making waves and turning heads in Maine bluegrass and Franco music circles. Nowadays she’s a young lady from Portland with her own band, the Bluegrass Connection, which she anchors with her husband, guitarist and songwriter Matt Shipman.

Recently the pair have joined forces with two other musicians for a new venture, Josephine County, with a very Irish orientation.

Traditional Irish flute player and singer Hanz Araki is known worldwide for innovative approaches. Araki’s reputation is based on exquisite instrumental work on both Irish whistle and flute, and a haunting singing voice that was born to tell tales.

Percussionist Colleen Raney is an interpreter of traditional Irish music from generations past. Her singing brings warmth and authenticity to the songs she collects. Colleen feels compelled by the beauty of traditional Irish songs and has committed herself to honoring past generations’ artistry through performance and scholarship.

Catch Josephine County at 8 p.m. March 14 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

Violin virtuoso Jaime Laredo will appear with the Portland Symphony Orchestra this Sunday in a dual role: violin soloist and guest conductor.

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