Out & About: Music to maintain that winning feeling

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With most of Maine celebrating the Boston Red Sox, the heroics of pitcher David Price, World Series MVP Steve Pearce and endless repeats of the Dropkick Murphys’ “Tessie,” this coming weekend offers four musical programs to maintain that winning feeling.

Portland Symphony Orchestra opens its 2018-2019 Pops! season this weekend with a concert based on the music of Frank Sinatra.

The DaPonte String Quartet will open its 2018-2019 season Nov. 3 with a program titled “It Must Be!,” a reference to a famously existential superscript by composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Dimensions in Jazz takes inspiration from the Indian subcontinent, hosting a visit by the Mishran Project on Saturday at the Portland Conservatory of Music.

Friday’s Portland Piano Extravaganza is a showcase performance by six students of Laura Kargul, Maine’s top concert pianist and longtime professor at the University of Southern Maine School of Music.

Portland Piano Extravaganza

You could call them some of the luckiest piano students on the planet. They study at the University of Southern Maine School of Music with professor Laura Kargul, the state’s top concert pianist and cultural treasure.

Two weeks ago Kargul gave a sold-out concert in the school’s Faculty Concert Series. On Friday, six of her top students will gather in downtown Portland for a concert. Titled “Portland Piano Extravaganza,” it will feature students Annah Gauthier, Matthew Jones, April Masse, Josie DiPhilippo, Evan Viera and Derek Herzer playing selections from the standard classical canon.

It’s free, so if you think you can’t afford some extra David Price bobbleheads or Steve Pearce T-shirts, think again.

Catch the Portland Piano Extravaganza at the First Parish Church, 425 Congress St. Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Call the school’s music box office at 780-5555.

Portland Symphony Orchestra

If you grew up, as I did, during the Red Sox’s decades of mediocrity, you also know firsthand the music of pop singer Frank Sinatra, the most prominent voice of the 1940s and 1950s. He and his fellow crooners dominated the airwaves with tunes from Tin Pan Alley.

This weekend the Portland Symphony Orchestra turns back the clock to highlight that music in a Pops! program titled “The Sinatra Swing!” Two guest artists will be featured.

Maestro Christopher Lees is an emerging force on the American music scene, boasting two major conducting prizes in his trophy case and an appointment book that overflows with upcoming engagements.

Vocalist Michael Andrew is best known for his stint as the featured singer and bandleader of the Rainbow Room, ensconced high atop New York’s Rockefeller Center. He too has an overflowing appointment book, with many symphonic pops programs lined up.

Andrew is being quite secretive about his program, so I can’t say anything about which Sinatra songs will be showcased, but I’m willing to assume that these two concerts will be very entertaining.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra presents “The Sinatra Swing!” for two performances at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 4. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

DaPonte String Quartet

“To be or not to be; that is the question.” That famous quotation from Ludwig van Beethoven inspires the first program of the DaPonte String Quartet’s 2018-2019 season.

Huh. Beethoven said that?

In a very real sense he did. In German, of course.

The autograph score of Beethoven’s last major work, his Op. 135 string quartet, is superscribed with an enigmatic existential statement, loosely translated as “the agonizing decision,” plus two related phrases, “must it be?” and “it must be!”

At this point in his life, Beethoven was totally deaf and despairing of his failing health, so many generations of musicologists have speculated about what was going on in his mind.

The composer died shortly after completing this quartet, but there’s no question about history’s verdict: Beethoven’s Op. 135 quartet is one of the enduring treasures of western civilization.

And it inspired the title of the DaPontes’ upcoming concerts: “Must It Be?”

In addition to the Beethoven quartet, the progam includes Bela Bartok’s String Quartet No. 6 and Richard Danielpour’s String Quartet No. 8. The latter was written on commission from the DaPontes and premiered this past August.

“Must It Be?” will be performed five times in the next week and a half: Nov. 3 at 2 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House, 6 Central St. in Rockport; Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. at the Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St., Damariscotta; Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St. in Portland; Nov. 10 at 2 p.m. at St. Columba’s Church, 32 Emery Lane in Boothbay Harbor, and Nov. 11 at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Church, 15 Pleasant St. in Brunswick. Call 940-595-1917.

Mishran Project

When Paul Lichter puts together the lineup of artists for his long-running Dimensions in Jazz concert series, he strives to bring to Portland the best and most interesting figures on the global contemporary scene. He’s certainly met that criterion with this weekend’s appearance by the Mishran Project, which explores the music of the Indian subcontinent.

Christine Correa’s Mishran Project is a collaboration of four New York-based jazz and Indian classical musicians. Their artistic purpose is to explore the repertoire of singer Correa’s home country of India, drawing from both folk traditions and the modern popular Indian songbook.

This project is very personal for Correa, who grew up singing many of these songs at her school in Mumbai. Together with accordionist Ben Rosenblum, guitarist Kenny Wessel, and tabla player Ethan Fox, Correa reconnects with her musical and cultural roots, informed by her extensive knowledge and experience in straight-ahead and free jazz. (The tabla, important in traditional Indian music, is a pair of hand drums.)

Correa is a native of Mumbai, India who currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. After relocating to the U.S. she soon became involved in a variety of improvisational jazz contexts. She has performed and recorded with artists such as Ran Blake, Steve Lacy and John LaPorta and has appeared at festivals and clubs in the U.S., Europe, South America and India. She has been associated with several jazz artists closely connected to Maine, including Frank Carlberg and the late Steve Grover.

She currently serves on the faculty at Columbia University’s Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program and has directed the annual Maine Jazz Camp since 1994.

Dimensions in Jazz presents the Mishran Project at 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Portland Conservatory of Music, 202 Woodford St. Call Lichter at 828-1310.

DaPonte String Quartet opens its 2018-2019 season with a program to be performed five times in coastal five venues.

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