Out & About: Musical offerings a-plenty

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Measured by the number of acts and variety of styles, there’s plenty of music coming up.

Top billing goes to Portland Ovations’ final adult offering of the 2015-2016 season: Saturday’s peformance of the Ying Quartet with guest cellist Zuill Bailey.

Armenian-American pianist-composer Vardan Ovsepian holds forth on Friday at the Portland Conservatory of Music’s Dimensions in Jazz series

Portland Community Chorus offers Friday and Saturday performances of its spring concert in South Portland.

The 15-member Choral Art Camerata presents an a cappella concert in Portland on Saturday.

Portland Chamber Music Festival continues its off-season series at SPACE Gallery with a May 9 concert that explores the intersection of indie folk singer-songwriters with classical forms.

Ying Quartet with Zuill Bailey

There’s only one adult offering remaining on Portland Ovations’ 2015-2016 calendar, his Saturday’s appearance by the Ying Quartet with guest cellist Zuill Bailey.

The Ying Quartet, formed in 1988, is an American classical touring ensemble. It is the resident quartet at the Eastman School of Music in New York. The quartet resides at the Bowdoin International Music Festival for six weeks each summer, where the violist and cellist, brothers Phillip and David Ying, co-direct the festival.

Bailey is a cello virtuoso who has appeared with many orchestras and chamber ensembles around the world.

The central item on the program will be Robert Schumann’s 1850 Cello Concerto in A Minor, rearranged a few years ago for solo cello plus string quartet by Philip Lasser, a Juilliard School professor.

Other items on the program are Billy Childs 2012 string quartet titled “Awakening” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata for String Quintet.

Portland Ovations presents the Ying Quartet with Zuill Bailey at 3 p.m. May 7 at the Abromson Community Education Center, 88 Bedford St. on the University of Southern Maine’s Portland campus. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Vardan Ovsepian

An outstanding musical inovator and improviser will be featured on the next concert on the Portland Conservatory of Music’s Dimensions in Jazz series. Vardan Ovsepian, an Armenian-born pianist and composer with both European and American training will play his own works in a solo performance on Friday evening.

Ovsepian combines the technical expertise of classical piano with the free-ranging spirit of jazz. After formal classical schooling in his home country and later Estonia and Finland, he was invited to study jazz at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Ovsepian became a fixture on the East Coast’s jazz scene before settling in Los Angeles.

Paul Lichter, who has directed Dimension in Jazz for two-plus decades, met Ovsepian when they were both teaching at the Maine Jazz Camp. Lichter has hosted Ovsepian’s concerts in Portland several times before, most recently five years ago.

“He’s a conservatory-trained musician with a tremenouds grounding in classical music who came to jazz improvisation rather late in his education,” says Lichter. “He’s an amazing improviser, and it’s a treat to have Vardan here.”

Catch Vardan Ovsepian at the Portland Conservatory of Music, 202 Woodford St. on May 6 at 8 p.m. Call 828-1310.

Portland Community Chorus

Fresh from its April 17 appearance at Carnegie Hall, southern Maine’s largest choral ensemble will perform its annual spring concert on Friday and Saturday in South Portland.

The Portland Community Chorus numbers 150 – although not all sing in every concert – and is directed by Rob Westerberg, a veteran conductor with wide experience all over New England.

The dozen-plus songs on the program come from a variety of cultural influences and traditions. “MLK” was written in 1984 by Bono for U2; Westerberg has rearranged it for chorus.

Another selection was commissioned by Westerberg. “Twilight on the Beach” is a setting of the poem of the same name by Mary Dow Brine. The composer is 26-year-old Andrew Hirst, a 2008 graduate of York High School, where Westerberg also directs the chorus. Westerberg describes the song as “a thoughtful weaving of text and music that speaks to the sound and feel of the Maine seacoast.”

Portland Community Chorus presents its spring concert at South Portland High School, 637 Highland Ave. at 7:30 p.m. May 6 and 2 p.m. May 7. Call 370-5320.

Choral Art Camerata

Another outstanding evening of choral music will be presented on Saturday, when the Choral Art Camerata, a 15-voice subdivision of the larger Choral Art Society, will present “SpringSong” in Portland. The Camerata is directed by Robert Russell, the recently retired professor at the University of Southern Maine School of Music.

Russell’s program is entirely a cappella, divided into two main sections. The first half of the evening will be devoted to European classical master works performed in their original languages. Composers include Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (Italian), Johann Sebastian Bach (German) and Johannes Brahms (German).

Following intermission, the Camerata will focus on songs in English from diverse traditions. These include three madrigals by German-American composer Jean Berger, a selection of love songs by James Macmillan, a contemporary Scotsman, and a group of Negro spirituals.

Linda Russell, who writes the program notes for the Camerata, comments: “Spirituals or Negro folk music reflect the melting pot of American history. This music merged elements of African culture with English, Scottish, Irish and French folk tunes, sea chanteys, hymns and white spirituals. This cross-fertilization continued with the addition of the hillbilly style of the southeastern mountains and the western or cowboy styles.”

The Choral Art Camerata presents “SpringSong” on May 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Williston-Immanuel United Church, 156 High St. in Portland. Call 828-0043.

Portland Chamber Music Festival

The string quartet is one form of music. The singer-songwriter is a separate, totally different form. But not always. The Portland Chamber Music Festival, best-known for its classical concerts every August, is presenting a concert next Monday where the two often radically different musical forms intersect.

The concert is titled “Chamber Music Meets Indie Folk.”

Appropriately, the two creative minds that drive this program hail from opposite coasts of our country. Singer-songwriter Mirah Yom Toy Zeitlyn is from Brooklyn, New York, where she is known for her fiercely independent writing and her love of unusual collaborations. Composer-performer Jherek Bischoff is from Los Angeles, where he has participated in more than a dozen collaborations in both the classical and alternative rock genres.

PCMF artistic director Jennifer Elowitch has assembed a string quartet that is equally inclined toward modern takes on classical traditions: violinists Josh Henderson and Finnegan Shanahan, violist Alex Guy and cellist Ju-Young Lee.

This concert is slated for May 9 at 8 p.m. at SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St. in Portland. Call 828-5600.

The Ying Quartet will be featured on May 7 when Portland Ovations presents its final adult program of the 2015-2016 season.

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