Out & About: Wrapping up the season

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The leaves are out and the seniors are graduating. That’s also a certain sign that the 2017-2018 season for performing arts producers and presenters is coming to a close.

Two of our region’s orchestras are exiting this weekend. The Portland Symphony wraps up Sunday with a program conducted by one of the three finalists for appointment as the next music director. The Midcoast Symphony concludes its season Saturday and Sunday with performances in Lewiston and Topsham.

Renaissance Voices is another musical company that is set to conclude its season on Saturday in Portland.

The Public Theatre of Lewiston-Auburn wraps up this weekend, too. The final offering for 2017-2018 is “The Midvale High School 50th Reunion,” a warm and wonderfully different romantic comedy.

Portland Ovations wraps up its regular season May 17-18 with performances of “Stomp,” an unorthodox and very athletic celebration of percussion. (“Stomp” was scheduled to be Ovations’ final presentation, but there’s still a make-up date by a snowed out theatrical troupe.)

Portland Symphony Orchestra

On May 1 Portland Symphony Orchestra music director Robert Moody conducted his last concert after a 10-year tenure. The new maestro has yet to be appointed, but the selection will be made from three candidates, each of whom was asked to plan and conduct one classical and one Pops! program during the 2017-2018 season.

This Sunday will be the PSO’s final outing of 2017-2018, and the conductor will be maestro candidate Daniel Meyer, who led an absolutely stellar Pops! concert three weekends ago. Meyer boasts a distinguished career with symphonies in mid-sized cities in America and has considerable European experience as well. He has chosen an all-Russian program for Sunday, with the best-known item being Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake Suite.”

Second will be Alexander Glazunov’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra, with Chee-Yun as the guest soloist. Chee-Yun is a globetrotting violist with extensive credentials in orchestral settings. Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Symphonic Dances” rounds out the concert.

Catch the Portland Symphony Orchestra May 13 at 2:30 p.m. at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Midcoast Symphony Orchestra

The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra is wrapping up its 28th season this weekend in Lewiston and Topsham.

For half of those 28 years, this excellent community orchestra has been led by maestro Rohan Smith, an Australian-born conductor with major European experience. I remember that when Smith took the helm of the Midcoast in 2003-2004, members wanted to become bigger, better and draw larger audiences.

He’s certainly accomplished all that. The orchestra now has a full complement of all instruments, musicianship has improved and audiences have quadrupled.

For this weekend’s two concerts, Smith has picked a program anchored by what is perhaps the most celebrated orchestral work ever written: Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5.

All over America this season, symphony orchestras have observed the 100th anniversary of New England-born composer-conductor-educator Leonard Bernstein. This weekend’s MSO concerts will open with a symphonic suite of dances from “On the Town,” Bernstein’s first Broadway musical.

The middle piece will be Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto, with Lise de la Salle as the guest soloist.

Two performances are scheduled: May 12 at 7 p.m. at the Gendron Franco Center, 46 Cedar St. in Lewiston and May 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Orion Performing Arts Center at Mt. Ararat Middle School in Topsham. Call 846-5378.

Renaissance Voices

“M is for…” is the title of Renaissance Voices final concert of the 2017-2018 season, which is slated for Saturday. A 20-member a cappella ensemble, Renaissance Voices formed in 1995 and is currently directed by Harold Stover, a longtime church organist and choral director.

For this final outing, Stover has selected four pieces, each written by a man whose name begins with “M.” Claudio Monteverdi is the only one on the list who actually represents the Renaissance. Then there’s Felix Mendelssohn, a composer of the German Romantic school.

Two New Yorkers round out the concert. Columbia University professor Edward MacDowell wrote and taught during the late 1800s, while Nico Muhly is a contemporary composer who has much experience with opera and vocal music.

Renaissance Voices presents “M is for …” at 7:30 p.m. May 12 at St. Luke’s Cathedral Church, 143 State St. in Portland. Visit RenaissanceVoices.net.

‘The Midvale High School 50th Reunion’

May and June bring graduations and class reunions. And so it’s the perfect time for the Public Theatre of Lewiston-Auburn to present the Maine premiere of a wonderfully offbeat romantic comedy, Alan Brody’s “The Midvale High School 50th Reunion,” which runs through this weekend.

It’s a vert new play. Brody is an English professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and “50th Reunion” had its world premiere less than a year ago at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Here’s the situation. Tom and Bettina start chatting at the reunion, although they barely knew each other in school. Both have enjoyed successful lives in the half-century since graduation. He’s found intellectual satisfaction in Maine as a bookseller and mystery writer; she’s found success and recognition in Baltimore as a medical researcher. Both were once married, but neither found true love.

Being a romantic comedy, the result is fairly predictable. What’s so interesting about this play is the way Brody covers the 50-year time span with a series of flashbacks.

Mel Shrawder and Joyce Cohen are warm, funny and convincing as Tom and Bettina, while Torsten Hillhouse and Nisi Sturgis ably portray a variety of characters from the past, including younger Tom and younger Bettina.

The Public Theatre, 31 Maple St. in Lewiston, presents “The Midvale High School 50th Reunion” May 10-12 at 7:30 p.m. plus 3 p.m. May 12 and 2 p.m. May 13. Call 782-3200.


Steel trash cans become bass drums and the lids turn into cymbals. Etcetera. That’s the basic idea behind “Stomp,” a theatrical celebration of athleticism and percussion.

Founded in England about two decades ago, “Stomp” recently closed its London show after a 15-year run, while road companies have been criss-crossing the six inhabited continents. I saw this engaging, high-energy show some years ago when Portland Ovations hosted a visit.

Now they’re back, again under the aegis of Portland Ovations. Eight members perform singly and in various mixed ensembles, using everything but conventional percussion instruments – matchboxes, wooden poles, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters and hubcaps – to fill the stage with throbbing rhythms.

Portland Ovations presents “Stomp” for two 7 p.m. performances, May 17-18, at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

“Stomp,” a high-energy and athletic celebration of the powers of percussion, will visit Merrill Auditorium May 17-18 under the aegis of Portland Ovations.