PORTLAND — For four days this summer, downtown Portland will be a performing arts mecca.
The first annual Portland Performing Arts Festival was announced last week and will launch with its first concerts on June 28, finishing up July 1.
“The idea (for a performing arts festival) seems to have been in the air in Portland for a long time,” organizer Kara Larson said.
Larson has worked in arts marketing for many years, including time working for the University of North Carolina Music Department and the San Francisco Opera.
She said the goal of the Portland Performing Arts Festival is to bring together a wide range of performances, from classical music, to bluegrass bands, to performance art, to modern dance, plus fringe acts that would not officially be part of the festival, but that might offer audiences something more experimental.
“There should be something for everyone,” Larson said.
The festival is being billed as the first in an annual series.
“I would like to see it become a significant driver of arts tourism for Portland,” Larson said.
Portland Ovations, One Longfellow Square and Portland Arts & Cultural Alliance are among the participating organizations.
The festival will begin June 28 with an outdoor performance by Eepybird, the two Mainers famous for combining Mentos candy with Coca-Cola and catchy music to produce a series of viral online videos.
Also on June 28, there will be a guitar master class at One Longfellow Square with some of the featured performers. A concert by multiple Grammy Award-winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin will follow on June 29 at the Immanuel/Williston Church on High Street.
On the evening of June 30, jazz and blues guitarist Doug Wamble will perform with a quartet at the State Theater, 609 Congress St.
On June 30 and July 1, the Celebration Barn Ensemble will premier a new play, “Thumbs Up,” at the Portland High School auditorium, and on June 30, choreographer Alison Chase will present her new company in a mixed repertory dance performance at Merrill Auditorium.
On July 1, the International Piano Festival, run by the Portland Conservatory of Music, will kick off at the Immaunel/Williston Church with performances by a variety of artists and composers, including Maine composer Elliott Schwartz.
“We are intending this to be something that brings together all the arts organizations in Portland,” Larson said. “It wouldn’t be possible to do this without the arts organizations partnering with us.”