Summer in southern Maine means classical music close to home

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

PORTLAND — People lucky enough to live in Maine know that summer is the time to see top-notch musicians in our backyards.

Nowhere is that more evident than the annual Bowdoin Summer Music Festival in Brunswick.

The festival kicks off on at 4 p.m. on June 26 with the Ying Quartet performing at Studzinski Recital Hall on the Bowdoin College campus. The quartet will perform two works and discuss the importance of commissioning new works.

Other highlights of the festival include two performances in the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, July 29 and 31, which features works by living composers and this year will host the Julliard Technology Center. The partnership will allow composers who utilize technology, such as image projections and computers, to have their works performed.

Portland Symphony Orchestra Music Director Robert Moody will conduct a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “L’Histoire du Soldat,” or “A Soldier’s Tale,” with Bowdoin Festival faculty, projections and dancers at the Gamper Festival concert on July 29 at 7:30 p.m.

The Artist of Tomorrow series features student performers from the summer camp associated with the festival.

“Don’t miss the student concerts,” festival Director Lewis Kaplan said. “They’re fantastic.”

From July 5 through Aug. 2, the festival will feature a Monday sonata recital, which will include performances by a variety of professional musicians. There will also be regular Wednesday evening performances.

The Bowdoin Virtuosi performances will feature five world-class musicians, including the concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony, two concert pianists, and even a violinist from Norway.

The theme of the popular Festival Fridays series at the Crooker Theater at Brunswick High School, is a celebration of composer Robert Schumann, whose 200th birthday was this year. The series kicks off with an all-Schumann concert on July 2 at 8 p.m. The concert will include a performance by the Bowdoin Festival Orchestra, made up of the faculty and the most talented students at the festival.

“The orchestra is the best orchestra north of Tangelwood,” said Kaplan.

The festival runs until Aug. 8 and tickets tend to sell out quickly. For more information visit

For fans of opera, PORTopera presents its Young Artist Program beginning June 25 at Hannaford Hall on the USM campus in Portland.

A group of six young singers will perform two one-act comic operas at venues all around the state. The operas will be sung in English and the subject matter is lighthearted and fun. Wolfgang Mozart’s “The Impressario” is a story of dueling sopranos and the impressario in charge of assigning them their roles in the opera.

Gaetano Donizetti’s “The Night Bell,” is slightly more risque, as a jilted ex-lover attempts to prevent his amore’s new husband from consummating the marriage by distracting and delaying him.

“There are some fabulous singers in the program this year,” Director Ellen Chickering said.

Four of the singers are from out of state and two are home-grown. Several of the young artists will also perform in PORTopera’s mainstage production, Engelbert Humperdink’s “Hansel and Gretel,” running July 29 and 31 at Merrill Auditorium.

“Hansel and Gretel,” directed by Dona Vaughn, tells the Brothers Grimm story of the two children lost in the woods and the frightening witch they encounter. The performance will utilize a number of local children from Portland Ballet, who will perform during the dream sequence, and a 16-member multi-national children’s chorus made up of children from Portland’s immigrant community.

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to

Portland Conservatory will kick off its popular International Piano Festival with a concert by renown pianist Frank Glazer at 7:30 p.m. on June 25 at the Woodford’s Congregational Church in Portland. The festival will feature several performances throughout the week.

The festival will conclude with two concerts by the student participants, on June 29 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The Conservatory will also present two Honors Student Showcases on June 26 with the highest level students from the festival. The two concerts will be held at the Saco River Grange Hall and at the First Parish Church in Brunswick.

For more information, visit

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or