Maine Music Society regroups after changes

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LEWISTON – The Maine Music Society will play on.

The 15-year-old arts organization plans to move forward with planned concerts and fundraisers, despite the February departure of founder Peter Frewen.

Not that it will be easy.

The newly reorganized group must erase $20,000 of debt, Vice Chairwoman Helen Davidson said. And the chore of finding a new artistic director lies ahead.

“It’s a difficult thing to be a non-profit arts organization these days,” Davidson said. With so many groups asking for money, organizations such as the Maine Music Society are feeling squeezed.

“We may not do as many concerts in the future,” she said. And groups such as the Maine Chamber Ensemble, a paid, professional orchestra run by the society, may also shrink.

However, the directors are confident that the society’s primary goal – to bring beautiful music to Maine – will continue, Davidson said.

“We have all done a lot of soul searching,” she said. Halting the society’s work was never considered.

“It was something we couldn’t imagine,” she said. “But we had to regroup.”

In a February interview, Frewen said the financial struggle had become difficult.

The pressures from the board to cut costs took away his “artistic stimulation,” he said. He didn’t like suggestions aimed at cutting back the number of concerts.

The Maine Music Society was Frewen’s “brain child, his baby,” Davidson said. However, the differences between Frewen and the board grew too deep.

“There were lots of emotions,” said Davidson. “It was necessary to bring things to a close.”

In the wake of Frewen’s departure, the society canceled March concerts in Lewiston and Portland.

However, another concert scheduled for June 4 at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston will proceed.

John Corrie, who lectures at Bates College and directs its choir, has signed on to guest conduct the Androscoggin Chorale. Frewen had directed the group since 1982.

The volunteer singers are scheduled to perform a program that will include pieces by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Antonio Vivaldi.

The society also plans to move forward in July with its 12th annual Garden Tour, a popular fundraiser.

Other regular events, including the November “Battle of the Blends” and the holiday “Messiah Sing-along” are likely to return, Davidson said.

And after a break, the chorale is rehearsing again.

The music is too beautiful to stop, Davidson said.

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