LEWISTON — The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra will present “Celebration Pops,” under the direction of guest conductor Yoichi Udagawa, at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Gendron Franco Center, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18, at the Orion Performing Arts Center, Topsham. The orchestra will also host several special programs as part of “More with Midcoast,” the orchestra’s new expanded offerings to the public.
“Celebration Pops” is the MSO’s most light-hearted program of the year and may be the best suited in the concert year for those new to orchestral performance. The program includes Leroy Anderson’s “Irish Suite,” Aaron Copland’s “Hoedown,” “Hooray for Hollywood” by John Williams, Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” and several other beloved light classics. Popular guest pianist Charles Floyd, last heard with the Midcoast Symphony in 2014, rejoins the orchestra for Gershwin’s brilliant piano showcase, “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Guest conductor Yoichi Udagawa’s performances have been hailed as “powerful and emotionally evocative” and his relaxed manner and ability to speak from the podium have helped new audiences as well as enthusiasts gain a greater appreciation for symphonic music. Maestro Udagawa leads an active season of rehearsals and concerts as conductor of the Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra, the Melrose Symphony Orchestra and the Quincy Symphony Orchestra.
Charles Floyd began studying piano at age 4 and by age 20 had been heard in solo recital, chamber music, and concerto performances throughout the United States and Spain. He has received numerous awards and grants, including from the Aspen School of Music, Oberlin Conservatory and the National Chopin Competition. In addition to his performing career, he is a conductor and composer and an annual guest conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra.
As part of “More with Midcoast,” at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at the Franco Center, Floyd will lead a master class with four pianists from the University of Southern Maine, all students of USM Professor Laura Kargul. He will give a public lesson of about 30 minutes on each student’s performance, then have a short discussion about some of the difficult aspects of being a young musician, including memorization, practice time, family support and performance anxiety.
At the intermission for the Saturday concert, the Youth Orchestra of Lewiston-Auburn, under the direction of Linda Vaillancourt, will perform.
Before the Sunday concert, at 1:15 p.m. at Orion, the orchestra will offer “Meet the Instruments,” an opportunity for people of all ages to try various orchestral instruments, under the guidance of MSO musicians. Orchestra members will introduce curious concert-goers to the basic methods of getting sounds from a variety of instruments. No experience is necessary. The program is funded in part by a grant from the Nathaniel David Fund.
All More with Midcoast events are free and open to the public.
Tickets for “Celebration Pops” are $20; free for everyone 18 and under and all students with ID. Purchase tickets online at midcoastsymphony.org, by phone at 207-846-5378, in advance at the Franco Center, Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick, Now You’re Cooking in Bath, Book Review in Falmouth or at the door with cash or by check (no credit cards). For the complete concert program, visit midcoastsymphony.org.