LEWISTON -The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra will perform its final concert series of the season Friday, May 14, at the Franco-American Heritage Center at St. Mary’s. It will also perform May 15 at the Orion Center for the Performing Arts at Mount Ararat Middle School in Topsham.

Both concerts will begin at 7:30 p.m.

On the program are three differing yet recognizably American-inspired symphonic works. Opening the program is Charles Ives’ Variations on “America,” written in 1892. Originally written for organ when the composer was 18, the variations take the familiar patriotic melody and overlay it with sometimes subtle, sometimes jarring twists of harmony, rhythm and melody.

“Rodeo,” written by Aaron Copland in 1942, is a suite of dances that evoke the wide open spaces and action of the American West. Along with his own original melodies, Copland also employed folk tunes.

The concert closes with Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” written in 1893. The Czech composer wrote the symphony while on a two-year visit to the United States in hopes of encouraging American composers to mine their own country’s original musical traditions instead of emulating European composers. This symphony, although traditionally European, contains melodic allusions to indigenous American music. Whether truly American or not, it is a piece much beloved by American audiences for more than a century.

On the podium for this concert series will be guest conductor Graybert Beacham. Now based at the University of Maine at Farmington and the Emery Community Arts Center, Beacham has taught at many places, including the Cleveland Institute of Music, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, Music Festival of Arkansas and the Sunriver Institute for Strings. He also has also been an active orchestral and chamber music performer throughout this country and Mexico. Currently, he performs with the Nordica Trio and the Portland Symphony, and is concertmaster for the Maine Chamber Ensemble and the Atlantic Chamber Orchestra.

The Midcoast Symphony, based at Topsham’s Orion Performing Arts Center since 2002, was formed in 1990; it has about 60 players who perform eight series concerts per season.

Tickets: $12 for adults (21 and under admitted free). They may be purchased at the door or at Maine Coast Book Shop and Café, Damariscotta; Café Créme, Bath; Macbeans Music, Brunswick; and Carroll’s Music and Victor News, both in Lewiston.


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