FARMINGTON – “Driving In Maine,” a musical composition written by Nancy Gunn and based on several poems by local poet Wesley McNair, will be premiered Sunday, April 6, by soprano soloist Sarah Johnson and the UMF Community Orchestra.

The UMF Community Orchestra concert will begin at 3 p.m. in Nordica Auditorium. Also featured on the program will be violin soloist Sarah Geller.

Gunn said she is passionate about McNair’s poems – “Where I Live,” “Glass Night,” “What They Are” and “Driving North in the Winter” – because they “are filled with a deep appreciation of the beauty of small moments.”

“As soon as the poems were selected, I knew what order they would go in and what mood and tempo each song would have. The vision of the whole work was clear at the beginning,” said Gunn.

She and McNair discussed this work, written for the UMF Community Orchestra, for several months before all four poems were chosen. The piece is titled “Driving In Maine” because all four poems share this common theme.

The end of the fourth movement, “Driving North In Winter,” expresses the sentiments behind the four movements – appreciating the small joyful moments in time that often get overlooked in the whirlwind of everyday life.

Gunn grew up in Long Island, N.Y., with her brother Dan Gunn, acting dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UMF. She attended St. Lawrence University, graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in music.

“I was a late-bloomer in the field of music. I could not play an instrument or read music until I left home to go to college,” said Gunn.

While attending the University of Michigan, where she received a master’s degree in music composition, her first orchestral work, “Four Thoughts,” was performed. She later finished her Ph.D. in music composition at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

“Living in New York was a musical education in itself,” said Gunn.

Before she had children, Gunn attended more than 100 concerts a year, in all styles of music. “I think that all artists benefit from spending time in a large city with a vibrant cultural life. It feeds the mind and the soul,” she said.

After receiving her Ph.D., Gunn began teaching full time at the Metropolitan State College in Denver. She now lives in Cape Elizabeth and teaches part time at the University of Southern Maine.

Gunn has written more than two dozen musical works, including pieces for orchestra, chorus, concert band and small ensembles. She has received many awards for her musical compositions.

Tickets are $6 adults, $5 for seniors and children under 12. They are available at Mickey’s Hallmark in Farmington and will be sold at the door. For more information, call 778-7072.

– by Melissa Tarbox


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