Go and do

WHO: Midcoast Symphony Orchestra
CONCERT: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 16,
Franco-American Heritage Center, Lewiston
CONCERT: 2:30 p.m.Sunday, May 17,
Orion Performing Arts Center, Topsham
TICKETS: www.midcoastsymphony.org

 LEWISTON — It was all by coincidence, but the ideas for a delightfully bright and festive spring concert came together “like a wonderful jigsaw puzzle,” said Rohan Smith, conductor of the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra.
It’s called “Great Music, By George!” and the May 16-17 performances in Lewiston and Topsham will feature George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and George Bizet’s “Carmen” Suites 1 and 2.
A third man named George will be at the grand piano. He is renowned pianist George Lopez, who makes his fourth guest appearance with the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra. Lopez has been featured around the globe as recitalist, soloist with orchestra and collaborator.
The program opens with the music from “Carmen.” The audience will hear many familiar melodies in Suite 1, which is taken from the preludes and interludes of the Bizet opera. Suite 2 includes several pieces adapted from the opera’s well-known arias.
The music from “Carmen” was arranged and adapted/edited by Fritz Hoffmann.
Smith said Suites 1 and 2 “will give the audience a sense of the drama in the opera, and there are some wonderful solos in it.”
Then, with a signature spine-tingling clarinet glissando that opens Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” the concert shifts from the bullrings of Spain to the American city streets of the early jazz age for Lopez’s performance of “Rhapsody in Blue.”
Smith said Lopez is “an amazing pianist and he shares his love of piano and music with anyone around.”
“What I find so appealing about Gershwin is that he embodies the American spirit and the unbridled energy of the jazz era,” Smith said. “Rhapsody in Blue” makes ground-breaking use of syncopation and numerous percussionistic passages, the conductor noted.
“It’s all there, as well as having symphonic quality,” he said.
The overture to “Girl Crazy,” a Broadway show by Gershwin, is next , and Smith noted that audiences will hear Lopez play several melodies they now know as standards of the American songbook.
The program notes read: “Like many composers of theatrical music, Gershwin composed his overtures last, after the songs for a particular show had been written. This allowed him to figure out which songs were likely to be the biggest hits and to insert them into the overture.”
Familiar tunes in the overture include “I Got Rhythm,” “Embraceable You,” “Land of the Gay Caballero,” “But Not For Me” and “Bronco Busters.”
The third Gershwin piece in Lopez’s portion of the concert is “Promenade/Walking the Dog.” Smith described this as kind of a rare little bonbon. “It’s going to be the dessert,” he said.
“This utterly charming short piece is from the soundtrack of the movie ‘Shall We Dance,’ where it accompanied a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers routine on the deck of a ship. This may explain its somewhat tipsy quality,” it is noted in the program notes.

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