PSO principal harpist Ina Zdorovetchi performs with West Deutsche Radio Symphony Orchestra. Submitted photo

PORTLAND — The Portland Symphony Orchestra, led by PSO Music Director Eckart Preu, will celebrate Maine’s bicentennial on the date of the state’s formation, March 15. The 2:30 p.m. matinee concert features the world premiere of “First Light: A Fanfare for Maine,” commissioned for the occasion by the PSO and composed by Maine-based composer Daniel Sonenberg. Other works on the afternoon program include Rockland native Walter Piston’s “The Incredible Flutist (Ballet Suite)”, Arturo Márquez’s Concerto for Harp “Máscaras” (Masks) with PSO principal harpist Ina Zdorovetchi and Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite.” There will be a Pre-Concert Conversation 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to the concert. It is free to all ticket holders and held in Merrill Auditorium. As well as a Post-Concert Q&A following the concert, on stage

Sonenberg’s concert notes share insight into his work, stating, “The piece begins with soft wind, conjuring expectation of something momentous. I sought to capture the unfolding splendor of sunrise, beginning with the chilled air and deep blue hues before the dawn, proceeding to the first cracks of light, illuminating mountains, trees, and ocean, and culminating finally in the full emergence of the sun, with its sustaining heat, light, and clarity. It is with the rising sun that this short piece becomes truly fanfare-like. I realized how perfectly the sunrise serves as an emblem, not only of Maine’s physical place in the world and its natural beauty, but also of the circumstances of its very origin. Maine’s admission to the Union was directly tied to the notion of freedom, and in direct opposition to the country’s greatest evil, slavery. At that moment in 1820, signal accomplishments by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Joshua Chamberlain, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and others lay in Maine’s bright future, but the mandate that brought Maine statehood shone a guiding ray of sunlight on the years to come.”

PSO harpist Ina Zdorovetchi has been called “the harp whisperer” as well as a “monster player,” and has appeared as a soloist with the Boston Pops, West Deutsche Radio Symphony Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony and more. She is the top prize winner of the 17th International Harp Contest in Israel, second prize winner at Cite des Arts Harp Competition in Paris and was honored with the Henry Cabot Award for Special Commitment of Talent by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Alien with Extraordinary Abilities in the Arts title by the United States government and Outstanding Music Faculty of the Year by the Boston Conservatory at Berklee.

Founded in 1923, the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) is one of the largest performing arts organizations in Maine and is widely regarded as one of the top symphony orchestras of its size in the country. Made up of more than 80 professional musicians, the PSO is renowned for its critically acclaimed performances and broad community engagement. The Symphony’s mission is to serve its community by enriching lives through music. More information can be found at

This concert may be heard on Maine Public Classical on April 1. Concert program notes may be found on the PSO concert page at Tickets to the concert are available through PortTIX at (207) 842-0800 or Phone and internet orders are subject to per-ticket handling fees. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Merrill Auditorium box office at 20 Myrtle St., Portland, Mondays-Saturdays from 12-6 p.m.

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