Hiroya Miura guest conducts the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra’s “French Impressions” concerts on May 20 in Lewiston and May 21 in Topsham. Submitted photo

The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra will perform music by French composers in concert at 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 20, at the Franco Center in Lewiston, and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 21, at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham.

There will be a free, pre-concert talk, “Painting Pictures and Telling Stories in Music” at 1:30 p.m. before the Sunday concert. Musicologist Mary Hunter, professor emerita at Bowdoin College, will enrich the listeners’ experience with discussion and musical examples from the program.

For these final classical concerts of the season, dubbed “French Impressions,” the orchestra welcomes guest conductor Hiroya Miura back to the podium. As the reason for choosing an all-French program, Miura said, “In my early career as a composer, French music from the early 20th century was hugely influential to me.” Miura has programmed “D’un matin de printemps” by Lili Boulanger and “La Valse” by Maurice Ravel from that time period.

Muira also says, “I later discovered Rameau [18th century composer] was ‘the roots music’ for 20th century composers like Ravel and Boulanger . . . and you can hear the same passion and pursuit for orchestrational colors in these early 20th century French composers.” With this in mind, Miura has chosen to perform Jean-Philippe Rameau’s “Les Indes Galantes, Suite No. 1.”

The program is rounded out with the ever-popular “Pictures at Exhibition” by Modest Mussorgsky, originally written for piano and later arranged for orchestra by Ravel. This piece takes the listener on a tour of artwork by Victor Hartmann, an artist/architect friend of Mussorgsky.

As part of MSO’s outreach program to highlight young musicians, Alek Zelbo, a piano student at Bates College, will provide intermission music at the Franco Center.

Complete concert and ticket information is at midcoastsymphony.org. Tickets are $24.50 in advance, $25 at the concert, and free for ages 18 and under and for college students with ID. Audiences are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance at MidcoastSymphony.org or by calling the box office at (207) 481-0790.

The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra is a community orchestra founded in 1990. Started as a chamber orchestra, there are now more than 80 members. Under the baton of Rohan Smith, the orchestra brings top-notch performances to the Orion Center in Topsham and the Franco Center in Lewiston. Members are volunteer musicians from many communities in Maine.

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