Wednesday, November 18, 2009

USM youth ensembles to perform at Merrill

One of the most outstanding musical programs for youth in Northern New England, the USM Youth Ensembles will present their annual fall concert at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, November 19, 2009, in Merrill Auditorium in Portland.

Suggested donation is $6 for the general public; $3 for children. Seating is unreserved. Call the Music Box Office for more information at 780-5555. A reception will follow in the rehearsal room.

Consisting of four instrumental ensembles, the program brings together more than 200 of the best young musicians in southern and central Maine to rehearse weekly at the University of Southern Maine School of Music on the Gorham campus. Twice a year these talented youth present outstanding concerts in Portland City Hall's Merrill Auditorium. The program is supported by the Sam L. Cohen Foundation.

This November the musical program will open with the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble, conducted by Peter Martin, performing "Dance of the Jesters" by Peter Tchaikovsky. The large ensemble will then perform "Music for Prague 1968" by the contemporary composer, Karel Husa. "Music for Prague 1968" is one of the most significant and powerful compositions of the twentieth century. (On August 20, 1968, troops from the Soviet Union and its allies invaded Czechoslovakia.) Binding the composition together is the Hussite war song from the 11th century, "Ye Warriors of God and His Law," a symbol of resistance and hope for hundreds of years whenever fate lay heavy on the Czech nation.

Next to take the stage will be the Portland Young People's String Consort -- now in its 31th year. This ensemble includes the youngest of the players and gives these less advanced string players a chance to become familiar with playing in an ensemble, following a conductor, and gaining formal concert experience. Established in 1979, the PYPSC offers adjunct support to string programs in Maine schools.

They are led by Deborah Dabczynski -- a Portland Symphony Orchestra cellist for more than 30 years and formerly host and script writer for PSO's Kinderkonzerts. The PYPSC program includes "Rondeau" by Mouret; the "Wood Splitter Fanfare" by B. Balmages; the first movement of the Brandenburg Concerto #1 by Bach; and "Conquistador!" by D.B. Monday.

Ferdinand Liva, interim conductor of the Portland Youth Junior Orchestra, will lead the next group in two complete works -- "Concerto Grosso Opus 6, No. 10" by Arcangelo Corelli; and "Capriol Suite for String Orchestra" by Peter Warlock, based on dance tunes from Arbeau's "Orchesographie" of 1588.

The Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Lehmann, will close the evening's program. One of the oldest youth orchestras in the entire country, the PYSO was formed in 1942. They will perform the overture to "La Gazza Ladra" (The thieving magpie) by Gioacchino Rossini; "Siegfried's Funeral March" from "Gotterdammerung" by Richard Wagner; and "The Moldau" by Bedrich Smetana.