Friday, August 12, 2011

Portland Chamber Music Festival will kick off its 2011 season with a program entitled "Leclair, Vaughan Williams and Mendelssohn", and Maine Public Radio will be providing its listeners with a front row seat to the start of this critically-acclaimed series. Held at the Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine, the Portland Chamber Music Festival program will feature Jean-Marie Leclair's Sonata in C major, Op. 3 No. 3, Ralph Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge and Felix Mendelssohn's Octet in E flat major, Op. 20, This program will feature famed tenor John McVeigh. A Maine resident, Mr. McVeigh has performed with the Metropolitan Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago. The PCMF has garnered nationwide attention since its inception in 1994. The festival's five-concert series has been broadcast on National Public Radio and WGBH in Boston and has been awarded two grants from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. Join in the excitement Thursday, August 11th at 8pm - either live (at Abromson Center at the University of Southern Maine in Portland) or over the airwaves and online at MPBN Radio or online at Check it all out at the Portland Chamber Music Festival's website.

The acclaimed Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo is the man most responsible for popularising the guitar as a classical concert instrument. His most famous composition is his 1939 Concierto de Aranjuez, the first orchestral work composed specifically for guitar. This ground-breaking composition was prompted by a meeting between Rodrigo and Spanish guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza, in Paris. De la Maza performed the Aranjuez for the first time in 1940 with the Barcelona Philharmonic Orchestra. Since then, the work has been recorded innumerable times and is the most well-known and influential piece of 20th century Spanish music. Rodrigo's compositions developed from his blending of Baroque compositions for the vihuela (a lute-like instrument that pre-dates the guitar) with the folk traditions of flamenco music and his own classical training. Before he began producing compositions for guitar the only classical work available to master guitarists, such as Andres Segovia and others, were piano transcriptions of Bach and other classical composers (John Martinez, Watch a performance of Rodrigo's Invocacion y Danza (1961) by guitarist Denis Azabagic . . . one of this week's FEATURED NEW MUSIC VIDEOS.

Dubbed a five time "Classical Music Pick" by the Boston Globe, Juventas New Music Ensemble voices the musical culture of the present. From lyrical melodies to recorded sounds from outer space, their performances are a tour de force, showcasing the most engaging music of today's generation. Juventas offers new music - ranging from a world premiere Kung Fu opera to a wintry-inspired holiday concert. They offer fresh repertoire - featuring the eclectic sounds of over 90 young composers from around the globe. With over 60 exhilarating concerts under their belt, the 2011-2012 season will bring more high energy performances including a collaboration with Intermezzo Opera and Schola Cantorum of Boston, a fully-staged world premiere of Ketty Nez's opera The Fiddler and the Old Woman of Rumelia and their first ever performance in Providence, Rhode Island. As an ensemble-in-residence at the Boston Conservatory and Middlebury College (Vermont), Juventas is excited to continue theirr educational work and reach out to new, young talents . . . it's our FEATURED ENSEMBLE for the week.

In 2003 violinist Ittai Shapira made a critically acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut with the Orchestra of St Luke's performing the world premier of a violin concerto written for him by his Israeli compatriot Shulamit Ran. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in music and composer-in-residence of the Chicago Symphony, Ran's music blends high-energy, dense compositional thought, with a penchant for long-spun melismatic melodies. The Albany Records recording of Ran's Violin Concerto has become part of a compilation of her works performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Charles Hazlewood, and Daniel Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Hear the second movement of Shulamit Ran's Violin Concerto with violinist Ittai Shapira  . . . it's one of our PYTHEAS EARFULS for the week.

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