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String vacation

Soundtrack for summer in Maine
By EMILY PARKHURST  |  July 8, 2009

classical main

AMERICAN DEBUT Violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen will perform Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor at the Bowdoin International Music Festival on July 10.

With the Portland Symphony's elimination of its popular, but debt-inducing, Independence Pops concert series, Portlanders will have to travel a little farther to satisfy their classical-music appetites this summer. But it will be well worth the mileage.

The Bowdoin Music Festival in Brunswick celebrates its 45th anniversary with performances from world famous string quartets, small chamber ensembles, orchestras, and soloists. With at least one concert every night through August 8, the festival is one of the largest summer music festivals in the country, with students and teachers among the most talented performers in the world.

This year, the Gamper Festival of Contemporary Music, a section of the Bowdoin Festival that highlights modern music, will celebrate American composer George Crumb's 80th birthday. On July 31, Crumb's daughter, soprano Ann Crumb, will premier his newest work for soprano and piano. Other concerts in the Gamper series will highlight some of Crumb's composition students, winners of the student composition competitions, and more works by the prolific composer himself.

The mid-week Upbeat! series features an eclectic selection of chamber music performed by the festival staff. Performances will include works by Behzad Ranjbaran, an Iranian composer whose works have been recently premiered by Renée Fleming and Joshua Bell; Krzysztof Penderecki, a Polish composer whose third string quartet will see its New England premier by the famous Shanghai Quartet during the series; and plenty of Mendelssohn, in celebration of the composer's 200th birthday.

The Bowdoin Festival's final concert, on August 7 at the Crooker Theater, will feature piano soloist Peng Peng performing Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the festival orchestra. Peng, who was born in China, has toured the world to perform with highly acclaimed orchestras and made his Carnegie Hall debut before his 16th birthday.

The festival also includes other series and community concerts all over Southern Maine, as well as many student performances. The full schedule — and venue list — is at Ticket prices vary, but student performances ask for a suggested donation of $10, and are free for people under 21.

Had enough yet? If not, the Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival is saturating the classical scene with even more phenomenal performances by highly acclaimed artists, running every Tuesday from July 14 through August 11 at the Deertrees Theater in Harrison. The small venue is tucked away in the forest, and promises intimate performances in a natural space only Maine could provide. Things start off with Bach and Mozart; the July 21 program features Spanish-influenced works including Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera, and Spanish composer Joaquin Turina, among others. The August 4 program is a Mendelssohn celebration program with the Weber Clarinet Quintet in B-flat added in for good measure. On July 28, audiences can hear the world premier of American composer Edward Brown's work for wind band, Beyond My Mind's Eye. The final concert features the big B's — Beethoven, Bartok, and Brahms.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at

BOWDOIN INTERNATIONAL MUSIC FESTIVAL | through August 8 | locations, times, and tickets vary | 207.725.3895 | 

SEBAGO-LONG LAKE MUSIC FESTIVAL | Tuesdays, July 14-August 11 | at Deertrees Theatre, Deertrees Rd, Harrison | times and tickets vary | 207.583.6747 | 

Related: New beginnings, Diva-gations, World music, More more >
  Topics: Classical , Entertainment, Music, Concerts and Tour Dates,  More more >
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 See all articles by: EMILY PARKHURST

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