The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra (MSO) conducted by Rohan Smith, presents two concerts dubbed “A New World,” on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston and Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2:30 p.m. at the Orion Performing Arts Center in Topsham. In addition to Dvorak’s “New World Symphony,” the concert will feature MSO’s Elser Concerto Competition winner Anne McKee and music by MSO cellist and composer Philip Carlsen.
McKee, who will be performing the first movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto with the MSO, grew up in Hallowell. She graduated from Bowdoin College in 2020 and was concertmaster of the Bowdoin Orchestra. She currently lives and works on the island of Islesboro, where she serves as a community development fellow through the Island Institute and teaches violin lessons. “I am drawn to connections between music and community,” McKee said.
Each MSO program this season has one or two contemporary works, including music by Maine-based composers, women and other underrepresented groups. This program features “Rowing in Eden,” written by Carlsen in 1992 for the Portland Symphony.
“It is a piece that attempts to evoke, in purely musical language, the astonishing outpouring of love and desire from Emily Dickinson in her poem ‘Wild Nights,’” according to the composer, who taught music for 33 years at the University of Maine at Farmington. “There is also a striking allusion to the “New World” symphony, which, just like this weekend’s MSO concerts, also concluded that long-ago Portland program.”
The orchestra will also perform “Voices Shouting Out” by Nkeiru Okoye, written in 2002 as an artistic response to 9/11. The piece is “a march to acknowledge those fighting on behalf of our safety and yet a sparkling celebration of life for those who continue living,” as described by the composer.
All MSO musicians and staff members are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Audience members must wear masks to attend concerts, which will be at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing. Check the orchestra’s website at MidcoastSymphony.org for updates on COVID protocols.
Tickets are $22 in advance, $25 at the concert, 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 207-846-5378.
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 Gendron Franco Center in Lewiston. Members are volunteer musicians from many communities in Maine.