The Maine Festival of American Music: Its Roots and Traditions
Third Season: June 25 - 28, 2008
Hosted by The United Society of Shakers
Directed by The Portland String Quartet
Stephen Kecskemethy - Violin
Ronald Lantz - Violin
Julia Adams - Viola
Paul Ross - Cello


In the summer of 2006 Portland Press critic Christopher Hyde wrote: As benefits a new enterprise undertaken with the cooperation of the United Society of Shakers, the program began with "Simple Gifts." As played by the quartet, this version seemed head and shoulders above the more famous one in Copland's "Appalachian Spring." Its stunning effect was aided by the superb acoustics of the Meeting House which revealed every subtle harmonic inflection.

Following a successful format through its first two seasons, The Maine Festival of American Music continues to present the works of American composers in context. Each year the Festival features an important American composer, a guest artist, an informal lecture/demonstration, a workshop day for players to explore the American quartet repertoire, a display by a contemporary instrument maker, and two concerts that present major American literature along with works that demonstrate their genesis and inspiration.

The 2006 Festival featured composer Peter Ré, Professor Emeritus Colby College. His String Quartet No.2 (2004) was performed and coincided with the CD release of the composer's three String Quartets and Piano Trio. For the 2007 season, the Festival commissioned Elliott Schwartz, Professor Emeritus Bowdoin College, who wrote "Shaker Variations for Viola and Cello" based on several Shaker hymns. This work was premiered with the composer present in the historic 1794 Shaker Meeting House - the Festival's outstanding venue at the Shaker Community in New Gloucester, Maine. Portland Press Herald critic Christopher Hyde captured the essence of the Festival when he wrote of this performance:

     "The Shaker Variations is one of the most moving of this composer's works, and members of the Sabbathday Lake community wholeheartedly approved his treatment of one of their treasures. It was all beautifully played, from the composer's own hand-written score, which is a work of art in itself. The effect of the new composition was all the more striking in that it was preceded by a fine rendition of probably the most famous of all, Haydn's great 'Kaiser Hymn' variations in the String Quartet in C Major, Op.76, No.3."

The 2008 Maine Festival of American Music: Its Roots and Traditions will feature three nationally renowned American artists on the Festival program: composer Roger Bourland of UCLA, saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky of the Boston Symphony and on the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, the Boston Conservatory and the Longy School of Music, and cellist/instrument maker Luis Leguia who performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra retiring this past May, 2007. The featured work will be Bourland's Quintet in C for Soprano Saxophone and String Quartet (1984). Radnofsky will also perform a solo work for saxophone and discuss briefly the American repertoire for saxophone and the many works written for and dedicated to him. The Bourland/Radnofsky/PSQ performance will open the Festival on the evening of Wednesday, June 25th.

Coinciding with the Festival is the Shaker Community's exhibit of Shaker Folk Art - "The Human and the Eternal". This exhibit will become part of the informal presentation of the second day of the Festival (6:00 - 8:30 p.m.) when the audience will flow from touring that exhibit in the 1816 Spinhouse to the Meeting House and a very special hour of hymns as arranged and performed by the PSQ with comments and memories by Sister Frances and Brother Arnold.

Friday's "Workshop Day" will bring to the Shaker Village talented student and adult amateur players who will be assigned in advance movements from the American quartet repertoire. Rehearsing in various historic village buildings, each quartet will be coached by each member of the PSQ in preparation for a culminating Master Class in the Meeting House. Coaching sessions begin at 9:30 a.m. and run until 3:40 p.m. with a break for lunch. The Master Class is scheduled from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. and will be open to the public at no charge.

The 2006 Festival featured Maine luthier Jonathan Cooper who displayed his craft and discussed briefly the fascinating history of violin making in the State of Maine. In 2007 Maine master bow maker Lynn Hannings spoke about her craft and her international work as president of the Pernambuco Project to save the endangered pernambuco forests of Brazil. For the 2008 Festival we will bring to Maine the designer/maker of the "Luis and Clark" line of carbon fiber instruments - Luis Leguia, recently retired cellist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. His instruments will be heard in concert with the maker joining the PSQ in Schubert"s Cello Quintet, Op.163. Included in this program will be the unique String Quartet by Benjamin Franklin (discovered in 1945). This concert will close the Festival on Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m., June 28th.

TICKETS
Adults.......................... $25 per Festival program
Seniors......................... $20
Students 21 and under........... Free
Quartet workshop participant.... $50

For further information and reservations, contact:

     The Maine Festival of American Music
     Attn: United Society of Shakers
     707 Shaker Road
     New Gloucester, ME 04260

     Phone contact: (207) 926-4597
     E-mail: usshakers@aol.com
     Website: http://www.shaker.lib.me.us

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"(The Portland String Quartet) has the resonant mastery of great European quartets....a power greater than the sum of perfect parts surfaces..."

-The Daily Freeman(N.Y.)

 
 

 

 

 

      
      copyright Portland String Quartet 2001