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THINGS-PSO, Opus 1 - TIMELINE SECTION ....... A Reference History of the Portland Symphony Orchestra



1979       This year, Mrs. James R. Flaker added her name to the long list of PSO Women’s Committee members who over the years had headed respective annual Dinners for the Symphony fund-raising efforts. The theme of the 1979 dinners was a salute to the State of Maine (HS: Could lobstermen possibly have had a mole on the theme-selection committee?) The eventual total contributions that would be raised this year totaled $14,000.

Thirty-nine contestents registered to participate in this year’s Annual Young Artists Award Competition sponsored by the PSO and the Portland-based bookseller company, Bookland.

On Monday evening the 15th of January, the PSO Board of Trustees hosted a light supper for the orchestra members prior to a dress rehearsal at PCHA.

Tuesday, January 16, marked the return of both concertgoers and PSO musicians to Portland City Hall Auditorium, for a Classical Concert featuring the PSO’s principal flutist Pamela Guidetti. Before the evening’s guest performer came on stage to solo with the Symphony, Mr. Hangen led some of the musicians (HS: Three trumpets were played from the second balcony, and three trombones in the lower balcony) in the playing of what was then maybe becoming a PSO tradition, a fanfare—on this occasion Donald Erb’s avant-garde Spatial fanfare: for brass and percussion. (HS: I listened to a youtube recording of this Erb work, and my bet is that traditionalists in the crowd that night sighed something like..... “there he goes again” [meaning Bruce Hangen and his penchant for exposing concertgoers to modern music]. At least it only lasted about a minute and one-half.) Next an expanded Symphony (HS: 85 called for in this work, versus the then-75-member PSO ensemble) performed Maurice Ravel’s four-movement Rhapsody espagnole (HS: To which, Googling reveals, in 1908 Parisian audiences granted only limited popular acclaim..... a sharp contrast to the work’s eventual  frequently-played appeal over the past century.). By the way, if you (like I did) thought that not capitalizing the first letter of both words in the title was a typo...... Googling revealed that a lower-case “e” is indeed correct (hm-m-m-m?).

Ms. Guidetti then played Mozart’s Concerto No. 2 in D Major, for Flute and Orchestra, K. 314, playing (HS: Quoting the next-day’s EE article) “playing with a rich clear tone that rippled through innumerable trills and runs with deft and delicate fingering”. She was reported as giving “a virtuoso performance”, and the effort earned the gifted musician “sustained applause and a spray of red roses”. (HS: 2013-Googling yielded information regarding Ms. Guidetti that she is still modestly active as an occasional soloist in the Philadelphia area, where she is engaged in chamber groups and also appears to teach]. The second half of this evening’s concert had Conductor Bruce Hangen leading the Portland Symphony Orchestra in a reported “inspired performance” of Pictures at an Exhibition, composed by Modest Mussorgsky for pianoforte in 1874, and later orchestrated by Maurice Ravel in 1922. One newspaper review figuratively claimed that there were “prolonged cheers and cheers from an enthusiastic audience.”

Ms. Guidetti was then in her first season with the PSO as principal flutist. Among several other orchestra positions, she had previously also been principal with the Colorado Philharmonic. In May of 1977 she had made her Carniegie Recital Hall debut  as a result of winning the 1976 Concert Artist Guild Competition.

(HS: For reasons now not known [but presumably the need to reduce total minutes the musicians were on stage that evening, and avoid overtime costs], Mr. Hangen elected to omit two movements from the 15-movement work. He omitted the “Il vecchio castello” movement, also one of the promenade sequences. Hey!—I know that last sentence was showing off by me, but by Googling the Ravel arrangement I just now learned how all the 15 movements progress...... and I’d never paid attention to that before. I found it pretty cool info.) P-H reporter Clark Irwin was much impressed with the PSO’s “Pictures” performance, excitedly writing that “Lightning struck Portland City Hall Auditorium Tuesday night. It did no harm to the building, but electrified concertgoers” as the orchestra presented “an inspired performance... ...that brought prolonged applause and cheers.”

At about this time local newspapers ran an advertisement for WCSH-TV, with a series of photographs of local personalities proclaiming “Come on over to Channel Six like I did.” Below each of the pix was the station’s catchphrase, “The switch is on to NewsCenter6”. One of those advertisements featured an attractive young lady seated at a piano, animatedly looking directly at the camera to her right side with her right arm lifted well above the keyboard as though having just added a sforzando chord to emphasize her newly-found TV-allegiance. When spotting this advertisement, there was no mistaking who the enthusiastic TV-6-convert was---- the PSO’s own Nina Allen!  (HS:  It was a pretty good picture..... of a pretty gal!)

A Cathedral concert was scheduled at St. Luke’s Cathedral on Sunday, January 21, featuring a performance of Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat. With a title that translates into English as “A Soldier’s Tale”, the Russian folk tale is a parable about a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil for a book that predicts the future of the economy. (HS: Really. That’s what Googling turned up.) At the time, Bruce Hangen said that the work was “absolutely charming to listen to, while placing virtuosic demands upon the musicians”. Portland Stage’s Time Winters was scheduled to narrate. Also to be played at this evening was Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No.2 in A minor, Op.13, performed by the local Alexandria String Quartet. (HS: While I don’t know the names of the musicians, a snippet of info in the PSO Archives notes that they were “four young ladies from the PSO”.) In addition, that evening the PSO’s Eugene James and Ardith Freeman Jones were to solo in respective works by Stravinsky and Osbourne, then also together, in a clarinet/bassoon duo by Poulanc.

Unfortunately, due to a major snowstorm this concert needed to be postponed (HS: And so far [May, 2013] I have been unable to determine for sure if it was ever rescheduled..... but I’ll change this paragraph if Ardith recalls what happened when I eventually speak with her.). The Stravinsky and Mendelssohn works scheduled for this concert were both performed at a February, 1980, Candlelight Concert (HS: The “Cathedral” series name had evolved into the “Candlelight” series following the PSO’s 1979-1980 season.).

The performing schedule for the PSO musicians heated up in the second month of the calendar, with two concerts. The first was on Tuesday evening, February 13. Initially played was a brass fanfare by Barbara Kolb that was neither named or listed on the program. Reviewer/composer/professor Morton Gold found it sounding “like an argument between two high-pitched geese.” (HS: “Whooooops!”) The concert continued with the World Premiere of Grisaille, noted in the program as the First Thaxter Fund Commission, another composition by Miss Kolb. The EE (HS: Obviously prepared for “the worst”) reported that the work was “eminently listenable, interesting and not at all alarming” and that the audience, “apparently feeling very receptive, applauded the piece warmly and greeted Miss Kolb cordially” when she afterward came onto the stage. On the contrary, Prof. Gold labeled the composition “undistinguished”, aggressively snapping forth an observation about audience applause, “It was a very cold night and people had to do something to keep warm!” (HS: I muse: perhaps the good professor’s attitudes were  scarred after less-than-warm reviews of some of his own compositions?) A Google-check about the composer led to information on her publisher’s website (Boosey & Hawkes). Snippets from that research include “Poetic or visual images often inspire her pieces, as in her orchestral work ‘Grisaille(1978-79), named for the painting technique.” Also, “Ms. Kolb’s music is characterized by interwoven, impressionistic textures and a freely atonal yet deeply expressive harmonic language.” The monochrome painting that inspired her compostion was done by Kansas artist Hans Schiebold. Miss Kolb is noted as the last composer who Aaron Copland assisted in a major way (HS: impressive.). During her stay in Portland, temperatures outside continually hovered around zero degrees, and at weekend rehearsals virtually all of the musicians wore scarves and kept their coats on. Mr. Hangen was atop the podium dressed in a heavy wool sweater. At this time one of City Hall’s two boilers was being replaced, so the other had to be worked overtime...... something beyond its capabilities with such low c-c-cold outside conditions. (HS: The concert was performed three days after Miss Kolb’s 40th birthday, and at the rehearsal Conductor Hangen presented her with a large sheet cake to honor that event and also the premiere. [source: EE picture and caption]) (HS:  The newspaper caption accompanying a picture of her cutting the cake alongside Mr. Hangen, failed to mention if she shared it with the PSO musicians. However, as yours truly knows from first-hand observations, the PSO musicians are rarely shy about finding plates and other utensils when free food is nearby.)

After the Kolb premiere, intentionally not pausing between movements, the Orchestra played Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 4, in D minor, Op. 120, completed in 1841 (first version), but heavily revised by the composer in 1851--- it was this version that reached publication. Interesting to note, research shows that Johannes Brahms is reported to have greatly preferred the earlier version of the symphony, and published that version in 1891 despite strenuous objections from Mr. Schumann’s widow. Coincidental to that fact, after the intermission, the musicians returned to the PCHA stage to perform a work by....... Johannes Brahms. For his Concerto No. 1, in D minor, for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 15, the guest soloist was Julliard student Duane Hulbert, the First-Prize winner in the latest Bookland Competition sponsored by the PSO. Journal Tribune arts correspondent Anne Conley reported that “Mr. Hulburt played tensely and was plagued by memory slips. He also rushed the tempi in the coda of the Rondo, forcing Hangen to conduct adamantly to keep the two forces together.” Despite what was likely his reactions to nerves, a Google-check indicates that Mr. Hulbert turned out to be pretty good, for the next year he won the 1980 Gold Medal at the prestigious Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, and later during that decade also won prizes in the Leeds Competition and Carnegie Hall International American Music Competition. He is currently (2013) Professor and Head of the Piano Department at the University of Puget Sound.

An interesting coincidence occurred during rehearsals for this concert. Both being from New York City and having never met before, Ms. Kolb and Mr. Hulburt naturally chatted about where in the city they lived, learning that they literally resided “around the corner from one another” (source: EE article of 2/7/79).

The second February classical concert occurred two nights later, on Tuesday evening, the 27th. The program began with John Williams’ Fanfare Theme from “Star Wars”. Next was Finlandia, by Jean Sibelius. A long-popular Ferde Grofe number with an expressive light touch, On the Trail, from “Grand Canyon Suite”, preceded a pre-intermission concerto (HS: Amusing sidenote: blaring sirens heard from outside didn’t spook either the PSO clarinetist’s or the percussionist’s roles as sure-footed Arizona donkeys during the piece.). The PSO-Bookland 2nd-Place winner, pianist Meral Guneyman then joined with the PSO for a performance of Frédéric Chopin’s Concerto No. 1, in E minor, for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 11. As this is written some 30+ years following her PCHA appearance (HS: When I woke up this morning, it was still 2013), Ms. Guneyman’s performing career continues. Thanks to youtube, samples of her playing are now available at the literal “click of a button” on your PC-mouse. (HS: I was ignorantly unaware about the Turkish-American Ms. Guneyman, and learned via a youtube jazz clip that her name is pronounced “mer-EL gun-EE-man”.)

>When Ms. Guneyman was selected as the PSO-Bookland 2nd-Place winner, for the first time in the competition’s history the judges insisted that she be given a performance opportunity such as was awarded the 1st-Prize winner. The former Julliard scholarship student had already received a Postgraduate Diploma, and had won several other competitions, including the Buffalo Philharmonic’s piano competition, leading to her performing with that orchestra under Michael Tilson Thomas in 1977.

A look at the program summary tucked into the sleeve protecting the digitalCD re-recording of this concert made by Carl Smith, reveals that pieces performed at this concert were determined by a poll of PSO concertgoers. (HS:  In the other main section of this THINGS-PSO, you MUST see an Anecdote about one of the survey-responses. You’ll Love It!) It is noted below the “Intermission” line of the printed program that: “Mr. Hangen will announce the remainder of the program. All selections with the exception of the Chopin have been chosen by ballot by the members of this audience.” (HS: An EE review of the concert noted that after intermission, Mr. Hangen returned to the stage, yellow paper in hand, announcing “I now have the results of your vote”.) Carl Smith’s handwriting on the program summary notes them as: a ”20-second Rhapsody in Blue”; Verdi’s “Aïda” Grand March; Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance; Debussy’s Clair de Lune; Richard Rodgers’ Climb Every Mountain; “Fiddler On The Roof” Medley; “Man of La Mancha” Medley; Rossini’s William Tell Overture; and two Sousa marches--- Washington Post and Stars and Stripes Forever. Thanks for the otherwise forever-lost info, Carl!  (HS: I’ve promised myself to some day listen to this CD, to confirm my guess that instead of playing complete versions of these ten compositions, the PSO performed short or medium-length segments. But right now.... I’m not sure if my speculation is “right-on”, or just...... “off”.)

A February newspaper clipping advised cancellation of the 1979 Downeast Tennis Classic, mentioning increased tournament costs and insufficient sponsorship funding as prime reasons for the decision.

Throughout the early months of this year, the Portland String Quartet celebrated its Tenth Anniversary with a series of concerts throughout Maine. During this period, the PSQ also readied to conduct its third summer workshop at Sugarloaf Mountain.

The Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra presented a Youth Concert at PCHA on Thursday evening, March 1. Eight talented performers solo-ed with the orchestra. Under the baton of Conductor Adrian Lo, works by Rimsky-Korsakov, Benjamin Goddard, Antonio Vivaldi, Archangelo Corelli, A.M.R Barret, Mozart, Faure, Bach/Gounod and Torelli were played. (Source: Press Herald, 3/1/79)

In early March the principal horn player with the PSO, Laurel Bennert, while filling a four-month horn vacancy in the Boston Symphony Orchestra (HS: She played in both the PSO and the BSO during that period of time.), performed with the BSO in both Shanghai and Peking, China. This was only about two months after the United States and Red China established diplomatic relations, the EE reminded subscribers in an article about her experience. In an interview with Kim Murphy of the newspaper, Ms. Bennert said that a particular highlight was performing John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, a rendition that both “tingled her senses” and “had many of the 18,000 Chinese clapping their hands enthusiastically to the strains of the classic Sousa March”. Ms. Bennert was then also finishing her music studies at Boston University.

PSO Archives data reveal that on Sunday, March 4, an “All-Beethoven Program” was scheduled to be performed at St. Luke’s Cathedral. So far (May, 2013) no clippings or other specific details about this concert have been located among the PSO Archives. Mr. Hangen’s performance diary records do not show any concert on this date, so it is possible that the scheduled concert was not performed (HS: for weather-related, or other reasons).

Acclaimed violoncellist János Starker, at the time saluted by many as holder of the “King of Cellists” crown, accepted an invitation to perform with the Portland Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday evening, March 20, 1979. When early on, no concert notes from this program had yet (HS: this was in 2012; however, post-concert clippings were rediscoverd early in 2013, and the multi-decade Elizabeth Miller Collection of PSO programs received later in 2013 included an original from this concert.) surfaced among the PSO Archives, and back then I wanted to at least write “something interesting”, a Google-check regarding Mr. Starker was done. It revealed that he had “emigrated to the United States in 1948 to become principal cellist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under Antal Doráti. In 1949 he moved to New York to become principal cellist of the Metropolitan Opera under Fritz Reiner. It was in New York that Starker made the first of his acclaimed recordings of the Bach Cello Suites. Starker’s technical mastery led some to suspect, incorrectly, that the recordings were electronically altered; his experiments with microphone placement and recording techniques drew the attention of engineers at the MIT.” In 1952, he “became principal cellist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra when Fritz Reiner became the music director. In 1958, Starker moved to Indiana University and resumed his solo career, giving hundreds of concerts on every continent.” In 2013 he still retained a position as Distiguished Professor of Music at the Jacobs School of Music of Indiana University.

At his appearance with the PSO for this March concert, Mr. Starker performed the 1956-composed three-movement Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra by Sir William Walton. The P-H’s Clark Irwin labeled Mr. Starker’s performance a “great success”, complimenting his “mastery of the instrument” and his apparent ability to “summon forth at will any sound the cello can produce”. For an encore, Carl Smith’s concert-re-recording notes (HS: See an Anecdote about Mr. Smith’s heroic volunteer work for the PSO.) indicate that he played a work by Bach (HS: although precisely which work, is not specified).

Prior to Mr. Starker taking a stage-front position next to Conductor Hangen, the PSO Maestro led a brass quartet in a concert-opening salute, Leonard Bernstein’s Fanfare for “Bima”. (HS: Googling reveals some fascinating info about this 59-second composition: “Bima was Serge Koussevitzky’s black cocker spaniel. Bernstein’s fanfare is based on the theme which was whistled in the Kousssevitzky household to call his dog.) The fanfare was followed by Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro”. The sole composition performed by the PSO following the intermission was Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, in C Major, D.944 (“The Great”).

Earlier that day two Youth Concerts were performed at PCHA. An advance-article in the EE commented that during the duo of programs would be compositions by Mozart, Vivaldi, Tchaikovsky, Anderson, Schubert and Offenbach. With the theme that morning “Strings and Their Colors”, it is likely that the woodwind and brass players largely served in supporting roles. As of now (December, 2012), no specific information regarding works performed has been spotted in the PSO Archives. (HS:  HOLD IT!  It’s now three months later and some info about these concerts was located in the last file of an archives-box only recently looked at. Hm-m-mmmm, take a look at the next paragraph and see what you can make of the clues left by Mr. Hangen.)

A “1978/79 Rehearsal and Concert Schedule” sent to the PSO musicians contained some shorthand-type-of information regarding the two March-20 Youth Concerts. Try your hand at deciphering this: “Figaro Over; Vivaldi Cone Gros; Tchaikowsky Serenade Finale; Plk,Plk,Plk; Schubert 9:1; Orpheus”. Some of that seems to make sense, but some is also likely a mystery to folks who glance through this THINGS-PSO.

Two Cathedral Concert performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passion According to St. John were performed,  on March 24 and 25, respectively. The elite 50-student Bates College Chapel in Lewiston was the Saturday evening venue, while a Sunday afternoon concert was presented at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland. The Bates College Choir joined with the PSO Chamber Orchestra of baroque size and instrumentation, with Marion R. Anderson --  director of the choir, playing the organ in both locations. Along with the choir and other guest singers, New England Conservatory faculty member Ray DeVoll sang the role of the Evangelist. PSO principal cellist Paul Ross played what reviewer George Weir wrote was “a radiant continuo”. The EE headline was “ ‘St. John’s Passion’ elegantly performed “.

So-called “bari-tenor” singer Gordon MacRae, who starred in “Oklahoma”, “Carousel” and other films and Broadway productions was on stage with the PSO at PCHA on Tuesday evening, April 3. Likely quite a few in the Pops Concert audience fondly remembered him as Billy Bigalow in the movie production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Carousel”, much of which was filmed in Boothbay Harbor. (HS: A “color” article in an April Boothbay Register mentioned that the film crew spent five weeks on location in the town in 1955.) Concertgoers had every right to expect that “Billy” would saunter onto the stage, since advertisements (about what was then his six-city tour)< for the concert listed the event as “An Evening of Rodgers & Hammerstein”. The P-H reported that “His performance of the ‘Soliloquy’ from Carousel was certainly a high point of the evening, with its famous ‘My Boy Bill’ sequence and follow-up reflections of what would be done in the event that ‘Bill’ turned out to be a girl”. He also sang If I Loved You from that show, and Oh, What A Beautiful Morning...... and then People Will Say We’re in Love from “Oklahoma”.

During the performance, the newspaper also said that, “he also assumed the role of ‘Cowpuncher Curly’ and was simply booming in his rendition of” the title song- Oklahoma. Songs from other Rodgers and Hammerstein hits were also sung, including several in which he never performed, such as “The King and I”, “South Pacific” and the “Sound of Music”. (HS: The names of those songs are in an Anecdote in this THINGS-PSO. Why are they in an Anecdote, you ask?  Well, the answer is that right now I’m tired and dinner’s almost ready. In an hour I won’t remember where in this draft I left off..... so I’ll take the easy way [the “easy MacRae way”] out and just stick them into an Anecdote. See’ya later.) Mr. MacRae’s own arranger and conductor, Gordon Mumford, led the PSO for this concert. One newspaper report commented that after complaints were made about how the auditorium’s mike and sound system negatively amplified his voice, that after intermission the sound system was turned down.... but too low—requiring another adjustment after the first song of the second half. On its own, the PSO performed The Carousel Waltz and Richard Rodgers orchestral suite Victory At Sea (HS: Which reviewer George Dearborn wrote was played “very well”.). The evening concluded with Climb Every Mountain, followed by several encores. One criticism was that Mr. MacRae could have used more rehearsal time with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, due to easy-to-spot occasions “when his timing” was off.

An interesting sidenote about the movie “Carousel” was offered by Mr. MacRae. He admitted to not having been the director’s first choice for the movie part. He said that he replaced another actor who simply felt out of place in the role -----  Frank Sinatra. (HS:  Wow......Did YOU know that?!)

The final pair of the season’s Youth Concerts was (HS: Oops.... I typed in “were”, only to be immediately admonished by the MicrosofWord grammar police!) performed on the morning of April 24. Don Doane assembled a guest jazz ensemble that joined the PSO to present music of Scott Joplin, Handy, Goerge Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. As of 2013, no specific listing of the numbers played has been spotted among the PSO Archives.

In a nice tribute, the April 24 evening Classical Concert program listed the names, instrument played, and the high school from which nine members of the Portland Youth Symphony would graduate in June. Six different high schools were attended by the various students among this group.

One significant fact about this final Youth Concert for the 1978-1979 Season was spotted in one of the “Sounds of the Symphony” issues published in those days by the PSO Women’s Committee. An article pertaining to the general subject of Youth Concerts mentioned that all eight of such concerts performed during the season were sell-outs. Since the capacity of PCHA back then was 2340, close to 19,000 students had attended Youth Concerts during this period (HS: Tickets cost only $1 per person, per performance.).

“A 200-voice chorus and soloists join conductor Bruce Hangen and the Portland Symphony Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; the finale of this Portland Symphony broadcast season.” So read an advertisement in Maine Life sponsored by the program’s broadcast station, WDCS-FM98. About half of those voices, of course, belonged to the Choral Art Society; however the CAS was joined by the USM Chorus and the Brunswick Chorale Art Society. This Monday, April 24, Classical Concert marked the conclusion of the PSO’s 1978-1979 season at PCHA.

The concert opened with Edmund Haines’ Festival Fanfare. Next was Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, which filled the remainder of the first half of the program. In 1930, the Stravinsky work had been commissioned by conductor Serge Koussevitsky to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. For the performance of the evening’s major work, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, the PSO was joined by a chorus consisting of the Oratorio Chorale under the direction of Robert Mills, both the USM Chorale and the Choral Art Society under the direction Dr. Harold Brown, and the USM University Acapella Choir under the direction of Dr. Ronald Cole

Evening Express clippings regarding the performance of the Beethoven symphony said that “Before the last thunders of the symphony and the 200 voice chorus had faded, the audience was on its feet flinging its own chorus of bravos at the performers. The review headline read: “Beethoven’s 9th PSO triumph”. Mr. Irwin’s article concluded, “Sterling performances by all hands made this an especially gratifying capstone to the orchestra’s 54th season.”

The next evening a different concert program, this one free, was presented at the Warren Hill Gymnasium in Gorham. This April 25 event was the USM Centennial Celebration Concert, part of the year-long centennial celebration for the University of Southern Maine. This performance opened with the Portland Symphony Orchestra performing Jerry Bowder’s Celebration Music, originally premiered during our nation’s Bicentennial Year by the PSO, which had commissioned the composition. Next the USM Chorale and the USM A Capella Choir sang Two Choruses From “The Peaceable Kingdom”, by Randall Thompson----  “Say Ye to the Righteous” and Ye Shall Have a Song”. The USM choruses were then joined by the Choral Art Society Chorus and the Oratorio Chorale from Brunswick, with the massed voices singing He, Watching over Israel (“Elijah”) by Felix Mendelssohn, and then How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place (“Requiem”) by Johannes Brahms. After intermission, the Symphony and the choruses performed Beethoven’s four-movement Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”). Four soloists featured were Judith Cornell, Robin Ann Kay, Alexander Stevenson and Keith Kibler. The respective directors of the Choral Art Society, the USM A Cappella Choir, and the Oratorio Chorale, were Harold F. Brown, Ronald F. Cole and Robert Mills. A scan of the program from this concert is available on

A live broadcast by WGAN-TV of a PSO performance was again broadcast year, on May 1, and by-now titled “SuperBand”. As opposed to the December-1978 live-from-PCHA televised event at which regular subscribers heard Lorin Hollander, for this live promotional TV concert concert the PSO musicians played short selections from works performed at concerts during the preceding season. The popular and familiar classical pieces included Mitch Leigh’s Man of La Mancha; Joseph Haydn’s Toy Symphony; Leonard Bernstein’s Fanfare for Bima and also West Side Story; Aaron Copland’s Hoe-down; and Ferde Grofe’s On the Trail. Judging from a picture in a newspaper clipping, for the broadcast, musicians and PSO volunteers at a ticket-ordering phonebank crammed into space at the WGAN-TV studios. Several days later, orchestra manager Russ Burleigh wrote in a year-end memo to the musicians, that ticket “sales – some $15,000 plus – were about 25% ahead of last year”.

As mentioned earlier in this THINGS-PSO, this season Bruce Hangen did not accomplish one of his goals, which was to annually have the PSO perform a Mahler Symphony, hoping to reach #9. “Numbers” one and two were conducted in 1977 and 1978, respectively. (HS: Stay tuned to see whether/how he eventually reaches his goal.)

May 24 found the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra onstage at PCHA, as conductor Adrian Lo conducting the group’s final concert of the season. Students totaling 45 in number performed Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 1 “The Clock”, Georges Enescu’s Rumanian Rhapsody, Tchaikovsky’s Waltz from “Eugene Onegin”, Paul Dukas’ Fanfare from LaPeri, Claude Debussy’s Fanfare to Martyre de Saint Sébastien, Bach’s Art of the Fugue and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto n A major, K. 622. The latter featured soloist Rebecca Bernard. (HS: Now..... about the Tchaikovsky opera “Eugene Onegin”. Having never heard of this before, I Google-ed it and found that a Tchaikovsky opera by that name does indeed exist. But..... having spent 33 of the past 34 years on the west coast and being a PAC12 sports follower..... my first reaction was that a wit at the Jounal Tribune editing desk had intentionally allowed a typo to go unchanged--- tweaking the home city of the University of Oregon, in Eugene. So.... the “not a joke” is a JOKE ON ME!)

Throughout the year numerous KinderKonzerts were again performed in local area schools. While most details about all of these (and others performed in different years) have not been included in this THINGS-PSO, the Symphony members and its supporters in 1979 hoped that these important performances both entertained students in lower grades AND were sewing the seeds of interest in fine music. Judging from the fact that KinderKonzerts are still going strong now (in 2013, almost 35 years later!), indications are that those early efforts succeeded.

At the end of the season, music director Hangen expressed satisfaction at how the PSO had grown and improved this year. He also reported that the Concert Preview series had gone “great guns”, and that he was pleased at positive comments made by guest artists regarding the quality of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

A post-season look-back article stated that in this era PSO musicians were paid $16 per rehearsal and $18 per concert. Principal players received $21 and $24, respectively. (HS: Comparable inflation-adjusted amounts in 2012 would be $50 and $56 for players, and $65 and $74 for principals.) Then-Manager Russ Burleigh was quoted as saying that “the concert rate had remained the same for the past few years and the rehearsal pay had gained only a dollar a year.” The eight-month PSO season offered orchestra members 30 to 35 performances. At that time, the PSO was annually shelling out $5000 annually on hotel expenses and $2500 for gasline mileage.

Some 5000 students aged 4-to-9 attended KinderKonzerts this season that were performed in the ballroom of the Holiday Inn downtown, one of which was mentioned earlier in this THINGS-PSO. Attentively seated on the large room’s carpet for respective performances in November, December and March, the concerts variously featured players from the PSO’s brass, woodwind and percussion sections. Originially two morning performances had been scheduled on the dates set for each of the concerts, but demand for reservations caused third performances to be offered for the last two concerts, which had been limited iin size in order to “maintain the quality of the experience” (HS: So reported a year-end issue of the PSO’s “Sound of the Symphony”. By the way, I interpret the previous quotation as a euphemism for “keeping the kids from acting up too much”.).

Philips Lewis was re-elected PSO President.

At about this point in time, Debby Hammond became president of the PSO Women’s Committee.

This year a “Sounds of the Symphony” newsletter announced that the “PSO is proud to announce (a) New Section”. Reprinting a newspaper photo that either the EE or the P-H (HS:  I don’t remember which, although I did run across a clipping in the PSO Archives) had carried, the PSO advised friends and subscribers that “Eight new babies were born to Portland Symphony Orchestra members this last season. Five of the eight babies came to City Hall Auditorium for a picture session and to get acquainted.” The photo (L>R) showed cellist Barbara Graustein with son Andrew; harpist Deidre Carr with daughter Hilary; contrabassists Lynn and George Rubino with daughter Kiern Brae; Tympanist Reginald Bonnin with daughter Elise; and cellist Deborah Rolfe with son Rex. Unable to make the picture shoot were concertmaster Stephen Kecskeméthy and daughter Sophia; and also violinist Elise Strauss Bowers and daughter Erika. A ninth PSO mother was Pat Bromberger who had moved to California.

On the evenings of both June 1 and 3 (Friday and Sunday), Bruce Hangen guest-conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra at Symphony Hall in Boston, replacing a then-recuperating Arthur Fiedler. Works by Verdi, Dvořák, Dukas, Tomasi, Gershwin.... also others, were performed. Post-concert reports that his performance as guest conductor was a success, Mr. Hangen was invited back to again guest-conduct the Boston Pops on July 20 and 21. (HS: As was earlier mentioned in regard to what was Mr. Fiedler’s final conducting role in Portland, the previous October 29, events would turn out such that Arthur Fiedler passed away on July 10, ten days prior to Bruce Hangen’s return-gig with the Boston Pops.)

Following the death of Arthur Fiedler, Bruce Hangen’s name was included on the list of possible replacements to become Permanent Conductor of the Boston Pops. That September, he told the Press Herald’s Ted Cohen that it was “flattering they are even considering me.” John Williams eventually got the nod, remaining in the post into 1995, when Keith Lockhart took over. Ultimately, Mr. Hangen picked up a pretty good consolation prize, as he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra during the period 2002-2006.

During June the PSO announced that The National Academy for the Arts had awarded the Symphony $32,500 to support its programs. Measured in today’s (2012) dollars, an equivalent grant would be for $101,000.

The PSO Women’s Committee sponsored “Showhouse ‘79” in late June. The fund-raiser event featured interior decorations prepared by designers for 16 rooms and other spaces in the large Italianate-Victorian Chapman home on Capisic Street that was built in the late 1860’s by Leonard Bond Chapman. Visitors to the specially-decorated home purchased tickets priced at $4 in advance (and $6 at the door). This successful event left over more than a $14,000 profit that the Women contributed to the PSO.

The PSO’s Fund Drive goal for the upcoming 1979-1980 season was set at $120,000.

Linda Bliss joined the PSO staff as Assistant Manager, serving under PSO Manager Russ Burleigh. Also, Rev. Earle Dolphin reigned over the music library during this era.

A July 22 concert in Yarmouth by the Community Orchestra of the Portland Symphony was the last special activity of this summer’s Yarmouth Clam Festival.

No information has been found among the PSO Archives indicating that any summer concerts were performed by the PSO in 1979, either indoors or outdoors. One clipping referred to a telephone conversation the reporter had with Bruce Hangen when the latter was in Colorado. It is likely that Mr. Hangen’s duties as Associate Conductor of the Denver Symphony (HS: And the attractiveness of healthy Rocky Mountain air.) then would have precluded his being available for conducting gigs in Maine.

While no summer PSO concerts may have been performed, a contingent of 27 PSO’ers did participate as an ensemble when the Maine Opera Association presented five performances of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. The group was named the Maine Opera Association Orchestra, for four performances in Harrison at the Deertrees Theater and one at the City Theater in Biddeford. Former PSO Eastman-trained horn playerAndrew McMullan, by now a successful businessman in Portland, was Music Director and Conductor of the MOA. The highly regarded New York City-based conductor Kurt Saffir held the baton at two of the Deertrees assemblies, while Mr. McMullan conducted the other three performances. (HS: Longtime PSO cellist Katherine Graffam saved a copy of this program, which has rested in the PSO Archives since after she turned over her collections to the Symphony.)

Following the summer, when Bruce Hangen again returned to Portland, his associate conductor role in Colorado ended, thus eliminating what over the three preceding years had been periodic professional sojourns he took to the Rocky Mountain area. With no more such commutes necessary, his now-around-the-clock attendance in Portland led him to tell the reporter that he was happy about the switch, feeling that he’d now have more time “to apply myself totally” to planning, programming and directing the Portland Symphony Orchestra. From this point onward, not only would Mr. Hangen be the PSO’s full-time conductor, he now had the time to also be the the PSO’s full-time music director, certainly a positive development for both the Symphony and Portlanders.

The upcoming 1979-1980 season was promotionally dubbed “One Dynamite Season”, causing Conductor Hangen to agree to pose for a publicity photograph..... donning a PSO-logo’d hard hat while holding up several sticks of white-string fused explosives--- celebrating the opening of the Orchestra’s “Dynamite” 55th Season.

To promote the season, an open rehearsal was performed on Saturday, September 29. Mr. Hangen’s performance diary lists this event, but no other information about such a concert has been spotted anywhere. While the music director’s diary does not detail a venue (HS: But a good guess is probably PCHA.), his records include the following as performed:  Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man; Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy; Leonard Bernstein’s Candide Overture; Richard Wagner’s Rienzi Overture; Selections from Man of La Mancha, by Mitch Leigh and arranged by Richard Hayman. Also listed was what likely was the final work “rehearsed”, John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever.

About the time that the 1979-1980 PSO season was about to get underway, it was announced that a fourth edition printing of the Portland Symphony Cookbook was coming off the press. Since 1974, more than 20,000 cookbooks had been printed.

Emanual Ax, winner of the first Arthur Rubenstein competition in 1974, opened the PSO’s 1979-1980 Classical Season, when on Tuesday, October 16, he appeared as a  guest soloist at PCHA. Almost 2000 concertgoers turned out for the season-opener. After the Symphony’s traditional first-concert-of-the-season tribute to the nation, the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, the orchestra played Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Next followed by what a newspaper referred to as “a spirited rendition” by the orchestra of Richard Wagner’s Overture to “Rienzi”, from his third opera. Mr. Ax then took the stage and performed Beethoven’s three-movement Piano Concerto No. 3, in C minor, Op. 37, composed in 1800 and premiered with the composer at the keyboard in 1803. The Evening Express wrote that “the star of the evening was unquestionably the coupling of pianist Emanuel Ax and the PSO.” Praising the soloist, the reviewer continued, “Distinct yet flowing, assertive yet delicate, notes flew from his piano like gems cascading from the bench of an energetic diamond cutter.” Following the intermission, the Orchestra treated the audience to Sergei Rachmaninoff’s hour-long Symphony No. 2, in E minor, Op. 27, composed in 1906-1907. Thanks go to Carl Smith for including the concert-program summary page in the jacket of the audioCD he made from the original tape recording of the concert. Before the newspaper clipping was spotted, that summary page (HS: Also the recording, of course) was the only record about pertinent details of this evening’s performance. Subsequent to seeing those two information sources, receipt of the Elizabeth Miller Collection of PSO concert programs yielded one of those handed to arriving concertgoers at the concert featuring Mr. Ax.

In mid October Bruce Hangen took over the additional reins as the Principal Conductor of the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra. There was no mention in a news clipping what, if anything, caused the switch from Adrian Lo’s one-year turn atop the PYSO podium.... nor whether Mr. Lo was or was not remaining with the PSO as a violinist.

Three concert programs at the start of the 1979-1980 PSO season listed Mr. Lo as first-stand violist, along with principal Julia Adams (HS:  Early on in the writing of this THINGS-PSO, I presumed that she had married during the summer, a supposition later confirmed as fact.). Adrian Lo was not listed in any subsequent PSO concert programs for the season. A Google check revealed that several years ago (2007) Mr. Lo was a professor of music at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN. There he directed the Bethany Concert band, the Jazz Ensemble, the Bethany Camarata and taught music history and upper strings. He was also then listed as the conductor and Music Director of the Mankato Area Youth Symphony Orchestra. Whether he remains there currently (2013) was unclear. Also unclear was whatever 30+ year career path he took between his time with the PSO and now.

An October 27 Pops Concert was formally named TRIBUTE TO “MR. POPS”, ARTHUR FIEDLER, honoring the hugely-popular octogenarean Boston Pops conductor who had passed away the previous summer. Sadly for Portlanders, before his untimely passing Mr. Fiedler had been signed up to again guest conduct the PSO this evening (source: April 3, 1979 PSO concert-program “From the Manager’s Desk” column).

Conductor Bruce Hangen this late-October Saturday evening once again chose a fanfare  to “announce” the start of this Saturday evening performance (HS: Neither the concert program nor review clippings listed specifics as to either name or composer.). Then making a gradual transition, the next work  had a fanfare-like beginning, the Overture to Franz von Suppé’s operetta Light Cavalry. Concertgoers were then treated to the PSO performing the Bacchanale, from Camille Saint-Saëns grand opera “Samson and Delilah”. Guest pianist Myron Romanul, along with the PSO, then played Felix Mendelssohn’s Concerto No. 1, in G minor, for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 25. After the intermission came some of the “fun stuff” which the white-mustacheoed Maestro Fiedler charmed concertgoers with over his nearly half century atop the Boston Pops podium. The “charmers” began with Johann Strauss’ Emperor Waltz; then Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter; and Selections from “My Fair Lady” by Frederick Loewe. That trio was followed by a varying quartet of numbers: Richard Hayman’s Pops Hoedown; More, from “Mondo Cane” by Riz Ortolani and Nino Olivera; Star Spangled Spectacular by  George M. Cohan, arranged by Philip Gordon; and the concert concluding with John Williams’ Music from “Star Wars”. Fortunately for readers of this THINGS-PSO, Carl Smith wrote notes about that evening’s encores, which he included in the digital-audio CD he later made from the tape of this evening’s concert. They were Selections from “Rocky”; then America The Beautiful (HS: The lyrics were from a poem written by Katharine Lee Bates, and the music was composed by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward. ); and, of course............ Maestro Fiedler’s traditional sign-off work, the patriotic American march widely considered to be the magnum opus of composer John Philip Sousa (HS: And which, by an act of the U.S. Congress, is the official National March of the United States of America), Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Philip Sousa (HS: Some easy Googling yielded this latter info, which was news to me). It likely was a FANTASTIC EVENING at PCHA.

Raymond Long began writing Program Notes for the PSO this season. A resident of Maine (since 1965 when he converted from being a New Yorker), his musical musings appeared from time to time in Portland’s magazines and newspapers.

Regarding the Fiedler-tribute concert, at least one local newspaper ran a pre-concert publicity photo showing a 1930’s-dressed reporter-looking guy intently at work at one of those big, heavy, black Underwood typewriters classic to copy editors in newsroom movie scenes. The typist was sporting a long cigar, black vest, sleeve garters and a green celluloid eye-shade visor. You might ask: Was the typist Damon Runyon or Hunter S. Thompson?  Well, the answer is “nope”..... it was PSO Manager Russ Burleigh, preparing to “tap” his way into musical history. He was practicing for a starring role in the Symphony’s performance of Leroy Anderson’s tribute to “The Typewriter”.

Incidentally, for the October Pops Concert, a note in the concert-program included mention of “Special Guest, Boston Pops percussionist Fred Buda”.

A snippet among clippings in the PSO Archives, from the Lewiston Daily Sun, was related to this concert. It announced that portions of the October concert dedicated to Mr. Fiedler would be broadcast on local WCBB-TV, the Public Television station in Lewiston. The program would be broadcast on 1/4/80, and last one hour. (HS: Although no mentions of the Fiedler-tribute concert having been videotaped have been spotted, a broadcast-quality recording must obviously have been made when the concert was presented in Portland. If indeed that did occur, and if so- where the recording would be today [2013] are facts not spotted in the PSO Archives.)

For the first time, this year the PSO chamber music performances were referred to as the “Candlelight” Series of concerts. This label became continually and “officially used” starting with the pre-season announcement of the 1979-1980 schedule of PSO events. The chamber music concerts continued to be held at St. Luke’s Cathedral.

The season’s first Candlelight Series chamber concert was performed on Sunday, November 4. The evening’s music began with the first and third movements from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major BWV 1048. A small 11-member ensemble performed: three violinists, three violists, three violoncellists, also one bassist and a harpsichordist. Morton Gold’s Psalm for Orchestra was next, followed by Aaron Copland’s composition for thirteen players, Appalacian Spring (Ballet for Martha). (HS: Since I had not previously noted any “Martha” connotation associated with previous mentions of this work, I of course Google-d to learn what it meant. An Anecdote in this THINGS-PSO details what I discovered.) Following the intermission, attendees were treated to Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, in G minor, K. 550, the first theme of which also appears in the cadenza in the first movement of Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto, which was composed three years before this symphony.

Bruce Hangen’s performance diary records show that this Candlelight Concert was performed again the following Monday (HS: Evening?  Probably.) at Nasson College in Springvale.

An information memo sent earlier this year from PSO manager Russ Burleigh to the musicians included an advisement that Paul Stookey would appear as a guest at one of the four 1979-1980 Pops concerts. By the time the official Pops season schedule was released to the public, Mr. Stookey’s name did not appear. “So What?”, you ask. Well..... if you don’t immediately recognize his name, folk-music-aficianados (and some trivia buffs, too..... most likely) likely still do. AND..... those who were folk-song afficionados in late 1979 to early 1980, were probably especially disappointed that he didn’t perform at the PSO Pops Concert. Here’s the only hint you need----- Remember Peter, Paul and Mary?

A week prior to when two Youth Concerts would be presented at PCHA, the EE published an article stating that tickets were still available for half the hall for the first concert, and a third of the hall for the second. Normally there were few Youth Cncert tickets available for general sale, so this news was unusual. The PSO’s Youth Concert Program wasn’t itself in trouble, but it was during this era that some schools basically froze field trips, reflecting the need to cut back due to budget reductions and higher energy-related costs. (HS: This article ran just two days after Iranian “students” attacked the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took hostage 52 Americans. If you’re too young to remember that, ask an older person about the ’79 Oil Crisis when Ayatollah Khomeini became leader in Iran and nationalized the oil industry, throwing out the super-major oil companies, resulting in a huge drop in international oil flows and almost instantly-doubled prices for oil?  It is still referred to as “The 1979 Energy Crisis”.)

As usual, geared to 4th to 6th graders, the above-referenced two Youth Concerts by the PSO were performed during the morning of Tuesday, November 13. The Orchestra was joined by members of the PYSO who presented a joint concert for the students. Works played were excerpts from Richard Wagner’s Overture to “Rienzi”, which the PSO had performed two months earlier at the season’s opening concert; excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy, which the PSO on its own would perform in full that evening; Vivaldi’s Concerto for two Trumpets, in C major – the PSO’s John Schnell and student Gary Merrill, soloists; Gabrielli’s Sonata Pian’e  Forte, Ch. 175, for brass; Dvořák’s Slavanic Dance, Op. 46, No. 1; Three Pieces from Carmen, (Prélude; Les Dragons d’Alcala; and Les Toréadors) based on Bizet’s opera; and also, two piano solos by student Gary Lutes were performed. The combined-groups’ concluding work was Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. Hopefully the assembled students enjoyed and learned from hearing the music; there’s no doubt that the participating PYSO musicians certainly did. (HS:  The Teacher’s Guide for the concerts for students, issued in advance of the season, listed a “TBA” piano concerto for this performance that was to have been played by a young soloist. Mr. Hangen’s performance-history listings do not show any such piano work.)

This fall series of progressive dinners to benefit the PSO were sponsored by the Women’s Committee. The Committee’s president, the-then Deborah Blodgett (HS: Debby Hammond to most of us.), and also Conductor Hangen enjoyed cuisine on the tables at some of the parties.

The “hor d’oeurve served by Conductor Hangen” to begin the November 13 Classical Concert was Walter Piston’s Fanfare (”For the Fighting French”). Concertgoers that evening next were treated to a performance of the Richard Strauss tone poem, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, Op. 28. Before the intermission the PSO played another work which Mr. Hangen labeled as also from the “super-romanticism” period, the Suite from Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80, derived from incidental music by Gabriel Fauré for Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1898 London production of a play of the same name. During that work, wrote newspaper reporter George Dearborn in a review, “Principal flute Pam Guidetti and oboist Neil Boyer played some pretty passages”. Mr. Dearborn also positively cited the playing of both harpist Deidre Carr and flutist Frances Drinker. The second half of the concert began with Joseph Schwantner’s Aftertones of Infinity, the winner of the 1979 Pulitzer Prize for Music. It was a work requiring agile playing by the PSO’s three percussionists, but was a piece that EE critic Clark T. Irwin, Jr., felt “did not seem to hang together”, stating that he found it “not musically satisfying”. Not surprisingly, Bowdoin music Prof. Elliott Schwartz found it “a success in every respect”; although his counterpart “prof” at Nasson College, Morton Gold found that the work did not “include much to recommend it”. (HS: The Eastman School of Music composer/faculty-member was in attendance at PCHA this evening; --YOU guess which of the two he might have wanted to go out with afterwards for a beer.) A post-concert report said that the compositon was well received by the audience.

Incidentally, the PSO’s oboist and English horn players performed during part of Mr. Schwantner’s work; however, not as you might have expected. While both were terrific double-reed players, circumstances of the moment required them to get glasses, but not of the reading variety. Instead, tuned crystal glasses were required for the piece (HS: Think- rubbing your finger around the rim of a glass partially filled with water.). Cooley’s, the fine china and crystal store on Congress St., supplied the PSO with four high-quality crystal “instruments”, and then Neil Boyer and Henry Tervo spent time over a weekend evolving from “terrible crystal glass players” to “masters” of the art. Those labels came from PSO manager Russ Burleigh, who personally test-selected the four crystal glasses at the store, to the reported “What’s-going-on-here, head-shaking-in-disbelief, scowls” of regular customers at the store when Russ was making his bothersome noises. There was no mention in any newspaper clippings, nor follow-on comments printed in subsequent PSO concert programs, of either Mr. Boyer or Mr. Terco being offered scholarships to Julliard to continue refining their new craft. (HS:  While I suppose this tale should better have been put among the Anecdotes in this THINGS-PSO, here’s the story. I hope you smiled at the incongruity of it all.)

The PSO concluded the evening with a performance that George Dearborn enthusiastically wrote “was something else!”. The composition was Romeo and Juliet, TH 42, ČW 39, the romantic overture fantasy composed by Pyotr >llyich Tchaikovsky, and based on Shakespeare’s play of the same name. (HS: Googling reveals that the composition, now long popular throughout the world, is the third and final version of an original work first written in 1870. Tchaikovsky sub-titled this rework an "Overture-Fantasia" and it was premiered in 1886. The earlier versions are performed occasionally as historical curiosities.)

Records reviewed among the PSO Archives state that the next PSO Classical Concert would be broadcast live on WGAN-TV (simulcast on WGAN-FM), through a grant from the Mobil Foundation. In that era, a television broadcast from a remote location was operationally a big deal. TV cameras were huge monstrosities, and viewers would often have to sit through minutes in front of silent sets that carried the words “Please Excuse Our Momentary Technical Difficulties”. It’s a sure bet that the PSO office-honchos had their fingers crossed that all would proceed smoothly during the program.

Prize-winning clarinetist Richard Stoltzman had several busy days in Portland getting ready prior to appearing as a soloist with the PSO at the Classical Concert performed on Tuesday evening, December 4. In addition to rehearsing with the orchestra musicians, on the 3rd he conducted a special clinic for high school and college clarinetists at PCHA, aimed at those who had at least three to four years of playing experience. On the morning of the 4th, he performed in two Youth Concerts for local-area school students. Mr. Stoltzman performed excerpts from Mozart’s clarinet concerto. Concert-detail information provided in 2013 by Bruce Hangen listed other works that the Orchestra played that morning for the students, the only remaining detailed record found of this concert for Portland-area students. Excerpts from those were:  Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, by Tchaikovsky; Beethoven’s Turkish March from Ruins of Athens; Johannes Brahms Symphony No.1 in C minor, Op. 68, fourth movement; and a work often enjoyed by the students’ parents at pops concerts -- Procession of the Sardar from Caucasian Sketches by Mikhail Mikhailovich Ippolitov.

Mr. Hangen’s chosen fanfare that evening had the impeccably simple, to-the-point, single-word title, Fanfare, Op. 40. Written at the request of Mr. Hangen, it was by Morton Gold, Professor of Music at Nasson College in Springvale, where he had an 18-year career that concluded in 1982 (HS: Nasson College itself “concluded” in 1983, when the institution closed due to financial pressures and other factors.). The Symphony next played Essay No. 2, for Orchestra, Op. 17, a composition completed in 1942 by Samuel Barber. Mr. Stoltzman was then accompanied by the PSO as he performed Mozart’s Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in A Major, K. 622, composed in 1791. Local reviews were universal in their praise for him. The entire second half of the concert consisted of the four movements that comprise Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, in C minor, Op. 68. (HS: Once again, early-on in my researching, no review of this concert had been uncovered in the PSO Archives [later one was; Hoo-Ray!]; so... THANKS for the original concert details go to Carl Smith, who many years later produced a high-quality digital CD from an original tape made during this 12/79 performance. Then later, an original concert program was included in the Elizabeth Miller Collection that she presented to the PSO in May of 2013.)

Just to go on the record....... as was done in the preceding paragraph, Carl Smith deserves MANY CREDITS for the masterful re-recording project that he took on and achieved. Concert details of many PSO concerts mentioned in this THINGS-PSO were entirely missing historical facts that came to my attention only when I gained access to the marvelous vault of digital-CDs made by Carl for the PSO. While he deserved credit-mention each and every time specific-concert details from his resources were written onto these pages, such credit was not made time after time after time. (HS: Hopefully the CREDIT in this paragraph [also in an Anecdote] suffices, as I elected to avoid multiple valuable program-info credit repetitions to Carl.)

George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, HWV 56 was performed at PCHA on both Sunday afternoon and Monday evening, December 16 and 17. The PSO and Conductor Hangen were joined by 175 voices from three local-area choruses: the Choral Art Society and the University of Southern Maine Chorale, each under the direction of Robert Russell; and the Maine Opera Association, under the direction of M. David Goldstein. A concert program for these performances was re-discovered in 2014 when longtime PSO violinist Luis  Ibáñez  looked through his personal performance-library-collection of programs, generously trying to help us be able to scan as many programs as possible for uploading to That program revealed the names of the guest artists: soprano Sue Ellen Kuzma, messo-soprano Valerie Walters, Bernard Fitch and baritone Mark Aliapoulios. The Press Herald review of the Sunday performance told readers who missed the oratorio that “You can expect to be delighted” if they would be in PCHA on Monday evening. The P-H headline was, “ PSO, voices create joyous rendition of ‘The Messiah’ “. The Evening Express echoed the same sentiments and recommendation.

Two nights later, on December 19 in Bridgton, a small ensemble of PSO musicians, playing as the Maine Opera Association Orchestra, were accompanied by the 40-member Maine Opera Association group who had sung Handel’s Messiah at PCHA. The Bridgton News quoted one of the local singers, “We’ll be doing the whole Handel’s ‘Messiah’, right through to the ‘Amen’.” The two compact groups performed under the direction of Andrew McMullan, a PSO horn player in the 1960s who was also a board member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Sometime in the late ‘70s the display case beneath the bust of Hermann Kotzschmar was vandalized, and the contents stolen.

This year Robert Russell moved to Portland, where he began a career at USM as Director of Chorale Music--  conducting the USM Chamber Singers and University Chorale, as well as teaching duties. The Virginia native, educated at Wake Forest University (BA), the University of North Carolina (MM), and the University of Colorado (Doctor of Musical Arts degree), also became music director of The Choral Art Society’s three ensembles. The then-retiring Harold Brown departed into relaxation with an urging to the CAS Board that they establish some formal remunerative policy for future conductors. The $1800 amount decided upon would have then (according to an HS Google search to determine an original price) enabled Dr. Russell to purchase about one-third of a midsize Chevrolet Malibu, before accounting for income taxes  ----or sales taxes, registration and “doc-fees” on the vehicle. In other words...... it didn’t amount to a big windfall.

Also this year, Toshiyuki Shimada was a finalist for the 1979 Herbert von Karajan Competition in Berlin.


1980       On Tuesday, January 8, Bruce Hangen guest-conducted the Spokane Symphony in Washington State, as part of an exchange with that ensemble’s conductor, Donald Thulean, who would stand atop the PSO podium in February. (HS:  A memo to PSO musicians found in the PSO Archives advised that Mr. Thulean’s name was pronounced “Too-leen.)

This winter the University of Southern Maine offered a special 3-credit course: Music of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Tuesday evenings from January into May, Dr. Ronald Cole and guest lecturers presented the course, which included attendance at PSO concerts.

The first concert on the USM syllabus was that of Tuesday, January 15, as for the first time this calendar year, the PSO musicians reassembled for a concert. And...... their reassembling was to perform a “Big-Deal“-concert, with the post-intermission segment entirely dedicated to a composition by an Austrian composer with the initials GM (HS: But.... we’ll get to those details later.). Again as usual during that part of the PSO’s “Hangen Era”, brassy heralding signaled that the evening’s performance was starting. Played was one of two brass fanfares (HS: The concert-program summary page did not designate which.) from a four-movement orchestral suite by Claude Debussy. The work was subtitled ‘Fragments Symphoniques’ [Symphonic Fragments], made up of music extracted from the score of music for the French composer’s 1911 play produced in collaboration with Gabriele d’Annunzio, Le martyre de Saint Sébastien, L 124.

The remainder of the first portion of the concert featured The Columbus Boychoir, a group founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1937 which in 1950 had been relocated to Princeton, New Jersey (HS: And, Googling reveals, at some subsequent point in time was renamed the American Boychoir). The ensemble this evening was directed by Donald Hanson. Their first number was 16th–century composer Alessandro Costantini’s Confitemini Domino.

The Boychoir next sang Mozart’s Agnus Dei (Coronation Mass), followed by the communion anthem Panis Angelicus by  César Franck. With a change of pace, the Boychoir’s contributions to the concert concluded with the popular An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314, a waltz by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss II that was composed in 1866. (HS: Of course, we’re all used to the common English title--  Blue Danube Waltz.)

The second half of the program this evening was the accomplishment by Conductor Hangen of the “third section” of a “ten-section” promise that he had made to himself upon accepting the PSO Music Director and Conductor titles in 1976. That promise (HS: Which on at least one occasion he shared with a Portland newspaper reporter.) was to conduct all ten of the symphonies composed by Gustav Mahler. The great composer’s Symphony No. 3 was performed this early-1980 evening. This was Mahler’s longest piece and is the longest symphony in the standard repertoire, with a typical performance lasting around ninety to one hundred minutes. Along with the Symphony, New-York-City-based mezzo soprano Robin Ann Kay, the Boychoir and the Portland Women’s Chorus (Director, Robert Russell) also performed during the presentation of the symphony. Not surprising, newspaper reviews were complimentary and enthusiastic about the concert.

On January 29 the Portland Symphony Orchestra was joined by a group from the Brunswick Music Theater for a Classical Concert that instead might also have been designated as a Pops Concert. That evening both classical and Broadway-type compositions of the super-talented Leonard Bernstein comprised the entire playbill. As was common for the PSO in this era, Conductor Hangen chose to begin the concert with a fanfare, this time choosing Mr. Bernstein’s  tribute, Fanfare (for the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of the High School of Music and Art, New York City), composed in 1961. Next was what originally-unenthusiastic 1956 audiences in NYC first heard when attending performances of a comic operetta the composer collaborated on with librettist Lillian Hallman that ran only 73 performances (HS: At first a box-office disaster, it was subsequently both expanded-and-contracted into a success by renowned producer Harold Prince – with revised libretto by several top Broadway people but without a disapproving Ms. Hellman). So, you ask: “what was it?”; ------the PSO played the Overture to “Candide”.

Then the program took on a more serious tenor, as “tenor” Mark Jacoby came on stage with the PSO and sang Epistle: The Word of the Lord, from “Mass”, commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy and premiered in 1971 as part of the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The Symphony next played Three Dance Episodes from “On the Town” (Times Square; Great Lover; and Lovely Town). Soprano Marcia King closed out the first half of the program with the orchestra, singing Glitter and Be Gay, from “Candide”.  The post-intermission part of the concert was a 75-minute, 15-number vocal and dance Concert Version of “West Side Story”, based on the mid-1950’s conception of Jerome Robbins that the choreographer and Mr. Bernstein made into the GIGANTIC Broadway Show that (now [in 2013], sixty years later) is still a box-office winner in revival and touring company performances. A troupe from the Brunswick Music Theater, under the aid of BMT Artistic Director Victoria Crandall, worked in collaboration with the PSO to present this concert version of the legendary Broadway show. That ensemble consisted of Marcia King as Maria, Mr. Jacoby as Tony, K.K. Preece as the fun-loving Anita. Charles Abbott, resident director of the Brunswick company assisted in preparing the vocalists for their gig with the PSO. Young Julliard graduate Martin Perry (who at the end of the decade would be the PSO’s regular pianist at subscription concerts), was brought up from New York by Mr. Hangen to be artistic director of the performance. (HS: Looking back on this January-1980 PSO concert, I find it easy to imagine concertgoers departing PCHA just shaking their heads in then-renewed amazement at the prodigious talents of Leonard Bernstein.)

The essence of month-end Portland newspaper concert reviews is evidenced by two headlines about the PSO’s January efforts: 1-“An enjoyable evening of choral singing and Mahler”; and 2-“PSO = Bernstein = A happy evening”.

The entire “Bernstein” concert was repeated the next evening in Augusta, in a FORUM-A series performance at Cony High School Auditorium.

During the morning prior to the Bernstein-tribute concert on January 29, the PSO performed two Youth Concerts. The orchestra was joined by performers from the Brunswick Music Theater, as major excerpts from the Concert Version of “West Side Story” were presented to the grade 4-6 students. The official theme title of this concert was “West Side Story in Words and Music”.

Completing the second part of a podium exchange with Bruce Hangen, at the February PSO Classical Concert, after a 7+year absence, Guest Conductor Donald Thulean returned to the PCHA podium on Tuesday evening, the 5th. At this second appearance by him in Portland (HS: Mr. Thulean had earlier guest-conducted the PSO, in December of 1972.), he was four years away from concluding what would be a 20-year career as principal conductor of the Symphony Orchestra of Spokane, in Washington. (HS: Later, in 1984, he would move from the western state to the nation’s capital city of Washington, D.C., where for 15 years he would serve as Professor of Conducting at the Catholic University of America.) This concert opened with Darius Milhaud’s “fantaisie pastorale” Suite Provencale, Op. 152a. The first half of the program concluded with guest soloist Laurel Bennert, the PSO’s Principal French horn player, playing the Concerto No. 3 for Horn and Otchestra, in E-flat Major, K. 447, one of four horn concertos composed by Mozart. She had agreed only one-hour before the PSO’s final rehearsal for this concert to step in when the originally-scheduled guest pianist found he was unable to perform (HS: See an Anecdote about plaudits and prizes she received following her achievement this evening.). The next day, a local newspaper headlined, “Last-minute sub PSO concert hit.” The obviously very talented Ms. Bennert proved to be a brilliant last-minute replacement for Eastman School of Music faculty member pianist Frank Glazer, who was taken ill at his Portland hotel and forced to cancel as guest artist; he was scheduled to perform with the PSO, playing , Franz Liszt’s Concerto No. 1 for piano and Orchestra, in E-flat Major, S. 124. (HS: --notice the coincidence of both the Liszt piano concerto and the substituted horn concerto each having been written in E-flat major.) Following the intermission, the Orchestra performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5, in B-flat Major, Op. 100. P-H reviewer labeled the evening “A Full-course concert with something for everyone.”

Information in the PSO Archives regarding a Candlelight Concert performed by PSO chamber music players on Sunday, February 10 is limited. The Alexandria Quartet (all Portland Symphony Orchestra members) performed Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in A minor, Op. 13. Also, actors from the Portland Stage Company presented Igor Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du Soldat, along with musicians of the PSO (HS: Roughly a year earlier, the same work had been scheduled at a Candlelight Concert that needed to be canceled due to a major storm.). Mr. Hangen was the conductor this evening. (HS: There is some contradiction between two separate references to when this concert was performed. Mr. Hangen’s performance diary records show it as having been presented on Sunday, January 20.)

The 50-member Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra presented its first concert of the season on February 14, at PCHA. Bruce Hangen conducted the performance.

Some 160 “Rites of Spring”-theme dinners were held over the February 29, March 1, and March 2 week-end, this season’s Dinners for the Symphony. Once again, the PSO Women’s Committee spearheaded the effort.

Tuesday, March 4 (and also Wednesday, March 5), found the popular and versitle Peter Nero (HS: He was classically trained, at Julliard) at the piano as soloist and guest conductor of the PSO at a Pops Concert. (HS: At that time Mr. Nero was conductor and music director of the Philly Pops Orchestra.) The program began with a medley of hits from the rock group Chicago, followed by three songs by George Gershwin: Biding My Time, They Can’t Take That Away From Me and I Got Rhythm. Songs from the movie Summer of ’42 by Michael Legrand were next; then an arrangement of Mountain Greenery, originally composed by Richard Rodgers (HS: Lorenz Hart wrote the lyrics). Mr. Nero then undoubtedly thrilled concertgoers as he solo-ed with the PSO with  an always for-sure concert winner, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Songs then played by The Peter Nero Trio (HS: His regular sidemen accompanied Mr. Nero to Portland, Mike Barnett on bass and drummer Eddy Cacavalle) were announced by the group’s leader, since they were not listed on the concert program. The trio opened with Send in the Clowns, and then improvised freely on a medley made up of melodies on American jazz in various styles. The Press-Herald reported that he “charms City Hall audience”. (HS: Peter Nero would return again, in 1989, but then for a guest-conducting-only gig with the PSO.)

On Wednesday, March 12, three groups of 400-500 youngsters aged 4-7 years old gathered at the Holiday Inn Downtown for one of three KinderKonzerts. One “tiny” piece played is discussed in an Anecdote in this THINGS-PSO. PSO stringbass player George Rubino entertained the kids with that one.

Prior to discovery (late in 2013) of a copy of the 1979-1980 Teacher’s Guide to Youth Concerts, little detailed information had been uncovered in the PSO Archives about two performances for students at PCHA on March 18. Known was that the theme that day was “Booms, Bangs and Scrapes”, featuring the PSO percussion section. Tympanist Reg Bonnin and section principal George Durkin starred. Mr. Hangen and the Orchestra’s percussion section were the only people on stage this morning. Prior to the concert, youngsters planning to attend were given the chance to make their own percussion instruments, with a three-member panel of Symphony musicians to judge and award prizes. The winners had the opportunity to play their instruments on stage at the concert.

This season, more than 14,000 Southern Maine students attended PSO Youth Concerts. One example of how Portland Symphony Orchestra supporters helped schools facing difficult budget and economic challenges during this period of time was spotted in the PSO Archives. Records reveal that Portland’s School Superintendent from 1979-1986, “Dr. Greer bought 1000 tickets” for the final concert, which were then made available free-of-charge to schools wanting seats. (HS:  A longtime PSO-supporter imagines that he took the $1,000 out of a "superintendent’s discretionary fund" that could be tapped.)

By 1977-78-79, it was becoming very difficult to get PPS students to Youth Concerts, and by 1979-80- onward, there were practically no Portland public school students at the concerts. This situation had a significant negative impact on the PSO’s income, and with four performances of each of the four annual concerts, the 2,340-seat auditorium wasn’t being filled. In response, in the early 1980s an anonymous endowment gift of $10,000 was given that was not requested, but given generously by a couple who loved the PSO--- with the wife deeply involved in the Youth Concerts. Ever since, that MUSYC fund has been available to assist students in Portland’s public schools who need help with buying Student Youth Concert tickets, with the respective schools making requests. As much as ticket costs kept students away ($2 per student), another problem was the cost of transportation, which on a per-student basis was about equal to the concert ticket price.

A section of the post-season committee report about this season’s concerts for students provides a strong reminder of significant economic challenges existing during this period of time and how they forced creation of new efforts to achieve attendance at the four pairs of performances:  “We realized almost immediately (when teacher’s materials were first sent out) that there would be funding problems for most of our big school systems. Portland had had its budget slashed, Falmouth had forbidden any field trips to save gas, and South Portland just couln’t get its act together, to be very blunt.” The committee “felt very strongly that the Portland Schools be allowed to attend even if they came for free. Besides, someone had to fill the auditorium.” Meetings were held with regional school officials, and many principals committed “that the students could come if (someone) came up with the tickets. The Board of Trustees of the PSO voted to let the Portland Schools come free the first concert. Then WJBQ, a local radio station, made a donation to send them for the second concert.” In December Peter Plumb accompanied Youth Concerts Chairman Barbara Turitz to see area Superintendents to gather support for future concerts, and the Portland superintendent “found” $2000 somewhere in his budget “to send the children to the last two concerts and to promise support for 1980-1981.” Superintendents for Falmouth and South Portland sent students to only the January concert, which was the only sell-out of the season (HS:  The report indicates that PCHA was two-thirds filled for the first two concerts.) Obviously, significant resourcefulness and dedication was required from many individuals, primarily stimulated among PSO supporters and volunteers. Otherwise, it appears that there definitely was a risk of PSO Youth Concerts no longer playing a role in the educational development of Portland-area students. Looking back (in 2013) at the subsequent three decades of PSO Youth Concerts, Ku-do’s are still deserved by  those who perservered in these successful efforts.

The season’s Tuesday Classical Series continued on March 18. Nineteen year-old Elmar Oliveira was the guest violin soloist (HS: With Leonard Bernstein then on the podium, at age 16 Mr. Oliveira had appeared on a New York Philharmonic Young People’s Concert broadcast on nationwide television.). The concert began with Craig Burket’s Fanfare: Music for Brass and Percussion 1980. Next, Amy Snyder and the composer, Henry Brant, joined Bruce Hangen as the three co-conducted Trinity of Spheres. The dissonant work, completed in 1978 (HS:  It was conducted by Bruce Hangen at the world premiere with the Denver Symphony), called for one large on the main stage, and two small orchestras (HS: which the score suggested be respectively situated on opposite sides of the rear of the orchestra seating section of PCHA). Rounding out the pre-intermission segment of the concert was the PSO performing Paul Hindemith’s four-movement Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber. When everyone was re-settled, Beethoven’s Concerto in D Major, for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 61, featured the virtuosity of Mr. Oliveira. He won plaudits from both the orchestra and the audience, and was “a definite hit” with everyone, reported a post-concert newspaper article. Having him appear in Portland must have been quite a coup, since in 1978 he had “captured the Gold Medal in violin performance (with Latvian Ilya Grubert) at the Sixth Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. Being then the the only American violinist to have won this Gold Medal, his victory was reminiscent of Van Cliburn’s 20 years earlier. Oliveira (would later become) also the first violinist to receive the coveted Avery Fisher Prize (1983).” (HS: The information source regarding these latter details about the soloist: Bach Cantatas Website)

The Hannover Youth Symphony, from Hannover, West Germany, was presented in concert at PCHA on Monday, March 24. The concert was sponsored by the PSO, with all proceeds going to benefit the PYSO Scholarship Fund. Seats were priced at a very reasonable $2 per ticket. How well attended this concert was is something that searches through the PSO Archives have so far (2013) failed to yield.

Tuesday and Wednesday, March 25 and 26, found a PSO Chamber Ensemble “on the road”, performing works that four months earlier had been played at a St. Luke’s Cathedral Concert. The first evening the group performed in Berwick, at the Berwick Academy Commons; the next evening cocertgoers gathered in Springvale, at Nasson College. The musicians began with music from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major BWV 1048. The other works reprised for the two chamber concerts were Nasson College’s  Morton Gold’s Psalm for Orchestra, Aaron Copland’s Appalacian Spring (Ballet for Martha), and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, in G minor, K. 550.

April Fool’s Day was celebrated by Conductor Hangen, the PSO musicians and concertgoers, at what appears to have been a Pops Concert at PCHA. Don Doane and his Big Band (HS: See several Anecdotes about Don.) were the featured guest artists. The Symphony began the evening with Prof. Peter Schickele’s Fanfare for the Common Cold (HS: The PDQ-guy cleverly claimed that actually, he had “exhumed” the work); followed by Voices of Spring, Waltzes, by Johann Straus, Jr.; then Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag. Next the PSO played W.C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues March. After The Don Doane Big Band played the jazz number Chicago, Don “explained jazz” with a number of musical examples. The pieces he chose for this evening were from the 1930s to the 1970s. Following the intermission, the PSO and Don’s Big Band joined forces in performances of Terry White’s clever multi-variations on The Flintstones Theme (HS: One reporter wrote that afterwards some in the audience yelled out “Yabba-Dabba-Do!); then Mr. White’s composition, April Fool Symphony. This was followed by Duke Ellington’s Chelsea Bridge, and two arrangements by Ralph Norris, Sweet and Lovely and a Big Band Medley that Mr. Doane had arranged for his group and the Symphony (HS: His first such attempt to write for an orchestra).

The medley most certainly was a nostalgic trip for many attendees. Listed on the concert program were: Sentimental Over You, Take the ‘A’ Train, Satin Doll, Let’s Dance (HW: On this, Gene Jones did a fantastic solo!), Tuxedo Junction, Can’t Get Started, Shanty In Old Shanty Town, Sentimental Journey, Chattanooga Cho-Choo, In the Mood, Moonlight Serenade and One o’clock Jump. Folks were then treated to several encores. They were two “driving” joint Big-Band/PSO “romps” through Red Roses for a Blue Lady and MacArthur Park. THAT must have been a Top-Notch evening at City Hall Auditorium!

After the above description of the April Fool’s Day concert, two newspaper articles about the event were found deep among the PSO Archives. The Evening Express called the evening a “memorable night”, lauding the Big Band’s and the PSO’s meeting of Jazz and Pops a wonderful fusion, “something that couldn’t have happened in Portland a few years ago.” Reviewer George Dearborn observed that “both orchestras really had a great time playing together”, calling the caper “A Dynamite Evening!”.

Leading up to Easter Sunday, on Thursday through Saturday, April 3-4-5, a PSO chamber ensemble was once again traipsing around local-area highways. Music composed by Bach and Mozart was performed by the Portland Symphony chamber Orchestra at three concerts:  the Bath Performing Arts Center, St. Luke’s Cathedral and then the Bates College Chapel in Lewiston. At each venue Bruce Hangen conducted Bach’s Cantata, BWV No. 4, 1-7, and Mozart’s 14-movement Requièm Mass in D minor (K. 626). The Collegium Musicum Singers were featured during the Bach work, and the Bates College Choir during the Mozart mass. Vocal soloists were Sue Ellen Kuzma, soprano; Linda Watson, mezzo soprano; Charles Walker, tenor; and Mark Aliapoulios, bass. A rare copy of the program covering the week-end concerts was saved by longtime PSO violinist Joanne Woodward, who donated it to the PSO Archives. A scan of the Cathedral program used at the three venues is among the more-than-1000 PSO concert programs available for internet viewing at

Conductor Hangen programmed a Giovanni Gabrielli fanfare to greet concertgoers drawn back to PCHA on Tuesday, April 22, when the PSO featured just two other works— but both challenging major compositions in the classical orchestra repertoire. The baroque fanfare was the litergical Canzon quarti toni for three brass choirs, which four centuries earlier certainly majestically echoed from the Byzantine dome of Saint Mark’s Basilica where the composer where the composer was principal organist, a site that some in the audience undoubtedly had visited in Venice. The Symphony then performed Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, Op. 55, (“Eroica”). After the intermission came Igor Stravinsky’s grand hour-long orchestral concert version of music from Le Sacre du Printemps (“The Rite of Spring”), Pictures of Pagan Russia. As called for in the score, the orchestra complement was huge (“one of the largest ever assembled for  PSO concert”, noted the P-H in a caption accompanying a picture of a rehearsal), with the obligatory two tympanists ready “to flail away like demons”. The concert was later (on June 25) telecast by Augusta-based Public Television station WCBB-TV .

In the concert-program notes, Maestro Hangen commented on the Beethoven and Stravinsky works that  concertgoers would hear that evening, writing “I guess there is a certain amount of fatherly pride.... In knowing that my orchestra is indeed capable of performing these two works in the same evening.” To which,   the Press Herald’s Clark T. Irwin, Jr. wrote, “You’re entitled, Pop.”

Readers of this THINGS-PSO might be interested to read a few more comments about the Stravinsky work. (HS:  Googling reveals that, in 1913, “The Rite” was the third project the composer completed for the renowned Ballets Russes in Paris. The first two were The Firebird (1910) and Petrushka (1911). When this Stravinsky work was premiered in Paris, a near riot broke out, and “forty of the worst offenders were ejected, either by the police or by the management. Through all the disturbances the performance continued without interruption”. Later, the composer wrote that “the derisive laughter that greeted the first bars of the Introduction disgusted him, and that he left the auditorium to watch the rest of the performance from the stage wings [‘I have never again been that angry’]. The demonstrations, he says, grew into ‘a terrific uproar’ which, along with the on-stage noises, drowned out the voice of [choregrapher Naslev] Nijinsky who was shouting the step numbers to the dancers.”) No report has been located suggesting that Portlanders in attendance this springtime evening in 1980 acted in anything but an exemplary manner.

The PSO’s third “SuperBand” performance occurred on THE EVENING OF April 28. Appearing as a special guest conductor during the WGAN-TV live two-hour broadcast of “SUPER-BAND 80” was David Ogden Stiers. (HS: Remember the M*A*S*H series on TV?  Well.... the role of one of the doctors, Major Charles Emerson Winchester [the guy whose first-and-foremost goal near the battlefront, was to protect his collection of Caruso records], was played by Mr. Stiers.) Although there were definite viewer-attracting aspects to Mr. Stiers appearance, the guest really was a legitimate conductor to put atop the podium. He was a serious devotee of classical music, and claimed to have a 15,000-size collection of records, amusingly adding, “I work as an actor to support a 40-disc-a-week habit”. As a kid, he had played both piano and French horn. He arrived in Portland directly after a benefit performance for the Jullilard School in New York, where he had studied voice training and conducting (HS: Really.... he did.). His PSO conductor-stint had him lead the Symphony in Beethoven’s four-minute-long King Stepen Overture, Op. 117. Works performed under the stick of Bruce Hangen included Selections from “Fiddler on the Roof”; then Selections from “Man of LaMancha” and also Giuseppe Verdi’s March from “Aïda”. Viewers were also treated to Aaron Copland’s Hoedown from “Rodeo” and the Maine Stein Song. A performance of Handel’s Toy Symphony included playing roles by Portland Mayor A.J. Wilson and several other area and PSO celebs. Once again, this promotional concert was designed to achieve on-the-air call-in new subscriptions to the upcoming PSO season. Afterwards, PSO Manager Russ Burleigh said that viewer call-ins matched the previous year’s result of nearly 600 new season ticket-holders. (HS: Unfortunately this evening, one clipping noted, the first 40 minutes of the broadcast were pre-empted by a presidential news conference.)

A local newspaper carried a large photograph of a baton-holding Mr. Stiers at the podium, discussing something with Maestro Hangen at a rehearsal. Mr. Stiers was wearing a sweatshirt bearing the words “NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS TO ME JUST KEEP PLAYING”. (HS:  My guess is that the TV star likely kept everyone in stitches during that rehearsal; --what fun!)

Some other works known to have been performed during the PSO’s broadcast were: a Verdi chorus, Songs from “South Pacific”, and Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” Overture. Shown during the program was a videotape of Conductor Hangen jogging through Portland that was accompanied by the Theme to “Rocky”.

Surprisngly, a half-dozen pages in the PSO scrapbook compiled during this era are devoted to the Sesame-Street character “Big Bird”. (HS: So.... you wonder: Why?  Well, at first that made no sense to me also.) The clippings related to a May 3rd Saturday-afternoon Children’s Concert at the Cumberland County Civic Center, at which both Big Bird and Bruce Hangen conducted the PSO. The eight-foot-two conductor led his own “Big Bird version” of Franz Joseph Haydn’s Toy Symphony, having in a pre-concert interview attempted to earlier assured doubters that he had the abilities to do so, saying, ”I speak as a qualified bird brain.” Besides, ten years earlier he had started as a rookie conductor when Arthur Fiedler handed him the baton during a Boston Pops concert, subsequently making about 20 other guest-conducting appearances around the world. Wing-flapping was his style choice. A special number that delighted both kids and adults who were in attendance, was when Big Bird played his squeeze-bulb horn in “Honk Goes the Weasel”. Early in the show, Oscar the Grouch sang his most popular song, “I Love Trash”. Of course, a number of Sesame-Street Tunes were also performed, along with light classics chosen for the young audience, such as Gioacchino Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture and Leroy Anderson’s The Waltzing Cat. None of the articles in the scrapbook mentioned how many people attended this Children’s Conceret at the Civic Center. (HS: For an interesting tidbit about “the Man behind The Bird” and his Maine conncections, see the Anecdote section of this THINGS-PSO.)

Four days later, on May 7, the PYSO performed their final concert of the season at PCHA. A pre-concert announcement in the PSO Archives notes that Conductor Hangen would lead the ensemble in performances of works by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsokov, Richard Wagner and Antonio Vivaldi; as well as George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess”. The first movement of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto in G minor was performed by Scarborough High School junior Lisa Levevre. Also performing at the concert was the recently-formed Portland Young People’s String Consort, the training orchestra for the PYSO, comprised of 3rd-to-7th grade students from Portland and surrounding communities. The PYPSC played the traditional Jenny Lind Polka and then combined with the PYSO strings to perform the final movement of Arcangelo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 4.

Mr. Hangen’s performance diary lists this concert as having been performed on May 8 at Deering High School Auditorium. His data entries list the Rimsky-Korsokov work as Procession of the Nobles. The list also shows other works played being William Presser’s Arctic Night and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9, fourth movement, arranged by Vernon Leidig.

The 1980 Maine All-State Music Festival, featuring outstanding high school musicians who had each won auditions for selection, was held at USM-Gorham. Three all-star ensembles performed during a concert on Saturday evening, the 17th of May. The PSO’s Bruce Hangen conducted the All-State Orchestra.

Peter Plumb was elected to the first of what would become two terms as PSO President.

The 1980-1981 PSO budget was set at $413,000. A $125,000 corporate fund-raising goal was tasked to the president of Casco Bank & Trust Co., John M. Daigle. Some 400 greater Portland businesses were targeted to participate.

June 10 marked the beginning of the two-week-long “Showcase ‘80” designer-based fund-raising event conducted by the PSO Women’s Committee. This year, the event’s second, the Greek Revival House at 735 Stevens Avenue was the venue.

A Pops concert involving the PSO may have been performed sometime in June. While no specific record of any such event has been found, multiple Choral Art Society advertisements carried in PSO concert programs the previous winter referred to the CAS as scheduled to participate in a “Pops Concert” in June. While that alone doesn’t mean that the event necessarily would have involved the PSO, perhaps PSO involvement in such a concert did occur. Would Mr. Hangen be on the podium, or would Mr. Russell conduct?  I just don’t know for-sure what happened.

Although the program specifics weren’t then being provided, one of the PSO’s advertisements to lure subscribers to attend 1981-1982 concerts was released, reading “If you’re planning a torrid love affair, we’ve got the music for you.”

In early August, Andrew McMullan and Kurt Saffir took turns conducting 23 PSO musicians (HS: Specific names available if you buy me an ice cream cone.) in performances of Gaetano Donizetti’s opera, The Elixir of Love. On Tuesday, August 5, Mr. Saffir was on the City Theatre podium in Biddeford. Earlier, Mr. McMullan had held sway in Biddford on Saturday the 2nd, and also held the baton at  Oxford Hill High School Auditorium in South Paris, on Friday the 8th. No reviews of these performances have been located.

On the heels of those three performances, productions of Giacomo Puccini’s opera, “Tosca”, were also performed on three evenings in mid August. Biddeford’s City Theatre was the venue on both the 9th and 13th (Saturday and Wednesday) when first Bruce Hangen, and Kurt Saffir on the latter date,  conducted the two dozen PSO’ers during performances of the opera. On Friday, August 15, the venue was Oxford Hill High School Auditorium in South Paris, under the baton of Mr. Hangen. While a review of the South Paris presentation praised the efforts to bring opera to the area, only 254 patrons were recorded as attending, all enthusiasts. The review said that all was not well on the stage, productionwise. Cited as “stiff acting, poor diction and amateurish staging marred an otherwise inspired performance”.

A summer concert (date unknown in 2013) by the PSO in Augusta treated concertgoers there to several compositions by Leonard Bernstein. Excerpts were performed from “Candide”, “On the Town” and “West Side Story”. The latter was the concert version of the hit musical play, with a semi-staged production by the Brunswick Music Theater. The program began with Bernstein’s The Fanfare for the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of High School of Music and Art, New York City, composed in 1961. This was very likely a reprise of the previous winter’s January 29 classical/pops concert at PCHA. (HS: Googling reveals that it is one the shortest fanfares in existence, lasting only twenty seconds. There are more letters in its title than beats in the work.)

This year the Community Orchestra of the Portland Symphony presented several concerts, with conductor Clinton W. Graffam on the podium. (HS: The community group had been regularly rehearsing and performing over the years, although I have not been regularly noting specific events in this THINGS-PSO.)

This season, the PSO’s regular contingent of seven cellists was augmented by five other cellists participating in an apprentice program. Two of the five would rotate in the cello section in classical series concerts, one in the popular series concerts.

To promote Symphony Week, radio station WGAN held a “Bach’s Lunch” promotion whereby listeners could call in, with five daily winners winning a lunch with Conductor Hangen and his “friend”, Johann Sebastian “somebody”. (HS: Or at least someone who looked like Bach. Old rumors still floating in the harbor indicate that PSO manager Russ Burleigh never returned the huge white wig he borrowed back then from a local pawn shop.). To a P-H reporter checking in on one of the lunches, Maestro Hangen said that he especially wanted there to be no “stuffiness” about the PSO’s repertoire, and that for the upcoming season he planned to include at least one work on each program that was composed in the 20th century.

A special Pops Concert was presented by the PSO in late summer, to benefit the Portland Police Athletic League (HS:  While no specific information regarding venue has been spotted, this event likely was at PCHA.). Music on this September 20th program included works by Richard Rodgers, Franz Liszt, Franz von Suppé and John Philip Sousa. A teaser-article in the P-H mentioned that “Officer Friendly (Ron Gregor) will also be vocal soloist.” (HS: Mr. Hangen’s performance diary includes a special benefit concert to aid the PAL as having been performed at PCHA .)

Late in September, while she was away, someone broke into the Sherman Street apartment of PSO violinist Theresa Edick and stole her violin, her bow and stereo equipment. The instrument and bow were valued at $5600.

A Sounds of the Symphony published at the beginning of the 1980-1981 season noted, in large block print at the bottom of page 1, “New Time: All Concerts Will Begin At 7:45”.

A series of photographs displayed on the program covers for the 1980-1981 season were taken on behalf of the PSO by Gary Curtis.

The PSO’s 56th season opened on October 14, with guest Franco Gulli performing Antonín Dvořák’s Violin Concerto in A minor, Op. 53 (B.108). Mr. Gulli, born in Italy, was by now on the school of music faculty at Indiana University. The Portland newspaper critics were most favorable to him for his performance. Also on the program were Hector Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9 and Symphony No. 5 in D minor by Dmitri Shostakovich, Op. 47. One of the PSO’s advertisements that season referred to the haunted Russian composer’s composition as “This is not music, this is high-voltage, nervous electricity” (HS:  borrowing from an observation made the night of the work’s 1937 premiere in then-named Leningrad). The program began with The Star-Spangled Banner and Benjamin Lee’s Fanfare For a Centennial. In a change from past years, concerts this year were set to begin at 7:45. (HS: Prior to this concert, a caption below a picture in the 10/14/80 Evening Express showed three PSO percussionists during a rehearsal of the Berlioz’ work. One of the three, Nancy Smith, is currently [2013] Principal of the Symphony’s percussion section.)

Four evenings later, the Portland Concert Association sponsored a Saturday performance by renowned cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, his only solo recital in New England this year. The great musician’s accompanist was his daughter. This concert opened the PCA’s 50th anniversary year.

Just before Halloween (10/28), a “quintet of royals” from New Orleans showed up in City Hall Auditorium dressed like the Dukes of Dixieland. Fortunately for Pops concertgoers that evening, that’s exactly who the Louisianan Jazzmen were. With 80+ sidemen (HS: and sidewomen, too........ of course) from the PSO, the happy, musical fun included South Rampart Street Parade, Lullabye in Dixieland, Muskrat Ramble, Sweet Georgia Brown, and, of course, When the Saints Go Marching In. A more modern selection was the “Star Wars” Cantina Suite, arranged Dixieland style, also a concert version of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer. Orchestral numbers performed by the orchestra were Franz von Suppé’s Jolly Robbers Overture and Jacques Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène Overture. The Evening Express writer used the word of a Dixie original dating back to the ‘20s to describe the audience reaction—“How are you supposed to keep your feet still?” The reviewer also commented that, “unfortunately, there were too many empty seats.”

During October Linda Bliss joined the PSO staff as Assistant Manager, expanding her duties over time to be Operations Manager several years later, which then would include manager for the Orchestra’s summer concerts. She had been executive director of Marshall Dodge’s Maine Festival for three years before joining the PSO.

On November 2, the PSO performed a chamber music concert at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland. The featured work was Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G major (Hoboken 1/94), the composer’s well known “Surprise Symphony”. Also performed was Bach’s Suite No. 1 for strings and harpsichord in D minor, BWV 1052, and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622. The latter work featured the PSO’s principal clarinetist, Eugene Jones, as soloist (HS:  Yours truly recently [2014] spoke with him, and he recalled this performance as a top memory of his years with the PSO.). The event was labeled as a “Candlelight Concert”, a moniker begun the previous season, and the fifth overall such Candlelight chamber music performance of many, many, more that Bruce Hangen would lead during his years as music director of the PSO.

The next day (November 3), attendees at a concert in South Berwick were “surprised” by a 35-piece Portland Symphony Chamber Orchestra. A major work was a certain (No. 94) symphony by Handel (HS: something the conductor labeled the “Beethoven’s Fifth of chamber music repertoire”). Since earlier in the year, Bruce Hangen had especially liked the acoustics and small, intimate setting (“allowing the audience to be close to the orchestra”) of the Commons Building at Berwick Academy, he brought the small PSO ensemble back. The PSO’s Eugene Jones reprised his performance a day earlier in Portland, again playing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622. As were the Handel and Bach works that had been performed at St. Luke’s Cathedral an evening earlier, the other composition presented was Bach’s Suite No. 1 for strings and harpsichord in D minor (BWV 1052 1/3).

Area students who were bused to PCHA for either of the two PSO Youth Concerts performed on November 10 were treated to “a classic”. Featured at this event was  Camille Saint-Saëns’ 1886 composition, The Carnival of the Animals (HS: “Le carnaval des animaux” had Portland’s French teachers been in charge of final printer’s-proof-editing concert programs that day). PSO manager Russ Burleigh narrated the Ogeden Nash poems for each of the animals depicted in the music. Other works performed this day were Quincy Porter’s Music for Strings, first movement; Leroy Anderson’s pizzicato test for strings, Plink, Plank, Plunk; and Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile. Featured soloists were local young pianists Gary Lutes and Lisa LeFevre. If you’ve stayed with year-to-year details contained in this THINGS-PSO---- over the decades, the French Romantic composer’s humorous musical suite of fourteen movements was an oft-performed work that oft-charmed and oft-entertained PSO audiences..... of all ages. At these concerts, custom-designed animals by Roy Dunfey were featured. (HS:  A year-end committee report noted that the Veteran’s Day holiday adversely affected attendance at these concerts, and a recommendation was made to the PSO staff to work to avoid such conflicts in the future.)

The 1980 winner of the PSO/Bookland Young Artist Competition was a featured soloist at a November Classical Concert, presented at PCHA on November 11. Leading off the evening was a fanfare, the I.M.C Fanfare for Brass Sextet by Ingolf Dahl; the work was scored for three trumpets and three trombones. (HS: A barely relevant, but nonetheless fun tidbit about the composer was spotted while Googling:  “[He] performed the second movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata in the 1969 animated film ‘A Boy Named Charlie Brown’ “.). Taiwan-born Hung-Kwan Chen, then a student at Boston University, performed Franz Liszt’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A Major. After intermission, Conductor Hangen led the PSO in this season’s “Mahler” concert, the late-Romantic-Period Austrian composer’s Symphony No. 4, with guest soloist Cheryl Cobb. (HS: Conductor Hangen’s Brown-Bag lunch pre-concert discussions of coming concerts were by this point in time called “Brown Bag a Classic”, and the majority were held on the stage at PCHA. One of the music director’s “Mahler” chats was at that locale.) No newspaper clipping about this concert has been located among the orchestra’s Archives, however an original concert program is among the Elizabeth Miller Collection retained by the PSO.

On November 19, in a departure from the norm, PSO Conductor Bruce Hangen took the podium for a concert performed by the 56-member Portland Symphony Youth Orchestra at the ensemble’s first concert of the season at PCHA.

December 2 marked the PSO’s third classical series concert of the 1980-1981 season, with Cuban-born and Julliard-graduate guest Horacio Gutiérrez playing the Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83 by Johannes Brahms. The Press Herald reported that “Cries of ‘Bravo’ rang through City Hall Auditorium” as the soloist concluded a nearly hour-long composition. On its own, the PSO performed Gioacchino Rossini’s Semiramede Overture, and also Béla Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin Suite, from his ballet of the same name.

Earlier in the day on the 2nd, Mr. Hangen and the PSO performed two Youth Concerts for Portland-area students, at City Hall Auditorium. A PSO-published-“Sound of the Symphony” four-page information flyer found among the PSO Archives included mention of the fact that the theme of these concerts was “The Symphony Marches On”, with the orchestra performing processionals, marches and dirges. Specific works performed were located in the PSO Archives’ collection of Teachers Guides, and precisely matched Bruce Hangen’s performance diary. Once again, due to time restrictions, in most cases only excerpts were played. The concert specifics follow:  Hector Berlioz’ Rákóczy March from “Damnation of Faust”, H. 109; Nicolai Rimsky-Korsokoff’s Procession of the Nobles from “Mlada”, the composer’s now long-forgotten Opera-Ballet; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, second movement; Symphonie Fantastique, movement four (March to the Scaffold), by Berlioz; Pomp and Circumstance No. 1, by Sir Edward Elgar; Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from “Midsummer Night’s Dream”; 76 Trombones from “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett; and E. E. Begley’s Natonal Emblem March. (HS: A later concert-program reference by manager Russ Burleigh mentioned the “Centennial Brass Band” and its director, John Hall, as having performed at a youth concert in PCHA; subsequent confirmation was found that this was the date of their gig with the PSO.)

Friday, Decenber 5, found the PSO chamber ensemble players “on the road”, performing a concert of Christmas and classical music at Thomas College in Waterville. No details regarding what was performed at this Christmas runout event were uncovered prior to Bruce Hangen providing his extensive performance diary. Thus the following extensive list is now on the record:  Bach’s Suite for Orchestra No. 1 and also his popular lute piece,  Bourrée in E minor; Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves<; Eugene Jones performing Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major; Nicolai Rimsky-Korsokoff’s Procession of the Nobles from “Mlada”; Jacques Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène Overture; Camille Saint-Saëns’ Bacchanale from “Samson and Deliliah”; Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from “The Nutcracker”; and likely in conclusion...... Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival. (HS: Later in the month, on Friday the 19th, a chamber concert in Camden also likely repeated what the Waterville audience earlier had heard.)

The Sunday afternoon prior to the PSO presenting its special Christmas concert (see below), the Cumberland County Civic Center presented John Williams and the Boston Pops in what the center’s administrator, hyping the event for sure, cited as being the first of a many-years-long “annual event that Maine music-lovers can count on each year.” (HS: Talk about competition to keep the PSO on its toes!....”Dirty pool”!  However..... let’s keep a watch for info as to whether subsequent such Civic-Center-sponsored Boston Pops concerts actually happen in future years; maybe the CCCC’s PR guys were BS-ing?.) An audience numbering around 4300 (HS: That IS a LOT of tickets!) heard the Pops and its newly appointed conductor, John Williams, in a program that featured excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Ballet Suite”, selections from Williams’ filmscore for “Fiddler on the Roof” and a medley of popular Christmas music.

As future decades would prove out, the idea that the Boston orchestra’s Christmas Pops concerts might become a Traditional event in Portland.... AND then also become an annual sell-out..... didn’t happen. In addition, Russ Burleigh recalls that it had also come to the PSO’s attention that a Brunswick-based promoter was working to being the well-known conductor Erich Kunzel (HS: At that time called the “Prince of Pops”, a label that the Chicago Tribune had attached to him.) to Portland for what would have been a second competing pops concert. These developments naturally sparked both musical creative juices and the competitive juices of Maestro Hangen and the PSO honchos. Their furies were raised...... “HEY!  --  THIS is OUR TURF!!”. So..... what came of that spirit?  Well.... the PSO was not to be outdone by some Boys from Beantown.... or Cincinnatti.... or wherever. The collective Yankee Ingenuity of Portlanders’ was quite capable on its own, thank you!

“Magic of Christmas” debuted at Portland City Hall Auditorium as an officially-designated theme title for what was to become the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s still-running (2014) popular holiday-season family concert tradition. The performances were on Saturday-Sunday-(and Monday?; records are unclear about the third show), December 13-14-15. The Saturday concert was in the evening, with the Sunday performance a matinee event.

Guest narrator Margaret Hamilton (HS: She played the role of Cora, the kindly old storekeeper in 1970’s TV advertisements for Maxwell House Coffee, but was most-well-associated with her portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz; she was also a local resident) narrated A Visit From St. Nicholas at three sold-out concerts (HS: And.... she resisted any temptations to hideously vow out to Santa Claus that “I’ll get you, my pretty—and all eight of your reindeer, too!”). Municipal organist Douglas Rafter performed a recital of holiday music prior to the concert. In addition to the (parent) orchestra, the Portland Symphony Youth Orchestra performed. Singers were the 150-voice Christmas Chorus and the Boy Singers of Maine. The program included a variety of Christmas selections, from “Nutcracker” to traditional carols. On its own, the PSO featured a world premiere of Hank Beebe’s Orchestra Fanfare, Robert Shaw’s The Many Moods of Christmas arrangement, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel. The PSO’s “Magic of Christmas” tradition began this year, the idea credited to manager Russ Burleigh as a way to help the musicians gain some extra pay to be able to use during the Christmas shopping season. In a P-H interview at the time, Mr. Burleigh said the event could be the largest musical performance ever staged in City Hall Auditorium. To accommodate huge interest among ticket buyers, sometime (HS: likely during November or December, although PSO Archive records are incomplete as to when) before this 1980-premiere, a third “Magic of Christmas” performance was added to the two originally-scheduled concerts. In all, the three performances drew a total of 4,680 concertogoers (HS:  Good Stuff!).

At the time, the PSO library contained a number of Christmas medleys. One of the longtime players recalled (in 2014), as Mr. Hangen led the Symphony musicians through one, another, then yet-another--- “we played Silent Night five times!” Another longtime PSO’er recalls that “Bruce was most unhappy when he walked past me after the last number of the final show........ muttering ‘never again, never again’ at how the performance had gone”. Fortunately, he reconsidered-- and he and PSO Manager Russ Burleigh together tightened and improved the playlist line-up in future years. Given how successful subsequent decades of “Magic of Christmas” performances were to become---  audiences can look back to the less-than-auspicious 1980 beginning and say, “Thank heavens they stuck with it!”

More than thirty years later, longtime PSO oboist Neil Boyer commented that sometimes it appears as though "everyone seems to credit Bruce with starting Magic. Magic was Russ Burleigh’s idea.” Continuing, he recounted “That said, Russ may have had the idea but Bruce saved the idea the first year with sheer force of personality. There may have been two performances that first year but I only remember one AND IT WAS BLEAK (HS:  Actually, there were three the first year.). It was bleak in so many ways. Naturally it was a low budget experiment and not all that well thought out. For one thing, there were no decorations that I remember. For another we played a series of medleys. What piece must every medley have?—Silent Night. Now.... Silent night is a great carol but it is slow and a little maudlin. Picture the tenth time (or some such number) in that one night that we’re playing Silent Night. It’s the “sing along”. You never saw the old hall but with the lights up, and not decorated, IT WAS BLEAK—and here we are groaning through Silent Night for the tenth time.”

Neil Boyer continued, “Bruce by brute force of personality excited the audience, cajoled the audience, threatened the audience and they left in a good mood, having had a wonderful time and a tradition was born. He and Russ, seeing the potential set to work doing it right and the number of performances rapidly grew.”

The original suggestion to secure Margaret Hamilton was from John Parella of the Whistling Oyster restaurant in Ogunquit. After wondering about the possibility of her as a guest, Russ checked out that idea with John, since Russ knew that John and Miss Hamilton had become good friends after they both appeared in “Wizard of Oz”at the Brunswick Music Theatre some years earlier. She had become associated with Maine through her two sons, who together owned an island off Boothbay. She reportedly genuinely loved her experience appearing in Portland with the PSO in the “Magic of Christmas”.

In 2014, longtime PSO violinist Joanne Woodward recalled how neat a lady Margaret Hamilton was. Relaxed and natural, she easily joined in with the musicians during breaks in the green room off stage. Joanne tells about how much fun everyone had when someone would request, and Ms. Hamilton would acede to many such requests, “please cackle like the Wicked Witch”. What a hoot!

During the next week on Tuesday and Wednesday, the 17th & 18th of December, members of the PSO percussion and brass sections performed three roughly-45-minute holiday programs for respective groups of more than 1000 children (HS:  What an advertisement said were “tiny tots”). These KinderKonzerts were at the Holiday Inn Downtown, and also featured Kris Kringle and Kazoo the Kangaroo. “K-the-K” assisted Maestro Hangen in leading a sing-a-long.

In Camden on December 19th, the PSO chamber ensemble players went “on the road” for the final time this 1980 calendar year, performing a concert of Christmas and classical music in Camden. While no specific information regarding works performed have been located, it is likely that the program contained the same works as those played at Thomas College earlier in the month.

Gold leaf was applied to the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ console (Note: this trim would be removed later, in 1997).

During 1980, Eugenia O’Brien founded the Portland Ballet Company. The non-profit organization set out on a mission to enrich the community through ballet training, education, outreach, and performance. In years to come, focused on traditional ballet, Ms. O’Brien’s vision, dedication and enterprise would be involved in training in ballet for all ages and abilities.

Under the auspices of the City Manager’s Office, sometime this year an Auditorium Advisory Group was formed, with participants including the Manager’s designee, and the various user groups—which included the PSO, Maine State Ballet, the PCA Great Performances and FOKO. The purpose was to coordinate on-going maintenance and repairs to the auditorium and to prioritize them within the City’s available budget. A preliminary acoustical study was subsequently commissioned and received. (PortlandCARES files)

Also during the year, a group of local music aficionados began making plans for a renovation of City Hall Auditorium, hoping it could be completed by City Hall’s Seventy-Fifth anniversary in 1987.

“ ‘The hall was running down very fast, and the acoustics were driving everybody nuts,’ says Peter Plumb, a local attorney who headed up fund raising efforts for the renovation with his wife, Pamela, a former Portland mayor.” (from a 1997 Portland Press Herald look-back)


1981       January 13 marked the date for the fourth Classical Concert of the 1980-1981 season, which featured a musician credited with having accomplished an especially significant major breakthrough during her career. To an enthusiastic reception, guest flutist DoriotAnthony Dwyer performed the late Walter Piston’s Concerto for Flute and Orchestra with the PSO, composed for her in 1972. (HS: Two encores caused a praiseful letter-to-the-editor after the performance; although that letter-writer admitted that she didn’t like Mr. Piston’s concerto.) She had premiered the work with the Boston Symphony, of which she was still a member (and principal) when appearing in Portland. She won national attention in 1952 when she won the audition for her present Boston principal position, the first woman to achieve a principal position with a major orchestra. (HS: She remained the principal BSO flutist for 38 years, until retiring in 1990.)

Earlier that day, Ms. Dwyer taught a master class clinic, giving a series of private lessons to selected Portland-area flutists while the other participants and attendees were observers.

At that January concert, the PSO opened the program with Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C major (“Jupiter”). A reviewer wrote that “The quality of their performance exceed(ed) expectations”, which it is presumed were high in the first place. The orchestra also performed Sir Edward Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, Opus No. 36 (“Enigma”) as the final offering of the evening.

Two days later, on the morning of January 15, two Youth Concerts for 4th-grade to 6th-grade students were presented at PCHA. No record has yet (2013) been located detailing the content of these concerts, although Bruce Hangen’s concert performance diary does include a Youth Concert listing for this date.

On January 18, a Candlelight Concert at St. Luke’s Cathedral featured Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major BWV 1068. Other than a later concert-program reference to PSO regular Katherine Smith having taken  on the principal horn responsibilities in Mozart’sA Musical Joke, K. 522 this day, information regarding other works performed that evening has not yet (2013) been spotted. Audiences have long been partial to the great composer’s “jokes” in this work, which Bruce Hangen wrote about in a “Notes from the Podium” column in another concert program: saying it “includes written wrong notes, wrong phrase lengths, wrong chord changes and other misplaced compositional techniques”.

At about this time a set of vibraphones was donated to the PSO in memory of Charles Pinansky, by the family and friends. Noted in a concert program as “estimated to be 30 to 40 years old... ...they are in excellent shape and have exquisite tone”. Below each of the instrument’s sound tubes were electric-motor-driven fans which would turn slowly, creating whirling air drafts that cause the tones to vibrate and makina a “vibrato” sound.

Also at about this point in time, the Press Herald’s Kitchen-Department staff writer, Sharon Zacchini, wrote an article in her “Hail to the Chef!” column that featured PSO Maestro Bruce Hangen, who loved to create scrumptious concoctions in the kitchen. The column discussed several of his symphony-of-specialties, but failed to mention what rumors still (2014) say was a mean jalapeño-pepper chili------  a VERY MEAN dish. Like..... you know---- THE MEANEST!!

Late in January it was announced that the members of the Portland String Quartet (founded in 1969 when Paul Vermel left Music in Maine to take the conducting helm of the PSO) would not renew their then-current three-year contracts to be members of the PSO following the 1980-1981 season, and would sever all remaining ties with the organization. After many years of the PSO managing the group and its schedules, the four members had been managing their own musical affairs since the 1978-1979 season, although they remained as principal players with the symphony. It was publicly reported that no animosity was involved in their break-away; however, nine months of financial negotiations had not resulted in an agreement whereby the well-compensated members of the quartet would remain with the PSO. (HS: Versus the other members of the PSO, the four had been paid many multiples more per service. This inordinate disproportion of the PSO’s total wages going to just four musicians had created a virtual inevitiblity that something would eventually have to give way...... and that point finally was reached.) In addition to the fact that the group was not required to play in pops concerts, frequent scheduling conflicts with PSO rehearsals and concerts had prevented the quartet from numerous engagements, in Maine, New England, other U.S. states and abroad. The quartet subsequently established a fund-raising adjunct, the “The Friends of the Portland String Quartet”, the principal job of which the Press Herald reported— would “be securing both financial and popular support for the ensemble.”

The “going-independent” of the Portland String Quartet generated a lot of controversy in the newspapers. Retired music critic John Thornton called former PSO conductor Paul Vermel about the topic and in a letter to the editor said that Mr. Vermel’s reaction was that the decision “was so short sighted that I can’t believe it”. (HS: Several years earlier, Mr. Vermel had felt that Mr. Hangen had taken a shot at him insofar as what the former considered belittle-ing comments about the orchestra that the latter had inherited. Although any young on-the-rise buck might naturally tend to prematurely  take more credit than he might yet have earned, then Mr. Hangen denied any such intent. And, also naturally, and as normally happens to retirees whose former comrades quickly seem to forget their contributios, perhaps Mr. Vermel’s harsh comments about the quartet [that he had a role in creating] departing the PSO stage were a gut-reaction get-back – with an extra catalyst being Mr. Hangen’s earlier comments”. Who knows?)

Mr. Thornton theorized that replacing the four principals with “Boston players” would end up costing the PSO more than it would have taken to get the quartet members to stay. Reports around town [supported by comments from some of the quartet members] indicated that the PSO trustees had asked the principals to take substantial pay cuts [following by three years an earlier pay cut, but with substantially reduced rehearsal obligations], with speculation that the group thereby “was pushed out”. The reviewer for the Maine Sunday Tribune, Edgar Allen Beem, began a lengthy article about the situation by calling the announcement about the development “a cultural bombshell”. Another puzzle was that the PSO trustees rejected a patron’s offer to help with the quartet’s salary. It is also quite possible that the trustees “saw the handwriting on the wall” and were preparing the PSO’s fiscal side for then soon-to-be-announced dramatic budget cuts by the National Endowment for the Arts. Perhaps even more likely a factor might have been professional jealousy from other principal PSO players objecting to the string principals at times each receiving pay two-plus times vs. that for regular players (HS: Or “three-plus”; or “four-plus”....... some  conversations we had with various folks resulted in my hearing “ten-plus or higher!”.). There seems little doubt that ramifications from the huge pay disparity were a major factor in the PSO trustees’ decision to let the PSQ go off on its own.

In a 2014 conversation with Julia Adams, she referred to the PSO’s offer declined by the PSQ as “an offer we couldn’t accept”....... indicating that it was, at the minimum, a “50 percent cut in pay”. Following their break-away from the PSO, a 1981 agreement was reached for the Portland String Quartet to be “picked up” (Julia Adams’ words) as Artists in Residence at the University of Southern Maine. Five years later, in l986, they were awarded Honorary Doctor of Music degrees by Colby College and began serving as Artists in Residence there for the next 20 years. Ms. Adams credited their long relationship with the college to Colby President William Cotter, their “strong supporter through that period, and overlapped that residency when the next president was installed, who was more interested in the Art Department and the expansion of the Art Museum at Colby”. In 2007 the PSQ would embark on a new Residency at LaSalle University in Philadelphia. (HS:  It should probably be noted that their break-away from USM involved some controversy....... but that’s a story for others to perhaps tell.)

A person then on the scene that I interviewed commented that sometimes it seemed as though the four PSQ  musicians, when rehearsing or performing  as principals with the PSO, formed a “wall” between Mr. Hangen and the other members of the orchestra’s string sections. With the PSQ players and also the PSO music director in their mid-thirties and all on firmly-established career paths, it would not have been unusal had professional jealousies and frictions existed. Their departure unquestionably left Mr. Hangen more firmly in charge of the  Symphony. (HS:  There’s probably lots more to consider if all the facts were known...... but I’m moving on.... researching to see who gets hired into those principal chairs and how the PSO subsequently sounds and performs--- and gets along with one another.)

Two Youth Concerts weres presented on Tuesday, January 27. The theme was Folk Music Through the Ages, and the performances included a sing-along. Excerpts of works performed are known, entirely due to Music Director Hangen’s concert performance diaries that he contributed to the PSO’s history efforts. Those are shown as:  Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5; Ralph Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite No. 1; Morton Gould’s arrangement of Yankee Doodle; Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs; David Guion’s Arkansas Traveller; Leroy Anderson’s Chicken Reel; Marie Rhine’s American Folk and Jazz Medley; and Morton Gould’s American Salute.

The next evening appearance of the PSO was also on January 27 at PCHA. This Tuesday evening, “concert fiddler” Marie Rhines combined her talents with the orchestra at a Pops Concert, with Bruce Hangen on the podium. She performed her own American Folk Suite Concerto. Also on the program were Richard Rodgers’ Selections from “Oklahoma”, Richard Hayman’s Pops Hoedown and Morton Gould’s American Suite. Equally at home on concert stages and the fiddlers’ convention circuit, Ms. Rhines studied with Boston Symphony concertmaster Joseph Silverstein; and at both Yale University and the New England Conservatory of Music. On its own, the PSO also performed Reinhold Glière’s Russian Sailors Dance, Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance No. 8, Emmanual Chabrier’s España Rhapsody and Bedřich Smetana’s symphonic poem from “My Country”—Die Moldau (HS: the latter was performed “with finesse”, according to reviewer George Dearborn).

Closing out this concert, Ms. Rhines returned to perform a final medley of traditional and sing-along favorites arranged by Terry White, American Folk and Jazz Medley. She “fiddled away” on nine well known songs:  Moneymusk; Sweet Georgia Brown; Smokey Mountain Rag; Ain’t Misbehavin’; The Entertainer; I’ve Been Workin’ On The Railroad; Down by the Riverside; This Land is Your Land; and Barnstable County Breakdown (HS: Of the final four numbers, the audience was requested to sing during all but the finale.). Overall, judging from the reviewer’s observations of audience reaction, this was “Truly one of the best pops concerts in memory.”

A Young People’s Concert aimed at both junior high and senior high school students (HS: As opposed to the frequent so-called “Youth Concerts” normally performed for 4th-to-6th grade elementary students.) was presented on the morning of January 28 (HS: It was earlier mentioned that two Youth Concerts were performed a day earlier, also in the morning.). Prior to receiving confirmation that it occurred via Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries, the only reference to this event was a clipping mentioning that the “performance will go a step beyond the youth concert format, presenting a look at how the symphony rehearses, as well as polished symphony pieces. In addition, Margaret Shakespeare, a member of the PSO, will do some concert style fiddling”. (HS: Presumably the idea for her performance was inspired by Marie Rhines’ Pops Concert appearance the prior evening.) Later (fall of 2013), the Teacher’s Guide for this season also listed the complete program. The clipping stated that the theme of this concert was How an Orchestra Rehearses, but the Teacher’s Guide and a year-end report (HS:  Which stated that this was the best-received youth concert of the season) listed it as Folk Music Through the Ages. The open readings performed were:  Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5; Ralph Vaughan-Williams’ Seventeen Come Sunday from English Folksong Suite; Set 1 from Old American Songs (Long Time Ago; Simple Gifts; and I Bought Me a Cat) by Aaron Copland; Hector Berlioz’ Rákóczy March from “Damnation of Faust”; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, first movement; and from Morton Gould’s “American Salute”, Yankee Doodle. A Ms Hamilton was featured in Leroy Anderson’s Chicken Reel and a Medley of Folksongs with Sing-along lyrics by the students. The advance clipping listed Jacob Druckman’s Aureole as scheduled, although neither the Teacher’s Guide nor Mr. Hangen’s concert-program list refer to this work.

A group of PSO players were featured as individual soloists at the PSO’s February Classical concert, at “First Chairs’ Night” on the 10th. The Press Herald began its review with a pointed and clever observation—“Cars needn’t be imported to be good. Neither do musicians.” Neil Boyer (oboe), Elizabeth MacDonald (bassoon), Stepen Kecskeméthy (violin) and Paul Ross (violoncello) performed Joseph Haydn’s Sinfonia Concertante in B flat major, Hob. I/105, composed in 1792. (HS: This concert would be one of the last appearances on stage with the PSO by the two string players, prior to the PSQ becoming an entirely independent group. [Currently, in 2012, both Messrs. Kecskeméthand Ross remain as members of the PSQ, along with violist Julia Moseley Adams and violinist Ronald Lantz. The latter two were also principals with the PSO when the PSQ became independent. [Subsequent to the immediately-previous entry, Mr. Kecskeméthy retired due to ill health, and passed away in 2013.]) The orchestra also performed Tchaikovsky’s Serenade, in C Major, for String Orchestra, Op. 48; Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, minus narration; and Yale Professor Jacob Druckman’s Aureole. The prolific Mr. Druckman had won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for his composition, “Windows”. In the work performed by the PSO this evening, the composer chose the title as “stemming from the Latin Aurium (gold), which refers to the circlet of light or glory surrounding the head of a sanctified being; the gilt representation of this in early painting”.

Late in February at a Pops concert in Augusta on the 25th, “fiddler” Marie Rhines and the PSO reprised the program  performed a month earlier at PCHA. (HS: This evening marked Maestro Hangen’s first podium appearance in the State Capitol.) This was the first musical concert of the 1981 season for the “Forum-A” organization. A copy of the concert program handed out to Augusta concertgoers at Cony High School that evening, retained in the personal collection of PSO programs of Debby Hammond, has been scanned and can be viewed in the Performances section of

Have you ever heard anything about The Hoffnung Music Festival? (HS: Nor had I..... but read on.) Gerard Hoffnung was an artist and musician, best known for his humorous works. Born in Berlin in 1925, his family moved to England in the late ‘30s where he completed his education. He had a number of career successes, as a cartoonist, tuba player, impresario, broadcaster and public speaker. Unfortunately, he died from a cerebral hemorrhage at age 35. Mr. Hoffnung published a series of books of cartoons poking gentle fun at conductors and orchestral instrumentalists. Time Magazine once reported that he “created three Hoffnung Music Festivals held at the Royal Festival Hall in London. These featured contributions from distinguished ‘serious’ musicians. When a reprise of the festivals, “PSO POPS”-style, was held at a Concert on March 3, his widow was the promoter of a “an extravagant concert of musical caricature... ...whimsical, never malicious”. One composition specially-commissioned for the Festivals included a version of Malcolm Arnold< A Grand, Grand Overture, Op. 57 which was dedicated to U.S. President Herbert Hoover and was scored for several vacuum cleaners and other domestic appliances.” (HS:  When the PCHA concertgoers were treated to this work, Women’s Committee President and later-to-become-PSO-President, Deborah Hammond, was listed as one of three Portlanders playing the vacuum in this piece, along with PSO patron Scott Hutchinson listed as floor polisher.)

Also on this program were adaptations of Franz Josef Haydn’s Andante from Symphony No. 94, in G minor, “The Surprise”, With Additional Surprises, also Haydn’s Bottle Virtuosi, arranged by Donald Swann. Bruno Heinz Jaja’s Punkt Contrapunkt was listed as being “translated from an electrodardiograph by Humphrey Searle”. Another feature was a performance of Leonore Overture No. 4, attributed to Beethoven(?) (HS:  Yes.... the ‘(?)’ was listed in the concert program.). Leopold Mozart’s Concerto for Hosepipe and Orchestra was reportedly inspired by Wolfgang’s father having blown into one end of a garden hose and producing “a beautiful B-flat”. He also was reported as having “pulled the hose taut and sprayed himself full force”. (HS: The program notes for this work were attributed to “JOHN SCHNELL, Orchestral Gardener”, and yes...... this news must have come as a great surprise to the PSO musicians.) Although another work wasn’t listed on the printed program, concertgoers who read a P-H article before the evening  expected to hear works including a 10-minute opera, Let’s Fake an Opera, based on the premise “that when you go to the opera, the chances of your understanding what the singers are saying is virtually nil”. To conclude the evening, guest Myron Romanul solo-ed in the Concerto Populare; Piano Concerto to End All Concertos.

A selection of Gerard Hoffnung’s musical cartoons were displayed that week in the lobby of the Canal Bank Building. (HS: I’m tempted to wonder if either Victor Borge or Dr. Peter Shickele sent spies to check out this concert.) In his “Notes from the Podium” column in the concert program for this evening, Bruce Hangen wrote that “Schickele is to Hoffnumg what Saturday morning’s Roadrunner is to Charlie Chaplin”. To schedule this program, and then to conduct it, obviously the PSO music director and conductor was a great fan of the late Mr. Hoffnung.

This season’s Dinners for the Symphony featured the theme “Celebration Americana”. Dinners were held over the weekend of March 6-7-8, and general chairman M. J. Larned told the Sunday Telegram that the fund-raising goal was $12,000, slightly below the $13,000 cleared a year earlier. The top three prizes in a benefit drawing, among 35 over all, were respective week-ends in Quebec City, the Claremont Inn in Southwest Harbor, and at the Atlantic House Hotel.

On March 8, the second of the inaugural-season series of Sunday-night Candlelight chamber music concerts was performed at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland. An advertisement from 1981 spotted in a concert program noted that “Sweet for the Suite”, PSO principal flutist Pamela Guidetti would be soloist in Bach’s Suite No. 2 (HS: Although further references have not been spotted in the PSO Archives, the work performed was likely the great composer’s Orchestral Suite No. 2 in B minor, for flute, violin and harpsichord, BWV 1067.). Ms. Guidetti was also listed as scheduled to perform Johann Quantz’s Flute Concerto in G major, No. 161, QV 5:174. In addition, a composition by another Johann, Hummel, was on the program, (HS: Googling suggests that it was likely:)Septet No.1 in d minor, Op.74).

The sixth classical concert of the season, later in March on the 17th, featured guest artist Kenneth Radnofsky from the Boston Symphony premiering composer David Amram’s Ode to Lord Buckley, (Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra). The work was commissioned by The Thaxter Fund, named after the PSO president from 1962-1964, formed expressly to fund new works for the orchestra. (HS: In the other section of this THINGS-PSO there is a fun anecdote about the conclusion of this evening.) Orchestral  works performed by the Symphony included Stravinsky’s Symphonies of Wind Instruments, Debussy’s Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8, in F Major, Op. 93.

Earlier that day, two Youth Concerts at PCHA featured performances of Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34. A 1980-1981 Season Brochure saved by PSO violist Pam Doughty mentioned how this work “demonstrate(s) the sections of the orchestra”. Regarding excerpts from other works also played, Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries listed:  Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48, fourth movement; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F major, Op. 93, first movement; and Claude Debussy’s Dances Sacred and Profane, featuring PSO harpist Deidre Carr.

The Chair of the Youth Concerts Committee this season was Mary P. Nelson and her year-end report mentioned that almost 15,000 students came to PCHA to hear live music at the PSO’s youth concerts in 1980-1981.

According to information found in the PSO Archives, two days later, on March 19, Youth Concerts were performed at two public schools in Portland (HS: Although details regarding both program concent and the number of ensemble musicians involved are unknown [in 2013].) The concerts were at the Riverton School and the William Jack School. Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diary list does not show these events.

A source in the PSO Archives noted that a Candlelight chamber music concert was performed at St. Luke’s Cathedral on March 24. However, this would have been an anomaly since that date was a Tuesday and inconsistent with PSO chamber concerts over the years traditionally performed on Sundays. Also, no record of what was performed has been located (HS: As of June, 2013.), including examination of Mr. Hangen’s performance diaries. So..... maybe it’s a coin-flip as to it actually having taken place?

The evening of March 31 found the PSO again performing before WGAN-TV studio cameras of Channel 13, for the fourth annual kick-off program to boost the next season’s ticket sales. Bates College Artist in Residence Frank Glazer appeared on the broadcast, as also did actor David Ogden Stiers  -  for a guest-conducting stint (HS: Best known for his M*A*S*H television role as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, he had studied at Julliard.). Keep reading for more PSO-related information regarding Mr. Stiers.

On both April 7 and 8, the final Pops concerts of the season featured the duo-piano team of Ferrante and Teicher, performing with the PSO on two consecutive evenings. The duo’s participation in the two programs included such all time favorites as Ernesto Lecuona’s Malagueña, a George M. Cohan Medley, Annie’s Song, Paul Williams’ Evergreen, an arrangement of The Best of Webb (HS: With Jim Webb’s Up, Up and Away; By the Time I Get to Phoenix; and MacArthur Park.) and Selections from “My Fair Lady”. The Evening Express review was positively titled, “Four hands turn out sweet sounds”. On its own, to open the concert the PSO performed Finlandia by Jean Sibelius and Borodin’s Polovtzian Dances. The latter was conducted by Maestro Hangen, the former by Bath Municipal Band conductor James Footer who won his chance to conduct the Portland musicians at a WCBB benefit-auction. The EE mentioned that “he received a warm reception from the audience for his work.” (HS: One criticism of the piano duo that made me chuckle was a local newspaper mention of their too-glitzy “jazzy plastic-looking jackets”. Fortunately, Bruce Hangen’s wardrobe choice of a black velvet jacket wasn’t also panned.) Other orchestral works performed by the PSO at this concert were Selections from “The Music Man”, by Meredith Willson; and arranger Terry White’s Medley of Television Themes (HS:  Too long a list, really; but ranging from the shows “Mork and Mindy”, Love Boat, and Dallas, to the advertisers Almond Joy and Alka Seltzer.)

Two special Easter week-end chamber concerts were presented during the weekend of April 11 and 12, when the Bates College Choir joined with members of the PSO. Performances were held in both Lewiston at the Bates College Chapel and at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland (HS:  Mr. Hangen’s concert diaries denote the second concert as at the Eastland Hotel Ballroom, a contradiction that is unresolved.). The combined organizations performed Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Christ, Bach’s second movement from his Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068, and Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 94 in G major (Hoboken 1/94), the well known “Surprise Symphony”.

Late April brought the PSO’s 1980-1981 season to a close, with two full renditions of Verdi’s titanic Requiem performed by the orchestra and the combined groups---  Choral Art Society of Portland, the University of Southern Maine Chorus, the Brunswick Oratorio Chorale, the Portland Community Chorus and the Rockingham Choral Society of Durham, NH. (HS: Longtime CAS Director Robert Russell tells of how the Verdi work required 200 voices, so the CAS needed “beefing up”.) Four vocal soloists were also on hand: soprano Atarah Hazzan, messo-soprano Fredda Rakusin, tehor Barry Busse and bass-baritone Donnie Ray Albert. In all, the number of vocalists totaled almost 250 people. These performances were presented on both Tuesday the 28th and Wednesday the 29th, both at PCHA. The Portland Press Herald labeled the first concert “impressive”, urging on potential concertgoers who had not been in attendance the night before, “the experience should not be missed”. Mr. Hangen opened the concert with a work for brass, Feierlicher Einzug, TrV 224, by Richard Strauss.

It was from this performance that Dr. Russell realized that there was value in the CAS creating a substantially larger vocal group. Thus, the Masterworks Chorus of the Choral Art Society was born.

A historical irony about PCHA was also born during the two Verdi Requiem concerts. While complaints about the hall’s poor musical acoustics were plenty, and justified...... the shower-stall-like effect of PCHA REALLY POWERED the 200-voice chorus out to the audience. (HS:  Fortunately, this “advantage” of keeping PCHA unchanged wasn’t enough of a plus to head off substantial changes and improvements that would come 15 years later. But.... that’s another story all by itself--- that will be told later in this THINGS-PSO.)

In April, former PSO Conductor Richard Burgin passed away in Florida, three months after suffering a stroke. He was 88 years old. In addition to his musical prowess he was an accomplished bridge player, and he experienced the stroke while engaged in a game of the chess-like card game. (HS: Longtime PSO contrabassist George Rubino had an opportunity to play under Mr. Burgin’s baton during a summer program when George was attending the New England Conservatory of Music [therefore likely about the late 1960s]. He remembers the conductor as being very approachable, and also complimentary [certainly a pleasant memory that the then-young student fondly recalls many years later]. Contrabassist George Rubino is the only current (2012) member of the PSO who was ever directed by Richard Burgin, inasmuch as the conudctor’s tenure in Portland ended in 1956).

As had occurred in April in Lewiston and at St. Luke’s Cathedral, once again in May Conductor Hangen took PSO chamber players to perform, this time to the Brunswick Naval Air Station. Works performed on this Saturday the 2nd, included Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068; Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622; and Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony.

This year, the City of Portland decided “to eliminate the municipal organist position and declined to renew the contract for municipal organist Douglas Rafter. At the same time, at age 82, technician Burt Williams decided to retire.” (Source:  The American Organist)

Peter Plumb was re-elected as PSO President.

Reports are sketchy and sometimes contradictory; however, it appears that modest annual City contributions toward maintaining the Kotzschmar Organ continued after 1980-81. (HS: The Wolf Company’s later look-back at City Hall Auditorium history shows the annual amounts averaged about $10,000.)

Portland Mayor Pam Plumb this year asked organist Malcolm Cass to organize a summer series of organ concerts. She did not want to see the city’s musical events fade away because there was no officially appointed Municipal Organist to plan the music program. As there were no funds for either concerts or repairs to the instrument, the organists donated their services so that the music would continue. She managed to secure a meager $2000 subsidy for the organ in 1981 (HS: A late-’81 EE article about dwindling city budget help for the organ discussed subsidy numbers nowhere close to those the Wolf Company later showed.).

Late in June it was announced that three of the four principal chairs vacated by the now-independent-from-the-PSO Portland String Quartet members, had been filled. Assistant Concertmaster Sandra Kott, a ten-year PSO veteran, was promoted to concertmaster. Also, a young husband-wife team from the Buffalo Philharmonic (HS: Which had performed at PCHA during the preceding season under the baton of its conductor, Michael Tilson-Thomas. That appearance was not under the sponsorship of the PSO..... rather the PCA.) had been hired, and would move full-time to the Portland area. (The then-wife of the PSO conductor, Nina Miller Hangen had known violist Laurie Kennedy, and when the BPO was in Portland had introduced that ensemble’s assistant principal to Bruce Hangen. Although Mr.Hangen had been a conducting assistant for the Buffalo orchestra, that assignment preceded the start of the seven-year tenures there of Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy.) James Kennedy, the BPO’s principal cellist and his wife, Laurie, were selected to be principal PSO players. (HS: Although no longer married in 2012, the duo is still holding down their principal chairs 30+ years later.) Then already somewhat active in Maine, the couple had been regular participants in the Sebago-Long Lakes Region Chamber Music Festival in North Bridgton. (HS: The Anecdote section of this THINGS-PSO includes Laurie Kennedy’s telling of her first impressions of City Hall Auditorium, and subsequent agreement to join the PSO.)

Altogether, including five of the seven principals, twenty new players would join the PSO for the upcoming 1981-1982 season. Besides Ms. Kott and the Kennedy’s, the other newly-hired or newly-promoted principals who collectively boosted the orchestra’s musical quality included principal second-violinist Monica Kensta, percussionist Nancy Smith, flutist Randy Bowman (selected from among 20 contestants) and French horn player John Boden (from Omaha, where he had been principal horn and chosen from a field of 70 applicants for the key PSO chair). While among reporters, and also likely among some on the board, there was concern about what affect the loss of the Portland String Quartet players and what the impending significant changes would have on the PSO, this group of solid core players would ably prove to be up to the task.

For the first time, when the 1981-1982 season got underway, women outnumbered men in the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Boden represented the first official joint venture between the PSO and the University of Southern Maine in the creation of a full-time position. This idea was conceived and created by Mr. Hangen and Dr. Ronald Cole, the USM Chair of the Department of Music. Mr. Boden’s salary was split, 25%-75%, between the PSO and USM, and for a long time John was kiddingly called “the experiment” by his teaching colleagues. Later, two more such arrangements between the PSO and USM would prove that the “experiement” worked. (HS:  A Northwestern alum, John Boden had been a graduate student there when Nina Miller had been an underclassman, and the two both played in the Northwestern Orchestra. As she respected John as both a excellent musician and a fine person, the guess of yours truly is that Nina’s “putting in a good word for John” might have helped boost his name into the group of finalists who auditioned for the dual PSO-USM position.)

No clippings or file materials located so far (May, 2013) make reference to any mid-summer outdoor concerts in 1981. However, one box in the PSO Archives contained a number of pictures that had writing on the back that appear to have been taken in 1981. If the dates and respective venue information on the backs of those photos are correct, then outdoor summer concerts were performed at Westbrook College, North Conway in New Hampshire, Pleasant Mountain near Bridgton, and Old Orchard Beach. A final color photograph labeled “SBS-Crowd shot” is most certainly one taken at the September concert in Scarborough discussed in the following paragraph (HS: My bet is that the other locales mentioned in the writing on the back of the other pictures also were sites where concerts were performed this summer. If anyone is 100%-sure whether such concerts did or did not occur, please let me know.).

In late July the PSO announced that it would perform a pre-season kick-off outdoors Pops concert sponsored by The PSO Women’s Committee, on September 12 on the grounds of the Atlantic House, an historic resort hotel in Scarborough. Maestro Hangen would conduct what was being billed as a “Symphony By The Sea” concert at the Atlantic House, with the orchestra seated on the grand old hotel’s porch and the audience spread out across the large lawn leading down to the ocean at Scarborough Beach. Families were encouraged to bring picnics or partake of a lobster bake, and tethered balloon rides would be available. Although a back-up date of September 20 was set in case of need, Mr. Hangen smilingly asserted, “the word ‘rain’ is not in our vocabulary”.

On July 29, former Portland schools music director Clinton W. Graffam, Jr., conducted Chandler’s Band on the Eastern Promenade. While still principal PSO oboist (HS: he would remain with the Symphony for one final season), Mr. Graffam had retired from day-to-day school music responsibilities in 1974, after directing the Deering High School band for 22 of his 34-year career. (HS: Still active today [2013] Chandler’s Band claims to be the nation’s second oldest professional band in continuous service. It was originally started as The Portland Band in 1833, renamed by then-band-leader Daniel Chandler in 1843.) It is wonderfully appropriate that a Chandler’s ensemble that way-back-when was conducted by Hermann Kotzschmar, would now be under the baton of Mr. Graffam, the now-reigning patriarch of the PSO.

During July on Sunday evenings, Lewiston-area Public Television station WCBB-TV broadcast portions of PSO concerts that had been tele-recorded during the preceding season.

On August 17, The New York Times included an article stating that “The Maine Opera Association has presented Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’ along with ‘Fidelio’ this summer, offering three performances of each. There is a 23-piece orchestra, mostly from the nearby Portland Symphony, and a small corps of singers of varying qualities.” The productions were presented in The City Theater, in the Town Hall at Biddeford, and ung in English. The newspaper article concluded, “The Maine Opera Association is headed by Andrew McMullan - an Eastman School graduate, a horn player and a conductor for some of these performances. He was a performer for years, and his subsequent success as a clothing manufacturer has allowed him to return his attention to more high-minded affairs. The company has had close to sellouts for ‘La Traviata’ and was a little more than half full for this ‘Fidelio.’ It was a quiet, knowledgeable and very enthusiastic audience, drawn apparently from Portland and surrounding towns. It seemed to want and to deserve an opera company of its own.” (HS: If you’ve read all of this THINGS-PSO up to this point, you might recall that Andrew McMullan was a horn player in the PSO during the 1960s, also a well regarded PSO board member.)

Although the New York newspaper article failed to make specific reference to a conductor, Bruce Hangen is believed to have directed those 23 members of the PSO for the three performances of “La Traviata” and also the three performances of “Fidelio” (HS: It is known that he conducted  “Tosca” the previous August in South Paris as well as Biddeford). (HS:  ...and perhaps the respective third performances were  at PCHA, although other regional opera houses in Maine may have been the “third venue”. Other than the August 14 performance in Biddeford that was referenced in The New York Times article, other specific dates and details are unfortunately not at hand [2013]).

In a Fall-1981 edition of the PSO’s “Sounds of the Symphony” publication, manager Russ Burleigh announced that “We have a new face in the office – Debby Hammond – who is taking on public relations duties.” It was about this point in time that she gave up her gavel as president of the PSO Women’s Committee, having applied for an advertised position of part-time PR director for the Orchestra. As a volunteer, she was publicly credited by Mr. Burleigh as the “founder” of KinderKonzerts, the PSO’s annuyal series of ensemble concerts for pre-schoolers which had “grown from one concert and an audience of 200 up to twelve concerts and a collective audience of nearly 4000”. She had also been the co-creator of the Symphony’s annual SuperBand live-TV promotion to attract new subscriptions by phone. And then more recently, Mr. Burleigh wrote that she was also “the first to envision the probability of a concert on the lawn at the Atlantic House, leading to Symphony By The Sea”, which was about to begin a multi-year run for the PSO.

On the Saturday afternoon following Labor Day Week-end, the first-ever “Symphony By The Sea” Pops concert attracted an estimated crowd of more than 2700 people to the five-acre lawn of the historic 100-unit Atlantic House (HS: A post-concert extra-large front-page aerial photo of the spread-out crowd suggest maybe as many as 3000 attended). Maestro Hangen arrived at the stage in a handsome late nineteenth-century mahogany Oakland runabout carriage, the elegant barouche driven by former PSO president Horace K. Sowles, Jr. of Falmouth Foreside. The vehicle was “horsepowered” by Kennebec Maybrook, one of the Morong foreign-auto-dealership tycoon’s spirited Morgan geldings (HS: Mr. Sowles, known to everyone as “Ken”, was attired in his trademark bow tie, which he was always seen  wearing, even while informally out and about at his large Skyline Farm in Cumberland. Currently [2014] his former property is still intact, owned and operated by a foundation which displays many of the 300 or so horsedrawn carriages and sleighs that he collected during his lifetime.). While Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture with well-advertised thundering salute cannon was the main attraction, other works that also pleased concertgoers included: Eric Coates’ Knightsbridge March; Fiddle Faddle and Blue Tango by Leroy Anderson; Rossini’s Overture from “Barber of Seville”; Selections from “Man of La Mancha”; Handel’s Water Music; America the Beautiful; operatic selections by Verdi, Puccini and Gershwin, and a trio of Sousa marches. A full-page report in the Monday Press Herald included plenty of pictures, a favorable review, and an article title that told it all--- “PSO Concert a Booming Hit”. (HS: Calls for an encore... [“Next Year!”]... were heard from the nearby pounding surf.)

Writing in the Lewiston Evening Journal Magazine, Edith Labbie reported that “ two hours before the beginning of the concert, people began to stream in.” She added that the “early birds had a bonus because they had a chance to hear a short rehearsal”, which “heightened everyone’s expectations”. Warm and sunny skies, also a brisk breeze, were the weatherman’s gift to the festivities. It turned out that the breezes were too strong to safely permit launching of a balloon flight for four that was still auctioned off—to be taken on a future date at the successful bidder’s convenience.

Describing Mr. Hangen on this day, Ms. Labbie provided an interesting slant now long lost to the passages of time and everyones’ fading memories:  in the back seat of the coach “was the conductor, looking like a page from a Dickens novel. He wore a tall tan-colored hat and cutaway coat and was grinning broadly when he alighted.”

Exceptional box-office receipts were garnered from “Symphony By The Sea”, with a gross of about $20,000 and profits of about $10,000. (HS: Those numbers in 2012 would be $48,000+ and $24,000+, respectively.) The Women’s Committee certainly had a hit on their hands.

Following the success of this outdoor concert would emerge, in summers to come, many future so-called “run-out” concerts to venues away from Portland. Outdoor concerts with an Independence Day theme proved to be better attended and also more financially profitable for the PSO than would other summer outdoor concerts. However, this was a lesson learned over time, as both many “Indy Pops” and many other concerts would be performed around Southern Maine. Costs of either reserving, or needing to use, alternate rain-out indoor venues was a particularly burdensome issue. Many concerts were sponsored by local organizations, while many others were promoted by the PSO. In both cases, financial risks were substantial. However, it would take a decade of summer-concert experiences (HS: The peak was 13 run-out concerts during the summer of 1985. All those extra pay-days must have made that an extra nice summer for the musicians.) before the PSO eventually settled back to primarily focusing outdoor performances on those with Independence Day themes (HS: Traditional 4th–of-July fireworks displays also helped attract crowds.).

The Casco Country Store of Brunswick presented a beautiful display of fall and winter fashions for he PSO Women’s Committee and guests on October 6th. Some 500 women attended the luncheon.

For some time, Bruce Hangen had frequently mentioned that he intended to stop working with the youth orchestra in order to totally concentrate on conducting groups of professional musicians. On October 14 he finally tendered a letter of resignation and advised PYSO members and parents of his decision. A parent group sought out support from PSO President Peter Plumb who reported Board agreement for the ensemble to continue under a different conductor. The group approached David Winer (HS: The PSO tuba player who was band director at Portland High School.), who agreed to take on that role for the remainder of the season, eventually conducting the group in two concerts. Also involved with the design of the new PSO-sponsored youth-music efforts was PSO-violinist and Portland Young Peoples Consort founder Deirdre Ohrtmann, who along with Mr. Winer formed the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble, also under the baton-direction of the latter. With advanced band-instrument students now able to work on more advanced band-repertoire works, the principal players of the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble also became principals in the PJSO. Ms. Ohrtmann kept the younger string students working as members of the Consort ensemble, getting the training they needed while more advanced would also play in the PJSO. Not unexpectedly, there was some immediate attrition from the PYSO, as several members joined other groups. However, December and April concert performances were on the 1981-1982 calendar for the various student PSO-sponsored groups (HS: The Wind Ensemble and Young People’s String Consort performed at both, with all three groups playing at the April event.). Rehearsals were held in the music building of the USM-Gorham campus.

The opening Classical Concert of the PSO’s 52nd season was held on October 20. The major work performed was Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98, and earlier Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 in D major, K.385 (“Haffner”). The contemporary 1980-work, Happy Voices by Pulitzer Prize winner David Del Tredici, was played prior to intermission. This had been premiered by the San Francisco Symphony—one of a large number of his lively, colorful compositions inspired by Lewis Carroll’s “Alice In Wonderland” and based on different episodes from Martin Gardner’s ingenious book “The Annotated Alice”. (HS: His 1980 work had been  commissioned by SF-benefactress Louise Davies to celebrate the opening of that city’s new Davies Symphony Hall.) In a pre-concert P-H article, a quote by Mr. Tredici should have encouraged concertgoers normally loathe to hear contemporary works—“Composers are beginning to realize that if a piece excites an audience, that doesn’t mean it’s terrible.” (HS: Mr. Hangen was working hard to assure that his penchant for having the PSO play so-called modern works would continue, but to keep pre-performance minds of patrons “open”, and in the end—hopefully receptive.) The P-H review said the Brahms was “the standout of the evening”, with reports of a mixed audience reaction to the Del Tredici work.

A few days after this season-opening concert, a sharply-critical letter from a lady was printed in the Evening Express. No..... she wasn’t critical of David Del Tredici’s contemporary work. No..... she wasn’t critical of either Mr. Hangen’s conducting nor the PSO musicians’ playing. No...... she wasn’t critical of the temperature in City Hall Auditorium (HS: But--- I bet that once the weather turned cold, both she and many others would do so; at least conversationally, if not via letters to the editors.) What she took the PSO to task for was a creature-comfort requirement that had been neglected; and actually, she misinterpreted that the duty to correct the wrong was City Hall building supervisors—the PSO was only the renting-tenant that evening. Her complaint: “once again,  the ladies who sit in the second balcony were forced to walkdown to the first floor ladies room or gain entry to the men’s room on the third floor because the third floor ladies room was locked.” She added that the same inconvenience had also occurred the prior year. (HS:  No follow-up letter of rebuttal appeared in the EE..... nor was one ever sent to the paper!)

Sometime this fall, Russ Burleigh advised Peter Plumb of a major gift available that would greatly aid the needs of the Kotzschmar Organ. Here’s a  summary of the tale, based on separate chats that yours truly had with Russ and Peter:

    .......Berj Zamkochian was then Organist for the Boston Symphony, had given some concerts on The Kotzschmar—and “loved it”. He recommended to a wealthy friend, Abbott Pendergast, who had heard a concert on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ and was looking for worthy causes to which he might make some contributions, that Pendergast consider helping “The Kotzschmar”. On an unannounced visit to Portland, Pendergast dropped in to see Burleigh, and stated his intent to make an immediate $10,000 contribution (almost $25,000 in 2012 inflation-adjust dollars). Russ called Peter, and with that seed money, a new group named FOKO had crucial initial funding. (HS: The EE reported that the $10,000 “out of the blue” windfall represented nearly $3,000 more than the City Council had allocated for 1980, the last full year in which the city footed the bill for an organist and the organ’s upkeep.”)

FOKO became the well-known acronym for Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, the official custodians of the instrument, acting as an agent of the city. FOKO was set up as a nonprofit organization, formed by Peter Plumb and optometrist Dr. Malcolm W. Cass, and was “granted authority by the City Council for the ongoing programming, hiring of the municipal organist, and for the restoration of the Kotzschmar Organ. FOKO began a massive campaign to restore the organ.”

A “block purchase” break on multiple subscriptions to this season’s Pops Series was offered. The group savings plan was aimed at corporations (for employees), or neighbors and friends who might want to attend the popular concerts together. While a top-location ticket purchased singly for all four events would cost out at $32, and a regular subscription would cost $29, the block-purchase rate for groups of ten or more was an attractively-priced $23. The promotion was heralded as “Buy A Bunch & Save”.

At the start of the new season, Russ Burleigh reported that “After two years of slightly reduced sales in PSO subscription sales, Classical Series sales took off for the 1981-1982 season, setting a new 13-year record high, and Popular Series sales increased over last season as well.”

Covers for this season’s programs were selected from the Greater Portland Landmarks publication, Portland Engravings, and from prints in private collections. These historical Portland scenes were presented in honor of Portland’s 350th birthday in 1982.

The season opener for this season’s Pops Series featured the Canadian Brass with the PSO on November 3, at PCHA. The group, as usual, pleased the audience, and the Maine Sunday Telegram wrote that “The evening began – and ended – on an upbeat.” The talented, but fun-loving (and fun-delivering) quintet, playing on gold-plated instruments specially designed and crafted by an artisan in Chicago, played Selections from “My Fair Lady”, a Beatles Medley, Wagner’s Overture from  Die Meistersinger, and arrangements by Strauss, Handel (HS: Mr. Hangen’s diaries reveal this work as based on his Organ Concerto, Op. 6, No. 4.) and Bach (HS: The ensemble’s classic version of Little Fugue in G--  again thanks to Bruce Hangen for once again being the first to provide this info). Concertgoers were teased in a pre-concert article about a special number by the group, “the fastest performance of ‘The Flight of the Bumblebee’, (with the group hoping to) complet(e) the work in less than 50 seconds”. “Tuba player Chuck Daellenbach (would do) the blowing while trumpeter Ronnie Romm (would do) the fingering; it seems Daellenbach’s fingers tend to cramp under such circumstances.” Orchestra works performed by the Symphony musicians at this concert included E. E. Bagley’s National Emblem March , which began the evening. and Jean Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela. An added treat was the Bill Holcombe arrangement/take-off of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, titled A Fifth of Beethoven (HS:  Hopefully none of the PSO players nor the “Brass” imbibed too much before this number was played.). As is true regarding well more than a thousand PSO performances, the website contains a digital-scan of the concert program listing for this event.

The concert program included notes about the Canadian Brass that referred to their formation in 1970. The five original members were each members of the Hamilton Philharmonic. Their first concerts were given for children at school assemblies in that area of Ontario. At this point in time the members of the Brass served as artists-in-residence during the summer at the Banff Center in Banff, Alberta, where they organized and coach brass groups. At the time of their 1981 appearance in Portland, they each made their homes in Toronto. They played on gold-plated instruments.

A few days later on November 8, chamber music enthusiasts gathered for a PSO Candlelight Chamber Concert at St. Luke’s Cathedral. Compositions by Ives, Bach, Haydn and Bowdoin College Music Department Chairman Elliot Schwartz were performed. The respective compositions were: Symphony No. 3, S. 3 (K. 1A3) (“Camp Meeting”); the six-voice fugue Ricercar a 6, arranged by Anton Webern; Symphony No. 73 in D major, Hob.I:73 (“La Chasse” [“The Hunt”]); and Chamber Concerto III, piano solo performed by composer Schwartz. Before the season began the full PSO schedule of events listed the ballroom of the Eastland Hotel as the venue for Candlelight Series concerts. However, all the subsequent newspaper clippings regarding such concerts this season listed St. Luke’s Cathedral as the location where they were performed. It is now (2013) unclear why the changeover did not occur this 1981-1982 season (HS: The Eastland Ballroom would become the Candlelight Series home the next season, 1982-1983.).

A special ticket promotion provided Candlelight chamber music enthusiasts with a plan offering “Four Concerts For The Price of Three!”, mentioning “four beautiful evenings in the warm setting of St. Luke’s.”

What I have learned now (HS: It’s 2014 when this paragraph is being written.) about the newly-named Candlelight concert series is that PSO Music Director Bruce Hangen definitely had his eye on the Eastland Hotel ballroom as the place where he most wanted to present concerts. An intimate venue, the ballroom also had beautiful wooden walls that he felt would be acoustically complementary to chamber music performances. However, before he could strike a deal with the hotel and experience his dream of conducting there, an event occurred that would prevent the PSO from making any appearances at the Eastland ballroom for another year. On November 16 the ballroom was filled with bedding and new furniture, items being stored there until they could be redistributed into a large number of guest rooms that were being renovated. The next morning the bedding and furniture was gone; a post-midnight three-alarm fire had gutted the ballroom, causing damage initially estimated at in excess of $250,000, and spreading dense smoke throughout the 12-story tower section of the hotel—which had to be evacuated. Faulty wiring in the ceiling of the ballroom, an area scheduled to be rewired the following week, was the suspected cause, with the large ballroom chandeliers all crashing to the floor shortly before smoke was noticed seeping into the lobby. So, not only were all the stored furnishings destroyed, but also so were the nearly 60-year old hardwood walls. Thus, not only was the space not available for Candelight concerts until extensive repairs were done, but in the end the hardwood ballroom walls were never restored. The interior of the ballroom was significantly changed after the fire. Although the repaired venue would still prove to be an intimate setting, opportunities were forever lost for the PSO chamber music players to take advantage of the acoustics that Mr. Hangen had earlier thought would be so musically advantageous. (HS:  Local [and some national] newspapers carried a picture of investigators examing the charred remains of the ballroom; it was a huge mess.)

The season’s first Youth Concert at PCHA was on the schedule for Monday, November 16. A pre-season promotional flyer noted that this “Basically Beethoven” performance would present the students “a great opportunity to learn about and appreciate the music of this great master”. Variously performed in their entirety or sometimes just excerpts, were Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and his Symphony No. 5 (movement I); Brahms’ Symphony No. 1 (movement IV); Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürmberg Overture; and Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 3 (Camp Meeting), also segments of movement II.

City Hall Auditorium was again the venue for the PSO’s second classical music concert of the 1981-1982 season, on November 17. An All-Beethoven affair (HS: A search back then of the PSO Archives failed to turn up info that any previous Portland Symphony Orchestra concert had ever featured the compositions of only one composer.), the selections were the Teuton’s Egmont Overture, Op. 84; his “Emperor” Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, with guest soloist and then artist-in-residence at Bates College, Frank Glazer; and the famous Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67. Mr. Glazer was formerly a professor of piano at the Eastman School of Music, Bruce Hangen’s alma mater. The EE article after the concert considered his interpretation “beautiful”, and the overall program “impressive”.

Mr. Hangen’s “Notes from the Podium” column in the concert program reminded the many Ludwig van Beethoven music lovers in the audience that the works of the great composer weren’t always appreciated. An interesting snippet from an 1804 review was included in the column as evidence:  “Beethoven’s Second Symphony is a crass monster, a hideously writhing wounded dragon that refuses to expire, and thought bleeding in the Finale, furiously beats about with its tail erect.” Subjected to plenty of other harsh criticism during his career, a delightful retort that Beethoven once penned was also included in Mr. Hangen’s column:  “Dear ______,  I am sitting in the smallest room of my house and have your review in front of me. Soon it will be behind me.” Now THAT’s a classic!

A pre-concert newpaper article about the November classical concert suggested the audience should “dress warmly”, reminding readers that the often-difficult heating system in City Hall Auditorium might then be a comfort challenge. In the end, however, since there were no post-concert mentions of any interior climate inconveniences, the audience’s “warm” and extended applause for Mr. Glazer fortunately was not likely to have been aided by concertgoers’ wanting to clap their hands together to get warm.

While it may have begun earlier, newspaper mentions of free admittance to PSO dress rehearsals appeared for the first time this year.

Two Youth concerts were performed in PCHA on Monday, December 7. Once again departing from the norm of having grade school students in attendance, these performances were aimed at junior and senior high school students. Selections from Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3 and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor, op. 67, were performed.

The December classical concert on Tuesday the 8th, featured internationally-acclaimed violinist soloist Miriam Fried playing Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47. EE reviewer Clark Irwin excitedly reported her as giving a “startling” and “fiery performance”. Rumanian-born, the artist had gained international attention by winning the first prize at the Paganini Competition in 1968, subsequently becoming the first woman violinist to win the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels in 1971. She had studied with many top violinists, including Ivan Galamian at the Julliard School of Music. This 1980-1981 season, she made two separate tours of Europe for performances.

Also on the program that evening were Kabalsevsky’s Overture to Colas Breugnon, the opera; and Aaron Copland’s Symphony No. 3, written after World War II and premiered in 1946. In the first movement of the Copland work the audience was treated to a brassy fanfare (in which they get their first hints of the Fanfare for the Common Mantheme. The symphony closed majestically with a final reprise of both the Fanfare and the symphony’s opening motif. (HS: Perhaps some concertgoers thought they heard “the real thing”. However, some Googling reveals that the strains in this symphony are “not a direct copy of the stand-alone work Fanfare for the Common Man. There are numerous subtle changes, including a new introduction, two key changes, and different percussion parts.)

After listing three “Magic of Christmas” concerts when the season’s original schedule was released, the PSO in early December announced that a fourth performance would be scheduled, making four during the Sat-Sun weekend of December 19-20. (HS: The prior year, an extra performance was also added, then making three in total.) A special guest during each performance would be one of the stars of television’s hit series “M*A*S*H”, David Ogden Stiers, better known to fans as Major Charles Emerson Winchester III. Mr. Stiers would read Francis Pharcellus Church’s famous letter, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”, and selections from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Mr. Stiers would also ascend the podium, baton in hand, to guest conduct the orchestra through Selections from The Nutcracker Suite. (HS:  longtime horn player Nina Miller recalls him as “incredibly funny.... including when he conducted”. Former PSO Manager Russ Burleigh recalls that Bruce Hangen didn’t want him holding the baton for more than one number.) The four concerts were respectively presented as matinee, evening, matinee and evening. (HS: It is interesting to check back to see what “Magic” tickets cost in 1981. The top price was $9.50, with a $7.50 discount rate for students, senior citizens or groups of ten or more.)

The four “Magic” concerts were, of course..... gladly received as gift-wrapped musical presents from the PSO to concertgoers. In addition to the works mentioned earlier to be performed, the Boy Singers of Maine sang a number of songs including a then-new arrangement of The Little Drummer Boy by Bob Isakson of Camden. The “Magic of Christmas” chorus sang one of Robert Shaw’s “Many Moods of Christmas” in addition to other well-known favorites of the season. Gerald McGee, organist and choir-master at St. Luke’s Cathedral made his debut with the orchestra on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, also appearing for one hour before each concert with a special Christmas organ recital and joining the PSO for a sing-along<. (HS: By the way, proving that even generals have a heart, Mr. Stiers contributed half of his appearance fee back to the PSO for the Scholarship Fund for Youth Symphony Members, which each year sent some members to New England summer music camps.)

This was the second “Magic” year for what would go on to be a multi-decades-long successful series for the PSO. Attendance exceeded 9000 according to PSO Manager Russ Burleigh, almost double the total in 1980, the series’ initial season.

Mr. Burleigh also later would report in one of his “From The Manager’s Desk” concert-program columns that before leaving Portland, Mr. Stiers generously “turn(ed) back half the fee we paid him for his services, for us to use a scholarship money for our youth symphony members... to send ...students to music camps in New England”. AND THEN....... after he returned to his home in Los Angeles, he called to say that “he was giving himself a Christmas present. He gave the other half of his fee to the Kotzschmar Organ Fund.” Wow!

Following the close of this season’s “Magic of Christmas” series of concerts that featured Mr. Stiers, the PSO released an LP of live stereo recordings made at various performances. The record included 16 works, and cost $8.95 apiece (HS:  Originally the price was $7.50, so the demand must have been strong enough to later raise the price.). Nothing found in the PSO Archives in 2013 indicated either how many of the LP’s were produced or how many were sold. An advertisement for the record appeared in the “Magic of Christmas” concert program a year later, in December of 1982; and again in the December, 1983 “Magic of Christmas” concert program.

Subsequent to the preceding paragraph being written for this THINGS-PSO, yours truly was informed that PSO lore has it that a problem developed some time after the 1981 “Magic of Christmas” LP was released for sale, probably sometime during 1984. No permission from Mr. Stiers had been requested, which obviously was a mistake on the part of someone at the PSO. As a result, when that error was discovered, all the remaining inventory of unsold “Magic of Christmas” records needed to be destroyed, and reportedly was. Certainly some of the LP’s already sold continue to exist today (2013), but no copies survive in the PSO Archives, nor was a list of buyers of the LP’s spotted among the Orchestra’s file folders.


1982       PSO Conductor Bruce Hangen prepared extra hard for the first classical concert of the new year during this 1981-1982 season, since he had never before conducted Gustav Mahler’s 75-minute, five-movement Symphony No. 5. “I’ve only heard it once in live performance, and that was at Tanglewood years ago”, the Press Herald reported him saying. He added that preparation required his studying the 246-page conductor’s score for “I can’t tell you how many hours” (and “strewing its pages with guide marks” added PH writer Clark Irwin). Audience “acclaim” was reported as a standing ovation greeted the conductor and orchestra at the symphony’s conclusion. The only other work on the January 12 program was Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C minor, BWV 1060R, which opened the program. Concertmaster Sandra Kott and principal oboist Neil Boyer were “admirable” in their performances as soloists, stated P-H reviewer Irwin. Severe winter weather was reported as having kept attendance below expectations.

A concert program from this evening, saved by longtime (HS:  As of 2014 when this is being drafted, now more than 35 years.) PSO violinist Luis Ibáñez, contained biographical information about the concertmaster, Ms. Kott. It informed that at this point in time she had been playing with the Portland Symphony Orchestra for ten seasons, having also performed with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the London Royal Ballet, the Boston Opera Company, also the Handel and Haydn Society. She had been first violinist with the Alexandria Quartet, which performed on the PSO’s Candlelight Series and also at the Gardner Museum in Boston. Born in Racine, WI, she earned master’s degrees in violin and music theory from the New England Conservatory of Music.

Regarding Mr. Boyer, the concert program informed that he had joined the PSO in 1972, having grown up in Kentucky and earning a bachelor’s degree at Mannes College of Music in NYC, and a master’s degree at SUNY at Stony Brook on Long Island. At that time his teaching obligations had him traveling some 30,000 miles each year to and from assignments at the University of Vermont, Dartmouth College and the University of Maine.

An all-Bach Chamber mid-month Candlelight concert was performed at St. Luke’s Cathedral on January 17. The composer’s Concerto for 4 harpsichords was the featured work. In addition, the evening also included Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5, as well as his Concerto for 3 harpsichords and Concerto for 2 harpsichords. (HS: Googling to be sure this listing wasn’t a P-H joke, I learned that altogether he composed more than a dozen harpsichord concertos.) The soloists were Marion Anderson, Naydene Bowder, Audley Green and Shirley Mathews.

The following evening, on January 18, this same concert program treated Rockport “Candlelight” concertgoers at the Samoset Resort Inn. Tickets there were priced at $10 and included refreshments during intermission.

At the end of January, respectively on the 26th and the 29th, a pair of Pops Concerts at PCHA pleased audiences when the PSO was joined by eight vocalists from the Brunswick Music Theater in concert-version productions of “Brigadoon”. Notable among the artists were Carol Wilcox as Fiona, Mark Jacoby as Tommy, K.K. Preece as Meg, and Larry Hansen as Jeff. (HS:  When the pre-season brochures were printed, only the performance on the 26th was scheduled. Obviously, demand for tickets was strong enough to warrant a second show at PCHA.) In the first half of the programs the singers presented favorite songs from a number of other Lerner and Loewe musicals, including selections from “Camelot”, “Paint Your Wagon” and “My Fair Lady”. This Pops program was also presented in Augusta on January 30. The P-H review declared the programs as a “delightful show”.

About this time the PSO released its schedule of concerts for the Symphony’s 58th season. The upcoming  season, Candlelight chamber music concerts would be held at the Eastland Hotel Ballroom. (HS: Compared with earlier years, the PSO’s issuance of its next-season series dates and featured artists for 1982-1983 season is, by far, the furthest in advance that the orchestra has publicly advised such details.) Several months later the PSO would announce a new series, “Picnics and Pops” outdoor summer concerts. (HS: Activity around the PSO offices must have been excitedly furious during this period.)

Two-thirds of the way through February, on Monday the 22nd, Portland students had a chance to hear much of a Bizet opera in concert version, with narration to tie the story together. Many of their parents would experience the complete program a day later. If you are wondering what the opera was, move on to the next paragraph.

The next evening for a mostly adult audience, that “old girlfriend”, Carmen, was in town-- on the 23rd. The PSO was joined by the Bates College Choir, the Boy Singers of Maine and a talented group of soloists presented what the P-H called a ”2 ½ -hour skeleton opera with no sets, no dialogue, no costumes and not a word of English”.... suggesting in a review that all this “might sould like a grim evening’s entertainment”. But.... the review continued, “when the opera is Georges Bizet’s ‘Carmen’, the songs and orchestration stand on their own merits without difficulty.” Mezzo-soprano Gloriosa Caballero won over the audience, doing “especially well with the moody Habanera, and performed a graceful in-place dance with clicking castanets at another point in the action.” Several other out-of-town guest vocalists also excelled, notably John Gilmore as Don Jose. “Orchestra members provided splendid support throughout, including a beautiful idyllic flute solo and a minor-key cello variant of the Toreador Song.” The evening’s presentation was rated a “success”.

The concert version of Georges Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ was also presented the next night, Wednesday, February 24, in Lewiston at the Junior High School.

For many months prior to the “Carmen” concert, local Portland newspapers listed times for then-upcoming auditions for soloist’s roles.

Regarding the morning concert for students who traveled to PCHA, committee reports retained in the PSO Archives reveal that Portland-area teachers felt that a lack of deportment during the “Carmen” concert was partially due to the fact that none of the vocalists were in costumes of any kind. It was felt that this would have been a good visual addition to enhance the concert, a factor important to commanding and holding the attention of grade-school students.

A clipping snippet noted that a Candlelight chamber concert was to be presented on February 28. Details subsequently spotted elsewhere in the PSO Archives provided the list of works performed: Georg Phillip Telemann’s Don Quichotte Suite (HS: think – “Don Quioxte”); Ottorino Respighi’s Trittico Botticelliano (HS: with slides of paintings; think – “Three Botticelli Pictures”); Richard Wagner’s Sigfried Idyll; and Darius Milhaud’s Le Boeuf sur le toit (with a Chaplin film shown simultaneously; think -- “Charlie”).

Conductor Hagen agreed to an interview with the Lewiston Daily Sun in early March, to discuss his views of the first five years of his tenure as PSO conductor, and to also take a look into what the future may hold. Not holding back much humility, he said the he considered the PSO to “sound five hundred times better than it did when I got here... ...that’s why I was hired.” He continued, “the orchestra is performing at a level that never would have been expected six years ago”, adding that “the group has climbed up several steps in that ladder.” (HS: Not surprisingly, copies of this interview made their way to Illinois and Paul Vermel, the PSO predecessor of Bruce Hangen. Four decades later in conversations with Mr. Vermel, it was clear that the tone of Mr. Hangen’s “500 times better” comment, and some others in this and other Hangen interviews, still rankled with Paul. He felt, an opinion that is widely-held among longtime PSO observers, that musically the Portland Symphony Orchestra had experienced meaningful growth under his direction, and that its performance level when he left was very good.)

This season’s Dinners for the Symphony fund-raiser campaign was held on the week-end of March 5-6-7. The theme this year was “CARNIVAL”, and the General Chairman was Mrs. James C. Whipple of Falmouth, known to all as Pam. A concert program at about this time also listed the names and contact information for 17 area chairmen, all of course, members of the Women’s Committee.

Jazz pianist Marion McPartland guest solo-ed with the PSO a week later, on March 9. The orchestra began the evening’s program with Giacomo Mayerbeer’s Coronation March from “Le Prophete” and the Overture to “Der Freischutz” by Carl Maria von Weber. “Then”, the P-H reported, the PSO “really ‘grabbed’ the audience with Bizet’s lovely L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2, setting the stage nicely for Ms McPartland’s gentle, melting approach to the first movement of the Grieg Piano Concerto in A Minor”. (HS: Hey! That’s not jazz!) After completing her performance of the Grieg classic, there was a break for intermission. Then, the “collaboration of the orchestra, Ms. McPartland, and her trio that joined the others on the stage, reached its zenith with ‘Willow Creek’, a captivating McPartland composition.” That was followed by her playing a Gershwin medley with the orchestra and another piece of her own composition, Ambiance. She completed the remainder of the program with her regular acoustic bassist and drummer, playing a medley that included Surrey With the Fringe on Top, Willow Weep for Me and All the Things you Are. She concluded with Cottontail, followed by Close Your Eyes for an encore. There seem to have been a lot of happy sounds that evening, with concertgoers likely equally happy as they headed for home after the concert. Old clippings in the PSO Archives, however, do contain one less-than-enthusiastic reviewer’s observation that the jazz+classical mix during the evening “never seemed to gain momentum, (with) the programming seem(ing) most at fault... (presenting an) awkward and somewhat contrived atmosphere.” That Maine Times reporter suggested that Miss McPartland “might do better next time to stick to the intimate, nightclub sound for which we love her best.” (HS: Well, so much for home-team reporting.)

On Friday the 12th of March, Bruce Hangen discussed the upcoming Classical Series concert that would be performed on March 16. His topic was “The Importance and Role of the French Horn”. He met with interested music lovers at noon on the stage at PCHA, all of whom were encouraged to “Bring you lunch”.,

Mid-month March (literally the 15th) on a Monday morning found City Hall Auditorium jammed with 4th graders from around the greater-Portland area for a PSO Youth Concert under the direction of Bruce Hangen. The Symphony first performed Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio Espanol, Op. 34. The featured production centered around Peter and the Wolf, the classic children’s symphony by Tchaikovsky. (HS: If you like the color “yellow”, some time when a PSO Youth concert is underway swing past Myrtle Street and see all the parked school buses that will be three-abreast blocking the entire way between Congress and Cumberland. There’ll be no free 20-minute parking then..... in case you want to pay a parking ticket in the basement of City Hall.)

French hornist Barry Tuckwell returned to PCHA and joined with the PSO a day later on March 16, an unusual appearance for concertgoers since he was a rarity—the only French horn player who was then carving out a career exclusively as a soloist, a trek the Australian-born artist set out upon in 1968 (HS:  By the time of his 1982 appearance in Portland, traveling up to 200,000 miles annually, to play concerts and recitals all over the globe. ---So read bio info about him in the concert program.). The PSO’s Classical concert began with a contemporary work, Cornell Professor Karel Husa’s Music for Prague 1968., which included an Aria movement, sung by tenor Frank Hoffmeister. Press Herald reviewer Irwin reported some grumpiness in the lobby at intermission regarding this work; “I didn’t need Russian tanks rolling into Prague” one attendee was overheard complaining. Maybe he was in fact complaining about the work’s “sonic level or style, as the composer had written music to portray a variously ominous, brutal and stirring tribute to the composer’s native city”, wrote the reviewer. In any event, the audience gave warm applause to the composer, who joined Conductor Hangen at the podium after the work was performed (HS:  Sadly, information later emerged that Mr. Husa’s father had died in Prague on the night of this performance, after being ill for a long time.) Mr. Tuckwell was reported as also being warmly applauded (HS: but ..... maybe not as strongly as his booking agent had promised?) for his part in works by Benjamin Britten and Franz Joseph Haydn, respectively, Serenade for Tenor,  Horn and Strings, Op. 31 and Horn Concerto in D major, Hob. VIId/1. The audience was reported as coming “to the boiling point” following Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “lush, rhythmic and tuneful Capricho Español Op 34, played by a fired-up orchestra... ...which got the biggest hand of the evening”.

About this time, one of the political parties borrowed (HS: “stole” wouldn’t quite be the right word, since a long-standing Women’s Committee fund-raising program theme likely hadn’t been copyrighted) an idea from the PSO and announced that it would stage “Dinners for Democrats” around the state. Interviewed by the Maine Sunday Telegram, symphony manager Russ Burleigh commented that the PSO’s events had raised $12,000 to $15,000 during each of the preceding five years (HS: that’s $40,000 annually when adjusted into 2012-dollars. Pretty darn good!  I’m on the look-out to see if subsequent clipped articles reveal how well the politicians did who copied the PSO’s idea).

Semi-final auditions to determine the six finalists for the 17th Portland Symphony Orchestra/Bookland piano competition for young artists was held in City Hall Auditorium, on March 27 and 28. Angela Mai-Lin Cheng, from Julliard via Hong Kong, was selected winner. She would perform with the PSO in December.

By this point in time, the Portland Symphony Cookbook was in its fourth printing, a “delicious” credit to the Women’s Committee members who had contributed recipes.

Another event on March 27 had then 28-year-old accomplished former Portland Junior Symphony flutist Alison Hale appearing in NYC at Carnegie Recital Hall. At this time residing in the greater NYC-area, the graduate of both Mt. Holyoke and the Manhattan School of Music was on the faculty of the Brooklyn Sunset Park, Bronx House and Staten Island Jewish Community Center music schools. A former student of Portland Symphony Orchestra principal flutist Frances Snow Drinker, during the earlier 1976 to 1979 period she had herself also been a flutist with the PSO, including a one-year stint in the first chair during the illness of her mentor (HS: Sometime later she returned to the Portland area to live, and now [2013] continues as a longtime member of the Symphony.). Miss Hale’s program at Carnegie Recital Hall included selections by Telemann, Schumann, Debussy, Bozza J.S. Bach and Martinu. (source: Evening Express, 3/5/82)

March 30 found the orchestra starting a two-hour concert at 9pm. The unusually late hour was due to the 5th WGAN-TV SuperBand ’82 TV-Production Fund-raiser concert to promote season tickets for the upcoming 1982-1983 season, the PSO’s 58th. Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diary is the only source found detailing the extensive list of what was played:  Leroy Anderson’s Syncopated Clock; Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, third movement; Béla Bartók’s Rumanian Folk Dances Nos. 1, 2 & 7; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, fourth movement; Selections from “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein, arranged by Jack Mason; Claude Debussy’s Profane Dances; Antonín Dvořák’s Serenade for Winds, fourth movement; Charles Gounod’s Funeral March of the Marionette; Victor Herbert’s American Fantasy; Bill Holcombe’s A Fifth of Beethoven; Maurice Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Princess; Selections from “Sound of Music” by Richard Rodgers; John Philip Sousa’s El Capitan March; the Radetsky March, Op. 228, by Johann Strauss, Sr.; Igor Stravinsky’s 1919 Finale from “Firebird Suite”; and Jimmy Webber’s classic Up, Up and Away.

Portlanders were surprised when a springtime-snowstorm dropped a an unexpected HUGE amount on the city, causing postponement of an April 6 Pops Concert. More than surprised were more than a dozen PSO members unable to get home after a rehearsal when the freak snowstorm (that set an April weather record, with gale force winds and wind-chill factors of minus-22 degrees). One was violist Ann Stepp, and the storm was an unexpected birthday present from the weatherman; she ended up helping Joanne and John Schnell push their VW-Bug most of the way to the hotel where some musicians could get reservations. Many other musicians slept in a City Hall office and shared scarce boots, mittens and warm clothing as they alternated digging out their cars. Violinist Elise Straus-Bowers reported to us that she slept under Russ Burleigh’s desk that night, and it is also known that contrabass player Lynn Hannings snuggled into the large softcase that was normally used when transporting her instrument. Others, including Nic Orovich booked themselves into rooms at the Executive Inn on Congress Street, getting to their haven after plodding up the middle of the totally-empty thoroughfare through knee-high snowdrifts, block after block. (HS:  From an account told to yours truly by one of that party------ Their evening of carousing at the hotel, after trudging through the drifts and then paying a visit to Joe’s Smoke Shop package store, resulted in more than one “not being worth much” the next day when they had to dig out their completely-covered cars that were left back beind the old PCHA.)

PSO violinist Deidre Ohrtmann recalls the storm’s impact among her top memories of being a member of the Symphony. She wrote the following description for the website: “The weather report was for a storm of 3-5 inches. Pops dress rehearsal was in the afternoon. By break the snow was blowing horizontally and 6 inches (was) on the ground. By dinner time, the state police had closed the roads. Half of us slept in the hall – 27 inches was on the ground in the morning!”

Prior to this storm forcing postponement of the concert, the PSO had a virtually unblemished record of never cancelling a performance. Naturally, PSO Manager Russ Burleigh wanted to preserve that record. Although one elderly patron did make it into the lobby (HS: Another source said there were two people inside the hall.), reportedly what caused Russ to make up his mind and cancel that night’s performance was a call from Music Director Bruce Hangen, advising that he was snowed in and couldn’t make it to PCHA. (HS:  I didn’t confirm this version of the story with Russ; it was just too good of a yarn not to tell. I decided not to risk Russ possibly spoiling such a neat tale.)

Actually, some music was heard that evening; ---how’s that, you say?  The answer is that PSO-er Lynn Hannings received permission to go onto the empty stage and power-up the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, which the contrabass player (HS:  She also plays the piano.) had always wanted to play – but never had. For half an hour she tackled the great organ’s keyboards and pedals, recalling years later the excitement-rush she had when the organ’s volume levels were set to “LOUD”. Thus, despite the snowstorm raging outside, for a time that evening Portland City Hall Auditorium had one person performing...... and the same person being the only listener to the music eminating from the Kotzschmar’s pipes.

Afterward, PSO Manager Russ Burleigh publicly estimated the cost of the postponement to the orchestra as “between $3000 and $4000”. Channel 10, which had intended to broadcast the concert, was unable to schedule a broadcast a week later when the concert was finally performed.

Because of the storm, this season’s final Pops concert--- with an “All-American” theme, was re-scheduled from the originally-set-6th to Tuesday, April 13. (HS: Because of the change, originally-scheduled guest Edward Hermann, who played Franklin D. Roosevelt in “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years”, was not on hand to narrate.) Performed was Lincoln’s Portrait by Aaron Copland (HS:  The PSO Archives have not yet [2014] revealed who narrated in place of the originally-scheduled Mr. Herrmann.). Concertmaster Sandra Kott performed Camille Saint-Saëns’ Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, Opus 28. The program also included principal cellist James Kennedy tenderly solo-ing during Gioachino Rossini’s William Tell Overture and the world premiere of Heritage 350, composed by Terry White for Portland’s 350th Anniversary of its founding. Based on Mr. Hangen’s performance records, other works known to have been performed included:  Joseph Wagner’s Under the Double Eagle March; Emperor Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.; Isakson’s arrangement of the One Hundred Third Infantry March by Waterville’s Arthur Roundy; Meredith Willson’s “Music Man” Selections (The Wells Fargo Wagon; Gary, Indiana; It’s You; ‘Till There Was You; Marian the Librarian; Lida Rose; Will I Ever Tell You; Seventy-Six Trombones), arranged by Robert Russell Bennett; and Victor Herbert’s American Fantasy. (HS: Interestingly, no review of this concert appears in the PSO Archives, so who replaced Mr. Hermann as narrator of the Copland work is now unknown. One letter to the editor did appear following the concert, although that was from a disgruntled concertogoer who was mad at the city manager and city councilors after she received a ticket for parking behind City Hall..... claiming that a sign-in-disrepair at only one of two entrances [want to guess which entrance she drove  through?] noted that the area was reserved for city officials.)

In mid month, The Portland Symphony Chamber Orchestra celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Igor Stravinsky. The April 18 Candlelight concert was at St. Luke’s Cathedral, and featured the composer’s works for small ensembles. The complete Pulcinella was performed, and PSO principal clarinetist Eugene Jones played Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo. Other works on the program were the great Russian composer’s Pastorale; Pribaoutki – Song Games; his 1923 Octet; Elegy for J.F.K., composed in 1964, featuring baritone Robert Honeysucker; and Two Sacred Songs from the “Spanishes Liederbuch” of Hugo Wolf, that showcased the vocal talents of mezzo-soprano Nancy Green. George Kott, tenor, had joined the other soloists during the performance of Pulcinella. In his “Notes from the Podium” column, Maestro Hangen wrote of this concert:  “All the music on this program is wonderful stuff which just doesn’t get heard all that often, expecially on concert series sponsored by symphony orchestras.” Afterward, the Maine Times reviewer, Ann Rafferty, wrote that she was impressed with the concert.

This would prove to be the final Candlelight Concert at St. Luke’s Cathedral. Starting with the first Candlelight Concert of the upcoming 1982-1983 season, the chamber series venue would change to the Eastland Hotel Ballroom.

Late April found New York Philharmonic organist Leonard Raver ready to perform two organ concertos with the PSO in PCHA, on Tuesday the 27th, once again an event featuring the soloist in Portland. (HS: A day earlier he had demonstrated the great City Hall instrument to students at a Youth Concert. Works that the students were introduced to were excerpts from Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony; the Overture to Colas Breugnon, Op. 24, by Kabalevsky; Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D minor; the Trumpet Voluntary by Purcell; Samuel Adler’s Organ Concerto; and Camille Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, movement IV. That evening at an Open Rehearsal, interested supporters could preview the 4/27 concert with Mr. Raver and composer Samuel Adler. Some in attendance were lucky enough to sit on the stage). A promotional mention about Mr. Raver at about this time made reference to a Boston Globe description of the artist, “Musically, flamboyant, brilliant and tastful.....”. That should have helped make Portland concertgoers excited about anticipating an enjoyable evening at PCHA.

The evening program opened with Franz Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony. Mr. Raver, also a member of the Julliard faculty, then took control of the console of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ and again performed Camille Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, also Samuel Adler’s Concerto for Organ and Orchestra. In the concert program for that evening, Maestro Hangen wrote, “I am especially pleased to present the music of Samuel Adler. I have known him since my student days at the Eastman School of Music, and have always been fond of his compositional style. His music has been a long time in coming to the city of Portland, and I now am able to publicly welcome him and his work to our fair city.”

For an encore, Mr. Raver played Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, “soundly and justly hailed” by the audience wrote the Press Herald reviewer. In an interview with the reporter, he discussed coming to Portland early to spend two days in solo practice with the organ, followed by a third day when a full orchestral rehearsal was held. “It’s a very tricky thing” to familiarize oneself with each instrument, mark scores for the stop changes (‘Most organists don’t play from memory’), allow for the peculiarities of the hall and coordinate with each new orchestra and conductor”, he explained to the PH. He observed that his workout revealed that “Not everything is in quite tip-top shape” with the Kotzschmar. He offered “a gentle plug for a little more money in the maintenance budget”. (HS: At the concert, Mr. Raver received a standing ovation from the audience. As for his criticisms about the condition of the organ, he likely also received a standing ovation from the members of FOKO.)

Maine composer and college music instructor Dr. Morton Gold wrote in the York County Coast Star that he did not think much of the performance of the Schubert work. He critiqued, “I would wager that it barely got rehearsed... received an unidiomatic reading”. As for the Samuel Adler work that concluded the first half of the concert, he wrote “Thank heaven for the intermission”. (HS: I guess that certainly doesn’t disguise his views on that!)

This concert was formally dedicated to oboist Clinton W. Graffam, who retired later that evening after 53 seasons with the PSO, or as orchestra president Peter Plumb put it, “more than 1000 performances”. To repeat more emphatically: Clinton W. Graffam retired that evening after 53 seasons with the PSO!  As has been told throughout this THINGS-PSO Timeline, Mr. Graffam was principal oboist of the PSO for more than three decades, and also founded the the Youth Symphony and the Community Orchestra of the Portland Symphony, which he then continued to conduct. Continuing an active family music tradition (his father, Clinton, Sr. had been one of the founders of the PSO), Mr. Graffam had also long been director of the Deering High School and other city school music programs. He was indefatigable and a stalwart worker for the PSO--- on stage, backstage, in the office and out in the community..... as well as encouraging hundreds and hundreds of students to study musical instruments and play music.

Years later in a conversation, longtime PSO oboist Neil Boyer recalled his PSO companion. His comments duringly stand on their own as a lasting tribute to Mr. Graffam: “Clint was as fine a man as you’d want to meet. Of course he had been a part of the orchestra for maybe fifty years when he retired. The hallmarks of the man were integrity, humility and purity of intent. The fingerprints of both he and Katherine are all over the musical establishment in Maine and Maine is the better for it.”

Also retiring after this concert was violist  Virgilio Mori.

On May 8, the PSO played a Pops Concert to benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Society. The event was billed as “The Maine Sounds Show”, and featured jazz musician Brad Terry on clarinet along with a trio. Unfortunately, a Maine Times post-concert article felt compelled to describe the size of the audience as “somewhat meager”. The Symphony performed Richard Wagner’s Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg; Beethoven’s Egmont Overture; Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait (HS: Maine actor Gary Merrill narrated, delivering a suitable “rough but eloquent quality which made the... ...portrait complete”, wrote the Maine Times’ Ann Rafferty); Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture to William Tell; and Selections from “Sound of Music”. The evening concluded with “Variations on a Familiar Theme”--- an uproarious rendition of the Flintstones’ Theme Song, said Ms. Rafferty. She described an exhilarated conductor Hangen directing the audience in a final enthusiastic--- “YABA-DABA-DOO!” This event was performed at City Hall Auditorium.

Also in early May, Bruce Hangen traveled to Farmington to conduct the annual UM-Farmington Community Orchestra concert. He agreed to a last-minute request to fill the void created when a tragic fire claimed the life of Dr. Colleen Hickey, who was conductor of the orchestra. The concert was a memorial tribute to her. Proceeds from the concert went toward a scholarship fund in memory of Dr. Hickey.

Between May 10 and May 25, the PSO Women’s Committee presented SHOWCASE ’82, featuring the talents of some of New England’s foremost interior designers. Those experts wonderfully transformed the handsome Romanesque home at 6 Bowdoin Street. Epecurean box lunch picnics and tea-time refreshments were enjoyed by attendees under a tent in the Victorian Garden. Tickets were priced at $5, but $4 if ordered before the fund-raising event opened.

Late in the month, Bruce Hangen traveled to Biddeford Pool for the University of New England graduation ceremonies. He was one of four notables to receive honorary degrees, his for developing what was cited as “ A series of chamber orchestra concerts throughout Maine, conducting the Portland Youth Symphony, and for founding Portland’s artist-in-residence program called ‘turn ‘em on, tune ‘em up’, providing direct contact between the symphony and students at all grade levels. ”

Joan Woodsum was elected to what would be the first of two terms as PSO President.

Paul E. Merrill and Virginia Merrill both passed away during this year. Instructions in Mr. Merrill’s final will provided for 10 percent of the company he owned to be given to the City of Portland. This bequest would a half-decade later jumpstart fund-raising plans to substantially renovate Portland City Hall Auditorium.

Gerald McGee, organist at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Portland, was appointed Portland Municipal Organist.

The PSO Women’s Committee presented its Designers Showcase ’82, with selected New England interior decorators each doing over a room of the Romanesque-style John Calvin Stevens house on Bowdoin St. in Portland’s Western Promenade area.

At about this point in time the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the PSO a $28,000 matching grant (HS: that’s equivalent to more than $65,000 in 2013-adjusted dollars).

The Fourth of July week-end found the PSO performing an outdoors Pops Concert at Ogunquit Beach on 7/1; then at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on 7/3. Details regarding the Ogunquit concert were located, and while at first details for the Fort Williams gig were not—yours truly considered it a safe bet that at both venues the musicians played roughly the same works. A saved newspaper clipping contained info that the July 1 concert in “Maine’s Newest Town – Established 1980” (HS: That’s what the sign read then when entering Ogunquit.) included two movements of Dvořák’s New World Symphony; Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Selections from “Carousel”; and by Jacques Offenbachm Selections from “Can-Can”. The article noted that other works would be by Berlioz and Bach. Now..... regarding John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever:  it is likely that, at each concert Maestro Hangen called the musicians to attention before the traditional grand downbeat of that march........ and of course-- displays of fireworks most certainly accompanied the finale at both venues. (HS: A Press Herald clipping in the PSO Archives noted that on July 3 the PSO played The Star-Spangled Banner as “the Fourth of July weekend started patriotically with the rededication of the 191-year-old Portland Head Light by Vice President George Bush before a crowd of more than 1,000”.)

Bruce Hangen’s performance diaries were provided by the former PSO Music Director well after the above paragraphs were written. Examination of the details in his records revealed that other works performed at Ogunquit were: Hector Berlioz’ Rakoczy March from “Damnation of Faust”; Bach’s Little Fugue in G, BWV 578, arranged by Lucien Cailliet; Antonín Dvořák’s No. 9 (“From the New World”), second and fourth movements; and Morton Gould’s American Salute.

Of course, Mr. Hangen’s carefully documented performance history included info about the July 3 concert at Fort Williams. Besides Offenbach’s “Orpheous” and Gould’s “Salute”, other works played by the PSO in Cape Elizabeth were: E.E. Bagley’s National Emblem March; Richard Wagner’s March and Pilgrims’ Chorus from “Tannhauser”; Franz Liszt’s Les Preludes; some Excerpts from “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin; Highlights from “Rocky” by Bill Conti; and Richard Hayman’s arrangement of Selections from “Man of La Mancha” by Mitch Leigh.

The PSO this summer also played two concerts in New Hampshire. The first venue was North Conway, where Mr. Hangen borrowed the “All American” theme from an earlier Pops concert at PCHA, although performing different works this time. For the performance on July 26 at Schuler Park in North Conway that climaxed the opening day of the 10th Annual Volvo International Tennis Tournament, saved newspaper clippings reported that the PSO performed works that included: the St. Louis Blues March, popularized by Glenn Miller; Selections from “Annie”; then Selections from “Camelot”; and Selections from “Man of La Mancha”. Bruce Hangen’s  performance history also listed Richard Franko Goldman’s march, On the Mall; Johan Halverson’s Triumphal March of the Boyards; Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture; Franz Liszt’s Les Preludes; Leroy Anderson’s Belle of the Ball, also his lyrical Serenata; and for the grand finale, Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture Solonelle.

The PSO’s return trip to New Hampshire was on Friday, August 6..... to Bretton Woods (HS: Another clipping listed their gig as on Saturday, August 7; --- so take your pick. Since Mr. Hangen’s diary shows the 7th, that’s where my bet is placed.). While at first no record of what was performed was found in the PSO Archives, Mr. Hangen’s thorough performance diaries included details. The Orchestra was there to help recreate the gala ball which opened the grand hotel in 1902, playing to a crowd of 1200. The world-famous 235-room Mt. Washington Hotel in the White Mountains celebrated its 80th birthday with a black-tie bash. It must have been lots of fun----; a news clipping reported that hotel hostesses and waitresses wore turn-of-the-century dresses and Gibson Girl hairdo’s, while security men were decked out as Keystone Cops. Parking lot attendants wore knickers and visored caps. (HS: It’s a good thing I wasn’t consulted, for I would have insisted that Mr. Hangen sport a huge handlebar mustache..... homegrown, of course.)

The celebratory audience at Bretton Woods heard the PSO perform many works performed earlier in the summer by the Symphony..... also some others: Hector Berlioz’ Rakoczy March from “Damnation of Faust”; next Overture to “Abduction from the Seraglio” by Mozart; Lucien Cailliet’s arrangement of Bach’s Little Fugue in G, BWV 578; Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”), second and fourth movements; Richard Wagner’s March and Pilgrims’ Chorus from “Tannhauser”; next, On the Beautiful Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss, Jr.; Excerpts from “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin; and Selections from “Sound of Music” by Richard Rodgers.

Found in the PSO Archives, a carbon copy (HS: Remember those?) of a 1982 letter written by manager Russ Burleigh included enthusiastic comments that “we played five runout summer concerts last July and August, made a pretty profit from them, so we’re going to do more next summer plus a three-concert Portland series”.

In August, the Maine Opera Association presented three performances each of Pietro Mascagni’s “Cavallieria Rusticana” and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s “I Pagliacci”, at the City Theatre in Biddeford. As occurred during the MOA’s previous two summer-seasons, most of the orchestra was drawn from the PSO. No mention of who conducted has been spotted (2013) among the PSO Archives, although Bruce Hangen’s involvement seems likely-- reports exist about him conducting both the (1981) prior-summer’s and (1983) subsequent-summer’s MOA productions.

Following the April retirement of Clinton Graffam, Oboist Stephanie Burk joined the PSO prior to the 1982-1983 season (HS:  Some 32 seasons later [2014], she remains a stalwart player with the Symphony.). Four new violinist spots were also added to the list of the PSO member roles before the new season began. Also, custom-built risers were available to improve the sound of the strings and woodwinds. The musicians’ morale was also boosted by salary raises. (source: Portsmouth Herald, nove 28, 1982)

On Sunday afternoon, September 12, sun and music (HS: And recollections by concertgoers of a fantastic time enjoyed a year earlier), combined with a marvelous seaside location drew almost twice as many people to the PSO’s second annual “Symphony By the Sea” at the Atlantic House in Scarborough. The early-September sold-out event was bathed in light breezes amidst which  fluttered lots of blue balloons, as a giant crowd of 5400 people spread out on the lawns below the huge porch of the historic property where the PSO was arranged. (HS: A back-up rain date of 9/19 was never needed, despite discouraging 9/12 predictions in the Farmer’s Almanac.) Picnics, reserved lobster dinners and desserts, spirits and other drinks were sold by the Women’s Committee. Conductor Bruce Hangen was driven up to near the podium in an antique Cadillac for the 2pm start. The orchestra performed The Star Spangled Banner; Finlandia by Jean Sibelius; Alexander Borodin’s Polovtsian Dances; Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide”, and selections from “Annie” and “Carousel”; also Victory at Sea by Richard Rodgers. And.... oh yes.... there was also a repeat number from 1981, but with some changes---- Tchaikovsky’s masterful 1812 Overture was featured. However, although the orchestra took the popular work to its traditional “blaze of glory” finish, this year there were no salute cannons borrowed from local collectors. Instead, arrangements had been made for the 133rd Engineer Batallion of the Maine National Guard to fire four 75mm pack howitzers toward the sea!  If the mark of success of that effort was nearby listeners covering up their ears, then local next-day newspaper pictures found among PSO Archives..... confirmed that the audience “went wild” with delight for the show (HS: 35 howitzer rounds -!!- will more than “get your attention” any day of the week.). What a showy way to kick off the PSO’s 58th Season!  The final net profit gain for the PSO was a solid $22,000.

The theme for the PSO’s 1982-1983 season was a “Celebration of Sounds”. Conductor Hangen said about the season, that it would be “probably the most challenging that we have ever faced” as he unveiled a tough repertoire for the news media. He also revealed that the Candlelight Series of chamber music concerts would move to “an airy, fresh and nice bright atmosphere” of the Eastland Hotel Ballroom, with Sunday-4pm starts, and that the orchestra was “in the midst of planning” for a regular series of summer concerts next year. The PSO added four permanent violin chairs to better balance the orchestra with its hall, designed to correct a slightly “thin” sound in the upper registers.

A late-September newspaper clipping found in the PSO Archives refers to an interview with Bruce Hangen that was “at a press conference in the PSO’s new offices in Portland City Hall”. (HS:  Thus, there’s the first indication that yours truly has picked up on regarding new PSO office digs.) At this session, Nina Allen Hangen entertained on her French horn, along with trombonist Mark Manduca and Bruce Hall on trumpet. The P-H listed these PSO’ers as members of the now-named Dirigo Brass Quintet.

Chosen from among more than 50 responses to a vacancy advertised nationwide, new first-stand second violinist Daniel J. Kristianson joined the PSO as a musician and also accepted conductor duties of the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra (HS: The 25-year-old Yale graduate also took on personnel manager responsibilities in the PSO office). Funds from both the PSO and the Women’s Committee were combined to pay a three-role salary to Mr. Kristianson. The Portland Youth Wind Ensemble was by now led by Conductor David Winer, and the Portland Young People’s String Consort was headed by Conductor Dieidre Clark.

Before the season the PSO added a number of violinists, a step that Mr. Hangen wanted to make, hoping to expand the other string sections the next season. He wrote in a concert program column that “The musicians who fill both the new and existing positions are all of a higher caliber than we have had in the past.” He added that there were “Two reasons for this”, the pair being “the desire by many payers to establish themselves musically in southern Maine, and that the PSO enjoy(ed) a remarkable reputation throughout New England as an institution whch is fiscally sound and artistically rewarding to musicians.”

New risers for the stage were acquired this season, a tremendous help in enabling the orchestra members to hear each other better.

In early October the Women’s Committee presented a fashion show and luncheon, the affair named “Ragtime”, at the State of Maine Ballroom of the Eastland Hotel.

Before the first PCHA concert of the new season, Bruce Hangen participated in a lengthy conversation with Clark Irwin of the Maine Sunday Telegram. (HS: The article was presented as the feature in an “Audience” insert, the cover of which featured a color sketch of the bow-tie/tux-attired PSO conductor.) Among especially pertinent points he raised were that orchestra-members’ “morale is... ...benefitting from a fuller season, salary raises, the addition of four new violin slots and a custom-built set of risers to improve the sound of the strings and woodwinds.” He added that “the orchestra is superbly improved over what it once was, and that (he) feels good about it.”

For the first time, in the interest of economy, this season the PSO had the printers include two or three concert programs in the same issue. Of course, now (2013, that is)< such a practice has long been employed throughout the symphony-orchestra industry.

Program Notes this season were now being written by Ron Pelton, a 12-year transplant to Portland from Washington, D.C. Employed in a public relations capacity in the area, one of the hobbies listed in a short profile of him contained in the season’s first program was “throwing tennis balls to his Huskie-Shepherd named Bruno Walter Cronkite.” (HS:  OK.... “anything goes” to gain attention to oneself in the PR game.)

Prior to when the new classical season opened, Portland concertgoers might have felt confused as to who the guest soloist would be at the first concert. Originally, when the full-season schedule had been released during the preceding season, 1978 Moscow Tchaikovsky silver-award medalist Dylana Jenson had been listed to perform the Brahms Violin Concerto in October. Her name continued to be listed in articles published during the summer, and also following the pre-season press conference conducted by Mr. Hangen. As late as October 6 an article continued to list her then-upcoming appearance. However, without any further mention of Ms. Jenson, a clipping on October 8 detailed that Daniel Heifetz, listed as a Tchaikovsky prize winner, would be the violin soloist at the PSO’s October season-opener, performing the Brahms Violin Concerto. So..... what happened?  The PSO Archives reveal “zero”, but a chat with Bruce Hangen in 2013 revealed his recollection that the change was made since “she was expecting” at the time of the performance. Miss Jensen later appeared as guest soloist with the PSO, in December of 1984.

So-o-o-o..... the Symphony’s 1982-1983 Classical Series concert season began on October 19. Tchaikovsky Competition Silver Medal Winner Daniel Heifitz (HS: “no relation”, at least not that I could find), accompanied by the orchestra, performed the Brahms’ D Major Violin Concerto, Op. 77, as part of an all-Brahms program. Mr. Heifitz, formerly a student of Efram Zimbalist, Sr. at the Curtis Institute, and now a teacher at the Peabody Conservatory, at the concert played a Stradavarius violin made in 1722. The Evening Express reported that the former Moscow Tchaikovsky Competition prize winner “combined skill, discipline and energy in a stunning rendition” of the concerto. Alternatively, frequent reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth, reporting for the York County Coast Star, was highly critical of the soloist’s intonation. In her article she congratulated Mr. Hangen “not only for refraining from openly whining at the violinist”, but also for his “mature control of the orchestra”. Orchestral works of Johannes Brahms performed by the symphony were his Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90, and his Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80.

The next night, on October 20, the Portland Concert Association presented a duo that would be hard for the best of big-city orchestras to compete against. The Maine Times reported that “Pianist Emanuel Ax and cellist Yo-Yo Ma created and excitement onstage... ...equaled only by the memory of Itzhak Perlman’s visit here last spring, immediately disarming a nervously expectant audience by announcing a complete change of program. Ax and Ma began playing with the cherubic charm of Tweedle-dee and Tweeddle-dum. Rarely do two musicians’ energies merge so compatibly as Ax’s and Ma’s in a program overflowing with delicate phrasing, dramatic pauses, and prolonged pyro-technics. The very human qualities of their music together transformed the audience’s musical expectations into a lifetime friendship.” (HS: THAT’s praise!)

October 30 brought WCSH-TV personalities to PCHA as they helped the PSO celebrate a Halloween-Special Pops concert. Costumes were encouraged, with prizes awarded for the scariest, funniest, most original and most beautiful costumes. To set a scary (sort-of) mood, Conductor Hangen led the symphony (HS:  Which in an advertisement had playfully renamed the “Pumpkin Philharmonic”.) in Camille Saint-Saëns’ tone poem Danse Macabre, Op. 40; then the Rimsky-Korsakov arrangement of Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky; and Leonard Slatkin’s The Raven for Narrator and Orchestra after Edgar Allan Poe (narrated this evening by the TV station’s manager, Lew Colby). Singers Michael Pelletier and Joseph Milliken also performed, in the “Wolf’s Glen” scene from Act II of Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz, Op. 77, J. 277, the Gothic opera tale of demonic pacts and shooting trials. (HS: Not as familiar with this work as I probably should have been, I Googled and learned that the German “Der Freishütz” is said to translate as “The Forester” or “The Marksman”. But most everyone else probably already knew that.) Theatrics for the production at this concert were expertly managed by Joe Thomas, director of the Portland Players.

Next, Mr. Hangen conducted the Hut on Fowl’s Legs movement from “Pictures at an Exposition”, arranged by Maurice Ravel from the Mussorgsky original. This was cleverly followed by Anatol Liadov’s musical portrait of the supernatural being, Baba Jaga. The Symphony finally wrapped up the Halloween Pops concert with the symphonic poem by Paul Dukas that is subtitled “Scherzo after a ballad by Goethe” — The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.

The first-ever Candlelight Chamber Music Concert to be performed at the Eastland Hotel Ballroom was held on November 7, attended by a Sunday-afternoon full house to celebrate Joseph Haydn’s 250th birthday. The crowd was treated to “not only good music, but gourmet desserts, and an elegant setting”, reported the P-H. “Beneath its glittering chandeliers, concertgoers sat in cushioned chairs at tables covered with white linen tablecloths. Easily, one could identify with those 18th century court halls, where people of Haydn’s day gathered to hear chamber music, sip vintage wine, and enjoy one another’s jovial company.” Conductor Hangen began the concert, exclaiming, “Happy Birthday, Papa Haydn!” and then read a few remarks, providing a sketch of Haydn’s life and the circumstances under which he composed.” First to be performed was the Symphony No. 7 in C major, Hoboken I/7 (commonly known as “Le Midi”), composed during the time when Haydn was under the employ of Prince Esterházy in 1761. PSO principal trumpet John Schnell next solo-ed in the Trumpet Concerto in E flat major, Hob.: VII e, 1. (HS: Mr. Schnell was well versed regarding Haydn’s works, as he was also principal trumpeter for the Boston Festival Orchestra, the Handel and Haydn Society and the MIT Festival Orchestra.) The afternoon concluded with the six-movement Symphony No. 60 in C major, Hoboken I/60 (sometimes given the nickname “Il Distratto” [The Distracted]).

Use of the Eastland Ballroom may not have cost the PSO very much, if anything. A note in the concert program stated that “The management of the Eastland Hotel has graciously provided its ballroom for the Candelight Series.” Getting PSO concertgoers to purchase those “gourmet desserts”, and whatever else, may have been seen as enough to make the event a money-maker for the hotel. Certainly, since paychecks had to be written to the musicians, this arrangement significantly helped the Symphony’s coffers, while the Eastland’s coffers benefited from the concertgoers’ food and drink orders.

The next evening, on November 8, the PSO Chamber Orchestra repeated its opening-night concert at Thomas College in Waterville, drawing over 700 people.

Two Youth Concerts were presented on Monday, November 15, at both 9:30 and at 11. Excerpts from Igor Stravinsky’s Petroushka (The Shove-Tide Fair; Petroucshka; Blackamoor; and Russian Dance) were presented, complete with puppets. Mr. Hangen’s cocert performance diaries revealed that additional Stravinsky works performed were:  Greeting Prelude; the Circus Polka; and from Pulcinella-  Sinfonia, Toccata, Vivo, Minuet and Finale (HS: Whether puppets performed with the Symphony during any of these  other works is now uncertain.). Another attention-grabber on this pair of concerts for students was Julius Fučík’s Entrance of the Gladiators; As had been the case since when PSO youth concerts began in the 1960s, elementary schools from which students would attend the concerts had in advance been sent materials to review and study to help them better enjoy seeing and hearing the puppet version of the work. Copies of program-listings from respective annual Teacher’s Guides to these concerts are included among concert-program-scans that are available for viewing on

Another composer; another birthday; another celebration by the PSO. The Tuesday evening after the Monday Youth concert, on November 16, the now-75-member PSO concluded a classical concert with a commemoration of Igor Stravinsky’s 100th-birthday, closing the evening with a complete performance of Petrushka (revised 1947), scored for full orchestra. Earlier the program had begun with the Symphony playing Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 in E-flat major, K. 543. The guest soloist at this concert was Spanish harpist Marisa Robles (HS: Three years earlier she had joined with James Galway at PCHA.), who performed the Concerto in Three Tempi (“officially” the Harp Concerto in C, Op. 77) by François-Adrien Boïeldieu. One enthusiastic newspaper review was headlined that she “Sparkles with PSO” while another was topped with “Harp solo ‘ravishing’ “. A third was mastheaded with “Spanish harpist ‘beyond compare’ makes concert a heaven on earth”. This must have been a super concert to have attended.

In early December, on the morning of the 6th, two Youth Concerts were performed at PCHA for Portland-area students. At first, all that was known about the events was information from a 1982-1983 Season Brochure saved all these many years by PSO violist Pam Doughty; it reveals that the theme for these presentations was “Hammers, Bows, Fingers, Toes; All About Strings”. During initial researching, precisely what was performed was not found in the PSO Archives. However, once again Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries came to the rescue with full details (HS:  And finally, a 1982-1983 Teacher’s Guide was found in the archives). After opening with Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite, first movement, these concerts featured five PSO principal musicians. Excerpts from the various works selected by Mr. Hangen, and the respective soloists, were:  Antonio Vivaldi’s Concerto for Four Violins in B Minor, first movement, with PSO concertmaster Sandra Kott leading three of her associates; Georg Philipp Teleman’s Viola Concerto in G Major, with Laurie Kennedy; Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings: Waltz; Antonio Vivaldi’s Cello Concerto in D Minor, Op. 3, No. 9, first movement, featuring Jim Kennedy; an arrangement for bass and strings of a Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov work, his Flight of the Bumblebee (HS:  Googling reveals info new to me: it is from the composer’s opera “The Tale of Tsar Saltan”); and George Frideric Handel’s Harp Concerto in B Flat Major, with PSO principal Diedre Carr. Each of the youth concerts concluded with Ernest Bloch’s gentle Pastorale and Rustic Dances from Concerto Grosso No. 1, which Mr. Hangen’s diaries state featured pianist Robert Glover.

Considering the obvious positive tie-in with promoting classical music to youths, it seems that “a natural” would have been including a performace at these concerts by the PSO/Bookland Award-winner, Angela Mi-Lin Cheng. However, she was not one of the performers that morning.

That evening the orchestra journeyed into New Hampshire to perform at one of UNH’s Celebrity Series concerts. The program was a classical concert featuring Ms. Cheng playing Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 22. Also performed by the Symphony was Béla Bartók’s five-movement 1943 Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 123; and Claude Debussy’s Three Nocturnes, L. 91, during the final (“Sirenes”) movement of which the UNH Women’s Chorus sang with the Orchestra. Following the concert, the PSO immediately U-turned for home since a subscription classical concert in Portland was set for the next evening.

Miss Cheng performed a different concerto, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, that next evening, December 7, at a subscription Classical Concert in City Hall Auditorium. Conductor Hangen led the Symphony in two works also played at UNH, opening the program with Debussy’s Three Nocturnes and concluding with Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, Sz. 116, BB 123. EE reviewer Sally Merrill’s article headlined that Ms. Cheng was “dazzling”; also that the Orchestra gave a splendid performance of the Bartók concerto.

While several ensembles consisting of PSO members traveled to various regional holiday season musicale gigs, they always returned to PCHA for full PSO rehearsals of what would this year grow to be a total of five “Magic of Christmas” concerts in Portland. A 25 percent increase from the prior December, two matinee and three evening performances were scheduled. In addition to Curtis-trained guest soprano (HS: but more than a soprano, since she had a four-octave range!) soloist Anita Darian and guest-narrator actor Edward Hermann (HS: He read “There were shepherds abiding in the fields” from the Gospel according to St. Luke; also “Christmas” by poet Leonard Clark; Christmas Memories by Dylan Thomas; Eileen Atkins’ My Perfect Christmas; and R.P.T. Coffin’s Christmas in Maine.), the Portland Symphony Orchestra was also joined by The Boy Singers of Maine and the 150-voice Magic of Christmas Chorus. Featured works were excerpts from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite (Dance of the Reed Flutes), Robert Shaw’s Many Moods of Christmas, a new composition — It’s the Magic of Christmas (with lyrics by Kennebunk’s Bud Campbell and music by John Danis), and the Overture to Handel’s “Messiah”.

Digressing significantly forward from 1982 for a moment, shortly before retiring in 2013-- longtime PSO violist Jean Alvord would comment about Mr. Hermann in a PSO website interview. Thirty years later, she was still impressed with his deep, resounding voice and strong stage presence”. And....... yours truly is willing to bet--- my guess is that Jean also recalls that the then-40-year-old actor was a pretty handsome guy.

Before each of this season’s “Magic” performances, organist Douglas Rafter performed Christmas carols and other holiday music for an hour. Then the Boy Singers started each show, with “charm and tenderness” (as PSO bassoonist Ardith Freeman at the time put it), as they entered City Hall Auditorium singing a processional by Benjamin Britten. A trio from the boys group later returned to the stage to sing the traditional carol The Holly and the Ivy. Ms. Darian sang Mozart’s Oh, Holy Night and Alleluia from “Exsultate, Jubilate” K.<165. Mr. Hermann read two delightful Christmas stories, and also some genuine letters to Santa that Ms. Freeman said were “worth the price of admission”. Finally, members of the audience took on their traditional “Magic” singing roles, as 2000+ voices at each concert were accompanied by the orchestra in sing-along renditions of Joy to the World, Deck the Halls and other well known carols. As usual...... each performance was a great seasonal program – with “something for everyone” (HS: This most-positive phrase headlined an EE article).

Other works performed at this 3rd-Annual series of “Magic of Christmas” concerts were: Bach’s Overture from “Unto Us a Child is Born”; also the great composer’s Sleepers, Wake!; Louis-Claude Daquin’s Echo Noël; The Little Bells by Richard Pervis; Jean Pasquet’s Patapan; Benjamin Britten’s Hodie Christmas Natus Est, which featured the Boy Singers, as also did John Rutter’s arrangement of The Boy’s Carol, during which PSO principal Deidre Carr musically stroked the strings of her harp; Gustav Holst’s Christmas Day, from which the Magic of Christmas Chorus sang Good Christian Men.... God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.... and the Old Breton Carol – The First Noel; Ms. Darian singing Charles Gounod’s O Divine Redeemer; and the Chorus singing from Robert DeCormier’s Selections from “Shout for Joy”, The Virgin Mary.... and Go Tell It on the Mountain.

Seasonal works performed also included the traditional Holly and the Ivy; John Rutter’s Donkey Carol (by the Boy Singers); and the Bud Campbell-John Danis arrangement of It’s the Magic of Christmas (sung by Ms. Darian).

The earlier-mentioned carbon copy of the letter written by manager Russ Burleigh found in the PSO Archives,  that commented about the successful summer runout, was actually a late-December missive. It also included the comment that the five “Magic of Christmas” concerts were sold out, and Russ proudly reported to his correspondent, “all we’ve been doing for six week(s) is selling tickets to that!”

This full year 1982 marked the fullest-ever calendar-year for the PSO. Both Mr. Hangen and the musicians, while likely elated over so many concerts and successes, must also have been exhausted. To combat fatigue (HS: Oh yeah; Sure, that’s the only reason!), Gluwein, egg-nog, and eventually, champagne likely flowed at holiday parties and family gatherings of the PSO players, with spirits of all kinds buoyed by year-end checks following the “Magic of Christmas” concerts. Hopefully Santa was able to get a large bag of gifts down each and every chimney.


1983       A memo found in the files of the PSO Archives that appears to have been written in the mid-1980s was titled “Our Distinguished Alumni”, and read as follows:  “A number of PSO members have gone from this orchestra into leading symphonies in this country and abroad. Retired from the New York Philharmonic are Portland natives and former PSO members William Vacchiano, solo trumpet, and Elden Bailey, timpanist; violinists Thomas Downs and William Fenstermacker, and percussionist Norman Fickett, all of the Detroit Symphony; Everett Firth, timpanist, Boston Symphony; Joseph Smorgi, viola, Cinncinati Symphony; William Wylie, percussionist, Honolulu Symphony; Paul Jackson, trumpet, Brazil Symphony; Laurel Bennert, French Horn, National Symphony Orchestra; and Michael Moody, viola, Andrea Graffam, cello, Norman Waite, French Horn, and Elizabeth Koster, viola, Hartford Symphony.”

The first PSO performance of the new year was a January 9 late-afternoon Sunday Candlelight Chamber Concert at the Eastland Hotel Ballroom, with a theme of “The Twenties, Mostly and Winds, Mainly”, music from the 1920s”. Performed were Aaron Copland’s Music for the Theater, Darius Milhaud’s music for the 20-minute-long ballet, La création du monde, Op. 81a, (Creation of the World), Antonín Dvořák’s’s Serenade for wind instruments, cello and double-bass in D minor, Op. 44, B. 77 and Anton Webern’s Symphony, Op. 21. (HS: Tickets at this time cost $7.50.)

The concert program for this afternoon informed that The Twenties were “A period of experimentation replac(ing) the romantic era in the arts at the end of World War I.” It added the perspective that “Chromaticism and dissonance became important, and jazz was a strong influence.” This Candlelight series concert was designed to present a cross-section of musical styles found in the 1920’s.

For the January Tuesday-Classical Series concert on January 18, one of the world’s leading cellists was featured as solist with the PSO. Lynn Harrell first performed Ernst Bloch’s Schelomo, Hebrew Rhapsody for Cello and Orchestra. Then he played Pezzo Capriccioso, Op. 62, for cello and orchestra, which Tchaikovsky composed in a single week in August 1887. Mr. Herrell’s playing was described by reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth as demonstrating “breathtaking depth and beauty... ...with a warmth that permeated the auditorium”. His “ravishing sounds” and  “virtuostic skill on the cello” were rewarded with “ecstatic applause”. For an encore acknowledgement of that tribute, with his 1711 Italian Tecchler instrument he played a movement from an unaccompanied suite for cello by J.S. Bach. A composition commissioned by the PSO in 1981, Orchestral Variations by Louis Karchin was premiered this evening (HS: He was at Eastman when Bruce Hangen was also at that conservatory.). His work was scored for medium sized orchestra with enlarged percussion section. The symphony under conductor Bruce Hangen also performed Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, (Pastoral Symphony), by Ludwig van Beethoven. (HS: There were only two reviews found so far in the PSO Archives, and neither reported any specific audience response to the Pastoral..... however, my money says that they liked it; who doesn’t?)

As for the Karchin work, reviewer Neuwirth reported that it “was not especially savored by those present” on what was a cold night. Mr. Hangen, however, felt that the Symphony performed the piece “quite well”, and that “the composer himself was quite happy with the results, and we in the orchestra were satisfied that we had met successfully its challenges.” Writing to concertgoers in his column in the next concert program, he observed and wondered, “Who knows, it could be that in another 150 years that composition might be recognized as one of the great works to have been composed in the 20th century!?  What’s more interesting is that all of you and all of us on stage were involving ourselves in the act of discovery.”

Wintry snowy peaks of the White Mountains were visible from Portland along the Western Promenade when audiences inside City Hall Auditorium settled into their seats over three nights in late-January/early-February. On January 29 and 30, also February 4, the evening audiences (HS: also students at four daytime Youth Concerts, when some selections were performed) saw one of the peaks of the Austrian Alps on the stage as the background. The PSO and a cast from the Brunswick Music Theater (Victoria Crandall, Executive and Artistic Director) presented a Concert Version of “The Sound of Music”, featuring six costumed youngsters from Portland and Brunswick areas as members of the von Trapp family. Two members of a New York cast played the roles of Maria and Baron George von Trapp. (HS: This was the third musical collaboration between the BMT and the PSO, following the earlier productions of “West Side Story” and “Brigadoon”.) While searches through the PSO Archives haven’t yet produced any reviews for this Pops Concert trio of evening concerts, it isn’t likely that too many audience members didn’t enjoy this Maine production of the popular Rodgers and Hammerstein hit show. (HS: A “can’t lose” decision was to present four daytime Youth Concerts of a shortened “Sound of Music” during the BMT/PSO run.)

Although only two Youth Concerts had been listed when the PSO’s complete season-schedule had been reviewed with reporters by Mr. Hangen before the first concert in October, events turned out such that the respective performances in November and December were only “the half of it”. The 1982-1983 PSO Season’s third pair of Youth Concerts were presented on February 1. The students at these concerts heard selections of the evening “The Sound of Music” pops concerts that many of their parents enjoyed over the week-end. Members of the Brunswick Theatre troupe also performed with the Symphony.

The mid-February Classical PSO concert featured guest Anthony di Bonaventura, chairman of the piano department at Boston University. He played two works by Maurice Ravel, his Piano Concerto in G major (HS: This was composed between 1929 and 1931, heavily influenced by jazz, which Ravel had encountered on a concert tour of the USA) and The Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D major (HS: This was composed at about the same time, commissioned by the Austrian pianist, Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm during World War I. In 1959 at Portland City Hall Auditorium, Mr. Wittgenstein performed the work with the PSO - which was then under the direction of Rouben Gregorian.). Press Herald reviewer Sally Merrill paid Mr. di Bonaventura an ultimate, if unusual, tribute. She wrote that in the G major concerto, “his two hands sounded as one”; and in the concerto for left hand, “he made his one hand sound like two”. The program also included Samuel Barber’s School for Scandal Overture (HS: Based on Robert Sheridan’s comedy) and the 10-section tone poem Thus Spake Zarathustra, Op. 30, by Richard Strauss. The boldface P-H headline stated, “PSO shines in huge Strauss work”. (HS: This 2/15 Tuesday-concert was televised and shown locally four months later [in June{?} if I recall correctly; right now I can’t locate that clipping – darn].)

On February 14, the Evening Express reported, “The first of eight South American string students to complete the bachelor’s degree program in music performance at the University of Southern Maine will present his senior recital  Thursday. Violinist Luis Antonio Ibáñez will perform selections by Beethoven, Mozart and J.S. Bach” at Cordell Hall. He was at that time a student of former PSO Concertmaster Stephen Kecskeméthy, and himself a member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Born in La Paz, Bolivia Mr. Ibáñez attended the Conservatorio Nacional de Música - Bolivia and the Unversidad Mayor de San Andrés. He was a member of the Bolivian National Symphony, and the Municipal Chamber Orchestra of La Paz before coming to the United States on an Organization of American States fellowship to study chamber music with the Portland String Quartet in 1979. Thirty-some years later (in 2013), Luis remains a member of the PSO.

A February 20 Candlelight chamber concert at the Eastland Ballroom featured four PSO musicians. Two French horn players, symphony principal John Boden and also Nina Miller Hangen, played Vivaldi’s Concerto for 2 Horns in F, RV539. Also, concertmaster Sandra Kott and principal violist Laurie Kennedy performed Sinfonia Concertante in E-flat major, K.364/320d, by Mozart. The ensemble concluded the late afternoon program, titled “Music by Two’s”, with Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 2 in D major (Op. 36). (HS: While it was cold and dark at 6 or so when the performance ended, it’s likely that attendees were warm inside after some excellent performances..... not to mention good wine and yummy chocolate tortes—or other goodies prepared in the Eastland kitchens.)

The following evening, Monday the 21st, the Candlelight Concert program was repeated for an audience in Henniker, NH.

Earlier in February, the Central Maine Morning Sentinel (HS: And other Gannett papers, too, I assume.) reported that organ technician David Wallace had begun a multi-year project to clean the pipes and windchest of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. His plan was to climb and crawl inside the 40 ft high organ’s interior, “repairing, cleaning and polishing its 6518 pipes, which range in length from ¼-inch to 16 feet.” The day of his interview with reporter Jon Fleming, he emerged from inside the instrument with a plastic bag filled with dirt that had been piling up since 1912, saying “that’s three pounds. Seventy years worth.” The estimated cost of the needed project was $100,000, with $30,000 already raised by FOKO, which authorized and would bankroll all the work. The total renovation could take as long as five years, the article noted.

The first Saturday in March found Billy Taylor and his acclaimed trio on stage in city Hall Auditorium on March 5, for the season’s next-to-last PSO Pops concert. Press Herald reviewer Dave Langzettel reported that the symphony opened the program with “John Boden produc(ing) a mellow sound in fine pitch on Richard Strauss’s Concerto No. 1 in E-Flat for Horn and Orchestra.” (HS:  This was another “top PSO memory” recounted by John during a long chat that I enjoyed having with him [in 2014].) Then Mr. Taylor came on stage and quickly “captured the imagination of a capacity audience”, said the PH article, “with lush piano voicings and his charming, unaffected stage manner”. He and the trio followed the PSO’s opener with the theme from “On Dolphin Street”. After a charming verbal tribute to Eubie Blake, the pianist-composer who died a few days after his 100th birthday in February, Taylor embarked on a solo medley of Blake’s best-known works.” That included I’m Just Wild About Harry and Memories of You. Mr. Taylor’s Suite for Jazz Piano and Orchestra, performed with the Symphony musicians, showed off both. Three curtain calls led him to play the Duke Ellington classic, Satin Doll. The PH reiterated near the end of the review, that “he clearly won new friends for his music.”

Earlier in that concert, the PSO under the direction of Music Director Hangen, played Franz von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture and also Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s March Slav.

In early March, word reached the newspapers that PSO conductor Bruce Hangen was a candidate for a similar post in Tulsa. He later responded that he had two years left on his Portland contract and “fully plan(ned) to live up to that contract.” He had twice traveled to Tulsa during the winter to guest conduct the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra, and would not go so far as to say he would not leave the PSO under any circumstances before his contract expires.

An extensive article about the PSO in Down East Magazine this year referred to the fact that Bruce Hangen had “renewed his contact with the PSO for two more years last winter,” but added “there is a feeling around Portland that Hangen may move on to a larger orchestra once this commitment runs out. It is widely known that he was a candidate to head the Columbus (Ohio) Symphony Orchestra”. The article observed that he had made several guest appearances with the Tulsa Philharmonic, and it also stated that he was in the running for the top conducting job there. The magazine quoted PSO President Joan Woodsum as saying, “he’s assured her he will make the symphony’s ambitious sixtieth season, in 1984-85, a primary responsibility.”

In mid-March, it was the full orchestra’s turn to perform the next-to-last Classical Series concert of the season. According to Evening Express reviewer Sally Merrill, famed Canadian contralto Maureen Forrester was “superb” and gave a strong performance, early in the March 15 Tuesday-program first selecting Gustav Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. After the intermission she sang another Mahler composition, Five Rückert Songs. The orchestral work that began the evening was Elliott Carter’s Variations for Orchestra, composed in 1955. To conclude the program, the PSO played Zoltán Kodály’s Orchestral Suite from “Háry János”, featuring Myron Romanul playing a Hungarian folk instrument that was in his private collection of insturments, a cembalo. His keyboard instrument was rare, a precursor of the piano, one which the strings are plucked by leather or quill points connected with the keys. The cembalo sounds similar to either a clavichord or harpsichord, but with a harsher tone.

(HS: EE reviewer Merrill had written many articles during the course of the 1982-1983 season. The paper noted that she had moved to Cumberland after being the “former music reviewer for the Boulder (Colo.) Daily Camera and (had) written magazine articles for Musical America and Clavier. In HS’ opinion, she presented many pertinent musical observations and perspectives that had not previously been available from other Portland reviewers.)

The final 1982-1983 Youth Concert had been held a day earlier, on Monday, March 14. The theme that conductor Hangen chose for the two morning performances was “Peer Gynt and Other Legendary Heroes”. Excerpts that the students heard must have been fun (HS: I wish that I’d been there.). In addition to Edvard Grieg’s “hero”, Peer Gynt (Morning and In The Hall of the Mountain King), folks championed by other composers were: Gioacchino Rossini’s William Tell; Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus (think Can-Can, of course); Aaron Copland’s Billy the Kid (HS: Recall the Gun Battle?  THAT’s what the students heard.), Zoltán Kodály’s braggart, Háry János (Viennese Musical Clock; Song; Battle and Defeat of Napolean; and Intermezzo) and from Lerner and Loewe’s “Camelot”, King Arthur.

KinderKonzerts again continued throughout the season, as members of the orchestra several-at-a-time traveled to elementary schools in Portland and beyond to give young students close-up views and demonstrations of and about music. Conductor Hangen was very committed to this program, often going along with the PSO players to various schools. An early-April appearance by him and a large variety of string-instrument players drew the attention of over 1000 children at the Oxford Hills Elementary School in South Paris. The theme was “Plink, Plank, Plunk”.

The final Sunday-afternoon Candlelight Chamber concert on Sunday, March 27 was followed by two reprises, on the immediately-following Monday and Tuesday evenings. The Choral Art Society and the PSO Chamber Orchestra presented all 25 movements of Bach’s Latin Mass in B minor (BWV 232).(HS: The work was one of Bach’s last, not completed until 1749, the year before his death.) The performance of the massive work, which Mr. Hangen had conducted with the PSO five years earlier, featured sopranos Bonnie Scarpelli and Ellen Chickering, alto Valerie Walters, tenor Frank Hoffmeister, bass Robert Honeysucker, and organist Marion Anderson. Reviewer Sally Merrill felt that both the chorus and the orchestra were well rehearsed and prepared, and that the performance had many “high points”. All three performances were at the Eastland Hotel Ballroom, the last two in the evening. An intermission was scheduled at each, due to the extensive length of the work.

When I asked him (in 2014) if he could recall any “clinkers” involving the PSO and the Choral Art Society, CAS Director Robert Russell didn’t take the easy way out by saying “no, I don’t remember any”, or “no, there never were any”, or similar vague responses to identical questions from me often given by other PSO Family members. Without hesitation, he cited these B-Minor Mass performances at the Eastland Ballroom. “There was no resonance..... just no ‘verb’ ”, adding in regard to having faced the same lousy acoustic conditions during concerts #2 and #3-------, “but, I thought to myself..... we just gotta do it”.

The day prior to the final Pops concert of the 1982-1983 season, local newspapers reported on what would be the busiest-ever summer of  run-out concerts to various locales for the PSO, ten in total of which three were billed as a “Summer Starlight Series”. All were scheduled as outdoor performances, weather permitting (HS: In case of rain, alternate indoor facilities were placed “on hold”.) Two of the summer concerts would not be open to the public, at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on August 1 for the annual meeting of the National Governors Association, and on August 3 at the Maine Mall for subscribers only.

The season’s last Pops Concert, on the evening of Saturday, April 9, featured the local music ensemble Devonsquare. The group played several original compositions and popular modern music. The specialty of the three-piece acoustic ensemble ranged among “rock, jazz, traditional and classical idioms into a unique personal style of music” said local papers reflecting a pre-concert news release. Percussionist Herb Ludwig founded the the band 16 years ago as a trio on the old New York Boston coffee house circuit. Although no review or post-concert article about this Saturday Pops event has been uncovered among the PSO Archives (as of early 2013), Music Director Hangen’s thorough performance diary listings proved to be the source to completely detail the content of the concert. The PSO opened with the "Mignon’" Overture by Ambroise Thomas. Next was Ferdinand David’s Concertino for Trombone and Orchestra in E Flat Major, played by PSO principal Nicholas Orovich. Alberto Ginastera’s frenetic “Estancia” Suite then preceded the Healy orchestral arrangement of Memory from “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Devonsquare singer-songwriting trio then performed six numbers, leading off with What You Doin’ With My Girl?   Next the group sang Take My Love Away, followed by Love Don’t Come Easy. Then, Alibi’s led into The Headlight, with a Simon & Garfunkel Medley concluding the evening (HS:  The latter might have been an encore; Mr. Hangen’s diary doesn’t make such distinctions.).

In mid-month April, the PSO also released its complete 1983-1984 regular season schedules, in all “bearing the handle ‘Supersounds’ ”, reported the EE. Seven classical, four Pops and four double-Sunday chamber music Candlelight Series concerts were on the schedule for the symphony’s 59th season.

The final Classical Series concert was presented at the end of April, on Tuesday the 26th. Classical saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky returned to City Hall Auditorium to perform Karel Husa’s demanding Élégie et Rondeau for Saxophone and Orchestra, written in 1960. Reviewer Sally Merrill wrote of his’ “peaks of dramatic intensity surfaced repeatedly” as the artist and his alto sax “created and maintained a momentum unmatched for its white-heat intensity and contrasting colors”. She felt that his technique allowed him “such control that he seems able to do whatever the composer requires... articulate(ing) phrases with extraordinary clarity.” Under conductor Hangen, the symphony played Sergei Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25 (“The Classical”) and Anton Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 in E-flat major, WAB 104 (“The Romantic”). Pleased with what she heard this evening, reviewer Merrill concluded her article with a comment about the final movement of the Bruckner work, “It reached the intensity of a whirlwind, and ended with a resounding chord, which awakened an anticipation for the coming season.” In the York County Coast Star, the final paragraph of respected reviewer Jacquline Neuwirth’s account about this concert was, “It is only fair to say that the series this year... ...has been at the finest level in my memory, and the Portland Symphony with Hangen’s direction has developed into a creditable musical organization. May they live long, and prosper!” The conductor, orchestra members, staff and trustees couldn’t have hoped for a better promotional plugs.

Four nights later, on Saturday the 30th of April, attendees at a benefit PSO performance to aid the Multiple Sclerosis Society enjoyed an extensive smorgasbord of Pops favorites at a special concert that included more than 20 numbers. While no program from the event appears to have remained among the PSO Archives, a glance at Bruce Hangen’s concert performance diaries tells what the pieces played were, the majority of which had a dance or dancing theme associated with them. The Symphony started off with Leroy Anderson’s Belle of the Ball, followed by Joseph Ivanovici’s Danube Waves Waltz. Then, Mayhew Lake’s Old Timers Waltz Medley led into two Franz Lehár classics, his Gold and Silver Waltz and the classic Merry Widow Waltz. Five numbers from the pen of Johann Strauss, Jr. were next: Blue Danube Waltz; Emperor Waltz; Wine, Women and Song Waltz; the Thunder and Lightning Polka; and the Pizzicato Polka. A musical contribution by Johann’s younger brother, Eduard Strauss, snuck in, too---- his  and Bahn Frei! Polka (HS:  I guessed that translated to “Free Train”; but nope--- “Clear Track” is what Mr. Hangen’s concert diaries show.). After Czech musician Jaromír Vejvoda’s Beer Barrel Polka, the program switched to some orchestral works. First off during this next section was James Burden’s Hooked on Classics, followed by Bill Holcombe’s Manhatten Skyline. Summertime, from “Porgy and Bess”, led to Leroy Anderson’s catchy Blue Tango (HS: back to the dancing theme again...). There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight, composed by Theodore Metz in 1896, preceded the Radetsky March by Johann Strauss, Sr. Many in the crowd likely stood during the Maine Stein Song, and then sat down to relax to the gentle theme song of the television soap opera “The Young and the Restless”, Nadia’s Theme (HS: Originally titled “Cotton’s Dream”, when first composed as incidendal music for a 1971 theatrical film, “Bless the Beasts and Children”.). The evening neared its musical end with Send in the Clowns from “A Little Night Music” by Stephen Sondheim. The fight-against-MS supporters may or may not have followed the instructions contained in the name of the final work on the concert, the title song of a 1970’s movie, Get on Down and Boogie.

In early May the City Council confirmed the appointment of Gerald F. McGee, the organist and choirmaster at St. Luke’s Cathedral, as municipal organist for two years. The Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ made the selection, with the council’s action an automatic rubberstamp.

On Memorial Day week-end, Bruce Hangen twice guest-conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra when John Williams had a schedule conflict. This invite was a real feather in the professional cap of the PSO’s conductor. (HS: later in his career, from 2002-2006 he would serve as Principal Guest Conductor of the Boston Pops. Throughout that time period he maintained a position as music director of the Orchestra of Indian Hill, having been appointed in 1997. As of 2012, that ensemble is the only professional orchestra serving central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire and is comprised of greater Boston-area professional musicians.)

On June 12, Conductor Bruce Hangen traveled to Kennebunk to be the commencement speaker at Kennebunk High School.

This year, Toshiyuki Shimada, while attending the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, enjoyed studying with some of the “Big Boys”, Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson-Thomas and Herbert Blomstedt.

Joan Woodsum was re-elected as PSO President.

The PSO Women’s Committee more than met their fund-raising goal for the 1982-1983 season..... they DOUBLED IT!  The organization’s efforts resulted in total receipts for the symphony of $60,000. That was two years in a row of super achievements. One extra important contribution that the Women’s Committee made this season was financing the purchase of two bright copper timpani to replace the older pair of the set of four previously relied upon. The older timps had undergone many adjustments in response to  various mechanical crises over the years, and badly needed to be “sent to pasture”. The next season a thank-you to the Committee  from PSO timpanist (and librarian) Reggie Bonnin was published in one of the concert programs.

Charles and Anita Stickney, owners of the Deering Ice Cream Corp., were named honorary chairmen of the PSO’s 1983-84 operations fund campaign. The target for the campaign was $170,000 from corporate, individual and foundation contributions. If successful, the PSO this upcoming season would earn more than 70 percent of its annual budget from ticket sales, fees and grants. PSO Manager Russ Burleigh announced that the budget for the season was $723,000. He also advised that musicians at about this time received $30 per appearance at the lowest end of the ensembles’ pay scale.

Based on likely needs of PSO musicians, this summer local dry cleaning establishments may have thought that white jackets and black ties had come back into style. The PSO played a number of other regional outdoors Starlight concerts, and also Pops concerts that summer. The venues were Bridgton, Old Orchard Beach, twice at Westbrook College (HS: where one of the concerts was rained out and  needed to be re-scheduled; the other had a “Reveries, Rhapsodies” theme), the Hyde School in Bath, Cape Elizabeth; also a return to North Conway (HS: at Schuler Park) in New Hampshire.

The evening of July 3 found the PSO outdoors at the natural-amphitheater base of Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton for an Independence Week-end celebration (with the orchestra shielded by a giant canopy striped in red, orange and yellow; there was a back-up rain date of July 5). Selectmen needed to issue a permit affirming that the event didn’t fall under the town’s ordinance controlling large crowds, with a narrow 2-1 chairman-tie-breaker vote of approval. (HS: Presumably that lone crotchedy selectmen didn’t have a problem with the musicians having a private pre-concert rehearsal in the lodge [sorry, the cynic in me came out there].) The Pops concert included Hands Across The Sea (HS: A name that the PR-oriented maestro renamed [for this-evening-only] “Hands Across Pleasant Mountain”.); Finlandia; Nobody Does It Better; Songs from “Porgy and Bess”; The Entertainer; National Emblem March; Polovtsian Dances from “Prince Igor”; Hooked on Classics; American Salute; Marvin Hamlisch in Concert; International Dixieland Jamboree; Selections from “West Side Story”; and a bouncyMuppets Medley. Newspapers  reported that music concluded with Rossini’s dynamic work portraying aspects of forests in the Swiss Alps, The William Tell Overture (HS: Googling revealed that his was Rossini’s 39th, and last, opera.). Conductor Hangen ended the concert with some patriotic melodies:  Battle Hymn of the Republic and a rendition of America the Beautiful, and finally the traditional 4th-of-July musical tribute to our native land, John Philip Sousa’s TheStars and Stripes Forever. And following all of that, of course...... for both the 2800 attendees AND the PSO musicans were----  FIREWORKS!

By the next evening, July 4, the PSO entourage (HS: Including the colorful canopy) had traveled to the center square of Old Orchard Beach for another “big-gig”, its first visit there. City Fathers and community-active business people direly wanted to get OOB’s long-standing honky-tonk image changed, and the PSO appearing was a Big Deal toward maybe seeing a return to the more sophisticated tones of a century ago when it was a posh summer resort. The program was essentially the same as in Bridgton (Richard Rodgers’ Victory at Sea and a rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame were additional numbers performed at Old Orchard Beach), although the fireworks were more dramatic since this celebration was not only for the birth of the United States....... but also for Old Orchard Beach’s Centennial, its 100th anniversary (HS: It was reported that the long-visited seaside playground had never seen fireworks so grand. This was the largest-ever display for the summer-resort town).

The first of three productions of Guiseppe Verdi’s “Il Trovatore” was presented at the City Theatre in Biddeford on Thursday evening, July 21. The Maine Opera Association once again signed up Bruce Hangen to conduct, and he undoubtedly had some 20+ PSO musicians holding down key instrumental assignments. The other two performances at the theater in Biddeford were on Friday, July 29 and Tuesday, August 2.

Later, in the fall, Russ Burleigh would inform PSO subscribers about a mid-summer “establishment of a ‘resident’ orchestra” in one of his “From The Manager’s Desk” concert-program columns. Wanting to insure that the same personnel would be available for a large number of concerts concentrated into a 14-day span of time, the PSO “put up 30 people in dormitories at Westbrook College for two weeks, while the rest of the 65 orchestra members commuted from their homes in Maine and New Hampshire.”

Friday, July 22 was the date for the first “Starlight Series” concert of the summer, on the green at Westbrook College. Unfortunately, no one could see any stars due to rain that night, so a substitute “rain-date” concert needed to be held the next evening, on Saturday, July 23. During an All-Tchaikovsky program, major works performed were Symphony No. 5, second movement and Waltz of the Flowers from “The Nutcracker”. Also at this concert, 21-year-old violinist Michaela Paetsch performed the great Russian composer’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35. Elsewhere on the program for the PSO was Cappricio Italien and the Andante Cantabile movement from his Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64, also the Romeo and Juliet Overture. That evening, both the stars and Miss Petsch showed brightly.

The next afternoon an outdoor concert in Bath was scheduled, on Sunday, July 24. Local citizens had gone all out to get the PSO to come to Bath (HS: If necessary, efforts “to get Hangen to Bath” would have gone so far as to include, one newspaper article reported a top city official as joking, that they would be willing to lower the publicity-loving conductor to the podium using the largest derrick at Bath Iron Works to do so.). This was a big deal, for both the city and the sponsoring Performing Arts Center at Bath trustees. Projections were for a sell-out crowd of 3000 at the grounds of the Hyde Street School, with a 30x40ft stage set atop three flatbed trailers. But a steady dose of rain forced the PSO inside the school’s fieldhouse, and also kept many people at home; only 1200 attended the concert. Musically, the concert was viewed an artistic success. Financially, however...... the PACB P&L took a “you know what”!!  (HS: The word starts with a “B”.) Many in the community questioned whether attempts to schedule a future concert should be pursued, but their concerns were allayed when several generous donors stepped forward to pick up outstanding concert expenses and contribute $3000 in revenues that PACB had expected to generate from the event and had budgeted in its current operating budget. (HS:  This obviously was a powerful showing of support for Bath, the PACB and the value of the PSO to the community.)

At the concert in Bath, the PSO performed Selections from “Man of La Mancha”; the Muppets Medley; a Simon and Garfunkel Medley; and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien, Op. 45; Camille Saint-Saëns’ Samson and Delilah; and the Wine, Women and Song Waltz by the-junior Johann Strauss, among many, many others that were in the musicians’ folders that summer.

Had the Bath folks set the PSO’s appearance for the next day, Monday, everyone would have enjoyed both good music and good weather. Instead, that evening a huge New Hampshire crowd of 7000 gathered at Schouler Park in North Conway on the 25th. The audience (HS: This sponsored-concert was free to the public.) and far surpassed organizers’ expectations, nearly matching the city’s year-round population of 7900, and everyone reportedly went home in a jubilant mood. The Carroll County Independent reported that “the concert began with a post-card sunset behind the Moat Range and ended with a spectacular fireworks display”. The program consisted of selections including selections from “Camelot”, and “Annie” as well as a number of well-known classical pieces. Once again, fireworks and cannon accompanied the PSO’s musical delivery of the “1812” Overture. While clippings examined regarding this concert do not list other works performed, a glance at Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries confirms that the Symphony once again played compositions that were performed throughout the region during the string of run-out concerts this summer. Several works that hadn’t been performed at venues visted earlier, but were performed in North Conway, were: John Philip Sousa’s The Thunderer March; Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance Op. 46, No. 8; Bacchanale from “Samson and Delilah” by Camille Saint-Saëns; and a Stevie Wonder Medley. Reviewer Stephen Britt wrote that “The crowd applauded wildly when conductor Bruce Hangen voiced his desire to bring the orchestra back for another concert next year” (HS: That did happen!).

The PSO Women’s Committee held a “sneak-preview” fund-raiser event on Friday evening, August 26, at a new  Filene’s store at the Maine Mall. The yet-unopen store was set to first greet the public the following week. Food and drink, music, dancing and high fashion harmonized together for attendees, as both fashion models in tableau and others using the escalators for a “runway” staged a fall fashion show. A crowd of 300 spent more than $10,000 to attend.

The next week, four hours before the official ribbon-cutting for Filene’s and other new stores in the recently-expanded Mall, conductor Hangen led the PSO as 1200 invited VIPs partied and wandered around the new 80,000 feet of retail splendor. The white-jacketed men among the musicians looked especially classy, as did the black-blazer, white-trousered maestro. One newspaper report carried an item that the Maine Stein Song was particularly well received by the wandering guests.

A second “Summer Starlight Series” concert at Westbrook was preceded by a large outdoor picnic in the garden of the college president’s home, on July 27. This time the weather held, and the crowd who later convened on the Green was treated to a musical program with a theme of “Reveries, Rhapsodies, and Romance”. Popular works featured both the Overture and Wedding March from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Felix Mendelssohn, the España Rhapsody by Emmanuel Chabrier, Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 and a number of reportedly well-sung arias by tenor Gary Grice who had appeared with the New York City Opera. The PSO’s performance concluded with Maurice Ravel’s well-known Boléro. In addition, compositions (HS: that were not included in advance articles or reviews) were performed by Franz Liszt, Emmanuel Chabrier, Giacomo Puccini, Carl Maria von Weber, Georges Bizet, Ruggero Leoncavallo and Franz Lehár. Also, one report referred to concertgoers being treated to at least one Strauss waltz, later to be identified as the Wine, Women and Song Waltz by Johann, Jr.

Eventually in the my searchings, Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries were made available by the former music director, revealing specifics about the works sung by Mr. Grice (HS:  It turns out that all the works performed at the July 27 concert in Westbrook were repeated three days later at a July 30 concert at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth.):  von Weber’s Durch die Wälder, durch die Auen, from “Der Freischütz”; Puccini’s Rocondite Armonia from “Tosca”; Bizet’s Flower Song from “Carmen”; Leoncavallo’s Vesti la glubba from “Pagliacci”; and Lehár’s  Dein is mein ganzes Herz from “Land of Smiles”.

On Thursday evening, July 28, wandering strollers passed by a crowd gathered around the Fort Allen Park bandstand on the Eastern Promenade. The crowd applauded the arrival of 69-year-old guest conductor Clinton W. Graffam, who held the baton before what was now called Chandler’s Military Band.

One of the numbers performed that evening was Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday, during which the conductor’s son  -Allen C. Graffam-  was featured. The younger Mr. Graffam  -like his father-  had attended Deering High School, and was a 1975 graduate of the University of Maine. He was this year about to begin serving as Director of Bands at Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, a post he still currently holds (2013). He has also served as the trumpet instructor at Bowdoin College and has frequently been guest conductor and clinician at band and orchestra festivals and clinics.

The PSO’s hectic “5-in-8 marathon” continued with the final “Summer Starlight Series” concert at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, on Saturday, July 30. (HS: This would be the orchestra’s fifth performance over an 8-night period. The pace had been so hectic that both the musicians and staff had feelings that they were at summer camp, with reports that some had “chosen their own name for their temporary home: Camp Pluck-a-no-te!  Meanwhile, the fatigued staff members, must have been considering adding to their resumes:  “Experienced at putting up outdoor-concert tents, then taking them down, then putting them up again, then taking them down again, etc., etc., etc.”.) The symphony played an “All-American” concert at the park, with works including Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Carousel Waltz by Richard Rodgers, Richard Heyman’s Pops Hoedown, a Simon and Garfunkel Medley and Selections from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”. The musical highlight, however, was certainly the performance of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, narrated by former Secretary of State and also Maine Governor, then U.S. Senator, Edmund S. Muskie. The concert this evening marked the 50th anniversary of Goodwill of Maine.

Although the apparently indefatigable Mr. Hangen and the musicians must have been big-time bushed by now, the PSO musicians’ summer work wasn’t yet finished. Two more planned outdoor concerts remained, on both the following Monday and Wednesday evenings. The first would be a private performance at Fort Williams Park on August 2, for the nation’s state governors and their spouses, along with another 1900 guests at the 75th Annual Meeting of the National Governors Association Conference which had selected Portland for this year’s summer session. While everyone was likely most cordial to everyone else at the conference, there were many extraordinary aspects regarding the sessions, with security measures topping the list. Arriving flights had been met with dogs sniffing for explosives at the luggage carousels, and for the next several days everywhere there were uniformed state and local police, earpiece-adorned secret service agents, law officers in plain clothes, and other officials experienced in crowd surveillance. During the conference, passes were required to enter hotel elevators, meeting rooms and dozens of reserved buses. Special cruises scheduled for tours of Casco Bay and out into the Atlantic required another type of security professional, frogmen, who checked underneath craft in the Portland’s harbor. A Down East Lobster Bake at Portland Head Light had resulted in orders for 2450 lobsters and 56 bushels of clams as part of the menu (HS: The PSO Archives don’t refer to “food tasters”, although I’d have volunteered free service to get that duty!).

Another important requirement for a successful conference depended on the cooperation of (HS:  make that “sort-of”) one special branch of the federal government, the National Weather Service. Out next to the Headlight station and tower in Cape Elizabeth, three large tents (with side flaps) were erected for the clambake in case of rain. The lawn at Fort Williams Park was ready for a private PSO concert for all the governors and other attendees, although that area was, of course, open to the elements. Oops..... an earlier favorable forecast from the weather bureau changed to projections of rain, possible hail and 60 mph winds. (HS: The National Guard had to be called in to secure the tents.) Fortunately only showers were arriving as the lobsterbake progressed, but an outdoor concert was “out” of the question. Initial plans to make the back-up concert venue City Hall Auditorium had long ago been shelved (HS: Wiser heads likely realized that 2000 big-shots at a lobsterbake, every one probably a headstrong boss, would mostly opt to stay in the tents and carouse and politick, thereby “passing” on a concert in the city. Let’s face it, with Miller Brewing one of the conference sponsors, one could bet that samples were aplenty. So.... would YOU expect anybody to pick up and leave?  A largely-empty PCHA would have been an embarrassment.) Thus, the PSO was assigned to what the P-H described as “a makeshift stage set up under one of the (cavernous, but low-ceilinged) tents”.

Newspaper reports state that the crowd enjoyed the concert, although the “Star” definitely was Mr. Muskie (HS: He had attended earlier NGA Conferences when Governor of Maine.), who again with the PSO narrated Aaron Copland’s stirring Lincoln Portrait. He and the symphony “brought everyone to their feet in a roar of appreciation.” The P-H reported that “He took two bows. The second time he blew a kiss to the crowd.” That article also said that a “woman called from across the tent: ‘Declare for president, Ed!’”

Detail about other works on the program that had to compete with lots of “gotta get it in while we can” political din, was learned from examination of Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diary listings. Of course, The Star-Spangled Banner led off the program, and both Robert Wagner’s Under the Double Eagle March and Richard Rodgers’ Carousel Waltz from “Carousel” were played prior to the appearance of Mr. Muskie. After the Copland work came Selections from “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein, arranged by Jack Mason; followed by “Star Wars” Selections by John Williams; then Send in the Clowns from “A Little Night Music” by Stephen Sondheim. Richard Hayman’s winner, Pops Hoedown (HS:  In the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO, there’s an amusing Must-Read tale about the start of this work at the concert for the Governors. Don’t miss it!), preceded a rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust; with a Simon & Garfunkel Medley preceding Memory from “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Despite lots of milling around and certainly not everyone showing off their best concert manners, the ”orchestra hardly stumbled when it came to such other selections as Gershwin’s An American in Paris, a Simon and Garfunkel Medley and Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture”. During the latter, with wind gusts sometimes rattling the protective plastic tentflaps and waves breaking against the granite, on a nearby bluff the guns of the Maine Army National Guard were employed for special effects. “And what effects”, declared the P-H. The “guns roared and boomed. Muzzle flashes etched against the black, cloud-filled sky.” The Maine Sunday Telegram reported that some “guests move(d) outside the tents, to hear in the grandeur of Maine’s outdoors”, as the weather had cleared by then. Overall, the performance was certainly a challenge for the PSO..... but another feather in the symphony’s cap.

The official opening of an expansion of the Maine Mall was preceded by a VIP concert attended by about 1200 invited guests. Attendees at the August 3 Wednesday-night four-hour party entered the mall’s new area through the door between the new Filene’s and the J.C. Penney stores. The PSO started playing about an hour after the opening, with some guests eventually dancing on the mall floor. The crowd was treated to lots of pieces played earlier in the summer at other runout venues. Of course, Rudy Vallée’s Maine Stein Song was heartily applauded (HS: And loudly sung!) by the enthusiastic attendees. A copy of the program handed out to attendees, retained in the personal memorabilia collection of Debby Hammond, has been scanned and can be viewed in the Performances Section of this

NOTE: For anyone interested in learning more concert-by-concert details during the PSO’s “Hangen era” (HS: Including that at the Maine Mall), copies of the respective annual sections from his lengthy concert-performance-diary list are included in large envelopes that are retained in the PSO Archives. Those manila envelopes also contain respective year-by-year permanent stores of concert programs found during searches of the Archives.

The PSO musicians next took a well-deserved five-week break from the busy string of outdoors Pops concerts, resting up to be ready for the Third “Symphony By The Sea” concert, that would again be performed from the terrace of Atlantic House in Scarborough. Attendance this year was limited to 5000, and an “advance $6 tickets only” policy was set for the box office. The concert theme was “The Gay 90’s”, with advance newspaper coverage displaying a photograph-likeness of an impressionist painting—three smiling PSO Women’s Committee members seated around a blanket on the Atlantic House lawn, next to a perfectly-shaped tree overlooking the ocean and decked out in 1890’s dresses and sunhats, an open wicker picnic basket nearby. Renoir couldn’t have posed them any better.

Late in August, local jazz legend and for many years the driving force behind the development of new jazz musicians in Portland, Don Doane disbanded his Big Band, citing the time-consuming nature of keeping a 16-piece band together and always being tip-top performance-ready. He remained semi-active in the area’s jazz-music scene with his four-piece group. Mr. Doane had performed with the PSO on numerous occasions as a featured guest artist, and for a time in the 1960s was a member of the Symphony’s trombone section.

Prior to the start of the 1983-1984 PSO Season, Joanne and John Schnell were named personnel managers for the coming year. According to a Fall 1983 “Sounds of the Symphony” mailer found in the PSO Archives, by this time, violinist Joanne had “played with the PSO for nine years” and was then a teacher in the Lewiston-Auburn schools. Principal trumpet John had held that position “for several years”, and was an alternate player with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The couple’s responsibilities were “to act as liasons between the PSO management and the musicians”.

Again this year, Atlantic House proprietor Dino Giamatti donated use of the turn-of-the-century resort for the “Symphony By The Sea” concert. (HS: If you didn’t know it before, especially if you’re a baseball fan, Dino Giamatti was the brother of A. Bartlett Giamatti, who was then Yale University president - and in 1989 would become the 7th Commissioner of Major League Baseball.) Concertgoers were encouraged to bring picnics to enjoy on the expansive lawn before and during the concert. Lots of balloons were around to amuse kids of all ages. Tickets for a lobster bake available at 12:30 included admittance to the concert and priority parking. Should Maestro Hangen chose to conduct Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (HS: Advice: Don’t place a bet against that happening!), the 133rd Engineer Battalion had new neoprene-sealed cartridges at the ready to provide a more impressive barrage than ever before possible. All that was needed now, was for the PSO musicians to show up..... and some help from the weatherman.

Although the Sunday afternoon was hot and humid, newspapers carried reports of relief from “a steady, occasionally strong, breeze. Just before showtime a layer of blue-gray clouds came over and let fly with a few raindrops. But this passed quickly”. Maestro Hangen arrived at the podium aboard an old engine of the Scarborough Fire Department, in a little parade led by riders atop big-wheeled antique bicycles, as well as a color guard. (HS: Had Mr. Hangen taken up any offers to ride one of the penny-farthings, I wonder, would he have been willing to risk falling and maybe breaking his........ er, baton?) The symphony immediately set the right tone for the day, beginning with Czech bandmaster Julius Fučík’s great call-to-attention march, Entrance of the Gladiators, which he composed in 1897. Procession of the Sardar followed, that Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov composition from his “Caucasian Sketches” rated by the EE reviewer as “one of the most effective pieces of the concert.” The EE article spotted the musical highlight of the day as Jean Sibelius’ Karelia Suite. Pietro Mascagni’s Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana” was followed mainly by show and martial music, the audience responding favorably to selections from Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” and a surprise vocal offering by Maestro Hangen, Beer Barrel Polka. Samplings of hits from Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man” charmed everyone, especially Lida Rose and “another piece”. (HS: Mermaids rose from the ocean nearby, lured by desires to “have a look” at the guys carrying those 76 Trombones. [That news would have been carried by the papers, but beguddeegeedy old editors removed that part of the copy.]  Anyway, all that is what I want to believe, so it stays in this THINGS-PSO; so there!)

The old favorite, There’ll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight, and Mayhew Lake’s Old Timers Waltz were on the program; as were Bill Holcombe’s arrangement of International Dixieland Jamboree and Arthur Roundy’s 103rd Infantry March. One newpaper reported that Jerome Kern’s Ol’ Man River was heard by the crowd gathered on the lawns, and particularly enjoyed. John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever was also in there someplace. The climax, of course, was “The 1812”, with the PSO towards the end a bit overshadowed by some Army guys and their 75 mm Pack Howitzers, and “smoke billowing from over the embankment” wrote the Maine Times. Thanks to the PSO Women’s Committee organizers and workers at this Atlantic House Third-Annual Symphony By The Sea, the PSO’s coffers would be swelled again, with a concertgoer total exceeding 6000. After the event, PSO Women’s Committee treasurer Ellie Estabrooks estimated for the PH that the concert raised more than $25,000 for the Symphony.

A crew from WCBB-TV Channel 10 taped this September 11 Scarborough concert, later airing it on Wednesday, October 19. (HS: Although published about a “conflict” that airing presented has been seen, the TV-station’s timing likely rankled Mr. Hangen and the PSO staff. Many folks who would probably have watched the program were not home that evening, instead being at City Hall Auditorium for the opening concert of the PSO’s 1983-1984 Classical Season. Oh.... well; what’aya gonna do?)

On Wednesday, September 14, The Eastland Hotel officially became the Sonesta Hotel Portland, under a new ownership arrangement. A band, led by Clinton Graffam, performed a concert to help celebrate the arrival of the Sonesta affiliation. The next day the Press Herald featured a front-page picture of the medium-sized band playing under a gazebo roof near the hotel. Clearly visable in the photograph are Mr. Graffam and his longtime PSO pal, flutist Harold Lawrence. Some of the others in the P-H picture were likely also PSO musicians during this era.

This year a sketch of Conductor Hangen (HS: This time he was wearing a regular tie.) once again graced the front page of a Maine Sunday Telegram Sunday “Audience” supplement. Also, sketches of five guest-artists scheduled for the PSO’s upcoming 59th season were individually situated around the likeness of Mr. Hangen. In another article, the conductor talked of some of this season’s goals being “more polish and real music-making” and to “develop finesse”. Mr. Hangen stressed an objective of attracting a wider audience, more diverse crowds. The MST cover and article likely particularly boosted the box-office outlook for the PSO and its several concert series for the upcoming season.

During Mr. Hangen’s tenure, several PSO players moved on to more prestigious orchestras, something he felt was a feather in his cap. Flutist Pam Guidetti was by now with Peter Nero’s Philadelphia Pops; French horn principal Laurel Bennert was assistant principal horn in the National Symphony in Washington; a PSO tuba player had graduated to the Philadelphia Orchestra; a violist to the New York Philharmonic; a tympanist to Milwaukee; and a piccolo player to St. Louis. (source: Down East Magazine, October, 1983)

By this point in time, other than Katherine Graffam, the longest-serving member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was Rebecca Garland, who had been with the PSO for 40 seasons. Concertmaster between 1956 and 1961, the violinist was a graduate of the Julliard School of Music and was on the faculty of USM, Bates and Waynflete, responsibilities complemented by many private students. It would be another six seasons before Ms. Garland retired from the PSO, at that time to complete a 47-year career.

A September 29 edition of the Press Herald reported that seventy-five players auditioned for 10 PSO openings “created both by absences and by new positions”, reported the PH. “The lower strings, in particular, have been reinforced.” At about this time, Down East Magazine carried a lengthy profile of the PSO, quoting Bruce Hangen as finally being “unqualifiedly proud” of the PSO—“They’re very good, in my estimation... ...Unlike seven years ago. I have virtually no reservations about programming any kind of repertoire... ...The only way really to change it into a far better ensemble would be to bring up members from the Boston Symphony”. The chosen theme of the PSO’s 1983-1984 Season, the ensemble’s 59th, was “Super-Sounds”.

Assistant principal cellist Richard Noyes was appointed conductor of the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra. He was a graduate of Portland High School (HS: He was then a student of PSO cellist Katherine Graffam), and during his PHS years was himself a member of the PYSO (HS: When Clinton Graffam was conductor of the youth symphony). At this point in time, he was supervisor of the string instrument program in the Windham public schools.

Now independent and out on their own, the PSQ opened its fifteenth season with a concert at PCHA, before a quartet-loving crowd estimated at between 500 and 600.

The opening Tuesday-series Classical concert of the PSO’s 59th season, on October 18, began with The Star-Spangled Banner, with the featured work César Franck’s wonderful three-movement Symphony in D minor. Another familiar classical work also performed was the Suite from “Der Rosenkavalier”, Op. 58,  by Richard Strauss. A newer work (composed in 1981) performed was the tone poem “Sequoia” for Orchestra, by Joan Tower. This sixteen-minute long composition had been completed two years earlier, in 1981, the year that it was premiered in New York City. Ms. Tower was in attendance at both rehearsals and the concert. Ms. Tower wrote that she was fascinated about sequoias, the giant California redwood trees, and the balancing act nature had achieved in giving them such great height. Saying that she had been inspired by Beethoven, a basic idea at work in her approach to composing which came from him, was something she called the “balancing” of musical energies.

On October 24 the Portland Concert Association brought back to City Hall Auditorium not just the twin classical to-become-giants who had wow-d the audience during a concert the previous October (HS: And.... seemed to “have a ball” doing so.), but also added violinist Young Uck Kim to be part of a trio with “the main draws”, Emanuel Ax and Yo-Yo Ma. The Ax-Kim-Ma Trio was scheduled to perform works by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Brahms (HS: But remember.... they changed the previous year’s program.... at the last minute.) One of the more famous two members of the trio likely raised expectations of Portland concertgoers when Mr. Ax referred to their previous year’s visit, saying “The Audience was absolutely incredible! One of the reasons we played so well in Portland, was that Yo-Yo and I both feel that they were really interested in the music.”

The opening Pops Series concert on Saturday, October 29, was a “Cole Porter Celebration”. With the Pops’ starting times now moved to 8:30, after an Overture of Cole Porter Hits (It’s Delovely; I Love You; You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To; and Another Op’nin, Another Show), many of the composer’s greatest songs were performed by three guest vocalists (Soprano Anita Darian, baritone Ronald Rogers and Gene Bullard, tenor) and the Portland Community Chorus under the leadership of Stewart Shuster. Music from “Can-Can”, “Kiss Me Kate”, “Anything Goes” and “Born to Dance” were featured. A newspaper reported that especially well-received numbers were I Love Paris, Night and Day, and There’s No Business Like Show Business. The Pops performances concluded with A Finale: All of You and Begin the Beguine. A new set of lighting by Brunswick theater set designer Jack Doepp greeted concertgoers when they entered the auditorium for these two Pops concerts. A 15-foot-wide (HS: And almost equally as high) array of brightly-lit lights spelled, in capital letters, “SATURDAY NIGHT POPS”. Also, on the stage behind the Symphony musicians were 10 large 4x8 ft framed, white panels topped with clear candelabra bulbs—each panel lit from beneath. Lights were also sprinkled across the bottom of the huge Kotzschmar Organ pipes at the back of the stage. In all, 500 lights now sparked above and around the musicians.

Here’s the list of the twenty-two (!!!) songs performed: I Get a Kick Out of You; All Through the NightBlow Gabriel Blow; You’re the Top; We Open in Venice; Brush Up Your Shakespeare; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; Easy to Love; Hey Babe Hey; Night and Day; It’s All Right With Me; Allez-vous en; I Love Paris; Where is the Life That Late I Led?; So in Love; Were Mine That Special Face; Wunderbar; Too Darn Hot; All Of You; and Begin the Beguine. For a look at the order in which the selections were performed, check a digital-scan of the concert program at

This Cole Porter night of music was a switch from the original Pops Series schedule announced the previous spring, which listed Lionel Hampton as this evening’s guest, and Cole Porter Selections for an April Pops concert. However, Portlanders didn’t have to despair—Mr. Hampton and his band had reached an agreement to re-schedule everyone to appear at a Pops concert the next April (HS: And that evening would turn out to be one of the absolute-best performances ever enjoyed by PSO subscribers. Stay tuned for details.). Thus, Cole Porter’s hits were moved forward to this October evening...... and all was well.

Conductor Hangen’s Portland Pops Concerts were somewhat a “pop’s-type” conflict of interest for the maestro, since by now he had guest-conducted the Boston Pops on nine occasions over the years. Actually, it is likely that PSO subscribers took pride in “their guy” having been chosen for such plum assignments.

Sometime during October, the new Portland Performing Arts Center on Forest Avenue opened, providing a home for the Portland Stage Company and the Ram Island Dance Center. Some PSO’ers were on hand to help make the opening extra special. On the first night, Jara Goodrich presented a brief recital from the new stage after being introduced by Bruce Hangen, making her the first public performer at PPAC. The next night PSO Manager Russ Burleigh introduced a brass quintet from the Orchestra: John Schnell and Bruce Hall, trumpets; John Boden, French horn; David Winer, tuba; and Nic Orovich, trombone (HS:  Nic did not, and still [2014] does not, choose to spell his nickname the more frequently seen “Nick” way.). It is told that their performance was “stunning and received warm applause from the full house.” Mr. Burleigh reported in a later-issued PSO concert program column that “one other participant from the PSO was our colorful summer canopy. Loaned for the public celebration on Saturday, it was erected on Penny Carson’s parking lot next to PPAC, the first time it had been used for anything other than a PSO concert.”

Portland students experienced their own “Season Opener”, at respective pairs of PCHA Youth Concerts performed on both Monday the 31st of October and Tuesday the 1st of November. The theme for the programs was “A Kaleidoscope of Sounds”. Music Director and Conductor Bruce Hangen included French composer Claude Debussy’s vigorous 1989 Fêtes ("Festivals") from Three Nocturnes, Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia, Sergei Prokofiev’s March and Scherzo from “Love for Three Oranges”, and selections from Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Capriccio Espagnol, Op. 34, sections IV & V. A computerized light show was featured at this concert, programmed by Tony Scarpelli and scored for lights by Bruce Hangen.

The next (HS: and last) “opening” of a 1983-1984 PSO concert series in Portland was Sunday, November 6. This was a 12:30 pm Candlelight Series chamber concert at the Sonesta Ballroom (HS: The Sonesta organization purchased what formerly was the Eastland Hotel in 1982, and by this time had changed the name of the facility.), with a repeat concert at 4:30pm. Patrons gathered at either tables or in row seating. The program opened with Gioacchino Rossini’s Sixth Sonata for Strings, in D major, written when the composer was 12 years old. In the second work, Mozart’s Concerto No. 1 for Flute and Orchestra in G major, K. 313, the PSO’s principal flutist, Randolph Bowman, was featured. After intermission came Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 6 in C major, Op. 140, D. 589. This  work is nicknamed the “Little C major” to distinguish it from his later Ninth Symphony, also in C major, which is known as “the Great”. (HS: Thanks to Google for revealing that tidbit.) The EE’s Doug Hubley concluded his review, “A splendid way to pass a Sunday afternoon”. This same program had been performed the preceding evening in Boothbay Harbor, and a newspaper in the area wrote that it would later be repeated at concerts in Augusta and Ellsworth.

Clippings were found in the PSO Archives regarding an Augusta performance consisting of the same works as the November 6 concert in Portland, noting an event at Cony High School Auditorium, and another regarding one in Waterville at Thomas College. No clipping has yet been spotted regarding an Ellsworth performance. Mr. Hangen’s concert-performance diaries list this program as being performed at runout concerts in Augusta and Waterville, on Saturday and Sunday, November 19 & 20, respectively.

Mr. Hangen had announced that twice during the Candlelight series of concerts this season, he would trade in his baton and play the cello. Let’s watch to see if any of the PSO concert announcements, or the newspaper reviewers, advised when this happened.

Regarding the just-referenced Saturday-evening concert in Boothbay Harbor, the PSO ensemble’s appearance was the opening of the Boothbay Region’s Performing Arts Center Concert Season. According to an article in the Boothbay Register, this marked the beginning of the BRPAC’s fourth concert season. With advance ticket-sales assuring a record crowd, extra seats were moved into the Center for the event. (HS: Later in the month, on the weekend of Saturday/Sunday, November 19/20, the works performed at Boothbay would be repeated at two other run-out venues; Cony High School Auditorium in Augusta, and Thomas College in Waterville.)

The November 15 Classical Series Tuesday-concert at PCHA presented renowned pianist Byron Janis, then marking his 40th anniversary year of performing with major symphonies, a career he began when he was 15 years old. (HS: Strong demand for tickets resulted in the scheduling of an additional performance of this program the evening prior to this “originally-scheduled event, presenting concertgoers with a “will it be a Monday or Tuesday?” choice.) Like Mr. Hangen, Mr. Janis was born in Pennsylvania, of Russian and Polish parents. He studied at Julliard, and then became one of only three people ever to be acknowledged by Vladimir Horowitz to be one of his students (HS: The other two were Gary Graffman and Ronald Turini.). At what was an all-Russian-composer’s concert in Portland, he performed after the PSO played two orchestra works, the Overture to “Russlan and Ludmilla” by Mikhail Glinka, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 in B minor, Op. 74, Pathétique, the composer’s final completed symphony. After the intermission the audience was treated to Mr. Janis’ talents as he performed the late-Romantic-period Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor, Op. 30, by Sergei Rachmaninoff (HS: colloquially known as “Rach 3”). The work is famous for its technical and musical demands on the performer and has the reputation of being one of the most technically challenging piano concertos in the standard classical repertoire. The headline of the EE review by Doug Hubley was “Janis, PSO thrill audience”. The Monday concert was sold out, and attendance at the Tuesday concert was about 1000.

Many years after this concert, longtime PSO radio broadcast host Geoff Doughty recounted that this performance remained one of his top memories insofar as Portland Symphony Orchestra concerts were concerned. Not only did he have praise for Mr. Janis, he also retained memories of the great artist’s sense of humility when with others during his stay in Portland.

A late-November letter to the editor of the Portland Press Herald severely (and sarcastically, too...... suggesting possible  intended meanness) took Mr. Hubley to task for some aspects of his review, criticizing the P-H’s decision of having chosen a professional musician (HS: The end of each of Mr. Hubley’s articles carried the notice “Doug Hubley is a musician who lives in South Portland.”) to write its music reviews. He said that “is like assigning a butcher to evaluate restaurants. Most musicians cannot write, and see performances from a specialist viewpoint that includes prejudices and fashions not shared by the rest of the audience.” The writer also took issue with the choices of some words that Mr. Hubley used in his review. He concluded, “Any cub reporter with a love of music and a good reference book will make a better music critic than a professional every time---see Bernard Shaw or H.L. Mencken.” (HS: People reading through THINGS-PSO might wonder, “What’s with this guy?  Does he have some motive in writing this?” Stay tuned for more.) The letter-writer’s name was listed as............. Christopher S. Hyde.

The Portland Concert Association presented the Warsaw Philharmonic in concert at City Hall Auditorium on November 19. The highly regarded Tadeus Strugala conducted two major compositions, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s  Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 27, and Frédéric Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21. Steven DeGroote was at the piano for the Chopin work. Also on the program was the Tocatta Overture by Boleslaw Szabelski. A post-concert newspaper commentary in the Journal Tribune by Gaetano Santa Lucia featured attention on difficulties both the orchestra and concertgoers experienced during the concert due to challenges from City Hall Auditorium’s “acoustical configurations”.

With wind whipping and rain falling outside, PSO principal cellist James Kennedy was featured as soloist on Tuesday, December 6, when the symphony performed the Cello Concerto in B minor, Op. 104, B. 191, by Antonín Dvořák. While he had also performed this concerto in other venues, during a 2014 conversation he still favorably reflected back to memories of this 1983 concert. (HS: While a student at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, Mr. Kennedy had studied with the renowned cellist Leonard Rose, who also had been a guest soloist with the PSO, at a PCHA concert in 1971.) Reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth wrote that while she felt that Mr. Kennedy played “from the heart”, she took issue with what she felt was less-than-satisfactory intonation. Doug Hubley in the P-H felt that the performance by the soloist was “very well done” and the P-H headline over his review read “PSO delivers this season’s finest music”. The orchestra also performed the neo-Romanticism work In Wilderness is the Preservation of the World (Orchestral Fantasy after Thoreau) by Brian Fennelly. Prior to the concert, Mr. Fennelly and composer Bowdoin Professor Elliott Schwartz presented a concert preview lecture on “In Wilderness”. Ms. Neuwirth was critical of the Fennelly work, writing “Sounds? Yes. Music? No.” Mr. Hubley wrote of his reaction, that being “after an initial fit of enthusiasm, (his reaction) was only lukewarm.” The concert closed with the PSO playing Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5 in D major/D minor, Op. 107, the “Reformation Symphony”. Both reviewers wrote glowingly of the PSO’s performance of the Mendelssohn work. There were some empty seats this evening, due to a storm of wind and cold rain.

The number of “Magic of Christmas” concerts this year again increased, this time to six from five the previous year. Beginning on Thursday, “Magic” concerts were performed on the consecutive nights of December 15-16-17-18, with matinée concerts also on Saturday and Sunday. Guest-narrator Bob Elliott, who had a summer home in Cundy’s Harbor, was on hand to read from O. Henry’s “Gifts of the Maji”, Clement Clark Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” and Eugene Field’s “Jest ‘Fore Christmas”. (HS: if you aren’t old enough to remember radio’s [and then TV’s] “Bob and Ray” shows, Google that phrase to learn more about this half of the deadpan “these two might be guys from down the street” comedy team that long presented clever comedy skits loaded with dry wit. One of Bob Elliott’s popular classic characters was field reporter Wally Ballou.) Also joining the orchestra for this season’s “Magic” concerts were The Boy Singers of Maine, the Parish Bell Ringers and the 160-voice Magic of Christmas chorus. At times during the performances, some 250 performers were on stage.

Organist Douglas Rafter performed before each concert for an hour, and also played during the traditional audience sing-along. The Portland Municipal Organist began his musical program with Jean-Joseph Mouret’s Rondeau, from “Sinfonies de Fanfares”, followed by two Bach works—In Dulci Jubilo and Sleepers, Wake!  Two compositions by Louis-Claude Daquin were next, Noël No. 9 sur les Flutes and Noël X - Grand Jeu, et duo. From Tchaikovsky’s pen, then came two sections from  “The Nutcracker”, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Dance of the Reed Flutes. A work by Joseph Bonnet, The Elves, preceded Marcel Dupré’s Toccata on the “Gloria”. Pietro Yon’s 1917 Cristmas Carol, Gesù Bambino, led to the organist’s finale, Alexandre Guilmant’s March on a Theme from Handel’s “Messiah”.

Mr. Hangen, the Symphony, and the guest artists opened with Hal Hopson’s Joyful Praise, played by the Parish Bell Ringers, with the group remaining on stage to play Wallace Hornibrook’s arrangement of Pastorale and Allegro, from “Christmas Concerto” by Archangelo Corelli. Richard Hayman’s arrangement of Peter Wilhousky’s Carol of the Bells was next, when the Magic of Christmas Chorus joined with the orchestra in Bach’s Break Forth, O Beautious Light, from “Christmas Oratorio”. The Boy Singers of Maine then made their entrance, singing Hodie Christus Natus Est, from “Ceremony of Carols”. The Chorus sang Bach’s Christians, Be Joyful, from “Christmas Oratorio”, after which the Boy Singers performed Ralph Vaughan-Williams Children’s Christmas Song and Wassall Song, from “Four Seasons”. After Mr. Elliott’s reading from O. Henry, Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s 1927 A Carol Symphony was performed by the Symphony musicians  (HS:  Googling reveals that the work is based on four Christmas carols, and given additional orchestration and counterpoint arrangements. The four movements are written to be played uninterrupted consecutively.).

After intermission, the Bell Ringers returned for two more numbers:  Bell Jubilee by Ellen Jane Lorenz and Frances Callahan’s Gloria. The orchestra then performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Troika, from “Lieutenant Kijé”, followed by Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. Mr. Elliott read the Field poem, before the PSO Brass Ensemble played Bill Holcombe’s arrangement of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Mr. Elliott then returned to enchant everyone with Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas”. Music Director Hangen moved the concert(s) toward closure, first directing Richard Rodney Bennett’s Christmas Cantata IV:  God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen; It Came Upon a Midnight Clear; Now is Born the Divine Christ Child; and O Holy Night --  joined in all by the Magic of Christmas Chorus. Some audience members then rattled their programs to find the printed words for the finale, the PSO’s Christmas Carol Sing-Along that included: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; Deck the Halls; Jingle Bells; O Come All Ye Faithful; Silent Night; and We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

The “Magic of Christmas” concerts inaugurated by Bruce Hangen in 1980 had gone from three performances that first year, to four performaces in 1981, to five performances in 1982, and now to six performances this year. The “up-curve” would continue in 1984, with even more successful “Magic” concerts for Portlanders. This 1983 series of Holiday Musical Treats was enjoyed by 14,000 concertgoers.

A fun story that may have occurred during this season’s “Magic” run (HS:  That I may have told before.... but it’s too good to risk my being wrong about whether it was reported earlier.), concerned how one year the usually light-hearted Bruce Hangen decided to play a “musical tease” on the PSO musicians during a performance of The Twelve Days of Christmas. Playing a musical joke on the orchestra, he conducted the entire work in ¾ time instead of the mixed-meter score. Somehow the musicians stayed with him, and subsequent reports about the caper all agree that the audience was none-the-wiser about what was happening as they enjoyed the performance of the familiar seasonal piece. Everything between Bruce and the PSO “was kept on-stage”.

A picture taken during one of this season’s “Magic of Christmas” concerts appeared in the PSO concert program the next month, in January. A TV cameraman perched on a riser is shown off to the side of the assembled orchestra and chorus, suggesting that perhaps part or all of one of the performances was televised. (HS:  Information found after the preceding sentence was written revealed that one concert was videotaped by Channel 13.)

For an interesting story about some stolen “Magic of Christmas” tickets, see a tale told in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO.

During 1983, an ad-hoc committee was formed in Portland to examine the auditorium’s long-term needs and evaluate options (and financial consequences) to achieve improvements, especially in the acoustic area. A preliminary fund-raising target of $500,000 was set. (HS:  Long term, these preliminary efforts would lead to a aubstantial undertaking by both private citizens and city officials in Portland.)

The historic Odd Fellows Hall on Forest Avenue was renovated during this year to create the Portland Performing Arts Center, well-equipped with 290 theatre seats. In 2012, at this venue Portland Stage events remain a regular staple for Portlanders.


1984       In this era, radio station WDCS carried taped broadcasts of Portland Symphony Orchestra concerts on Friday evenings at 9:05.

The Classical Series concert on Tuesday-January 17 was an all-orchestral program, with the PSO under Mr. Hangen beginning with Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 11 (HS: Pre-season announcements about planned works to be performed during 1983-1984 had listed Giovanni Gabrielli’s Music for Brass as part of this concert. Searches of the PSO Archives haven’t yet revealed any explanation as to why the program change was made.). After the intermission, Mr. Hangen conducted his sixth Mahler Symphony since first taking over the Portland podium, this time the five-movement Symphony No. 6, A minor, often referred to as the “Tragische” or “Tragic”. Somewhat ironically, considering it’s “Tragic” nickname, Mahler composed his Sixth Symphony during  what was apparently an exceptionally happy time in his life. Writing about the evening for the Gannett newspapers, reviewer Sally Merrill focused a substantial part of her post-concert article around the subject of several lectures that Mr. Hangen presented to the audience about Mahler’s intricate musical intentions and accomplishments regarding this work. A musician herself, she expressed the strong point of view that his explanations were too lengthy and too many, and that they took away from her ability to enjoy the actual musical performance itself. One headline over her review was titled “Lecture detracts from concert”.

For the Mahler symphony, orchestra manager Burleigh reported afterward that the percussion section set up a series of cow bells in the hallway in back of the stage, since the music in one section called for “distant cowbells” and it was decided that the effect from the hallway was “just right”. He added that “in order for the musicians to see Mr. Hangen conducting, a small TV camera was set up on stage with a cable running to a monitor off stage that enabled Nancy Smith and Bob Jurkscheit to follow the beat effortlessly.” The latter also had a “destructive role” to play during this work – but you’ll have to search for that story in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO; it is titled “Axmanship Abilities Required”. The PSO was comprised of 100 people this evening, “the largest number of professional musicians ever assembled as the Portland Symphony Orchestra“, according to a later “From The Manager’s Desk” of Russ Burleigh. The last record had been set in 1980 when 91 musicians performed Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring”.

Two other newspaper reviewers liked what they heard from the Maestro. Writing in the York County Coast Star, reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth said that Mr. Hangen’s “lucid analysis... ...and excerpts from the orchestra... ...enhanced the (evening’s) performance“. She concluded her unquestionably positive review, headlined “PSO gives a stirring rendition of Mahler’s Sixth”, with “Thank you, PSO.” Also, in the Maine Sunday Telegram, Werner Deiman ended his favorable review of both Mr. Hangen and the orchestra with “Altogether, superlative performances in a total extraordinary evening.”

Obviously, the two reviewers’ takes on Mr. Hangen’s effort to provide substantial perspective about the Mahler symphony substantially differed. Three letters-to-the-editor subsequently printed by the P-H about Sally Merrill’s strong objections to Mr. Hangen’s “lectures” each voiced strong objections to her review. One letter-writer referred to her report as a “petty, carping piece”, while another was less strident.... nonetheless expressing the point of view that her review as “badly misjudged”. A subsequent P-H issue carried another reader’s objection about Ms. Merrill’s objections, that letter-writer wondering, “Why then did Ms. Merrill waste an entire column writing about what she obviously felt to be a programming flaw?” Later, a fifth letter objecting to Ms. Merrill’s review was also printed by the P-H. (HS: Mr. Christopher Hyde must have been loving the stew into which  Ms. Merrill had placed herself.)

The first Saturday-Pops concert of 1984, on January 28, featured the chief arranger of the Boston Pops, Richard Heyman (HS: There’s an Anecdote about him in a later section of this THINGS-PSO that may surprise you.). Widely also known for his “pops” guest-conducting gigs, he had a number of other conducting assignments, as respective Principal Pops Conductor of the St. Louis, Alabama, Hartford and Detroit symphonies. For his evening holding the baton before the PSO Pops Orchestra, the well-regarded “Dick” Heyman chose a theme of “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”. Works performed included the Gypsy Baron Overture, Limelight, King of the Road, The Thieving Magpie, Goldfinger, themes from “Charlie’s Angels” and “Hill St. Blues” and selections from “Gypsy” and “Pirates of Penzance”. Oh, and of course..... an arrangement of Play Gypsies, Dance Gypsies from “Countess Maritza”, originally composed by Hungarian composer Emmerich Kálmán and first appearing in Vienna in 1924. Two years later, an adaptation of the show made its Broadway debut in New York, running for 318 performances. A pdf.scan of this evening’s concert program, showing the list of the 17 works performed, is available at

The evening prior to two Candlelight concerts, FOKO presented Dennis James of the Ohio Theater in Columbus as guest performer on the Kotzschmar memorial Organ. He provided descriptive musical interpretations during a short French horror-comedy shown on a large screen, “Au Secor”. Following was what the audience really came for, during a program called “The Phantom Comes to Portland”. Yep---- you guessed it; shown was the original movie version of “The Phantom of the Opera”, first premiered in 1925, starring Lon Chaney, Sr.

A pair of Candlelight concerts were presented on February 5 at the Sonesta Ballroom, and featured was Luigi Boccherini’s Sinfonia Concertante in C Minor, Op 41, Gérard 519. The programs also presented two works requiring talented speakers. The first of those compositions was French poet Stéphane Mallarmé’s symbolic poem set to music by Paul Hindemith, Hérodiade, with Mary Stout as the rector. The second was William Walton’s lengthy Façade: An Entertainment, a work for speakers and instrumentalists that is comprised of accentuated and rhythmic readings, based on the poems of Dame Edith Sitwell. The Maine Times reported that work “read like a string of mad vignettes, bouncing from corney to maudling(sic), to poetry, to somber, to ironic, to ho-ho funny.” Mary Stout and Conductor Hangen were at the microphones for the “mad-pace” speaking parts. The paper concluded “when the piece came to its emphatic close, the audience left not humming its favorite themes, but feeling the thrill of good theater.”

Among the USM Faculty Concerts this winter were two featuring instructors who were also PSO principal musicians. French horn teacher John Boden performed on February 10, and clarinetist Eugene Jones on March 16.

A quartet of guitarists, a father-and-sons group, The Romeros, joined with the PSO and Conductor Hangen in Mid-February for a Classical Series concert on February 14, Valentine’s Day. Mr. Hangen had worked with two of the group a year earlier, at a concert in Tulsa. About the group, The New York Times had earlier written:  “....accepted as not only dazzling technicians but serious interpreters as well, and among a privileged handful of the world’s top guitarists.” First, the orchestra began with Sergei Prokofiev’s multi-movement Suite No. 2 from “Romeo and Juliet”, which reviewer Hubley felt demonstrated the ensemble’s “most clarity and control I have heard from them this season.” Celedonio Romero and his three sons performed Moreno-Torroba’s three-movement Concierto Iberico for four Guitars and Orchestra, composed for the quartet. Two encores followed. The EE article noted that “a sound system with speakers placed throughout the auditorium reinforced the guitars.... surprisingly” well. (HS: An oft-quoted New York Times observation about the quartet was that “One of them is probably the best classical guitarist in the world. So......... Which one?”) Another orchestral work performed was Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from “West Side Story”. The reporter wrote that “the climax of the concert was the well-known Boléro, by (Maurice) Ravel.” Since this evening was February 14, the Press Herald made a likely suitable holiday judgment that “last night’s concert had the makings of a perfect Valentine; passion, formal intricacy, (and) a little melancholia for depth”.

Ever heard of a glass harmonica?  Well, that’s what guest-artist Jim Turner played for Candlelight  concertgoers two and one-half weeks later, on March 4. Once again, Maestro Hangen invited an artist with whom he had previously worked at a concert (HS:  When both were in Colorado, in 1974),  to appear with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Turner, a street musician then living in New Orleans, had developed the ability to play numerous novelty instruments (HS:  He invented the “wrench harp”, in case you ever get that question in Trivial Pursuit. It was exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum.), many sounding amazingly authentic although often sounds made from glasses or bottles; some filled,  others not. (HS: Besides vibrating brandy snifters, he also could perform on saws and wrenches.) This March-4 Sunday afternoon (and repeated again in the evening, he and his “glass harmonica” were featured in selections from Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony. (HS: Although this work was long reputed to be the work of Joseph Haydn, later scholarship suggested that it was actually written by Leopold Mozart. Nonetheless, its authorship is still disputed, however, and other composers have been proposed as the symphony’s true author.) Another composition performed at these concerts was J.S. Bach’s Air from Orchestral Suite No.3 in D major, BWV 1068 , featuring Mr. Turner’s work with his saw. Another “saw piece” was Emile Waldteuful’s Skater’s Waltz. Three other pieces featured Mr. Turner’s versatility with the glass harp, an instrument comprised of more than 80 glasses of water and two fingerbowls. First was Béla Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances, Sz. 68, BB 76, a set of six movements that Googling reveals the composer wrote to take “four minutes and three seconds” to perform (HS: But usually takes about six minutes for most ensembles to play.). The others were Antonio Vivaldi’s Largo from Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, [“Winter” from “The Four Seasons”], and Mozart’s Adagio and Rondo (KV 617), for glassarmonica, flute, oboe, viola and cello. Prior to intermission Maestro Hangen led the Symphony musicians in Rondo, from Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 61, by Ludwig van Beethoven.

The PSO concluded this concert with a second half performance of Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 101 in D major, Hoboken 1/101, [the “Clock”] (HS: Although not specified in an EE review, it is hard to believe that Mr. Turner did not “help out” during the Haydn work.). Incidentally, the headline of the EE review by Doug Hubley may have been the best spot-on comment about this entire event, “Concert marked by zaniness”. with a refinement to begin his article saying, “elegance playing second fiddle to mild zaniness... the PSO surrendered the spotlight to cuckoos, quails, several children and a man who playd saw and glasses of water”. Mr. Turner’s performance in the final work, a rondo from Beethoven’s Violin Concerto (HS: Unspecified, but likely in D major, Op. 61 - III.), “ was a rare pleasure, combining artistry, novelty and humor in the right proportions”. (HS:  All in all.... this must have been a f-u-n show.)

A “Tasty” sidebit regarding these two Candlelight Concerts was uncovered thirty years later by Debby Hammond when she examined her personal collection of old PSO concert programs. An insert listed the fare that concertgoers could enjoy from the Sonesta Hotel kitchens. Cream Puff Swans, with various sauces, were available for $1.75, or for that price one could partake of a serving of Angel Food Cake with fruit topping. Imported cheeses were accompanied by a bill for $1.50. Coffee and tea was priced at $1.00, a carafe of wine at $7.50 or a glass for $1.50. Cocktails and liqueri were variously available for $1.75 to $3.50. A copy of the insert is included in the scan of the program for these Candlelight events.

Mr. Turner remained in Portland to perform two pairs of Youth Concerts, on Monday and Tuesday, March 5 & 6. For these programs, Mr. Hangen chose the theme, “Musical Curiosities”. With the Symphony, the musical sawyer and glass harmonicist performed parts from Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony , Emile Waldteuful’s Skater’s Waltz, and portions of the humorous 1886 musical suite of fourteen movements, Carnival of the Animals, by French Romantic composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Also on the programs were excerpts from Bach’s  Suite for Orchestra, No. 3, Movement 2, Air; Béla Bartók’s Rumanian Folk Dances; and Antonio Vivaldi’s Winter (Largo) from “The Four Seasons”.

On each of these two days of youth concerts, a total of 850 students from the Twin Cities’ schools were bused to PCHA in two groups, bringing all public and parochial fourth-graders to the event. The trips were coordinated courtesy of LPL Plus APL, the Lewiston and Auburn area community artist organization. This was the third annual excursion for local students to attend a PSO Youth Concert, with costs of the 19 buses required for transportation underwritten by local civic clubs.

The Northeast Winds joined the PSO for a Pops concert on March 17, the ensemble’s first appearance with a Symphony Orchestra. There couldn’t have been a more appropriate date for this Irish folk trio. Unfortunately, no newspaper review of this concert has yet been found in the PSO Archives. Googling turned up some info about the three guys who made up the trio. The group, founder Allan McHale, Paula McHugh and Emery Hutchins, listed themselves as “three singer-musicians who are craftsmen of folk songs from Ireland and the British Isles. They are known for traditional Irish favorites, haunting ballads, popular sing-a-longs, sea shanties and rousing instrumentals”. Founded in 1980, they have “kept busy playing tour dates in the U.S. and Canada, playing everywhere from small-town community halls to big-city civic centers”. They performed in pop series with major symphony orchestras and also in college and community concerts. The group’s leader then lived in Kennebunk, specializing in rebel songs and playing guitar, mandolin and banjo. His first sidekick, from New York, played banjo, guitar, concertina and specialized in songs from the sea. Sidekick #2, from Kittery, played fiddle, accordion, guitar and whistle; his singing specialties involved Irish ballads and sea songs. A PSO promo said that they were “A Maine trio that features songs from the sea, mountain ballads, and traditional Irish music. Their performance is highlighted by an audience sing-along.”.

Fortunately, since at the date of this writing (early November, 2013) no PSO programs from the early-to-mid 1980s have been found in the PSO Archives, Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diary records do list all of the works performed at this evening of Irish-related music. Thus, since newspaper clippings –when still available—rarely list all Pops-concert pieces played, this THINGS-PSO compilation can be considered quite complete for this concert. Orchestral works played by the Symphony kicked off with Victor Herbert’s Irish Rhapsody, followed by Arthur Foote’s Irish Folk Song. Next came a Paraphrase of Long, Long Ago attributed to Voigt, with Leroy Anderson’s six-segment Irish Suite sending concertogers off to the lobby. After intermission Maestro Hangen conducted Percy Grainger’s Irish Tune from County Derry, after which the Northeast Winds folk group took centerstage, ready to belt out nine traditional Irish melodies. Those were:  Valparaiso; The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (HS: Hey!  I thought that was Aussie!?); Fiddler’s Reach; The Road to Bangor; The Leaving of Liverpool; Crazy Man Michael; Whiskey in the Jar; Dan Malone; Mountain Tay; and Drunken Sailor. An Irish Sing-Along, including It’s a Long Way to Tipperary; Molly Malone; When Irish Eyes Are Smiling; Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Rah; and My Wild Irish Rose. A reprise of “Tipperary” concluded this PSO salute to St. Patrick’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day revelers.

While a March 20 event at PCHA wasn’t officially a Portland Symphony Orchestra concert, 54 PSO’ers supported the chorus at a Choral Art Society concert. Robert Russell conducted Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, composed in the 1860s. The requiem is a large-scale work for chorus, orchestra, also both a soprano and a baritone soloist. It comprises seven movements, which together last up to 80 minutes, making this work Brahms’s longest composition.

Late that month, the Evening Express reported about what it headlined as a “Memorable PSO Concert”, held on Tuesday, March 27. Critic Doug Hurley began “A season of steady work is paying off for the Portland Symphony Orchestra (and its audiences).” Reasons he considered the evening memorable were “improvement in control and definition has been consistent from concert to concert”, “plus (a) well-selected program and superb work from guest violinist Kees Kooper”, concertmaster of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, and one of Holland’s foremost violinists. Mr. Kooper solo’d during Alban Berg’s final composition, Concerto for Violin and Orchestra. (HS: I needed to look up info about this composer, who was a member of the Second Viennese School with Schoenberg and Webern, and produced compositions that combined Mahlerian Romanticism with a personal adaptation of Schoenberg’s twelve-tone technique. He died at age 50, and this concerto was his final work.) The reviewer cleverly mentioned that he “was leery” of the piece, “being caught somewhere between the enthusiasm Conductor Bruce Hangen had expressed for it and the sentiments of some seated near (him who joked) Twelve tones --- [Bronx cheer]’.” Mr. Kooper, though, gave it a “stirring rendition”, although the audience gave the performance what the reviewer said was a “reserved reception”. Also on the program were Jean Sibelius’ tone poem Pohjala’s Daughter, Opus 49 [1906], and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92 [1811]. Although critic Mr. Hurley expressed some “criticism” for “excessive brass” during the evening and the second movement of the symphony “slightly fast”, at the end of the review he nonetheless concluded “In all, a fine job”.

The No-Question-About-It highlight of this season (HS: And maybe that would have been true for MANY seasons.... were it not for---  well, wait...... we’ll get to that later) was jazz-vibraphonist Lionel Hampton guest-appearing with the PSO for a Saturday, April 7 Pops Concert at City Hall Auditorium, to rave reviews. Called Symphonie Fantastique, the evening was a diamond jubilee celebration of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Hampton, who in the ‘30s was respectively a member of both Louis Armstrong’s and Benny Goodman’s small bands, had formed his own group in 1940. (HS: “Hamp’s” formal association with Mr. Goodman was the “first time they ever had integration in the music business”, he told the Lewiston Journal shortly before the concert in Portland. Folks said that “he became the Jackie Robinson of Music” [although that’s a misnomer since the 3rd/sup> baseman’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers came seven years later, in 1947].) At the concert he played some of his most popular numbers, including King David Suite, Flying Home, Secret Love, Airmail Special, Hamp’s Boogie, Midnight Sun, Moonglow (where he “hit his stride” said a Press Herald review) and In the Mood.

The PSO had kicked off the concert with Louis Herald’s Overture from “Zampa”, then Sir Edward Elgar’s familiar Pomp and Circumstance March, Op. 39, No. 4. Before Conductor Bruce Hangen bridged to the Hampton end of the show the Symphony premiered Portlander Corey Allen’s Walden Suite for Jazz Flute and Orchestra, which featured PSO principal flutist Randolph Bowman and the composer at the piano. The P-H reported that at one stage of the concert the Orchestra played a “long medley of Hampton staples... ...that (began with) a raucous tutti on King Porter Stomp”, during which “the PSO brass served notice that they were indeed in Hamp’s element”.

It was reported that Pops concertgoers welcomed Lionel Hampton with a standing ovation before his mallet hit even the first note. The Press Herald jazz reviewer put that initial greeting in perspective, reporting “Hampton managed to top the welcoming ovation with a performance that earned three more at (the) program’s end after as many encores.” Obviously, the PSO concert-scheduling team got an A+ for arranging a super event. (HS: You may recall that originally this was to be the October season-opener for the 1983-1984 Pops series, with Cole Porter hits performed originally set to be played on this night. It’s a sure bet that the trade-off of switching the two worked just right, with everyone happy vibing..... night and day. ==Get it?!!)

In his final concert-program “From The Podium” column, unusually, Mr. Hangen devoted all the space to a singular topic. He again reminded PSO supporters of the concerns he first raised seven years earlier, regarding the need to improve City Hall Auditorium’s acoustics. Once again he argued that it made sense “that substantial attention should be given in the one single and most practical improvement which (could) do more than anthing else towards improving the orchestra”. He said that discussions involving city officials about this topic, even a study made by experts that recommended acoustic improvements, were important. But he argued that however, “there is now much more importance, even urgency attached to an area which simply must improve soon.” He concluded that “If in fact City Hall is to be our ‘home’ for our next 60 years, then all of us -- you and the orchestra – deserve to have the best home possible, capable of communicating to you all those wonderful sounds which we are devoted to performing.”

In mid April (HS: On the 15th  --  IRS Due-Date Day; Ugh!  PSO Concert Day; Yea!), the final pair of Candlelight concerts of the season featured an All-Bach performance. Audiences heard the great composer’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, in G Major, BWV 1048, then Cantata No. 51 (“Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen!”), BWV 51 (BC A134).6; sung by soprano Bonnie Scarpelli. After intermission Shirley Mathews was featured, performing the composer’s Harpsichord Concerto No. 4. The concerts concluded with Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, in F Major, BWV 1047, during which both concertmaster Sandra Kott and principal flutist Randy Bowman had major solos, with the work also featuring the talents of principal oboist Neil Boyer and Principal trumpet John Schnell. No review of these two Sonesta Ballroom performances have as yet (2013) been located.

The winner of this year’s Portland Symphony Orchestra-Bookland Piano Competition was Stephen Drury, then at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Judges based their first-prize decision on his performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C major, Op. 26.

At about this same time, the National Endowment for the Arts announced the award of a $25,000 grant to the PSO to support the Chamber Orchestra series and youth concerts. (HS: The equivalent in inflation-adjusted dollars in 2012 would be about $55,000)

The closing classical concerts of the 1983-1984 subscription series were performed on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 24 and 25. Joining the PSO were The Choral Art Society and the USM Chorale (HS: Both under the direction of conductor Robert Russell), the 24-voice strong Boy Singers of Maine and three vocal soloists -- soprano Mary Burgess, tenor Carroll Freeman and baritone Julian Patrick. The main event scheduled for these programs was Carmina Burana, Cantiones Profanae, a collection of bawdy 11th-13th century poems written by heretic monks, set to music by Carl Orff in the 1930s as part of his musical triptych “Trionfi”. The work is a scenic cantata based on 24 of the poems found in the medieval collection. The concert program contained five full pages of translation so that the audience could better understand what Mr. Orff intended.

This evening’s other work, performed prior to the intermission, was Benjamin Britten’s Les Illuminations, Op. 18, a musical setting of poetry written by French poet Arthur Rimbaud. Mary Burgess added her soprano voice to the orchestral music of the Symphony members. Something a bit unusual for Portland Symphony concertgoers in this concert was that both major works were composed in the 20th century, also that both were for vocalists. The Evening Express published a review of the concert written by Doug Hubley. At the close of the article he referenced the performanceas “a shining close to the PSO’s 59th season”.

When asked some several decades later for some of his top memories regarding Choral Art Society involvement at PSO performances, CAS Director Robert Russell quickly cited Maestro Hangen’s “first Carmina”.

About a year after newspapers reported that PSO conductor Bruce Hangen was interested in a similar position in Tulsa (HS: He didn’t make such a move), word reached Portland that the chairman of an Omaha search committee also looking for a new conductor said about Hangen that he was a leading contender for that job. The Omaha committee chairman, David Shrader, said “He’s in the top, the very top category”, and “He’s in the top of a list of five”. Indications were that Omaha would soon make a decision. Hangen’s contract with the PSO still had a year to run at this point.

On May 23, a formal photograph was taken of the Community Orchestra of the Portland Symphony, conducted by Clinton Graffam. The picture was taken the night of the orchestra’s performance in City Hall Auditorium. No formal picture of the ensemble had been taken since the group’s founding in 1971.

Late during the 1983-1984 season, partially in response to dissatisfaction about the very-high pay levels and extra performance privileges that had been accorded the now-departed Portland String Quartet, as well as lack of agreed-upon working conditions, the PSO musicians voted  to organize. A committee of players from the Portland Symphony Orchestra (HS: An “Orchestra Committee” that off-and-on-in-the-past had been active) began discussions with the PSO management and board of trustees regarding various work-rules-related operating procedures and pay scales and that would uniformly apply to to all PSO-ers.

The management of the Symphony was represented at these discussions by PSO Manager Russ Burleigh, board member Joel Martin and then-President Joan Woodsum, with Past-President Peter Plumb also involved (HS:  Joel would shortly later would move up to become PSO board chief). On the employee side were trombonist Nicholas Orovich, contrabassist George Rubino, and violinist Cornelia Kohler (HS:  She later became Cornelia Sawyer, and is currently [2014] still a PSO’er.). Musicians John Boden and Sandra Kott were also involved. All of these players had been key participants in the musicians deciding to form an employee group.

After communicating with people who were then on various sides of the negotiations, it is my sense that there were strong commitments from all individuals to "make this work" and “better the organization”. Other than verbal jousting that almost always occurs when labor discussions of any nature take place, anything that might have then been described as "animosity" apparently was not present........ always a good start. (HS: Examination of pay scales during this era reveal that the earlier-quite-low rate had already been substantially increased since the final year when the PSQ absorbed the majority of total PSO wage expenses. Thus the musicians’ interest in agreeing upon work rules was likely indeed a paramount issue.)

At this point in time the per service pay and travel reimbursement policies provided by the PSO were not as good as those from other New England area orchestras that competed for musicians, such as Rhode Island, Springfield and New Hampshire. In addition to more-uniform higher pay for service and also premium pay scale for key players, both outcomes that helped the musicians --and ultimately also the PSO from a quality standpoint-- were new agreements for the Portland Symphony to provide better per-diem and zone-based travel allowances to the players. These provisions became effective with the 1984-1985 season. From this point going forward, annual personnel contracts with the musicians included the clause “Personnel Policies for Musicicans of the Portland Symphony Orchestra as incorporated herein by reference”. With the new contract, the PSO became able to attract higher-quality musicians. Also, most players traveling from longer distances now had the option of hotel housing supplied by the PSO. The many strong personal bonds that would be developed over time by spending quality off-the-stage time together proved important in firming up the "family feeling" that today’s PSO musicians (in 2014) often still refer to as unique to their involvement with Portland’s orchestra versus other regional ensembles. (HS: While other orchestras in New England also often offer overnight privileges, many involve home-stays with respective subscribers and supporters.) Several current PSO musicians cite the labor-related agreement reached in the early-1980s as marking the "period when the PSO changed into a truly professional orchestra". The initial increase in per-service rate of pay for the 1984-1985 season was just 10 percent; however the rate would increase a further 67 percent over the ensuing five seasons. Certainly, by then the PSO would have become a much more attractive gig for high-quality out-of-town musicians to consider.

Two PSO players, concertmaster Sandra Kott and principal French horn John Boden, wrote the first draft of the labor policy agreement, which as is illustrated above, euphemistically omitted the word "contract". Mr. Boden subsequently drafted a statement of bylaws for the Portland Symphony Orchestra Committee, patterned after the committee at the Omaha Symphony, with which he had performed before coming to Portland. The bylaws stated that the twofold purposes of the organization were (1) “to provide a formal vehicle of communication between the Portland Symphony Orchestra management and its employed musicians”, and (2) “to act as a central organizing body for the employed musicians and a vehicle for effective communication among them.” A small dues obligation was requested and collected (HS: Presumably a legal procedure to officially cement the authority of the committee, since the amount was only $5 annually.). The bylaws were adopted in April of 1984.

The full body of contracted musicians subsequently elected seven members from their ranks to serve as the Committee, which in turn elected Mr. Boden as Chairperson and Ms. Kohler as Secretary. Also elected by the Committee was  the initial Liason Officer from the Committee to the PSO board, who subsequent formal labor agreements would permit to attend meetings without a vote. Mr. Boden was the point-of-contact person who dealt directly with PSO Manager Burleigh regarding individual player’s individual working issues.

Joel C. Martin was elected to what would be two terms as PSO President.

The PSO’s 1983-1984 Fund Drive surpassed its goal of $70,000, more than half of the total contributed by the Portland business community. The PSO’s full budget for the season had been just under $900,000. The Women’s Committee’s Dinners for the Symphony fund-raising event generated $20,000, with over 2000 people throughout Greater Portland and its neighboring communities participating. The total raised was $5000 higher than the goal.

Also in May, the Women’s Committee purchased an Apple 3 C computer for use by PSO administrative assistant Jane Dahlquist. Commenting on her ability to now better maintain the PSO’s 6500-name mailing list, the 1982 Bates College grad said, “Working with the platemaker and addressograph (both turn-of-the-century museum pieces) (has been) time-consuming and not completely reliable.” Reading now in an old Sounds of the Symphony publication about the arrival of the Apple then in Jane’s eye (HS: it’s 2014 as this paragraph is being written) reveals how “progress” was measured in the early 1980s: she turned out a batch of 400 labels “in just 20 minutes”!!  (HS:  For fun, I checked to see what the early-2014 value of $1000 worth of Apple stock purchased in 1984 would be. Wow!  ----  had the PSO bought Apple stock then......  current Director of Finance, Beth Ansheles, would report to the board that it was now worth $176,000!  That’s “PROGRESS”!  Oh.... the value of perfect hindsight.)

On June 17, conductor Hangen led the PSO during dedication ceremonies opening the Deering Oaks Bandstand. The theme of the ensemble’s one-hour set was “Taverns, Toasts and Tankards”. Newspaper coverage of the event did not include much info about what was performed, although Beer Barrell Polka did receive a passing mention in one article. Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries eventually surfaced as this THINGS-PSO was being drafted, so list of the fun numbers performed follows:  Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man; Leo Delibes’ Procession of Bacchus from “Sylvia”; Camille Saint-Saëns’ Bacchanale from “Samson and Delilah”; Georges Bizet’s Toreador Song from “Carmen”, and also Habanera; Johann Strauss Jr.’s Wine Women and Song Waltz and also his Champagne Polka. For reasons you’ll read below, three “beer songs” were featured --- Jaromír Vejvoda’s Beer Barrel Polka, then Bill Moffitt’s Budweiser Medley, and finally the crowd-favorite Maine Stein Song.

Had they auditioned to replace the orchestra’s percussion section that “day in the park”, it’s possible that Music Director Hangen might have been sufficiently impressed by the clomp, clomp, clomping talents of the Budweiser Clydesdales at the event to offer the horse team a permanent role with the Symphony...... but of course- that didn’t really cross his mind after the PSO staff reminded him that HE WOULD BE THE SOLE MEMBER of the “Clean-Up” detail. The $50,000-bandstand was built primarily through a major contribution from Frank Gaziano of beer and wine distributor National Distributors.

In early July the PSO traveled to both Orchard Beach and Bridgeton, for a pair of 4th-of-July Pops concerts (Bridgton’s “got the gig” on The Fourth, at Pleasant Mountain; OOB hosted the PSO on July 3). These programs ranged from Richard Rodgers music for the ballet Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, from “On Your Toes”....... to A Duke Ellington Fantasy by Hermann; also Selections from “Fame”, by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford; and the grand finale—Carl Strommen’s An American Celebration. The audiences also were treated to the special “1924 Hit Parade” Medley offered in honor of the orchestra’s 60th Anniversary being commemorated that year. That medley included sections from  California, Here I Come; Rosemarie; Jealousy; Indian Love Call; Tea for Two; and Rhapsody in Blue. (HS: A wise-guy reporter writing in the Journal Tribune claimed that “The medley concluded with the mosquitoes coming out”. And, No!  That’s not a song!). A work by Wagner was on the fun programs (HS: but..... nowhere among the PSO clippings could I locate what it was.... And then, Bruce Hangen’s concert performance diaries came to the rescue--  listed first on the programs was Entrance of the Guests, from “Tannhauser”.). The march that Arthur Fiedler long used to open his concerts, Frederick Bigelow’s Our Director, was played, as was Igor Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite: Infernal Dance – Berceuse – and Finale . Also played was the Overture to “Zampa” by Louis Joseph Ferdinand Hérold (HS: A noisy small plane unfairly [since the concert sponsor was Shop ‘n Save Supermarket] trailing an advertising banner for Shaw’s high above the park caused Bruce Hangen to delay the start of this piece at OOB. Ouch!). Two All-American numbers were, of course, played at both concerts—The Star-Spangled Banner and Stars and Stripes Forever. Honoring Old Orchard Beach’es traditional visitors, O Canada was also played in that Boardwalk Town. Music for the following is known to have been in the musicians’ folders: The Washington Post March and also The Federal March, both by John Philip Sousa; The Battle Hymn of the Republic; John Edmondson’s March of the Minutemen; Duke Ellington’s Mood Indigo, then Take the A Train, and also Don’t Get Around Much Any More; George M. Cohan’s A Grand Old Flag; Morton Gould’s American Salute and When Johnny Comes Marching Home; and finally (WHEW!!  My.... that was a LONG LIZST of works!) what Mr. Hangen told a Bridgton reporter would be Cavalcade of American Song, a medley of about 25 tunes. Also performed was a rarely-heard Sousa work that Mr. Hangen dug up, the March King’s President Garfield’s Inaugural March. A less-than-expected crowd of about 1500 enjoyed the Old Orchard Beach show, which was held at a then-new baseball field of the Maine Guides AAA-level minor league baseball team (of course, one of the encores at that venue was Take Me Out To The Ballgame, as also was a rarely-performed Sousa tribute to baseball- a march titled The National Game.) The Biddeford Journal Tribune reported that a late- afternoon “summertime shower cleared the air and the evening was summer fresh” for the OOB concert. (HS: Another highlight of the evening was that the PSO concert was the first event at the new facility when beer could be sold, following passage in Augusta of legislation allowing patrons to return to their seats “with suds” tapped at the stadium. Of course, the PSO crowd was orderly; what happened, if anything, at the baseball game the following evening wasn’t preserved in the PSO Archives.)

The next week, word was received that Bruce Hangen had accepted an offer from Omaha to become conductor of that locale’s larger (than Portland’s) symphony for the next three years. Mr. Hangen was selected from out of some 250 applicants. He assured the PSO board, musicians and concertgoers that he would complete the remaining year on his contract in Portland, while commuting to his new duties in the Nebraska city. (HS: The Sunday Telegram said that he would make 15 round-trips between the cities by the next mid-May.) A 12-member search committee headed by past PSO President Peter Plumb, was created to screen an expected large number of applications. The orchestra would elect two musician members of the PSO to serve on the committee (HS: The two later became principal French horn player John Boden and principal cellist James Kennedy. Concertmaster Sandra Kott also served an ex-officio role). An advertisement was scheduled to be included in several of the American Symphony Orchestra League’s publications. The Evening Express reported that Mr. “Plumb lauded Hangen.... ....for bringing to the orchestra ‘a dramatic increase in its artistic and musical abilities.”

In addition to the natural interests that most professionals have to advance their careers, Mr. Hangen (Years later, during a person-to-person conversation with yours truly) said that he was especially attracted to the position since Omaha had full-time orchestra players in its ranks. Chamber music concerts, of course, had grown substantially during the music director’s tenure in Portland.

During the remainder of July the PSO remained very busy. In addition to the two Independence Day weekend Pops concerts, also scheduled were an additional four “Pops”, three Starlight concerts and an all-Beethoven chamber concert. The respective locales were Bath, Ogunquit, Portsmouth, North Conway in NH, Cape Elizabeth, and all-Beethoven performances at both a Starlight concert and a classical performance at Westbrook College.

The first concert on tap for the PSO was on Saturday, July 21, a Starlight Series concert at Fort Williams that had a “Night In Old Vienna” theme. The Women’s Committee “Sounds of the Symphony” newspaper-for-subscribers told readers that “You’ll get stars in your eyes, lying on the grass, listening to the PSO!” (HS:  That tidbit was spotted in a now-30-year-old copy of that issue saved by longtime percussionist Nancy Smith and lent to yours truly. Thanks, Nancy!) Guest artists soprano Louise Russell and tenor John Walker sang selections from several operettas, accompanied by the Symphony. The evening’s program included the Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II; also that composer’s Blue Danube Waltz and Emperor Waltz; then Music from “The Merry Widow”, including Vilia, all by Franz Lehár. Johann, Sr.’s charging Radetsky March was on the program, as was Lehár’s Gold and Silver Waltz. A rarely-performed number by the duo and the Symphony musicians was My Hero from “The Chocolate Soldier” by Oscar Straus (HS: Yep! That’s a correct spelling.); and several polkas (keep reading).

Music Director Hangen’s concert performance diaries list duets sung by Ms. Russell and Mr. Walker, which included:  Mein Lebenslauf ist Lieb und Lust Waltz, Op. 263 by Joseph Strauss; Johann, Jr.’s Laughing Song from “Die Fledermaus”; Carl Zeller’s Greetings, Everyone from Der Vogelhändler’ (The Bird Seller); Lehár’s Freunde, das Leben, from “Giuditta”, also his Wer hat die Liebe from “Das Land des Lächelns (The Land of Smiles)”, and then Love Comes Dancing from “Count of Luxembourg”; Vienna, City of My Dreams by Rudolph  Sieczyński. More Lehár included Gladly I’ll Kiss the Ladies, from “Paganini” and Frei und Jung dabel from “Schön ist die Welt (Beautiful is the World)”.

Mr. Hangen’s diary list reveals FIVE!! Strauss encores:  Johann, Jr.’s Excursion Train Polka,  then Auf der Jagd Polka,  and his powerful Thunder and Lightning Polka; Eduard’s Bahn Frei! Polka; and finally, Joseph’s Feuerfest Polka. (HS:  I don’t know about you, but this concert included lots of numbers that were ones I didn’t know. Whew!  What a list!)

The PSO traveled to Bath the next day, for a July 22 afternoon Family Pops Concert that was sponsored by the Performing Arts Center of Bath. This week-end in Bath the locales admired two visiting tall ships and a score of Friendship sloops that paraded on the Kennebec River as they made their way to the annual Friendship sloop races at Boothbay Harbor. For its contribution to the celebrating, the PSO performed fun, light-hearted music from its summer-concert music repertoire which included John Philip Sousa’s Semper Fidelis March and also his Washington Post March; three excerpts from music by Tschaikovsky from the Ballet “Sleeping Beauty”; Bill Holcombe selections from the stage musical “Fame”; and the familiar orchestral romp from Offenbach’s operetta “Orpheus in the Underworld”, Can-Can. Other pieces performed in Bath were:  Excerpts from “The Firebird” by Igor Stravinsky; Bernard Hermann’s 1924 Hit Parade; Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, Jr.; the Eduard Strauss polka, Bahn Frei!; Mozart’s Overture to “The Impressario”; a Theme from the Olympic Games (HS: One of the many such compositions, but no specific composer listed. However, other sources reveal that Leo Arnaud’s Bugler’s Dream was in the PSO musicians’ folders this summer..... so that likely was the “Olympic-Theme” number performed.); We Sail the Ocean Blue from “HMS Pinafore” by Gilbert and Sullivan; 76 Trombones from “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett; and the Theme from “Chariots of Fire” by Vangelis (HS: Whose complete name, Googling reveals, is a marketing exec’s nightmare, Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou.).

If it was Tuesday the 24th of July..... then the traveling troupe of PSO musicians and Bruce Hangen should have been in Ogunquit “At The Beach”---  and they were, for another take on “A Night In Old Vienna”. The York County Coast Star reported that “an estimated 2,700 enjoyed the free concert”.

Early in the evening of Friday, July 28, (HS: I’ve gotta’ share this one with you), a contingent from the PSO Women’s Committee marched in a wet and drizzly Portland parade to celebrate the Deering Oaks Family festival. The clipping reads: “Women marching for the Portland Symphony Orchestra turned their swift gait into a Charleston dance. Drill teams kept in step with a strict drum cadence and bagpipers filled the streets with sweet sounds.” (HS: A joker might jest that this confirms what everyone already knew about the loyal PSO ladies--- when it was needed..... they’d march to their own drumbeat!  Yea!!)

That same evening and continuing throughout Saturday the 29th from 10 am through an evening concert, a Beethoven Festival Week-end at Westbrook College carried on under the marketing title “A Beethoven Celebration”. The event began with a concert of solos and small chamber ensemble works on Friday. A two-hour discussion about the great composer on Saturday morning was alliteratively titled “Bagels, Bruce and Beethoven”, covering his life and music at the college. That evening a PSO concert, “Beethoven’s Greatest Hits”, featured pianist Stephan Manes, and included the the Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, popularly known as “The Emperor”; the Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72a andthe Symphony No. 5 In C Minor, Op. 67: I. Articles published several months earlier had described the week-end as a three day affair, to conclude on Sunday. However, putting two and two together, when an opportunity developed for a Sunday gig for the PSO in Portsmouth, it appears that the Westbrook event was contracted into a two-day festival. (HS: Check out the Anecdote section of this THINGS-PSO to read a fun tale about a work listed on the program that intentionally was not played.)

So what was going on in Portsmouth on July 29 that would bring the PSO there for the first time ever?  The answer:  the Portsmouth Hospital Guild and the Guild of Strawberry Banke, Inc. joined to sponsor an “All-American Pops” outdoor concert at the Portsmouth High School athletic field. Following a sweltering afternoon, hundreds of listeners enjoyed a cool evening breeze before they enjoyed the music from the Portland Symphony Orchestra. Folks were on folding chairs or spread out on blankets. The evening began with Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man. Works known to have been performed that were listed in clippings found in the PSO Archives were described in Foster’s Daily Democrat as “a repertoire that ran the spectrum of classical and pop from Beethoven to Duke Ellington, from the ‘1812’ Overture to a medley from... ...’Fame’ ”. It was a show... ...that offered something for everyone”. Among those were excerpts from Tschaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” and Beethoven’s Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72a.

Other works performed included: Richard Rodgers’ Slaughter on 10th Avenue from “On Your Toes”; Bill Holcombe’s Selections from “Fame”, referenced above; the Bahn Frei! Polka by Eduard Strauss; the “Chariots of Fire” Theme by Vangelis; William Schuman’s New England Triptych; Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man; and, honoring the Los Angeles Olympics of that summer, Leo Arnaud’s Bugler’s Dream (HS:  This time Mr. Hangen’s diaries are specific.).

During a concert-concluding, rousing “1812” Overture., the Symphony’s 65 musicians received some help. They were aided by ear-splitting percussion effects from eleven eighteenth-century field cannon fired by the First New Market Militia, each smartly attired in Continental Army and militia uniforms. “Huge billows of smoke (blew) skyward, all to the delight of the many children listening and watching”. That festival of music and sound was followed by two encores, Meredith Willson’s Seventy-Six Trombones and John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever.

At a July 30 Pops Concert in North Conway, NH, a selectman from nearby Bartlett, Blaine Chadbourne, outbid his closest rival and then thoroughly enjoyed himself when he served as guest conductor during John Philip Sousa’s March - El Capitan. A huge crowd was on hand at Schouler Park. While no post-concert clipping has so far (2013) been found in the PSO Archives, Bruce Hangen’s concert performance diary listings reveal that the program duplicated that presented in Portsmouth a day earlier.

Sometime in July (HS: All I could glean from an undated clipping that was pasted near other July-dated articles in a scrapbook was a mention of “tomorrow”. Oh, well.) Clinton W. Graffam once again guest-conducted Chandler’s Band in a free concert at one of its weekly gigs at the Fort Allen Park Bandstand on Eastern Promenade.

Two weeks following the “Old Vienna” Starlight concert, the PSO returned to the oft-used Cape Elizabeth venue for another Saturday-night Starlight gig, on August 4. This “Barbershop Pops” featured the championship Boston Common SPEBSQSA-foursome, also the Downeasters—the 70-member Portland barbershop chorus. One source shows the PSO kicking things off with a musical joke, Gioacchino Rossini’s Overture to “The Barber of Seville”.

The Boston Common sang the George M. Cohan  favorites-- Give My Regards to Broadway, RosieMaryYou’re a Grand Old Flag, and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Among pieces sung by the larger group was For Me and My Gal. The PSO’s concert part of the evening included Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D minor, selections from “The Music Man” and “My Fair Lady”, Giuseppe Verdi’s Triumphal March from “Aïda”, as well as compositions by Rossini and J.S. Bach. Betwixt many populist old favorites sung by the two barbershop groups, the PSO also thrilled concertgoers with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. For an encore to close out the evening, the Boston Common belted out You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby. (HS: An extra-fun touch that the Evening Express reported about that calm night was when, during the intermission, small groups of the 45-member Downeasters Chorus who had just concluded the first half of the concert, broke away and variously wandered among strolling intermission crowds while singing various old favorites so that concertgoers could get good, close “hears” of their harmonies.)

That summer, long time PSO stalwart Dr. Philip Anderson passed away. The Evening Express reported that the local dentist had been “associated with concerts at City Hall for more than 48 years. He was production manager of the Portland Symphony Orchestra for several years and was known to children and symphony members as ‘Uncle Phil’. “ He had been a U.S. Navy veteran in World War II and retired as captain after 29 years. He was also beloved for his personal friendship with Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, who for many years he “chauffeured” around Portland during the famous maestro’s guest-conducting gigs with the PSO.

In a tribute to Uncle Phil (one of the many names he was known by), PSO General Manager Russ Burleigh penned that for “literally dozens of years, ‘Dr. A’ manned the backstage area, hosting guest artists, consoling conductors, bandying with musicians. At times he coud be very formal, perhaps harking back to his days as Governor John Reed’s naval aide; other times, he was a practical joker and a teller of tales. He was full of stories of the great and the near great with whom he had worked backstage in City Hall Auditorium. The walls of his den are still covered with autographed photos of Duke Ellington, Virgil Fox, Richard Tucker and Shirley Verrett, among others. But his favorite was Arthur Fiedler. One favorite photo was of ‘Mr. Fiedler’ (never Arthur) and Dr. A’s dalmation, Darlana, suitably autographed in white by the famed conductor: ‘arf. Arf’. Dr. Anderson couldn’t make it to City Hall for the past several years, because of a debilitating illness. But we kept his name in the program as production manager, because he always intended to return to his former position. I wish he could have. But he passed away in July, not long after his 75th birthday. He will be missed by all of us in the PSO family.”

Also that summer, the PSO sponsored its third straight Volvo Pro Tennis tournament in Portland. The opening night crowd on the town common was more than 5800 people. This fund-raising event was obviously a popular one for Portlanders.

Sometime this upcoming season the PCA would sponsor a concert at City Hall Auditorium by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, featuring pianist Murray Perahia. This type of philharmonic option being made available to Portland concertgoers likely helped the PSO organization stay focused on offering the highest quality of performances.

This 1984-1985 season, a new principal clarinetist joined the Portland Symphony Orchestra (HS:   Eugene Jones, for eight years previously with the PSO, and also a teacher at USM, had moved on following the previous season, and had accepted a position in the North Carolina Visiting Artists Residency Program [his mother then lived in Raleigh].). Following a joint search between the University of Southern Maine and the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Thomas Parchman became the second person to receive a salary shared by the two organizations. In reverse chronological order, he held a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Southern California, a Master of Music from Northwestern University, and a Bachelor’s degree in both Music Education and Performance from Southern Methodist University. Thirty years later, yours truly has many times seen Tom’s students signing in and copiously taking notes during PSO dress rehearsals....... then afterwards signing out on a sheet Tom places on the stairs leading to the stage. Their “prof” teaches courses for the Music Education program and music appreciation to non majors. He also teaches private clarinet and coaches chamber ensembles.

An early September concert was performed indoors at the Ogunquit Playhouse. The program began with Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” Overture, followed by the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Pianist Anthony di Bonaventura was the guest soloist. William Schuman’s New England Triptych was followed by George Gershwin’s An American in Paris.

The next night, Sunday, the 1984 outdoor “Symphony By The Sea” concert (HS: This was the fourth SBTS performed by the PSO.) was held in South Portland near the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse “Bug Light” overlooking Casco Bay. In the annuls of the PSO, this concert would forever be referred to as “The Bug Light Concert”..... and not in fond terms. The evening began with Julius Fučík’s march, Entrance of the Gladiators, a title more-suitable-than-intended insofar as the PSO musicians were concerned. Next was Dmitri Shostakovich’es Festive Overture, and a bit later: Hermann’s 1924 Hit Parade; Mitch Leigh’s Impossible Dream from “Man of La Mancha”, arranged by Richard Hayman; and the Maine Stein Song.

Other “Bug Light Concert” numbers performed included John Phillip Sousa’s Hands Across the Sea march, Selections from “Carousel” and a medley of hits dating back to 1924, when the symphony was founded. Gershwin’s An American in Paris was also performed. Of course, the exciting glory of Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever boomed across the lawns and parts of Casco Bay. There is A LOT about this concert in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO that will not be repeated here. When you read it, be sure to have a scarf and gloves handy...... to stay warmer than the folks out near Bug Light did this evening.

As a hint about the concert, P-H reporter Doug Hubley started his next-day story about the eventful weather-influenced affair with: “ ‘Carnival’ was the intended theme for the fourth annual Symphony By the Sea, but ‘grace under pressure’ might have been more apt.” He reported that strong winds had given the PSO’s awning that protected the stage “a real beating by midafternoon”, so much so that “the canopy was bucking and whipping convulsively, and setting up music stands was difficult”. A center support even came loose, and he quoted PSO operating manager Linda Bliss as getting none-too-subtly to the point: “It got pretty hairy for a while.” When Mr. Hangen finally arrived at the podium following a reset-one-hour-delay, he said to the audience that “This is not a warm temperature to play in – this is very difficult for us.” He was quoted as adding for the equally-cold audience, “loud applause helps keep you warm”; that quip drew lots of laughs (HS: My research has revealed that scientists have proven that laughter also helps keep you warm.).

In any event, the P-H reviewer concluded “But the wind that snatched the sheet music from the stands and turned musicians’ fingers and lips numb there in the dark couldn’t prevent a performance that was cohesive, spirited and even inspiring.”

Later in September the National Endowment for the Arts announced that both the PSO and Portland Stage Company were selected each to receive awards that could mean up to $310,000 in gift and grant revenues for each over the next three years. The thrust of the NEA grant was an amount to underwrite a long-range planning study by agency consultants, with the outcome of those evaluations to include a 1:3 final grant if the PSO raised local funds of $75,000 each year. Only three states  –New York, California and Minnesota–  counted more than two grant recipients among their arts organizations. Maine and Illinois earned two NEA grants each.

A 60th Anniversary poster contest, offering a $500 first prize, failed to produce what a committee regarded as a winner. Thereupon the committee invited a half-dozen artists to submit portfolios. From among that group, Chris Van Allsburg of the Rhode Island School of Design was paid $2000 for a drawing from which the poster was produced. Unframed copies were offered at $60. The poster was printed as a wide-angle ten-color silkscreen that was based on a photograph taken from the back of the stage that looked toward the audience over the heads and stands of the orchestra, with a distant conductor Hangen holding wide both arms while conducting.... a baton cliearly showing.

NOW..... it was finally time to celebrate the PSO’s 60th Birthday, with a Diamond Jubilee. And..... CELEBRATE EVERYONE WOULD DO!  This evening was such a big deal that concertgoers were each handed glossy-covered 44-page 8x10 programs that commemorated the evening!  No stone was left unturned in order to make the affair a success.... including the opportunity for patrons to take waltz lessons in advance of the concert date (HS: Even the name of the dancing teacher, Abby Niss, was included in the huge concert program.)

The “official” celebrations of the PSO’s 60th Anniversary were kicked off in mid-October (the 13th) at what was then billed as “The Party of the Decade” at the Portland Expostion Building (HS: The Expo received $16,000 of facelift improvements before the concert, so everything probably looked spic-n-span when all the guests arrived this evening). The Saturday-night bash, named “Symphonie Fantastique”, included a short concert by the orchestra-- followed by Strauss waltzes for dancing. Then, for four hours, Lionel Hampton’s 16-piece dance band, “Lionel Hampton and His Big Band”, captivated the crowds’ eyes, ears..... and feet. The event was staged by the Women’s Committee.

The works performed by the Orchestra were Gioacchino Rossini’s William Tell Overture; the first movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor; James Barbagallo playing the first movement of Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16; and a selection of Strauss waltzes and polkas--- by Johann Strauss, Jr., The Blue Danube Waltz,  Champagne Polka,  Chit Chat Polka (HS:  I always have more fun calling it by its conventional title, “Tritsch-Tratsch”), and Emperor Waltzes..... then concluding with Bahn Frei! Polka, Op. 45 by Eduard Strauss.

The program next listed “Presentation of the Anniversary Cake” and a “Champagne Toast”. (HS: The program also contained the following note, listed directly above the evening’s list of classical works to be performed: “Your attention during the concert portion will be appreciated”. H-m-m-m..... I wonder if this plea was successful?)

Prior to Mr. Hampton and his group taking the stage at 10 pm, an auction, with several big prizes was conducted. (HS: Included was a 5-diamond 14K gold wave chocker necklace and a two-week Mediterrean Cruise were the top items; among many other items, Mr. Hangen auctioned off his baton –temporarily– to the highest bidder, for the right to conduct the PSO during a spring PSO concert.) Late during Mr. Hampton’s sets (HS: Those continued on to 1:30 in the am, and unfortunately the PSO Archives have so far [late 2013] failed to reveal the names of specific works played.), a lavish cocktail buffet and midnight champagne breakfast were served. The Expo’s  mammoth gym was transformed for the event by designers, and a tri-level stage was constructed for the musicians. (HS: The idea for the evening came about after everyone had raved so much about Mr. Hampton at the April concert. Women’s Committee member Bonnie Riddles recounted that “everyone was wild about him and he loved us.” She added that germ of an idea allowed the “celebration evening to grow into something enormous”. Local newspapers reported that he and the band agreed for a fee that reflected a sizable donation to the PSO.)

Three days later on Tuesday-October 16, the first of the PSO’s 60th Classical Season of seven concerts was performed. First, Music Director Hangen officially opened the season with The Star-Spangled Banner. Later in the evening, James Barbagallo, winner of the PSO’s 1977 piano competition and the only American pianist to win a prize at the seventh Tschaikovsky Competition in 1982, joined the 81-member orchestra in Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra in C major, Op. 26. On its own, the PSO performed Jean Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43, and Hector Berlioz’ Overture to Benvenuto Cellini Overture, H 76b, (Op. 23). (HS: you know what?  ......Googling this work yields “Grande Ouverture de Benvenuto Cellini”. THAT is a lot more fun to say!) The evening Express judged the season-opener as a “fine performance”, and offered a most favorable review of this concert. It read: “If last night’s concert set the tone for the season -- top-notch musicianship mixed with the slightly self-indulgent programming of a departing conductor -- then the PSO’s 60th promises to be very interesting indeed”.

Nearly 150 applicants had submitted their names to the PSO conductor-search committee by early October. The committee was intent to refine the list to a number small enough so that each could be offered the opportunity to guest conduct the orchestra for one concert during the 1985-1986 season.

A “Salute to Gershwin” Pops Concert was performed late in the month, on Saturday the 27th at City Hall Auditorium. The program began with Don Rose’s Strike Up the Band Overture, followed by American in Paris and I Got Rhythm Variations. Jacqueline Neuwirth in the York County Coast Star reported that “the high water mark... ...was the Rhapsody in Blue with Myron Romanul”, although she felt that “all of the music received warm approbation from the audience”. Two soloists were on hand, soprano Sarah Reese and baritone Robert Honeysucker. Both from Boston, the duo sang a medley of Someone to Watch Over Me; Embraceble You; Love Walked In; Sombody Loves Me; and The Man I Love. One other work performed on this evening was from the composer’s only opera, “Porgy and Bess”: (A Symphonic Picture), arranged by Robert Russell Bennett. An encore concert featuring the same program was performed the next day at PCHA, a Sunday-afternoon benefit in recognition of the United Ways of Kennebec Valley, Bath-Brunswick and Portland.

Youth Concerts at PCHA on Monday the 29th and Tuesday the 30th, entitled “The Orchestra Workshop”, featured works by Glinka, Respighi, Haydn, Beethoven, Berlioz and Britten. During the performances of works at PCHA by those composers, slides were shown showing many PSO members who also make or repair various instruments. Mark Persky, a Lewiston-Auburn disc jockey, narrated Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra at both a 9:30 and an 11:00 performance. The students were reported to have been “on the whole, quiet and attentive”. Pairs of concerts for local-area students were presented each day, all conducted by Bruce Hangen.

Mr. Hagen conducted a chamber group of PSO musicians in early November in Boothbay to open that community’s Performing Arts Season Fifth Anniversary. The Saturday program, “Viva Italia”, offered the tone poem  Ancient Airs and Dances by Ottorino Respighi, the brief Sinfonia in F by Giovanni Battista Sammartini and The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi. Guest-violinist Arturo Delmoni solo’ed with the Symphony Chamber Orchestra ensemble during that work. The Boothbay Register reported after the event that the performance “was delightful and very much enjoyed by a packed house”. The next day this program was the season-opening concert for the PSO’s pair of Candlelight series at the now-Sonesta (formerly Eastland..... although that historic name will eventually re-emerge during the Sonesta-chain era) Ballroom in Portland, performed back-to-back at both 3pm and 7pm.

An insert in the concert program for these Candlelight soirées was a copy of the dessert menu at Sonesta’s Candlelight Concerts. Cannoli’s were priced at $1.95; Traditional Rum Cake at $2.50 (HS:  An old hand around the PSO offices advised yours truly that the desserts were often tied to the theme of the concert as best the chef could do.); Imported Cheese, Fruit and Crackers at $1.95; Coffee & Tea at 95-cents; a Carafe of wine at $7.50 or $1.50 per glass; cocktails at $2.50; and Beer at $1.75. And.........  to paraphrase the MasterCard advertisements of today (2013):  the chamber music was...... priceless. (HS:  A pdf-scan of this menu accompanies the scan of other information about the 11/4/84 concert that is available on

The November 13 Classical Series concert at PCHA featured Gustav Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde (The Song of the Earth), a symphonic setting of ancient Chinese verses (HS: Conductor Hangen was well known for his “Mahler Obsession”). Two vocalists, contralto Barbara Conrad and tenor Melvyn Poll, were guest artists for the concert. In his “From The Podium” column in the concert program, Maestro Hangen advised that the final Farewell section of his six-movement work “was as long as the first five combined”, emphatically representative “of what we might call the stereotypical Mahler style. Slow, dark, somber, tense, even anguished, the music seems paradoxical when compared to a text expressing quietly sanguine sentiments of resignation.” The program opened with Mozart’s Symphony No. 36 in C major, KV 425, (the “Linz”). The Press Herald reviewer expressed the view that the “audience was curiously restive” during the concert, also that “despite a sellout at the box office, there were quite a few empty seats in the auditorium”, a phenomenon some “attributed to the damp, near freezing weather.” His review was titled “PSO, guest singers impressive in Mahler work”.

The November concert was dedicated to the late Dr. Philip Anderson, and PSO manager Russ Burleigh devoted his entire “From the Manager’s Desk” column in the concert program to tales about the popular longtime PSO volunteer.

The final Classical Series concert of 1984 was performed on December 4. Young Violinist Dylana Jensen (age 23) played Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, a composition she first performed at age 11. The  Evening Express reviewer of the concert said that her playing of the work was “a fine, often gripping, performance”, but that “nothing [for the remainder of the concert] could quite follow Miss Jensen’s stunning cadenza in the first” movement. (An interesting, but sad, story about her occurred two years earlier when the wealthy violin collector who was lending her a 1743 Guarnerius del Gesu learned she was to marry, and he demanded his instrument back. She said that he told her ‘Well obviously you’re uncommitted to your career if you’re getting married, so you have two weeks to return the violin.’  Losing that violin sent Dylana into somewhat of a tailspin that lasted until a luthier produced a violin she could consider “her voice” again. Unfortunately, that didn’t occur for 25 years. In the intervening years, decades later she told an interviewer, she never publicized that she no longer had the Guarnerius since that would have scared away concert requests.) Judging from the newspaper review, he and the audience relished “the voice” of the borrowed instrument she played in Portland, although a somewhat disgruntled musician/teacher-reviewer for a York newspaper did comment that “she got no guts out of the fiddle”. Earlier in the concert, the major orchestral work played by the PSO that evening was Gustav Holst’s The Planets, Op. 32, during which members of Brunswick’s Oratorio Chorale participated, an ensemble directed by Robert Greenlee. Going back to the review and Miss Jensen, he concluded by enthusiastically writing that while the The Planets was “A splendid thing to hear... ...The warm response that met the Holst went incendiary after the Tchaikovsky, and it was well-deserved.”

That month a Sunday Telegram “Hail to the Chef!” column featured PSO timpanist Reginald Bonnin. The writer wrote that Mr. Bonnin, “poised enough behind huge copper cauldrons which speak in subtle rolls to voluptuous-sounding tremolos, is equally comfortable banging around the pots and pans in his home on Chase Street.” The article referenced “spicy linguica in tomato sauce, pots of fondue steaming with Kirsch, and crisp apple pudding are all part of his performance repertoire.” (HS: Mmm-Mmm Good!)

Leading up to the Holiday Season, the Portland Community Orchestra presented its eighth annual “A Prelude to Christmas Concert” in Kennebunk, to benefit the Kennebunk Free Library Association.

Six performances of the fifth annual “The Magic of Christmas” were performed over a four day period in December, twice each on the final two weekend days. This year’s concerts featured theater star Ron Raines, (HS: He would return to PCHA in January for a pair of Pops Concerts) the Boy Singers of Maine, the 150-voice “Magic of Christmas” Chorus, and eleven-year-old Ellen Domingos performing several readings while the Symphony musicians played. Former Portland Municipal Organist Douglas Rafter performed on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ for one hour prior to each concert.

Ms. Domingos started off each concert reciting St. Luke’s Christmas story while the PSO played the Overture to Handel’s “Messiah”. The Boy Singers performed Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ Silver Bells and the old German carol, O Tannenbaum, and were also featured with the orchestra in Carol of the Bells. The chorus sang Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus; Martin Shaw’s Fanfare for Christmas Day (with the PSO Brass Ensemble and organist Rafter); Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria in excelsis Deo, from “Gloria”; Robert Shaw’s Many Moods of Christmas, and vocal Selections from “Nutcracker Suite” (HS: I didn’t realize that  Tchaikowsky’s famous work contained choral parts, but the Evening Express article alerted me to that fact.). Mr. Raines, the 1983 New York star in the revival of “Showboat”, sang Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria, and The Christmas Song  (HS: Made famous by Mel Tormé in 1946. You know the one--  “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, etc.”). Traditional works enjoyed by the audience also included Leon Jessel’s Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, and also the by-now unofficial PSO “Magic of Christmas” theme song, Sleigh Ride by Leroy Anderson.

Mr. Rafter joined the orchestra musicians when it was time for the traditional sing-along that concluded each program. Oh.... and of course..... the Symphony performed the traditional “Magic of Christmas” favorite, Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival.

PSO Manager Russ Burleigh reported that over 14,000 people attended the six “Magic of Christmas” concerts this year. He mentioned that the demand for tickets was such that a seventh concert could possibly have been presented. It was announced that eight performances would be scheduled next December (1985), the final “Magic of Christmas” series when Bruce Hangen would be conducting (HS: Although..... if you peek way ahead in this THINGS-PSO to 2008, once again-- there on the “Magic of Christmas” podium, will appear the name of.......... Bruce Hangen.).

An unfortunate sidenote to this year’s final “Magic” performance was that while concertgoers were enjoying the music inside City Hall Auditorium during the final performance, outside at least 11 cars were broken into, with many stolen packages later reported to the police.

On the political side of things, a notable event this year was the City Council establishing a City Hall Advisory Committee which commissioned Winton Scott Architects to do a Design Study of Restoration and Improvements of City Hall Auditorium (HS: events developed such that the study would no be completed until 1988).


1985       The first Classical Series concert of the year was performed at PCHA on Tuesday, January 15. Stepen Drury, the 1984 PSO Piano Competition winner and then a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, played Robert Schumann’s romantic  Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 54 (HS: Several years earlier Mr. Drury and Bruce Hangen had worked together, and the pianist played the Schumann concerto when Mr. Hangen was guest-conducting the Boston Pops in Beantown.). The program included Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 15 in A major (Opus 141), the composer’s final symphony. Also performed by the PSO was Dervishes by Dan Welcher, first performed two years earlier in Louisville, with a score then labeled “Ritual Dance Scene for Orchestra”. The composition was described by the Press Herald reviewer as “abrupt, dissonant, heavy in percussion and brash in orchestration, it was highly kinetic”. (HS: The composer, from Rochester, New York, was at the performance. The fact that Maestro Hangen’s alma mater, the Eastman School of Music was in Rochester hints at the possibility that ESM was the conductor’s connection with the composer, and in fact, that is where they met when both were students {although Elliott Schwartz was credited in the concert program as being the catalyst for Mr. Hangen to perform the Welcher composition}. A current Google-check about Mr. Welcher indicates he is now [2013] at the University of Texas.)

In attendance at the Merrill Auditorium concert that evening was Toshiyuki Shimada, who the PSO Search Committee had asked to fly up to Portland from Houston for an interview. At the time he also had “tossed his hat into the ring” for consideration as conductor openings with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the Youngstown Symphony. He was also a candidate for a resident conductor position with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra under Herbert Blomstedt. Knowing “nothing” (HS: as he recounted to yours truly during a long chat in 2014) about Portland beforehand, he had been alerted to the search then underway by Debra Trudeau, a PSO violinist who had known him from her time with the Houston Symphony. A letter from her had led him to submit his application.

Later in January on Saturday and Sunday the 26th and 27th, the PSO and the Brunswick Music Theater once again joined forces in a Pops concert production, twice performing “in concert format” more than 20 numbers from “Showboat”, by Jerome Kern (HS: Correctly, that should be “Show Boat”, I think). Judith McCauley (Magnolia) and Ron Raines (Gaylord Ravenal) starred, with Karla Burns repeating her NY award-winning revival role (Queenie). Director Victoria Crandall arranged for some use of costumes and dialogue to be used to amplify the effect for various songs semi-staged from the famous trend-setting musical. This was the fourth jointly-produced concert by the PSO and BMT.

The cover of the season’s third concert program listed these two Pops concerts (along with several others); however, inside the program there was no program listing the individual works performed, apparently a typesetting error. Ironically, the corporate sponsor of the Show Boat Pops concerts, The Maine Mall, had two advertisements in the program—both exactly the same, with one of the two likely taking up the space where the Show Boat concert detail should have been. Early on in the writing of this THINGS-PSO, it was presumed that ushers gave concertgoers inserts at the concerts, and late in 2014 one of those inserts was found by Debby Hammond as she pawed through a large box containing her personal collection of old PSO programs. A scanned-copy of that program can be viewed by going to the Performances section of

Youth Concerts at PCHA were performed on Monday and Tuesday, the 28th and 29th of January. With a pair of concerts each morning at 9:30 and 11:00, the PSO completed a very busy four-day period. Although for a long time the PSO Archives failed to reveal what was performed, that information was displayed in the PSO’s 1984-1985 Season Brochure that violist Pam Doughty kept in her personal collection of PSO memorabilia. Not surprisingly, Selections from “Showboat” comprised the bill, with the PSO joined by cast members from the Brunswick Music Theater. All performed under the baton of Bruce Hangen.

A “Hat’s Off” theme was adopted this 60th Anniversary year for the PSO Women’s Committee major fund-raising event, Dinners For The Symphony. Parties were scheduled for 19 communities, from Wiscasset to York.

Two Sunday Candlelight Series PSO chamber music performances were held at the Sonesta Hotel ballroom on February 3, featuring Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto in E-Flat (“Dumbarton Oaks”); Beethoven’s Septet, Op. 20; and  Benjamin Britten’s three-movement Sinfonietta, Op. 1. In his “From The Podium” column in the concert program, Maestro Hangen mentioned to concertgoers that he had only recently become aware of the Britten work, and was looking forward to the performance. He informed audience members that the first-work  “Op. 1” label was significant, as composers would generally only begin assigning such designations when they felt their student-composition days were over and a work finally  “deserved this honor”. Benjamin Britten was 19-years-old when he composed Sinfonietta. (HS:  A normal full-page listing of the details regarding these Candlelight performances did appear in the concert program, although considering what Mr. Hangen wrote about Benjamin Britten’s work--  I’m tempted to think that the earlier-missing Show Boat concert details might have meant that this correctly detailed Candlelight page was worthy of a “Op.1-typesetter” designation.)

The February 12 Tuesday-evening Classical Series concert featured principal PSO violist Laurie Kennedy performing Concerto on Old English Rounds for Viola, Women’s Chorus and Orchestra by William Schuman. The Radcliffe Choral Society joined her. The Press Herald reviewer labeled the work a “weak composition”, further commenting that “the singers from Radcliffe were ill-served by City Hall’s acoustics“. He wrote that Ms. Kennedy’s “commitment to (the weak work) was pleasingly apparent.” In his “From The Podium” column in the concert program, Maestro Hangen wrote of having been especially impressed when hearing a broadcast in 1974 of the first performance of Mr. Schman’s work. He added that “I was struck at the time, and am still taken by the mastery of this piece.” He rated it as “probably the hardest viola concerto (from the soloist’s point of view) ever composed”, and he rated Ms. Kennedy as one who “can perform along with the very best of them”. Maurice Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso (“Morning Song of a Jester”) was performed by the PSO to open the program, and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor From the New World, Op. 95, B. 178, closed it out.

Late in February, the 13-member PSO conductor-search committee announced five finalists to become the orchestra’s new music director and conductor. Each would conduct a classical series concert during the 1985-1986 season, plus either a Pops or chamber orchestra concert. (HS: Mr.Hangen, having overseen establishment of the orchestra’s programs for next season, would remain the PSO Music Director until his successor was named. He would also conduct a number of concerts during the 1985-1986 season.) The quintet of candidates was selected from some 220 applicants. That large list was winnowed down to 30 candidates considered likely by the committee, with 23 invited to Portland for interviews. (HS: The search committee had a backup list of five unidentified candidates, just in case it had to go beyond the five finalists, four of whom it was known were looking at other potential posts. –Souce: Central Maine Morning Sentinal)

The five finalists were:

   • Robert Barnhardt, 33

   • Catherine Comet, 39

   • Robert Page, 56

   • Paul Polivnick, 38

   • Toshiyuki Shimada, 33

(HS: Their respective credentials are summarized below in this THINGS-PSO, in paragraphs preceding details about the PSO’s 1985-1986 season.)

March performances by the PSO got off to a fast-and-busy start with two Pops and four Youth concerts over a four-day period. The Pops Concerts on Saturday/Sunday March 2 & 3 featured “The Roaring Twenties” theme in connection with the orchestra’s start sixty years earlier. All of the works performed had connections with the 1920s. Older folks in the crowd may have thought back to bathtub gin and flappers, before “talkies” in the grand movie houses of the era and “Follies” became Musicals. An unusual feature of the concerts was a showing of Charlie Chaplin’s film “The Adventurer” that was accompanied by the PSO playing Darius Milhaud’s Le Boeuf Sur le Toit. Works performed by the Symphony also included Reinhold Glière’s Russian Sailor’s Dance, from “The Red Poppy” ballet; Ferde Grofe’s Mardi Gras from “Mississippi Suite”; Selections from “The Student Prince” by Sigmund Romberg; John Philip Sousa’s Washington Post March; a medley of hits attributed to “The Duke”, Hermann’s Duke Ellington Fantasy; another Hermann medley grouping 11 standards, his 1924 Hit Parade; and Healy’s arrangement of 8 additional winners, his Top Tunes of the Twenties.

At first glance, two works on the program appeared to have no connection whatsoever with the 1920s; however Mr. Hangen set everything in perspective. He advised that both Antonín Dvořák’s Humoresque and  George Frideric Handel’s Largo from “Xerxes” were performed in 1924 (HS:  His “From The Podium” column cited these as 1925 concerts, but obviously there was that rookie-typesetter once-again messing up.) by Portland’s Amateur Strand Orchestra at the old movie palace on Congress Street during the PSO-predecessor ensemble’s first-ever concerts. The first of these two pops affairs was at PCHA, and the second presented the next day in Lewiston at the Junior High School Auditorium.

The theme “Man, Music and Nature” was the basis for four Youth Concerts performed over the two days of Monday/Tuesday, March 4 and 5. Funded by outside arts-related grants, the musical duo of Gary Rosen and Bill Shontz, who billed themselves as “Rosenshontz”, presented a program that demonstrated how music has been inspired by nature, how instruments can imitate nature’s sounds, how man’s involvement with nature is expressed through music. For its part of the program (HS:  And.... information has not yet [2012] been found to explain how the guests and the orchestra interacted during this program.) the PSO performed selections from Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony; Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King; Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring; and Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite. Also, God Created Whales by Alan Hovaness, in which actual whale sounds (HS: Taped sounds...... no North Atlantic whales were captured and dragged up Myrtle St.) are heard, was also performed.

A pair of Candlelight Series concerts were held at the Sonesta Hotel Ballroom on March 10. A celebration of Bach’s 300th birthday featured tenor Ray DeVoll, who had sung with the New York Pro Music Antigua for 12 years and was a frequent soloist at Bach festivals around the country. Sandra Kott, the PSO’s concertmaster was also featured. The Bridgton News reported that included in the all Bach concert were the Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, BWV 1046; which featured Ms. Kott as soloist; Sinfonia Op. 18, No. 1; Cantata No. 189, with Mr. DeVoll; and two baroque arias by Mr. DeVoll – Benedictus from “Mass in B Minor”, BWV 232; and Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer from “Easter Oratorio”. Upon the PSO Archives receiving Joanne Schnell’s concert programs for this season, it was learned by yours truly that the great composer’s Sinfonia for Double Orchestra in E-Flat, Op. 18, No. 1, was the final work performed at each of these two Candelight concerts.

The March Classical Series concert featured the organist of the New York Philharmonic and Julliard instructor Leonard Raver, performing the world premier of composer Ned Rorem’s Organ Symphony on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, dedicated to the PSO on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. (The day before, the PSO and FOKO sponsored Mr. Raver as he performed a 50-minute daytime concert on the Kotzschmar Organ.) Mr. Raver had suggested that the PSO approach Mr. Rorem to compose a concerto that the Portland Symphony Orchestra might commission. In addition to the new concerto, the PSO performed three orchestral works this evening, including the concert overture The Hebrides Overture, Op. 26, also known as Fingal’s Cave by Felix Mendelssohn. The others were Johannes Brahms’ Serenade No. 2 in A, Op. 16, and Alexander Scriabin’s The Poem of Ecstasy (Le Poème de l’extase) op. 54, of which it is written he sometimes informally referred to as his “fourth symphony”, although it is only about 20 minutes long.

Some of the PSO musicians joined an ensemble to support a Sunday-afternoon Choral Art Society presentation of Mozart’s Requièm Mass in D minor (K. 626) at the 900-seat Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Portland, on March 24. Robert Russell conducted the combined groups.

The last Saturday night of March (the 30th) found a new conductor atop the PSO podium during a Pops concert. (HS: No, the search committee hadn’t scheduled a new conductor candidate too early.) The event was the culmination of Scarborough-ite Judy Kane’s successful auction bid at the PSO’s Symphonie Fantastique celebration the preceding October. She gave her prize to her husband, Jeff, a former bassoonist. He had practiced conducting Sousa’s Washington Post March for weeks, although at the rehearsal he told a Maine Sunday Telegram reporter that practicing that way “means that the orchestra gets in the first sound and you have to race to catch up. With a live orchestra, the musicians won’t make a sound until you direct them to.” The reporter wrote that Mr. Kane “performed brilliantly, the orchestra definitely on his side.” After his successful stint with the baton, “a 1920’s flapper appeared from the wings with a bouquet of red carnations, matching conductor-Jeff’s cummerbund, bowtie and boutonniere.” (HS: Maybe he was better at conducting that night than Bruce Hangen?  The PSO Archives don’t contain any articles reviewing pieces that the maestro conducted that night; perhaps he expunged reviewers criticisms from the PSO albums???)

Orchestral works performed at this Pops affair by the Symphony musicians were Eric Coates’ Knightsbridge March from “London Everyday” Suite; Johannes Brahmns’ Academic Festival Overture; and Excerpts from Rodeo  --  (Buckaroo Holiday; Saturday Night Waltz; and Hoedown) by Aaron Copland. The New Black Eagles Jazz Band, a New Orleans-style band, closed out this Pops concert, performing the rollicking Grandpa’s Spells by Jelly Roll Morton, New Rag by Scott Joplin, The Mooch by Duke Ellington and Lou Frisco’s rollicking Shake It & Break It from the 1920s. The jazz group performed some other numbers, but no record of specifics has been located in the PSO Archives.

The final Candlelight Chamber Concerts of the 1984-1985 season were twice performed at the Sonesta Ballroom on April 21. Conductor Hangen chose to honor George Frideric Handel (HS: His 300th birthday was in February), choosing the theme, “Unraveling Handel”. The great composer’s Water Music Suite No. 2, his Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 1 and his The Music for the Royal Fireworks were performed. Also, the PSO’s principal harpist, Jara Goodrich, was featured in Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro. The familiar Le Tombeau de Couperin, also by Ravel was on the program as well. P-H reviewer Hubley wrote that he found “interesting and complementary” the contrast between “the rigid, stately Handel nest to Ravel’s subtle, ethereal textures”.

Less than two weeks later, the 1984-1985 Classical Season also came to a conclusion for the PSO. Two performances (Tuesday, April 30 and Wednesday, May 1) of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, were performed, with the orchestra both times supported by The Choral Art Society  - directed by Robert Russell, along with four guest soloists (HS: Members of the Lincoln Festival Chorus were invited to join the Society for this concert, reported the Boothbay Register.). Orchestral works on the program were Giuseppe Verdi’s La Forza del Destino and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. Writing after the performance, local reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth took Bruce Hangen to task for directing three of the “Ninth’s” movements too fast, almost suggesting (HS: But not directly saying so) that the now-Omaha-focused conductor had not put enough preparation into the work.

During the first week in May, the PSO sponsored The Lorin Hollander Arts-in-Education Residency titled “Touch the Music”, during which Mr. Hollander participated in nine events. On Wednesday morning, May 1, a workshop at Holiday Inn by the Bay was titled “Understanding and Conquering Stage Fright”, while during the afternoon at Russell Hall at USM an open master class titled “Imagination and Communication in Music” was held. On Thursday there were three events, the first being a morning youth concert for grades 4-8 at PCHA with the theme “Making Joyful Noise”, and Mr. Hollander featured as soloist. Next was the PSO Women’s Committee Annual Meeting at Atlantic House Inn (HS: old records are unclear as to whether Mr. Hollander performed as part of this session.), and a late afternoon workshop for teachers at Westbrook College titled “Exploring Creativity”. Friday was also busy: a morning program also sponsored by the Maine Educators of the Gifted and Talented, with programs by the Portland Symphony, Portland Stage Company, Portland Dance Center, Portland School of Art and Portland Museum of Art. Late in the morning a session in music theory for handicapped young adults was held at Immanuel Baptist Church, titled “The Power and Expression of Music”. Lastly, an evening program for educators and parents titled “The Rationale for Arts Education”, was held at North Yarmouth Academy.

On Saturday, May 4, at the Portland Exposition Building, fourteen Maine and New Hampshire high school choruses joined with the PSO for a concert. The “Celebrating Creativity” performance featured pianist Lorin Hollander. The famed soloist had been participating in a four-day educational program in a master class, also workshops and lectures at several Portland-area venues, with this night’s concert culminating the PSO-sponsored “Touch The Music” series of events. The program, under the baton of PSO Music Director Bruce Hangen, opened with the PSO playing Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Vaughan Williams’ Concerto Grosso for Strings. Mr. Hollander was supported by the orchestra as he played Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Along with the orchestra and its three youth instrumental ensembles all sitting side-by-side, the 750-voice massed choruses sang Randall Thompson’s Alleluia with the Orchestra, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy (HS: sung in German, with Mr. Hollander at the piano), and the evening closer-- Howard Hanson’s Song of Democracy. This program had originally been set as a City Hall Auditorium  performance, but subsequent considerations of providing adequate space for the massive chorus (HS: Also masses of relatives and friends, as well as regular PSO concertgoers) resulted in the switch to the Expo venue, certainly a better choice. Fortunately a copy of the booklet prepared for the “Touch the Music” residency, including a concert program for the Saturday-evening combined performance, was saved by Debby Hammond, and a scan is available for viewing in the Performances Section of

Later the Evening Express would include this concert and Mr. Hollander’s four-day educational stay in Portland among twenty Portland musical highlights for the year. All were summarized in an end-of-year article headlined “1985 was good to area art-lovers”.

Joel C. Martin was re-elected as PSO President.

In early May the PSO began publicizing its 1985-1986 fund-raising drive target of $280,000 (HS: The board reported that the 1984-1985 season’s goal of $205,000 had been exceeded!). During several previous years, fund-totals raised were $143,000 in 1982-1983 and $185,000 in 1983-1984.

Richard Vanstone (pronounced Van STONE), age 26, was named Assistant Conductor of the PSO for the 1985-1986 season. A graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, he also held a master’s degree with Performance Honors from the New England Conservatory of Music, and eventually become Conductor of the West Chester University Orchestra near Philadelphia, and serve as conductor and music director of the [nearby-Philadelphia] Delaware Valley Youth Orchestra from 1987 to 2002. He would later also serve as music director and conductior of the Wilmington Community Orchestra in Delaware, and the Cape Ann Symphony in Massachusetts. (HS:  After many  years with the PSO, Mr. Vanstone would eventually end regular commuting to Maine to concentrate on freelance performing and guest conducting. He would remain a regular violinist throughout the 1990s, and during the 2000’s he was still sometimes substituting with the PSO. Over time, other orchestras that he would guest-conduct would include the Brandeis University Orchestra; also The Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Nashua [NH] Symphony, and the Bucks County Symphony.) For what would become a two-year stint with the PSO, his non-playing performance tasks would include conducting half of the “Magic of Christmas” concerts in 1985 and all of the “Magic” concerts in 1986. He also commanded the podium for various Youth, Pops and Candlelight concerts that would not be  conducted by either Bruce Hangen or the five finalists for the dual posts of music director and conductor that were being vacated by Mr. Hangen. In September of 1986 he would conduct the outdoor Symphony By The Sea Concert on Mackworth Island in Falmouth.

About this time City Hall Auditorium Administrator Paul Rollins publicly forecast that the Auditorium this year would net $50,000 after expenses. This amount compared to $14,800 the City Council had budgeted for what he referred to as “maintenance, repair, fix-up-paint-up” projects in the city budget. He admitted that several years of periodic meetings among the auditorium’s major users (HS: The PSO, the PCA, FOKO and Opera New England of Maine) had not resulted in anyone coming up with commitments for funds to improve the hall’s problems with acoustics.

On Monday evening, June 3, a number of PSO musicians under the direction of the artistic director for the Opera Theater of Maine, Alan Lewis (HS: He was the conductor of the Joffrey Ballet.), participated in a benefit performance at the Portland Performing Arts Center. Proceeds from the $75-per-person event would be used to support the opera theater’s upcoming season. Soloists from the gala were from the New York City Opera and the Metropolitan Opera organizations.

A small late-June notice in the Press Herald announced that the National Endowment for the Arts had granted the Portland Symphony Orchestra $30,000 to be used to expand the youth concert program and to hire a part-time educational director. (HS: Inflation-adusted, such an amount now [2012] would be in excess of $63,000.)

Also in late June, several Portland-area newspapers carried articles quoting the president of the Sugarloaf Mountain Corporation, a company then having under construction a 57-room hotel and an additional 43 condominium units, that the PSO was in the midst of negotiating arrangements whereby the orchestra would annually engage in a three-week summer residency at the facility  (HS: THREE WEEKS?!!). The Symphony would give two concerts a week there if an agreement could be reached. He also said the PSO would concentrate on rehearsals during its annual stay and also work with the Hartford Ballet Company, which had its first residency at Sugarloaf during the summer of 1984. (HS:  On the surface, this proposed PSO activity would appear to be one that would require substantial costs to the PSO [or somebody else], but maybe something will come of it. Personally, I’d bet against anything coming to pass like what the Sugarloaf president described, but I’ll be on the lookout for more info as other old news clippings turn up in various PSO Archives boxes.)

The Orchestra and conductor Hangen were especially busy during four Independence Day week-end outdoors “Extravaganza” concerts, the first a free-to-the-public one under the PSO’s striped tent at Ogunquit’s Town Beach parking lot, on Monday, July 1. The concert began with The Star-Spangled Banner and also O Canada, the Canadian National Anthem selected in honor of Canada Day. Former Governor of Maine, U.S. Secretary of State, and by-then retired U.S. Senator Edmund S. Muskie was on hand to narrate Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, accompanied by the PSO. The program began with E.E. Bagely’s National Emblem March. Since the celebration marked Ogunquit’s fifth anniversary as a separate town, to commemorate that fact Bruce Hangen chose many works whose ages were multiples of five. For example, George Gershwin’s Strike Up The Band Overture was 55 years old, and Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Overture was 105. Other works featured that evening included Lucien Calliet’s arrangement of Bach’s Little Fugue in G; Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy; Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday; Morton Gould’s American Salute (based on Johnnie Comes Marching Home Again), and Selections from “West Side Story”. Patriotic numbers saluting two countries were played: America the Beautiful and O Canada. The Portsmouth Herald reported that after the program ended with the work by Leonard Bernstein, the PSO responded to a standing ovation with “four encores, closing with Stars and Stripes Forever, illustrated in its final measures by a sparkler held high in Hangen’s hand”.

An enthusiastic Old Orchard Beach audience welcomed back the Portland Symphony Orchestra and conductor Hangen on Wednesday, July 3. The concert was once again held at The Ballpark, despite the fact that the prior summer’s first “at bat” there by the PSO had resulted in the owner/sponsor of the Pops, Bruce Korbitz, losing money and being disappointed at the turnout. Wanting to keep the PSO coming to town, this summer the Old Orchard Beach Friends of the Performing Arts stepped up to sponsor the event, with Mr. Korbitz contributing the site to help out. This evening the PSO performed works that included Morton Gould’s American Salute, Leonard Bernstein’s Selections from “West Side Story”, George Gershwin’s Strike Up the Band Overture and the always-rousing Maine Stein Song. (HS: Often simply credited to Rudy Vallée, Googling provides more perspective by directing visitors to the Black Bear’s Athletic Department website: “The Maine ‘Stein Song’ has its origins with undergraduate Adelbert Sprague. In 1902, while working in Bar Harbor, Sprague heard a march called ‘Opie’, written by E.A. Fenstad, and composed the ‘Stein Song’ melody based on the German’s composition. Sprague then gave the music to his roommate, Lincoln Colcord, who wrote the now-familiar words. Sprague later joined the UMaine faculty and chaired the Department of Music. The current version of the song was written by Rudy Vallée during the time he was a UMaine student from 1921-22 before transferring to Yale. In 1929, as the host of the Fleischman Radio Hour on NBC, he introduced the song to the American public. Vallée’s version, with a stepped-up tempo and a few word changes, was recorded a year later.” --- So there you have it!)

Other numbers performed at OOB were:  E.E. Bagley’s National Emblem March; John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever; Bach’s Little Fugue in G, arranged by Lucien Calliet; Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy; Gould’s American Salute; Bennett’s arrangement from one of Richard Rodgers’ hit Broadway shows,  Selections from “Sound of Music”; Take Me Out to the Ball Game; and several other pieces performed in Ogunquit.

Bridgton was the site for the PSO’s fourth visit to the natural setting of the gradual slopes of Pleasant Mountain, where from in front of the Base Lodge the Symphony performed a July 4 Pops Concert under “perfect” weather conditions. Vermonter E.E. Bagley’s 1906 National Emblem March was a patriotic highlight for the crowd. Also performed were Selections from “Sound of Music” by Richard Rodgers (HS: Mr.Hangen encouraged the audience to sing aloud “The Hills Are Alive” when the PSO got to that number, which the concertgoers reportedly did with great enthusiasm and reverence to the local scene.), America The Beautiful, and other works that would frequently be played at various concerts around Maine this month. Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries show that compositions played in Ogunquit and Old Orchard Beach were reprised for the Pleasant Mountain audience.

On Friday, July 5, at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth, former Secretary of State and Senator Edmund S. Muskie again narrated Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, accompanied by the PSO. Works performed earlier in the week were, once again, repeated for concertgoers at the town park near Portland Head Light. In addition, the First Newmarket Militia’s cannon provided requisite booming excitement at the finale of Tchaikovsky’s crowd-pleaser, The “1812” Overture.

On Monday evening, July 15, at Fort Preble on the campus of Portland’s Southern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, following a clambake the PSO performed a private concert at the annual non-partisan State Governments Eastern Regional Conference. The performance had to be moved indoors due to weather, but a good-sized audience from among the 1000 registrants and guests was reported to have attended the performance. So far (2013) no information regarding specific works performed has been found among the PSO Archives. The Symphony musicians once again pulled the “same ‘ol; same ‘ol” pieces out of their music folders for this concert, but this time making some alterations, substituting Royal Fireworks Music by George Frideric Handel and also Richard Hayman’s Pops Hoedown.

Westbrook College was the venue for a Friday evening PSO “Opera Pops” concert on July 19. (HS: Though they could hardly publicly admit it, the PSO’ers must have cheered, by then likely being tired of all the “patriotic stuff”.) Soprano Amy Clark Aliapoulios and baritone Mark Aliapoulios sang arias from various operas, and the PSO played orchestral works from others. Performed by either the singers or the orchestra on its own, were selections from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro”, K. 492 (HS: Also known as “The Day of Madnes”, I learned...... that was new info to me.), and his Papageno/Papagena duet from “The Magic Flute”, K. 620; Toreador Song from Georges Bizet’s “Carmen”; Giaocchino Rossini’s Overture to “William Tell”; Gaetano Donizetti’s “Daughter of the Regiment”, Rossini’s “Rigoletto”; Řezníček’s Donna Diana Overture; Massenet’s Meditation from Thais; Amboise Thomas’ O vin, dissipe la tristesse from “Hamlet”; Monica’s Waltz from “The Medium by Menotti; Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene Onegin; Verdi’s Si vendetta tremeda vendetta from “Rigoletto”; and Richard Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman”. Clippings about the concert mentioned that orchestral suites from both Bizet’s “Carmen” and Englebert Humperdinck’s “Hansel and Gretel” were also on the program.

The next night the Symphony gave its first concert at the Sunday River Ski area in Bethel, on Saturday, July 20. This concert included Richard Rodger’s “Sound of Music” Selections, Ralph Hermann’s Fantasy and yet-another performance of the always-showy “1812” Overture.

A busy weekend of concerts for the PSO had the musicians again take out Pytor Illich Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from the opera “Eugin Onigin”, in Bath on Sunday, July 21, at an outdoor Hyde School “Family Concert” that was attended by about 1000 people. Among other works specifically known to have also been performed were Emil von Řezníček’s “Donna Diana” Overture, Leroy Andersen’s Irish Suite, Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches, Richard Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman” Overture, and Richard Rodger’s Selections from “Sound of Music” (HS: During which Bruce Hangen handed his baton over to a 9-year-old fourth-grade boy to keep the orchestra in time during Do-Re-Me, as the conductor turned to the audience to encourage everyone to sing along. Events turned out that he was a piano student, so the impromptu podium-stint didn’t phase him one bit). Reprised from the Westbrook concert was Tchaikovsky’s Polonaise from Eugene Onegin, and from the Bethel concert, was the Pas de six from Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Mikhail Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches, I, III & IV were also on the program, as were: Leroy Anderson’s Irish Suite; a special treat to many concertgoers - Lionel Ritchie in Concert; Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns from “A Little Night Music”; and John Philip Sousa’s Semper Fidelis March.

And..... for the second time in two days for the musicians, the Orchestra played Ralph Hermann’s Fantasy, and then later.....  Gioacchino Rossini’s gentle-but-flirty dance number Pas des six from opera “William Tell”.(HS: Having habitually always associated The Lone Ranger theme song with “William Tell”, the Pas des six mention fooled me, but when checking it out with my PC-pal Google--  I learned that it it was right..... also that the composer assigned a name to the overture’s famous finale section, "March Of The Swiss Soldiers". You learn something every day.... or thanks to Google, probably every hour.)

At about this point in time, after ten years on the podium of the Community Orchestra of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Clinton W. Graffam announced his retirement as conductor. He had retired as oboist from the PSO three years earlier, completing a 53-year tenure that began in 1929. He had also been conductor of the Portland Symphony Youth Orchestra (HS:  which he originally founded in 1942 as the Student Philharmonic Orchestra) for the first 41 of its 45 years. Not yet ready to completely give up his ties to the Portland music scene, he said that he would continue teaching clarinet, oboe and saxophone one and one-half days each week.

Violinist Arturo Delmoni appeared with the Symphony at the second Starlight Concert at Westbrook College, on Friday, July 26. This concert opened with Dmitri Shostakovich’s Festival Overture, Op. 96; followed by Felix Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 6, the composer’s last large orchestral work and featuring Mr. Delmoni as soloist. The major composition of the evening was Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64

The shore of Lake Auburn was the bucolic site for a Saturday, July 27 Pops Concert titled “Festival By The Lake”. Works performed included George Bizet’s “Carmen” Suite, Camille Saint-Saëns Marche Militaire Française, Cole Porter’s Can-Can Selections; Richard Rodgers’ “Sound of Music” Selections; Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, fourth movement; the Festival Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich; Georges Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 2; an Ian Polster arrangement of Michel Legrand Selections; Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ Selections from “Sound of Music”; to salute the immigrant heritage of the Auburn area, both O Canada and Le Marseillaise; James Ployhar’s arrangement of Roger Nichols and Paul Williams’ We’ve Only Just Begun; and Richard Hayman’s Pops Hoedown.

A pre-concert newspaper article advised that a fireworks display would be part of the event. Later, a post-concert newspaper clipping found in the PSO Archives mentioned that although a brief mid-afternoon downpour, well  before the concert was to start, interrupted a gourmet picnic and “drenched linen, tablecloths and napkins... ...the event came off without a hitch”. A subsequent Lewiston Journal article stated that the concert attracted over 4000 people.

Concluding what had been a busy (HS: But nonetheless financially lucrative) eleven-concert month of July for the musicians, on Monday the 29th the PSO performed at Schouler Park in North Conroy, NH, before well more than 5000 people. Surprised to be announced some days prior to the concert as the guest conductor of Sousa’s Washington Post March was Silver Lake resident Norman Tregenza. (HS: Saying that he didn’t recall entering a radio-station-conducted bidding contest for the honor, an old friend had bid highest with the intent that Mr. Tregenza be surprised. He was.... Doubly!  Not only did he not know about his friend’s surprise, he also didn’t know that “his” march on the program had been changed..... to E.E. Bagely’s National Emblem. I wonder if he practiced the Sousa march?) Based on newspaper articles, it was learned that the program at this free-to-the-public concert included Ian Polster’s Michael Legrand Selections; Georges Bizet’s “Carmen” Suite No. 2; Jacques Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld; and then Songs from “The Student Prince” by Sigmund Romburg.

Based on later acquisition of info in Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries, it was also learned that the following were also performed: Festival Overture by Dmitri Shostakovich; Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, fourth movement; Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Richard Rodgers’ Selections from “Sound of Music”; Pops Hoedown by Richad Hayman; and John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever. And..... let’s see..... was there anything else significant?  The answer to that question was...... Oh! Yes! ---- the 1812 Overture.

The third and final Starlight Concert at Westbrook College was on Friday, August 2. This evening the Symphony was joined by jazz pianist Billy Taylor and his trio. The orchestral program included George Frideric Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, HWV 351; the Carnival Overture, Op. 92, by Antonín Dvořák; Alexander Borodin’s Polovetsian Dances from the opera “Prince Igor”; and Bach’s Little Fugue in G, arranged by Lucien Calliet. The highlight of the evening was Mr. Taylor’s Suite for Jazz Piano and Orchestra.

There was one more day of run-out summer travel to a concert for the Portland symphony musicians, the PSO’s first visit to Sugarloaf Mountain, some 100 miles away in Kingfield. Space was kept open in front of the Surgarloaf Inn for the symphony’s large multi-striped canopy under which the stage awaited the musicians. The audience spread out at the base of the Birches slope (HS: A Kingfield Irregular newspaper article mentioned that the local Mountain Arts board had authorized more than $10,000 to bring the PSO to perform.) That late Saturday-afternoon gig on August 3rd included Antonín Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, Op. 92; Bach’s “Little” Fugue in G minor, BWV 578, arranged by Lucien Calliet; George Frideric Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music, arranged by Sir Hamilton Harty; Alexander Borodin’s Polovitsian Dances; Hermann’s arrangement of a Duke Ellington Medley; George Gershwin’s Strike Up The Band Overture; then Big Band Sounds, arranged by Woody Herman; the 1924 Hit Parade (HS: Which included excerpts from Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Slim Whitman’s Indian Love Call [made famous by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy] also Sigmund Romberg’s Deep in my Heart.) ; and finally- a Selection of Lionel Richie Tunes. Also performed was Dvořák’s Carnival Overture; the oft-recently-played “Sound of Music” Selections; and (one-more-time-and-summer-will-be-over John Philip Sousa favorite) The Stars and Stripes Forever. A post-concert article about the concert in the Bangor Daily News mentioned that Richard Heyman’s “sprightly” Pops Hoedown “brought the audience to its feet” (HS: Maybe that was the encore that Bruce Hangen called for?)

A concert version of Franz Lehár’s opera “The Merry Widow” was performed at the compact Portland  Performing Arts Center for three evenings, Wednesday-Thursday-Friday, August 14-15-16. Allan Lewis conducted a group of PSO musicians, with young singers from the San Francisco, Metropolitan and New York City opera companies also participating. Mr. Lewis was music director and conductor of the Joffrey Ballet.

Based on readings of newspaper clippings from many locales found in the PSO Archives, concertgoers in all the communities visited by the Symphony and Mr. Hangen during the summer months, enthusiastically reveled at the orchestra’s concerts (HS: from early July to early September, the gigs totaled 12 in all, not including performances of the Lehár opera or the Governments’ conclave). The ten sites had included four new ones for the PSO.

The PCA lineup for its then-upcoming 1985-1986 season listed some performers certain to excite concertgoers to open their checkbooks (HS: Inasmuch that the quality of the PCA’s concerts would compete with the symphony at the box office, these ten attractions should have been added incentive for the PSO to itself remain in top form.) Flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal and violinist Issaac Stern were set for separate PCA Great Performers Series, with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band scheduled for a special event.

In a page-1 story earlier this year, The Evening Express reported that the bell atop City Hall was again regularly ringing “for the first time in thirty years” (HS: This June story conflicts with 1966 and 1975 articles about fixes’ of the undependable clock-tower bell. However........ who believes reports from City Hall in the first place?)

Three months later (on September 18) the Evening Express carried another page-1 story about how “the chronically undependable clock atop City Hall has been used in a NYNEX (advertising campaign) advertisement as a symbol of dependability.” Amusingly, that ad ran throughout the northeastern states.... although who knows how many people chuckled about it on their own, aware that the bell was chronically “undependable”. The City-Hall-bell saga had a PSO angle--- during the many years when the bell was silent, concertgoers avoided otherwise sometimes (during soft passages) hearing “ringing distractions” during performances.

A final summer concert was in Falmouth, at 2pm on September 8 at Mackworth Island, the third series venue in three years for the PSO’s Fifth Annual “Symphony by The Sea” Concert. The change-of-location decision was made in hopes of avoiding the cold ocean weather and 15-20 mph wind gusts that plagued the previous September’s South Portland concert near Bug Light. Extraneous (HS:  Or maybe “intended”?  Seems possible, doesn’t it?) engine noises from excited nearby motorboaters had also drowned out much of that concert for attendees. PSO spokesperson Debby Hammond said the 100-acre oak-studded Mackworth Island allowed everyone to be in “a site with a little more cozy and pastoral atmosphere, one less exposed to the winds, for one thing”. And.... as things worked out all “went off without a hitch” concluded the Press Herald reviewer, Doug Hubley. He wrote “the scene yesterday was idyllic. Listeners sprawled on the rolling grassy grounds of the Baxter School. The sun was warm, the shade plentiful, the breeze cooling and benign. And the music was fine.” That certainly seems to describe a perfect afternoon. One especially appropriate composition was Howard Hanson’s Summer Seascape, written by the composer when he was on vacation in Maine. Among other works performed this afternoon were the marches Hands Across the Sea, and also The Stars and Stripes Forever, by John Philip Sousa; Selections from “Carousel” by Richard Rodgers, also his Victory at Sea Suite; compositions by Gilbert and Sullivan; American in Paris by George Gershwin (HS: Which one reviewer reminded readers, was “bumped from the program last year”); Goerges Bizet’s Suite from Jeux d’enfants (HS: Since wrote a piece of this name for four hands, the work played this afternoon by the PSO was likely to have been composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s Suite after Bizet’s ‘Jeux d’enfants’, Op 21.); and Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dance In E Minor, Op. 72, No. 2. (HS: No information has et [2013] been located in the PSO Archives to indicate who soloists were for some of the works played at the Symphony By The Sea Concert.) The P-H commented about the rousing “penultimate number, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. A favorite from past Symphonies by the Sea, this number was once again enlivened by howitzers from a Maine National Guard detachment. The gunners, cued by a light flashing from stage, weren’t too rhythmic, but it was fun. And that was the point”.

September 9 found the Portland Symphony Orchestra at PCHA in front of an audience, but also in front of television cameras. WGME-TV (channel 13) personalities were on hand to conduct the PSO during a 1-hour live-broadcast ticket-selling telethon. While the PSO’s assistant conductor Richard Vanstone directed the Orchestra in a program of “pops” and classical excerpts, the WGME-TV folks alternately conducted Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride, Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever, the Maine Stein Song, and the Thunder and Lightning Polka by Johann Strauss II. Nothing in the PSO Archives has been spotted so far (2013) to offer insights as to why WGME-TV was now in the role that WGAN-TV had served in for the five-year period 1978 to 1982. No live-TV productions featuring the PSO, promotional or otherwise, appear to have taken place during either 1983 or 1984.

In September of this year, the Ogunquit Music Center, with support from the Maine State Commission on the Arts and the Humanities and also the Ogunquit Community Center for the Performing Arts presented two concerts, the second of which featured a 46-piece ensemble of members of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. This Saturday evening performance was at the Ogunquit Playhouse, with Allan Lewis the guest conductor. Mr. Lewis was Music Director and Conductor of the Joffrey Ballet, and also served as the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Opera Theatre of Maine. Baritone Alan Titus was the guest soloist at this concert (HS:  Until longtime PSO violinist Luis Ibáñez, in 2014, lent me a copy of the program for this concert, no reference whatsoever to this Ogunquit performance had been found among the PSO archives. Many Thanks (!!), Luis, for providing knowledge about it having been performed. A scanned-copy of the concert program is available for viewing at

The concert began with the Ballet Suite from “The Good Humored Ladies”, by Domenico Scarlatti and arranged by Vincenzo Tommasini, who crafted the music after the harpsichord sonatas of the composer. Next Mr. Lewis was  joined by Mr. Titus, and conducted three Mozart works sung by the guest solist:  I Am A Man of Widespread Fame from “The Magic Flute”; followed by I Would Like A Word With All You Lovely Women from “Così fan Tutte”; and finally, Hai Già  Vinta La Causa! From “The Marriage of Figaro”. The baritone then briefly retired from the stage while the PSO performed Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. The first half of the concert concluded with Mr. Titus singing Ballade de la Reine Mab from “Roméo et Juliette” by Charles Gounod; Avant de Quitter Ces Lieux from “Faust”, also by Gounod; and Vision Fugitive from “Hérodiade”, the opera by Jules Massenet.

After intermission the Symphony musicians played Tales From the Vienna Woods, Waltzes, Opus 325, by Johann Strauss, Jr. At this point Mr. Titus returned for three lighter musical numbers:  Franz Lehár’s operetta composition, I Find It At Maxim’s from “The Merry Widow”; and from Broadway stage productions--- Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face from “My Fair Lady, and the Sililoquy from “Carousel” by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. The evening concluded with “Porgy and Bess” Symphonic Picture, an arrangement from George Gershwin’s music by Robert Russell Bennett.

At this point in time, Joanne and John Schnell, respectively violinist and trumpet with the PSO, were Operations Managers for this concert. The then-married duo were also co-librarians.

As fall approached, tickets were mailed out to PSO subscribers, and Portland concertgoers checked their calendars to see when they’d have a chance to “personally-audition” the five candidates selected to guest-conduct at various classical, Pops and Chamber concerts throughout the upcoming 1985-1986 season. Search committee members and board trustees planned to attend both rehearsals and concerts to evaluate the aspirants, as would the PSO’s 81 instrumentalists. The five previously-announced finalists to replace Bruce Hangen as Music Director and Conductor, each of whom would be conducting the PSO during the upcoming season were:

• Robert Barnhardt, 33, associate conductor of the Louisville Orchestra,

• Catherine Comet, 39, associate conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra,

• Robert Page, 56, assistant conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra and founder and music director of the Robert Page Singers,

• Paul Polivnick, 38, music director and conductor of the Alabama Symphony

• Toshiyuki Shimada, 33, assistant conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra

Before the season, 42 musicians auditioned to join the PSO ensemble. Open PSO chairs were in the violin and doublebass sections, as well for second flute, second bassoon and third trumpet. Music Director Bruce Hangen and the orchestra’s principal players listened to the candidates over a three-day period, two in Portland and one in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music. Seven of those who auditioned “made the team”.

On Tuesday, October 15, Conductor Hangen was on the podium for the season’s first classical concert. A Press Herald article noted that the theme could have been titled “Adventures in Orchestral Color”. Following The Star-Spangled Banner, for this evening he selected Ottorino Repighi’s Pines of Rome, which he also conducted during his audition concert ten years earlier. Also featured were Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, KV. 550, and Maurice Ravel’s choreographic poem La Valse. Premiered this evening was Celebrations/Reflections (A Time Warp) by Bowdoin Professor Elliott Schwartz. The P-H’s Doug Hubley labeled the PSO’s 1985-1986 start as “an aptly engaging opening to what should be an intriguing PSO season.”

Finally ready to trade lobsters for steaks, Bruce Hangen then headed to the Midwest to begin his new assignment with the Omaha Symphony, with which he would this season spend most of his time. Portland-area concertgoers prepared for the Symphony’s new season, dubbed “Discovery ‘86”, during which the five conductor candidates would vie for the role as the PSO’s new music director and conductor. Mr. Hangen did have some Portland return-appearances on his calendar, although the large majority of the Symphony’s concerts during the 1985-1986 season were conducted by the candidates, assistant conductor Vanstone, and also one non-candidate Pops-concert guest conductor.

The Canadian Brass joined with the PSO for the “Pops” series season kick-off at PCHA, on both Saturday and Sunday, October 19 & 20. Paul Polivnick, the first of the five conductors who would audition for the position of PSO music director,  opened the concert with Richard Wagner’s Overture to “Rienzi”, followed by selections decided at the time (HS:  And not recorded for posterity in the PSO Archives.) with/by the Canadian Brass. Of course, the fantastic and always-entertaining ensemble began with their famous slow-stroll down the aisle through the audience, and mounted the stairs to the stage with the traditional Closer Walk with Thee. After the Symphony performed George Frideric Handel’s Concerto in F, Op. 4, No. 4, the brass fivesome performed Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in G Minor.

Following intermission, two Strauss waltzes were performed (HS: Presumably by the PSO, but knowing the Canadians, they might have jumped in, too.). First, by Johann, Sr., was Radetsky March, followed by Emperor Waltzes, Op. 437, composed by Johann, Jr. The Canadian Brass then performed one of their standards, Johann Pachelbel’s Canon (HS:  Which is in G major, although The Brass always list it without extra details.). The scheduled portion of the concert concluded with the Canadian Brass wow-ing everyone with Fats’ Waller’s Ain’t Misbehavin’. An encore, or maybe several, likely  ended the evening, but nothing is now known about any bonuses from the guests from Canada. (HS: Strangely, so far no newspaper clipping about either this concert or a music critic’s evaluation of Mr. Polivnick has yet been spotted among the PSO Archives.)

Several weeks later, it was announced that Mr. Polivnick had agreed with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra to extend his contract. A spokesperson for the ASO, when asked by the Press Herald whether he remained in contention for the Portland job, responded “I would imagine that is over”. (HS: Nonetheless, Mr. Polivnick kept his earlier commitment to later conduct a PSO classical concert the following March.)

The following two mornings, Monday and Tuesday the 21st and 22nd of October, pairs of Youth Concerts at PCHA were directed by Richard Vanstone. The theme gives a hint that the two mornings were filled with happy and fun-filled music: “Carnivals, Fairs and Circuses”. Works (HS: Most certainly excerpts.) performed were Julius Fučík’s Entry of the Gladiators; Hector Berlioz’ “Roman Carnival” Overture; Charles Ives’ Country Band March; Bedřich Smetana’s Dance of the Comedians; Igor Stravinsky’s Carnival Scene from “Petrouchka” and also his Circus Polka; and Matthias Bamert’s Circus Parade (HS:  With...... the program advises, “audience participation”.).

Reporting on the concert, since it was attended by Livermore Falls students, the Lewiston Daily Sun noted that “The intent of the trip was to expose the students to Maine’s symphony, which is the only one north of Boston; to have students realize the musical occupations available to talented musicians in Maine; to expose students to the art, construction and acoustics of Portland City Hall; and to make students aware of the importance of manners and respect in large group situations.”

A follow-up article appeared in mid-October about the Sugarloaf Ski Area persident’s grandiose idea of annually bringing the Portland Symphony Orchestra to the resort’s new hotel for three-week residencies. At a board meeting, serious questions were raised as to how such a scheme would be financed. The proposal was tabled for further review (HS:  Once again, I’ll keep my eyes open for any follow-up articles. This “pie-in-the-sky” wild dream will certainly die sometime.).

Auditions for people wishing to be selected for the “Magic of Christmas” Chorus were held on both Friday and Saturday, October 25 & 26.

November brought to the PSO podium the second candidate to succeed Bruce Hangen. On Sunday the 3rd, Robert Page led the ensemble through a pair of chamber music programs at the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom, in a program that included Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, Zoltán Kodály’s Dances of Galanta, Maine composer Kay Gardner’s The Rising Sun: Variations on an American Blues Theme, and Lukas Foss’s Concerto for Oboe. The latter spotlighted the talents of PSO principal oboist Neil Boyer. Mr. Boyer, the orchestra’s top oboist for 12 years, was then teaching at USM, Dartmouth College and the University of Vermont. (HS: Interestingly, once again no critical evaluation of Mr. Page was offered by reviewers, although clippings about the concert contained content insofar as the orchestra’s performance was concerned.)

The second classical concert series program, on Tuesday, November 19, featured the third candidate seeking the PSO’s top job, Robert Bernhardt. However, there was news about him shortly before he came to Portland for this concert. He had been offered and accepted the job of conductor of the Amarillo Symphony. In interviews reported by both the Press Herald and the Evening Express, he said that he was still also interested in the Portland position, being willing to commute. Were he to be selected for the PSO post, however, his “commuting” would present an extremely challenging task for his travel agent..... for he also still had a year remaining in his role as Associate Conductor of the Louisville Orchestra. Also a likely complicating factor seemed to be the PSO trustees’ “strong preference that the new music conductor be a resident of Portland and that the Portland Symphony be his primary obligation”, according to newspaper reports quoting Peter Plumb.

During Mr. Bernhardt’s appearance with the the PSO, he conducted works by Johannes Brahms, Samuel Adler and Felix Mendelssohn. The evening’s guest soloist was Peter Zazofsky, son of a Boston Symphony oboist and somewhat-protégé of the longtime BSO concertmaster, Joseph Silverstein. Mr. Zazofsky, who had studied at Curtis Institute for seven years, performed Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64, the great composer’s last large orchestral work. The Press Herald reviewer saluted his rendition — “this was great stuff”, and cited his playing as “captivating in its warmth and honesty.” The Adler orchestral work played by the PSO was his seven-movement Joi, Amor and Cortezia, an arrangement of seven dances from as long as 600 years ago, composed in 1982 by the chairman of the composition department at the Eastman School of Music. After the intermission, Mr. Burnhardt led the musicians in Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, a work featuring a cheery and almost pastoral mood. Doug Hubley, writing for the P-H, said that he “was impressed with Bernhardt’s work on the Brahms and the earlier works”. Jacqueline Neuwirth, who frequently wrote concert critiques for the York County Coast Star got right to the point in her appraisal, saying “it is time to praise Bernhardt for his consummate and compassionate control of the orchestra throughout the entire concert. If there were no other candidates for the position of music director of the PSO for the coming year, I would not be unhappy.”

Several newspaper articles about this time discussed the possibility that the PSO might have to share whatever  new conductor it selected with another orchestra. While the PSO’s trustees preferred that Portland have a full-time leader, the realities of the situation called for not totally dismissing out of hand the idea that a share arrangement might eventually prove the best way to go when a final decision would be made. The catalyst for these articles was likely the fact that Mr. Bernhardt had already accepted an assignment with Amarillo.

After seeing candidates Polivnick, Page and Bernhardt in consecutive concerts, PSO subscribers next saw candidate #4, Toshiyuki Shimada.... on the podium for an early-December Wednesday-classical-concert, on the 4th. (HS:  Now, now.... read on---pretend that you don’t know how all this competition will end up.) He had just concluded a seven-concert tour throughout the Midwest and Northeast with the Houston Symphony that surprisingly became his assignment when his boss, that orchestra’s musical director, after the tour’s first two stops felt overworked and exhausted due to too many commitments. Prior to the concert in Portland, he met with a staff reporter from the Evening Express over breakfast, which resulted in an informative article about what he considered to be his conducting style. (HS:  Since no articles appeared in searches of the PSO Archives, it appears that this type of interview likely was not done by any of the first three candidates. Whether Mr. Shimada stimulated the interview on his own is not clear, but the advance PR certainly  gave concertgoers something extra to think about before the young 35-year-old conductor took the podium for his first appearance in Portland. He also addressed a PSO concert preview audience who assembled in the State of Maine Room at City Hall..... again a positive PR opportunity for him.)

At the concert, Mr. Shimada first directed Hector Berlioz’ Roman Carnival Overture, Op. 9. (HS: In the composer’s  native tongue, “Le carnaval romain, ouverture pour orchestra”; really....... I didn’t have a clue about that--  isn’t Googling fun?!) Then, guest artist Juliana Markova took the stagefront with Mr. Shimada and solo-ed in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, Op. 58, which the Evening Express review labeled “an excellent performance” (HS: As subsequent newspaper-report events would reveal, the E-E reviewer “missed something important”.) Symphony No 8 in G major Op 88, B. 163, composed and orchestrated within a two-and-a-half-month period in 1889, followed the intermission. About Mr. Shimada, the Express reviewer wrote, “Shimada’s rhythm and dynamic control remained impressive. The very quiet second movement was handled beautifully, with real edge of the seat stops and starts. The rousing, slightly chaotic fourth movement really seemed to get the audience geared up for their ovation”. (HS: The P-H reviewer did not note something deserving of mention, that Mr. Shimada conducted the Dvořák from memory.) The concert “closed with a prolonged standing ovation, and deservedly so”.

Interestingly, one review of Mr. Shimada’s first Portland concert was notably unenthusiastic. Jacqueline Neuwirth in the York County Coast Star (HS: She had spotted what the P-H reviewer had missed) sharply dissed his conducting during the Beethoven, rhetorically questioning that his attention to Miss Markova’s playing was as though it were their first rehearsal, making her point with the wise-guy close—“Gee I hope not!” Next she wrote of interpreting what she saw as his “excessive use of handcar pumping” and suggested that the Dvořák was “dull”, speculating that the orchestra perhaps “began to weary of the endless cues of the conductor and they just played the notes.” She rendered what her vote would have been, had she been on the PSO search committee, concluding her review with a curt but obviously pointed “On to the next conducting candidate!” (HS: In an earlier review she had “cast her vote” with a strong endorsement of Robert Bernhardt. Maybe she’d have thought differently of Mr. Shimada had she been the reporter who interviewed him at breakfast before the concert?  ---Just wondering....?  It was fun for me to speculate that had Mr. Shimada “reviewed her review” had it been part of her bluebook final composition exam---- whether he’d have marked her down for ending three of six paragraphs with exclamation points?  See...... I can diss too.)

In fact, Miss Neuwirth was on to something significant but didn’t fully realize it for what it was. In a letter to the editor in a Portland paper written by  PSO president Joel Martin after the concert, he pointedly said that the soloist had “refused to attend more than one rehearsal with the orchestra, forcing (Mr.) Shimada to work without her,” and that she did not attend the dress rehearsal, at which Mr. Shimada sang the piano part while ‘dress-conducting’ the PSO (HS:  Along the way of drafting this THINGS-PSO, I learned that Ms. Markova had then just recently returned from a lengthy and rigorous overseas tour, and was severely jet-lagged.). Mr. Martin also said that “in the third movement” of the Beethoven “she had a memory lapse and omitted several measures of music”, which conductor Shimada recognized and correctly responded to. Thus, in fact, this test for Mr. Shimada ironically possibly raised his grading by the trustees for his evening’s efforts.

In a much-later 2014 conversation with yours truly, Mr. Shimada added further perspective to his conducting episode with Ms. Markova. “She couldn’t come back” after jumping ahead, so he “just used his hands to hold back the orchestra” until they could once again join in with her. He also spoke of the fact that she had just come off an extensive tour and was tired, just several weeks earlier having felt the need to change her repertoire for the Portland concert to the Beethoven concerto from “The Egyptian” (Camille Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 5 in Piano Concerto No. 5 in F major, Op. 103).

The PSO rounded out its December endeavors with another sort-of encore, this one before the first downbeat had occurred. The number of this season’s “Magic of Christmas” series of concerts was originally set at eight, with Bruce Hangen scheduled to conduct the first four and Richard Vanstone the final four. To satisfy heavy demand for tickets, an extra matinee performance was added, which Mr. Hangen would conduct. And extremely popular the season’s “Magic” concerts turned out to be.

Preceding each of the concerts was a one-hour recital of holiday music, performed on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ by former municipal organist Douglas Rafter and also his successor, Gerald McGee.

The “Magic” concerts this year also featured Mary Beth Peil, who was trained as an operatic singer and shortly out of Northwestern Univeristy had toured with the Metropolitan Opera’s national company. She starred in several Broadway revival roles and was cast in a national tour as the twelfth and final Anna Leonowens opposite Yul Brynner’s monarch of Siam in a revival of “The King and I”. Receiving super reviews for her performances as Anna, the production toured the United States, closing on Broadway shortly before Brynner’s death the summer preceding her “Magic” appearance with the PSO. Her vocal task at City Hall Auditorium included Selections from Handel’s Messiah; a Medley of Christmas Songs arranged by Michael Braz; John Jacob Niles’ I Wonder As I Wander; and readings of the story The Littlest Angel, accompanied by PSO harpist Jara Goodrich.

Young Christopher Fitzgerald read the poem “Jest ‘Fore Christmas”, and participated with the Boy Singers and the Chorus during a performance of God Bless Us Everyone, which the program attributed to Simeone and Braz (HS: Although I was unsuccessful when Googling for info about such a work.). The PSO Brass Ensemble played the Bill Holcombe arrangement of Twelve Days of Christmas.

Each concert also featured The Boy Singers of Maine under the direction of Michael Braz, the 30-member Parish Ringers (the parent group of three handbell choirs at Brunswick’s First Parish church), young Maine actor Christopher Fitzgerald, and a 150-voice Magic of Christmas Chorus under the direction of Stewart Shuster. The Boy Singers were featured in Follow the Light by Margaret Kirk and Michael Braz. Alhough it was not so specified in the program a rendition of Carol of the Bells, composed by Mykola Leontovych with lyrics by Peter J. Wilhousky, also likely included the Boy Singers since the song is based on a Ukrainian folk chant ----known as “Shchedryk”. The Parish Ringers performed the Frances Callahan arrangement of Gloria and Victor Herbert’s Toyland. The choral ensemble sang A Christmas Carol, Glory to God; the Hallelujah Chorus from “The Messiah”; the Opening Chorus from “Scrooge” by Leslie Bricusse; and joined the audience for a traditional Christmas Carol Sing-Along. On its own the PSO played seasonal favorites that included Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival; Leon Jessel’s Parade of the Wooden Soldiers; The Little Drummer Boy, arranged by Harry Simeone; and The Twelve Days of Christmas. ; and of course, Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride.

Although the PSO’s Holiday Season spectacular appears to have been by now taking on somewhat of a “sameness” characteristic, every one of the 2340 tickets for all nine performances were sold. (HS: When relinquishing the podium for Mr. Vanstone’s final four seasonal concerts, Mr. Hangen took what might be called “his Magic Act” with him to Omaha, where a mdwest version of Magic of Christmas tradition went on to also last many years.)


1986       The second guest-conducting appearance of PSO candidate Robert Page, on January 14, featured eight members of the orchestra performing Frank Martin’s Concerto for Seven Wind Instruments. (HS:  The PSO’s timpanist, Reginald Bonnin, was the eighth player.) The concert opened with Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis by Vaughan Williams. In the performance of this composition, Press Herald reviewer Hurley credited Mr. Page with “express(ing) the mood of the piece ideally; with restraint, yet full of feeling. His dynamics were apt, his pacing perfect.” Also performed were two Mussorgsky works, his Prelude to Khovantchina and the Ravel arrangement of his original piano composition Pictures at an Exhibition. Prior to the concert Mr. Page previewed the program at a box-supper session at City Hall’s State of Maine room that was hosted by the PSO’s Women’s Committee. Prior to a rehearsal, he was interviewed by a staff writer for the Evening Express. Both of these pre-concert happenings provided Portlanders with more perspectives about this candidate striving to become music director and conductor of the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

In mid January a P-H clipping found in the PSO Archives reported that the Symphony had launched a $225,000 campaign to raise funds for its investment management account. The funds were needed to comply with NEA requirements that would release an advancement grant of $75,000. The PSO was one of only three orchestras in the nation chosen to receive such a grant. Meanwhile, the PSO’s additional total operating budget goal for the year was an additional $305,000, to be achieved through ticket sales. To encourage major contributions of $5000 or more, the special “Conductors Circle” category for donors was established (HS: This program continues currently [in 2013].).

Toshisiku Shimada returned for his second candidate guest-conducting stint in late January, with two Candlelight chamber concerts at the Sonesta ballroom, on Sunday the 26th. He initially joked with the audiences “I’m glad to see so many of you here, in spite of something going on in New Orleans”--- referring to Super Bowl XX. The concerts featured German-born pianist Veronika Jochum playing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Op. 15. The PSO chamber ensemble also performed Igor Stravinsky’s Concerto in D, and Mozart’s “Prague” Symphony. In an article published after the chamber concert, Press Herald reviewer Doug Hubley commented that attendees were “rewarded” for having missed the football championship.

During Mr. Shimada’s 2014 conversation with yours truly, he recalled the weather in Portland during his second visit was “cold –  cold – cold – cold  – cold” (HS:  Yes, Toshi really said the word “cold” five times in a row..... clearly getting his point across.). He told of Pam and Peter Plumb taking him out after the concert, into a “sub-zero freezing night; ----- I thought I was going to die... ...maybe they were testing me regarding Maine weather?!” Checking for any further details with Peter, I called and was greeted with a chuckle when I reminded him of the incident. Peter recounted that it “was a beautiful winter night, and we wanted to show him how the city looked; was probably snowing. We drove over to South Portland, to near Bug Lite, walking near Spring Point Light; ...........oh, and Pam just reminded me that Toshi wore a fur hat on the stroll we all took along the waterfront.”

Eric Knight, the principal pops conductor of the Baltimore Symphony, conducted the PSO in a pair of Pops concerts in early February, on Saturday-Sunday, the 1st and 2nd. Earlier in his musical career he had supplied hundreds of arrangements for the late Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. The theme of his conducting the PSO in a number of his works this weekend was “A Knight in Hollywood”. The evening featured the Theme from “Never On Sunday”; Music from “Summer of ’42” and also The Godfather; and a Gershwin Medley. He conducted a medley based on six Charlie Chaplin films that the conductor-composer named The Reel Chaplin. Mr. Knight concluded with Music from “Superman”, the only piece of the two Portland Pops concerts that he did not arrange.

A little more than a week later, Mr. Knight’s colleague at the Baltimore Symphony, that orchestra’s associate conductor, Paris native and Julliard-trained Catherine Comet, ascended the podium. She conducted a PSO Classical Series concert on Tuesday, February 11. The program began with a trio of selections, Incidental Music from “Rosamunde”, Op. 26 that Franz Schubert composed for the play of the same name. The featured work that evening was Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, performed by the NY-based twin-brother-team of John and Richard Conti-Guglia, which the Press Herald reviewer reported greatly pleased concertgoers. Finally was Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 5 in B flat major, Op.100, at the conclusion of which most of the audience was standing and enthusiastically applauding. The PSO members themselves joined in that ovation, engaging in much appreciative foot stomping to salute Ms. Comet. Several newspaper reviewers also decidedly  complimented her work. Their judgments confirmed that the PSO search committee had put a solid candidate on the podium for this concert. (HS: The PSO Archives newspaper scrapbook contained a clipping of a delightful interview an Evening Express staff writer had with Ms. Comet at a Portland cafe. The reporter, obviously captivated by the Parisian’s stylish crisp accent and how many natives of Paris invariably [should] view the world as love or art, or both..... naturally visualized herself as interviewing the PSO conductor candidate while strolling down a wide boulevard in the City of Lights with nearby sidewalk artists sitting at unfinished canvases, small cars whizzing by, vendors extending to all gorgeous bouquets of violets, lily-of-the-valley and roses. It was a most favorable article, and accompanied by Ms. Comet’s pre-concert speaking engagement with some concertgoers at a State of Maine Meeting Room box-dinner affair, most certainly put attendees “in her corner” for the concert.)

The winner of this year’s Portland Symphony Orchestra/Bookland Piano Competition was Mayo Tsuzuki, an award announced on Sunday, February 23. The youngest of the five finalists (twelve performers had qualified to be original entrants), at 22, the NYC resident (who had worked on the PSO staff the previous summer, but not then engaged in any piano-performance assignments) was then a student at Julliard. In the competition finals she performed Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. She won a $1250 cash prize and a gig with the PSO.

Sunday, March 2 found Bruce Hangen again on the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom podium for a pair of Candlelight chamber music concerts. Prize-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin was the guest soloist, playing two Vivaldi concerti with the orchestra, his Concerto in D major before the intermission and Concerto in A major after. For an encore she wow’ed the two audiences with what the Press Herald called a “dazzling dance” by Venezuelan composer Antonio Larro. Contemporary minimalist composer John Adam’s Shaker Loops (HS: related to the chamber ensemble players’ bowing of their string-instruments) and Antonín Dvořák’s Serenade for Strings rounded out the concerts. The EE’s Doug Hubley referred to Loops as “very attractive”. (HS: That opinion wasn’t universally shared 20 miles to the southwest. Read on......)

This chamber concert was also performed the preceding evening (Saturday) in Biddeford at the City Theater, after which the Journal Tribune reviewer wrote that most “of the program was more enjoyable” than Mr. Adams’ Loops, about which he commented: After “Twenty minutes... ...the selection was, gratefully, over.” Perhaps more than likely representing the views of many concertgoers who enjoy traditional classical music, he found the work “essentially empty, with nothing to really say.” Another JT article reported that following some comments describing the work to the audience, Mr. Hangen “finished with a good-natured warning. ‘If you don’t like (it), don’t tell me about it.’  “ The reporter added, “This from the PSO’s charismatic conductor who knows he’s on his way to Omaha.”

Monday, March 3, found eight PSO brass and woodwind players providing the cadence for marching children during a PSO KinderKonzert at the Holiday Inn By the Bay. The program also featured mime Jerry Sanders in a presentation called “The Wonderful World of Instruments and Animals”. The Evening Express carried a picture of balloon-&-streamer-carrying kids proudly marching among their fellow students who were seated on the carpeting of the hotel’s huge ballroom.

That evening, the Vivaldi-Adams-Dvořák Candlelight repertoire performed during the week-end, was repeated when the PSO traveled to the State House Hall of Flags at the Capitol in Augusta. Apart from the basic information in Mr. Hangen’s performance diaries, for a long time searches for other information about this concert had been fruitless. Finally, long-saved concert programs from the collection of Joanne Woodward were contributed to the PSO Archives. (Hoo-Ray!)

A pair of early-March Saturday & Sunday Pops Concerts with a “Gay Nineties” theme was to have been conducted by Richard Bernhardt, who had in November held the baton in front of the orchestra for a PSO classical concert. Due to Mr. Bernhardt’s “schedule conflicts” related to his associate conductor responsibilities with the Louisville Orchestra (HS: Com’on.... his having already accepted the Amarillo conductor’s post meant he was “out of the running” for the Portland slot... admit it, Dick!), Assistant PSO Conductor Richard Vanstone instead took over for the two performances (on the 8th and 9th). The Boston Consort (previously known as the Boston Common, who were already popular with Portland concertgoers after erlier engagements) barbershop quartet was featured. Plenty of old favorites and other popular tunes well matched the stylish and entertaining singers who charmed the audience. Some of those “old hits” were Beautiful Baby; Sittin’ on Top of the World; Lonesome for You,  Dear Old Pal; Sweet Adeline; Roses of Picardy; and a George M. Cohan Medley. An advance EE article promised that concertgoers would also hear “a Strauss polka, a medley from Victor Herbert’s operetta ‘The Fortune Teller’... (and) audience sing-along of tunes popular in the 1890s”. The Strauss work was the Annen Polka, Op. 117. When not assisting the SPEBSQSA-ers, the PSO performed a romantic classical piece written in the 1890’s (to fit the theme), Tchaikowsky’s Cappricio Italien, Op. 45. A Scott Joplin Medley (HS: although the majority of his ‘rags’ came after 1900... but that’s OK.); Amboise Thomas’ Raymond Overture; John Philip Sousa’s El Capitan March; and an audience sing-along rounded out each of the concerts. A concert program donated (in 2013) to the PSO Permanent Program Collection by then-PSO-violinist Joanne Schnell contained sing-along words to The Bowery; Sidewalks of New York; Down by the Old Mill Stream; In the Good Old Summertime; The Band Played On; and After the Ball is Over. (HS:  It must have been fun to be part of two thousand voices enthusiastically belting out “East Side, West Side, All Around the Town”.) The Evening Express’s Rojean Tulk entertainingly wrote that “The concert was near perfect, except for the clanging of Portland City Hall’s old heat registers. They knocked, exasperatingly off-beat through the first three selections as the auditorium warmed up.”

Early the next week, again due to PSO conductor-candidate Robert Bernhardt’s inability to resolve schedule conflicts with his Louisville assignments, Assistant Conductor Richard Vanstone led the PSO in four March Youth Concerts for Portland area 4th, 5th and 6th graders. These Monday and Tuesday, the 10th and 11th of the month performances, titled “Stories of Note”, showed the students how musical selections can tell fabulous stories. Among the storied compositions played (HS: Likely excerpts in most cases.) were:  Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from “Midsummer Night’s Dream”; Sergei Prokofiev’s The Montagues and Capulets from “Romeo and Juliet”, Suite No. 2; Georg Phillipp Telemann’s Attack on the Windmills from “Don Quioxite Suite”; Joseph Haydn’s First Movement from Symphony No. 83 (“La Poule”); Englebert Humperkink’s Evening Prayer and Dream Pantomime from “Hansel and Gretel”; and Igor Stravinsky’s Danse Infernale du Roi Karschet from “Firebird Suite”.

Under the baton of Paul Polivnick, double bassist Gary Karr played the instrument that composer Serge Koussevitsky himself had used when he premiered his Concerto for Double Bass, an Amati built in 1611. (HS: It is certainly rare when an audience can hear a piece performed on the very instrument for wich it was composed, as occurred this evening.) Mr. Karr, a seventh generation bassist in his family, received the rare instrument as a gift from the widow of the famed bassist and conductor of the Boston Symphony. Longtime PSO bassist George Rubino recalls that at the conclusion of this March-18-performed concerto, Mr. Karr leaned over and kissed his instrument, to much audience amusement and approval. Also on the program this Tuesday evening was Beethoven’s King Stephen Overture , which P-H reviewer Hubley wrote was “lacking punch”, labeling it an “undistinguished tidbit whose greatest virtue was its brevity”. His reporting about the performance of  Hector Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique: Episode in the Life of an Artist, was described as “a simply splendid rendition” by the P-H writer. The Press Herald review of Mr. Karr’s performance (which included two encores, both with PSO principal bassist Richard Robinson joining him) was very favorable. Also favorably judged by the reviewer was the rendition of the Berlioz work by the orchestra under Mr. Polivnick’s direction. Ostensibly, the conductor was back in Portland for a second appearance as a candidate to replace Bruce Hangen, although his earlier acceptance of a contract extension from the Alabama Symphony almost certainly meant that he could not satisfy one of the PSO search committee’s requirements -- that Mr. Hangen’s replacement agree to reside in Portland. (HS: Prior to the concertMr. Polivnick met with some concertgoers to discuss the evening’s program, during a box-dinner in the State of Maine Room in City Hall.)

Do you remember that skeptical wise-guy type of comment I included earlier in this THINGS-PSO about the Sugarloaf Mountain organization’s “pie in the sky” ideas about getting a deal that would annujally have the PSO spend a three-week residency at the hotel?  Well..... I was right. In March the corporation declared bankruptcy, having misread the market by concentrating too much on real estate activities versus its basic business of making customers’ ski experiences their top concentration. By the next summer the corporation would re-emerge from under Chapter 11 of the federal code, and carry on without increasing its dependence on real-estate venturing. Arrangements would once again be set for the PSO to re-appear at a concert in July.

The final pair of Candlelight Chamber Concerts at the Sonesta/Eastland Ballroom involving candidates seeking to replace Bruce Hangen were presented in early April (Sunday the 6th), Catherine Comet conducting some two months after her classical-concert audition in February. She led the small PSO orchestra in Rameau’s Suite for Strings from Six Concerts en Sextour; Bach’s Cantata No. 211, the amusing “Coffee Cantata”; and Shubert’s Symphony No. 3 in D major. Three Portland-area vocal instructors joined her and the ensemble. A reviewer called her performance “consistently, strongly impressive”, and the audience rose at the end with a standing ovation, “accompanied by manic foot-stomping from the musicians—the second time for a Comet visit” reported the P-H. Obviously, Ms. Comet was highly regarded by the PSO players. An interesting observation by Search Committee Chairman Plumb quoted in the local newspapers was “Catherine Comet worked the orchestra harder than they’ve ever been worked”.

Although musically and energetically a prime candidate, the hard-working Ms. Comet unfortunately had a likely strike against her, as the search committee headed down the homestretch toward a decision. Her husband had a prominent post as a Dean at the University of Pennsylvania. This was a prime position not likely to be duplicated, if even another opening might have been available near Portland were the couple to agree to move from the Philadelphia area. (HS: up until now, she had an easy commute from their home to nearby Baltimore assignments.)

Procedurally, the PSO conductor-search committee in the beginning had broken into two subcommittees, with each reviewing all the 200+ applications. If either subcommittee rated the candidate’s credential favorably, it went onto the list for the full committee to consider. That subsequent effort weeded the list down to 30, and all thirty were invited to Portland for interviews. Each candidate had three or more meetings. All the candidates were asked numerous questions, and marked down if he or she did not ask some questions themselves. From the interviews, the group was further reduced, and search committee members checked references of those remaining, as well as having discussions with trustees, volunteer staff and musicians associated with the candidates respective orchestras.

After each the five finalists guest-conducted the PSO, all the members of the orchestra rated the conducting of each. The PSO’s contract musicians filled out a one-page “Guest Conductor Evaluation Form”, assessing the candidate in such areas as baton technique, knowledge of the score and orchestra, musical style, rehearsal technique and leadership. There was also room on the form for the musicians to make general comments, express his or her opinion of the candidate “as a person” and to say if they would like to “have him/her conduct our orchestra again”.

Each member of the search committee also filled out one-page forms after a candidate’s appearance, grading the hopeful in such areas as stage presence, conducting technique, communications skills, “Enthusiasm and education” and “willingness to participate in all orchestra activities”. The category of “Musicianship” was of course most important. Also critical was a willingness to live in and spend most of their time in Portland and reasons to expect that the new conductor would be energetic and active in the community.

Meanwhile, PSO patrons and other supporters, the PSO staff and the rest of the board, along with newspaper reporters and interested people throughout the greater Portland community, not to mention the final candidates themselves, all waited for the final word from the search committee.

Bruce Hangen returned to Maine in mid April, “tuning up” as it were with a Pops Concert appearance in Biddeford on Friday, April 11. Although Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries don’t specify where the concert was presented, chances are that it was at the Biddeford City Theater. The program consisted of: Overture Raymond, by Amboise Thomas; Annen Polka, Op. 117, by Johann Strauss, Jr. ; Langley’s arrangement of Victor Herbert’s “Fortune Teller” Medley; Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Cappricio Italien and also his “Swan Lake” Suite; John Philip Sousa’s El Capitan March; Gilbert & Sullivan’s Overture to “Iolanthe”; Selections from “The Sting”, John Cacavas’ arrangements from Marvin Hamlisch adaptations of Scott Joplin compositions; Hermann’s Old Song Medley; Selections from “The Music Man” by Meredith Willson, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett; Mayhew Lake’s Old Timers’ Waltz; and John Philip Sousas The Stars and Stripes Forever.

In his only Pops concert of the 1985-1986 regular season in Portland, Bruce Hangen conducted both the PSO and several distinguished stars from the British D’Oyly Carte Opera Company in a pair of April weekend performances (Saturday and Sunday, the 12th and 13th) featuring songs and music from popular Gilbert and Sullivan comic operas. The two-hour programs featured potluck music from “Iolanthe”, “H.M.S. Pinafore”, “The Mikado”, “Patience”, “The Pirates of Penzance” and “The Gondoliers”. (HS Note:  A complete song-by-song list is contained within Mr. Hangen’s concert performance diaries, retained in the PSO Archives, and the full program details are also displayed  at Although expressing general delight with the G&S-themed Pops, a local newspaper reviewer reported being perplexed by the fact that several numbers were inexplicably not performed that had both been listed on the program and featured in radio ads preceding the concerts.

The following Monday, April 14, in a lengthy article.... the Press Herald’s Doug Hubley handicapped the candidates to replace Bruce Hangen. He reported that “almost every faithful symphony-goer asked (had) agreed on the two top picks, based on the eleven concerts led by the (various) candidates.” He wrote that those two were Catherine Comet and Toshiyuki Shimada (HS:  Had he checked more carefully with the musicians, he likely would also learned that many felft that Paul Polivnick should be considered a front-runner.). He rated Ms. Comet as “remarkable for her vivacity, her rapport with the orchestra, and the passionate depth of her musical understanding. She made clear what she knew and felt about the music, and in her hands the PSO was electrifying.” He concluded that the drawback to hiring her would involve a job change for her already-prominently-employed husband, or the PSO giving in on the board’s desire to have the new music director live in the Portland area.

Regarding Mr. Shimada, the reporter wrote that he was “a strong and expressive musician”, who during a January Candellight Concert had been “a model of sympathetic clarity” during a Beethoven piano concerto with a guest soloist. He further observed that after one more year the young candidate from Houston would no longer have any contract obligations in Texas. The PSO trustees were especially interested in bringing Mr. Shimada aboard to be music director.

A special insert in the concert program handed to audiences this week-end was an invitation/announcement that encouraged everyone to attend Music Director Hangen’s upcoming final two Portland appearances as music director, to be performed on April 29 and 30. Written by PSO General Manager Russell I. Burleigh and addressed to “PSO Family Members”, the insert expressed hope that “you’ll be there to say goodbye to a good friend.” A copy of that insert letter is attached to the program scans for the April 12th and 13th concerts that can be seen at

The Tuesday, April 22 announcement from the PSO Conductor-Search Committee told of a unanimous selection to become the orchestra’s 11th conductor, as Toshiyuki Shimada was named. During a telephone conference call from Houston, the 34 year-old said that “I’m extremely excited”, adding “Right now I’m associate conductor of the Houston Symphony... ...That means the second man, second conductor... ...That means my decision-making capacity is very limited, and I’m ready to make important decisions, artistic decisions --- everything to do with orchestra performances and artistic administration.” Committee chairman Peter Plumb said “the five candidates were  all superb musically, so in that respect it got down to splitting hairs... ...I think what made Toshi” (HS: Finally!!! The first public utterance of his nickname!) the committee’s and the board’s unanimous choice was “that the guy’s just a real sparkplug. “Mr. Plumb added that the committee learned that in Houston “he voluntarily took part in a lot of promotion and public relations work on behalf of the orchestra — and was just hugely successful at it  He’s a one-man band to promote the orchestra.” Ten years later Mr. Plumb would be interviewed by the Maine Sunday Telegram on the occasion of Maestro Shimada beginning his 10th season with the PSO. Remembering that initial appointment, the-then former-chairman of the search committee said, “I think what made Toshi the unanimous choice of the board is that the guy is just a real spark plug”. While the new conductor would need to commute some between Portland and Houston over the coming year, that was not foreseen as a problem once he took up his new post in Portland on August 1.

Two months later, in June, Catherine Comet was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Grand Rapids Symphony. She would remain with that organization for 12 years, during which time period its budget rose from $1.8 million to $4.5 million, and the number of  full-time orchestra musicians increased by ten. She was an actively-sought-after guest conductor, and frequently performed away from her Grand Rapids podium. Her husband would later also accept a professional position in the Midwest, eventually retiring as chancellor of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

The Portland City Council proclaimed April 26 as “Bruce Hangen Day” in Portland. The retiring PSO director was handed a Key To The City. Hangen was about to completely relinquish his PSO office responsibilities to serve full time as Music Director of the Omaha Symphony.... but first there were a pair of important concerts in Portland for him to tend to.

Those two concerts occurred several days later, when Bruce Hangen conducted his final Classical Series concerts at City Hall Auditorium, on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 29 and 30, after some 325 concerts during the prior decade (HS: He would continue on in Portland during the following summer for a series of Pops and Starlight concerts.). Each of his final two classical concerts began with Mozart’s Divertimento in D major, K. 251, composed for strings alone almost 200 years earlier in Salzburg, in July of 1776. For his pair of Grande Finales, Mr. Hangen and the orchestra were joined by two singers with international reputations, soprano Mary Burgess and Swedish contralto Birgit Finnilä (HS: Old clippings show that sometimes the spelling “Finnilae” was used), as well as Portland’s Choral Art Society under the direction of Joseph D. Henry. (HS: Robert Russell was then on sabattical from USM.) Featured was Gustav Mahler’s massive blockbuster work, his five-movement Symphony No. 2, the “Resurrection Symphony”. For effect, the conductor sent groups of percussionists and brass players to play offstage. Six kettledrums were used, as was a whole row of French horns..... not to omit the significance of Gerald McGee at the mighty Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. Newspapers at the time reported that he had not chosen the work for any symbolic reason but that he wanted to bid adieu “with a big blow”, something with an appropriate crescendo. “It’ll be fun”, he had said beforehand; and it was, as the Portland newspapers used superlatives in reviews of the concerts using words such as “breathtaking”, “ grand style”, “a tidal wave of applause”, and “blockbuster”. The headline above an article by frequent reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth of the York County Coast Star heralded the performance of the work, “Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ is a massive and marvelous marathon”.

As a percentage of respective hall capacity, attendance at PSO Classical concerts the 1985-1986 season was 99%; for Pops concerts it was 61%, and for Candlelight chamber events at the Sonesta Ballroom – 72%. Some 75 KinderKonzerts were presented this season, 25 in Portland and another 50 in various venues in the Greater Portland region. Total attendance at all of the Youth Concerts for students this season reached the 20,000 goal set by the PSO.

A board report detailing expenses for back then was spotted in the PSO Archives. Programs cost $1.10 apiece from the printer, and were almost always delivered several hours prior to respective concerts.

On Sunday, May 4, some PSO musicians joined with some members of the Bangor Symphony and so-called “local talent” during a performance at the University of Maine, Farmington. The ensemble supported the UMF Community chorus in a performance of Handel’s “Samson”.

Edwin R. Nelson is elected PSO President.

The fourth PSO Women’s Committee’s “Designer’s Showcase” event, first sponsored in 1979, was presented at a newly-built home at Elizabeth Farms in Cape Elizabeth. Some 60 interior decorators from New England participated as the committee embarked on a $25,000 target. (HS: That total compares to more than $50,000 measured in 2012-dollars.)

The American Orchestra League named the PSO as one of eight orchestras to receive its annual award of excellence for its 1985-1986 season.

Tuesday and Wednesday, July 1 and 2, found Bruce Hangen guest-conducting the Boston Pops at Symphony Hall in Boston. This gig marked the eighth year that he had appeared on the Boston Pops podium.

Six of the PSO’s nine outdoor “Summer Starlight Concerts” this year were “run-outs” — shows given outside Portland. The Summer concerts where Bruce Hangen said his good-byes to various communities that had supported him and the PSO during concerts in prior years were held in Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Old Orchard Beach, Bridgton, Bath, Auburn, Camden, and North Conway in New Hampshire. (HS: Ironically, of the four outdoor concerts scheduled in the Portland area for this summer [ Or.... as old newspaper clippings in the PSO Archives referred to that season in 1986, “The Summer That Wasn’t”], three would be rained out and forced indoors. THAT would have been EXPENSIVE for the PSO, for indoor rental expenses, of course, had not been included in the budgets. [Now, strangely, when I went through post-concert articles about the summer’86 concerts, I could find reference to only one concert that had to be shifted indoors to an alternate venue. Now I can’t understand why the newspaper comment was written.... Hm-m-m-m.)

Not only did the Portland Symphony Orchestra travel to Bridgton on Friday, July 4 for a concert, but there is every indication that it was performed as scheduled (HS: i.e., meaning no mentions were spotted in old PSO Archives clippings that it was rained out). Conductor Hangen opened the concert with Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture, then Irving Berlin’s A Symphonic Portrait, arranged by Hawley Ades. Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” Overture preceded a narration by soprano and actress Nadia Pelle, as the PSO musicians played Carmen Dragon’s highly patriotic I Am An American. Ralph Hermann’s fun Farmyard Flolic next had everyone in the audience humming Chicken Reel, Home on the Range,  Camptown Races, Oh SusannahPop! Goes the Weasel, and She’ll Be Comin’ ’round the Mountain. Richard Rodger’s Orchestral Overture No. 1 then took a turn from the farm to Broadway.

John Philip Sousa’s Hail to the Spirit of Liberty put an exclamation mark on the continuing Independence Day musical celebrations, followed by the March King’s Liberty Bell March. Mr. Hangen also led the orchestra in John Williams “Superman” Medley and vocal selections of American Folk Songs by soprano Nadia Pelle (HS: She would return again at the end of the year for ten “Magic of Christmas” appearances.). While most of her numbers focused on a U.S. patriotic theme, some had been written for other seasons, even including the out-of-season Easter Parade and White Christmas. It was reported that the 4000-strong audience likely didn’t mind one bit.

The next day’s concert set for Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth...... well--- that leads to another story. For this Independence Day week-end celebration concert, late in the program Bruce Hangen donned an 18th-century militia jacket and hat before conducting Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture....... BUT ....... He donned that attire at Portland City Hall Auditorium, not out at Fort Williams Park. This was the first of the summer’86 outdoor concerts that was moved indoors due to inclement weather, and 2000 people changed their plans and shifted from Cape Elizabeth to PCHA. An Evening Express article reporting about “The 1812” said that “fire muskets were aimed out of the auditorium’s 3rd-story windows over Myrtle Street”. (HS: For a time I thought this may have been the concert when “police arrived” at the Auditorium in response to surprise “reports of shots being fired”—see anecdotes.)

Other works that newspapers reported performed at this Saturday July-5 “Cape-Elizabeth-concert-in-Portland” started with, of course, The Star-Spangled Banner. (HS: The 1st New Market Militia of New Hampshire presented the colors. The unit, later, applied their cannon during “1812”.) Leonard Bernstein’s Candide was another “fireworks-type” piece performed, with the mood becoming somber with the opening adagio of Beethoven’s Overture to “Egmont”. Appropriate for a “Liberty Pops” theme, Irving Berlin was honored with the playing of There’s No Business Like Show Business, as was Rudy Vallée with a performance of something called the Maine Stein Song (HS: Hey! ..... Don’t get upset about the “something” reference–I’m only kidding..... only kidding.....). When that started, many in the audience immdediately joined in song. Another Irving Berlin work played was A Symphonic Portrait, arranged by Hawley Ades. Nadia Pell was on hand to recite Carmen Dragon’s I Am An American. Besides Ralph Hermann’s Farmyard Frolic, several other works were played, with not all listed here. Naturally, marches by John Philip Sousa were on the program, with his Liberty Bell March receiving special attention, as also did the closing number of the evening, The Stars and Stripes Forever.

Camden was next on the PSO “Liberty Pops” schedule, with a concert at the Bok Amphitheater on Monday, July 6. (HS:  Actually, the PSO was set up on the street under a striped conopy, with the audience spread throughout the bucolic amphitheater.) The event was labeled “A Program of American Music Tailor-Made for Liberty Weekend”. Before singing, Ms. Pelle narrated Carmen Dragon’s I Am An American. Her song-set included George M. Cohan’s Yankee Doodle Dandy, George Gershwin’s Of Thee I Sing and Meredith Willson’s Gary, Indiana. (HS: It’s not known if she sang any of the Farmyard Frolic verses, either on stage or off.) Along the way during the concert, Hail to the Spirit of Liberty March was one of several Sousa marches performed by the Symphony. Numbers by Richard Rodgers included music from “South Pacific”, then “Oklahoma”, and also “Sound of Music”. At one point in the cool evening Ms. Pelle returned to the stage in a reportedly-gorgeous  Gone-With-the-Wind gown to sing a Cole Porter Medley, including I Get a Kick Out of You , You’re The Top and also My Heart Belongs to Daddy. All 900 tickets to seats in the venue were sold (HS: Benefitting was the Camden Shakespeare Company.), with several hundred others seated on the lawns of nearby Harbor Park. Although plenty of the concertgoers spent time bundled up in blankets, and the weather was constantly unsettled, what folks call “Weather!” held off. The unused backup site was a then-new acoustic shell in the auditorium of Camden Rockport High School.

The theme for the PSO’s Old Orchard Beach outside concert Wednesday, July 23 was “Summer Romance”. A local newspaper noted that on this day “Britain’s Prince Andrew married his sweetheart, Sarah Ferguson”, and the PSO and Maestro Hangen were recognizing that event. As a special promotion, the Journal Tribune article reported the PSO that day admitted for free any couple married on July 23 of any year who could present proof of the fact. Works not mentioned as played at other recent PSO concerts, that OOB concertgoers enjoyed that evening, included Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slav; an arrangement of John Williams’ Superman: A Symphonic Portrait; Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns, from “A Little Night Music”; Bahn Frei! Polka by Eduard Strauss; Lerner and Loewe’s Selections from “My Fair Lady”; Richard Rodgers Orchestral Overture; W. C. Handy’s St. Louis Blues March; and excerpts from Felix Medelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (HS:  Both the Overture and Wedding March, according to Bruce Hangen’s concert performance diary list.) John Philip Sousa marches played were Semper Fidelis and The Stars and Stripes Forever. The concert was held at familiar confines of The Ballpark, as once again the Old Orchard Beach Friends of the Performing Arts sponsored the event and also once again ballpark owner Bruce Korbitz contributed the site to help out (HS: Maybe this concert should have been called the “once again” Pops.).

“Festival by the Lake” in Auburn took place along the shores of Lake Auburn at Central Maine Vocational Technical Institute on Saturday, July 26 (HS: CMVTI is now [2013] Central Maine Community College.). In addition to Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture at the end (HS: The Maine National Guard Artillery assisted the musicians.), this concert included Morton Gould’s American Salute; Ralph Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite; and Leroy Anderson’s Irish Suite. The folk trio Schooner Fare sang Day of the Clipper, Kingfisher, Lady in Waiting, and Leviathan, among others. While the weather allowed the concert to go ahead as planned, a backup plan in case of rain had been for the Mr. Hangen and the PSO to perform two concerts, at 6 pm and again at 8:30 pm, at the Bates College fieldhouse (HS: The reason for two concerts would have been since the limited seating in the fieldhouse would not have allowed for all expected outdoor patrons to attend only one performance.)

Sunday, July 27 was the PSO’s second attempt to perform a “Summer’86” concert at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. No post-concert articles report about a second rain-caused diversion to PCHA, so the crowd this time enjoyed an outdoor concert. The Schooner Fare trio again joined the PSO on stage for part of this evening’s Starlight Concert, at one point booming out Portland Town to cheers from the crowd. Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land was on the program, as was Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever. Among numbers performed by the Orchestra were Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down and the second movement of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World, Op. 95, B. 178, “Going Home”.

Monday, July 28 brought PSO Conductor Hangen and the Symphony to Schouler Park in North Conway, NH. Since it  would be the orchestra’s only NH visit this summer, the program included a mixture of works played earlier at both the “Liberty Pops”and “Summer Romance” series of concerts. Among works frequently played elsewhere that summer, the musicians pulled out of their folders the rhythmic Radetsky March, Op. 228, by Johann Strauss, Sr.; Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slav; Leroy Anderson’s Irish Suite; Leonard Bernstein’s frenetic Overture to “Candide”; “My Fair Lady” Selections arranged by Robert Russell Bennett from Lerner & Loewe’s masterpiece; Felix Mendelssohn’s Overture to “Midsummer Night’s Dream” (HS: No Wedding March for North Conway, however.); and John Williams’ Superman Symphonic Portrait. (HS:  Thanks to Bruce Hangen for once again providing specific info about works played at this concert!)

The PSO musicians made a trip to an open-with-new-management Sugarloaf Mountain in Kingfield, for a two-day stay that included a Friday-afternoon rehearsal (HS: that was open to the public free-of-charge, although “an opportunity for donations was provided” [reported the Lewiston Daily Sun in an advance article.... “opportunity for donations”? – what a euphemism that one is!]). After the 3-6 pm practice there was plenty of evening time for some quality bonding time together. On Saturday, August 2, the late-afternoon concert kicked off at 4 pm. In addition to many works that had been played at multiple venues during the PSO’s seven previous run-out concerts that summer, Tchaikovsky works were heavily featured were featured at Sugarloaf, including March Slav and selections from both “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty”. In addition, former PSO/Bookland Piano Competition winner Angela Cheng was solist during a performance of the great composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B Flat Minor. As planned, the concert was performed outdoors above the base lodge, although rain contingency plans called for the orchestra and attendees to all move inside the base lodge. A few beers..... and a few tears were likely shed at Sugarloaf. Both the musicians and Bruce Hangen realized that this away trip would represent the final time they would have moments to “just hang out” with each other, since the lone remaining gig for the conductor –- the following week-end – would see him permanently fly off to Omaha after a Cape Elizabeth Starlight farewell. (Decades later when interviewed by HS one of those long-time PSO players volunteered reflections on that farewell time as a good memory.)

Several other works frequently performed during the many PSO Pops and Starlight concerts during the summer of 1986 deserve mention. Pieces popular with various audiences included Leonard Bernstein’s I Like to be in America from “West Side Story” and from his “On The Town”, the song New York; Richard Rodgers Mainely I Do Like Maine; and songs from Cole Porter’s ”Anything Goes”.

An advertising flyer from 1986 saved by longtime PSO violist Pam Doughty carried the notation that the PSO’s nine “Summer Starlight Concerts” this year were “sponsored in part by the Maine Arts Commission”.

An item in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO titled “A Grand Send-Off” details Bruce Hangen’s final conducting stint with the PSO, an August 9 Starlight Concert at Fort Williams Park. He was driven to the podium at the park in a turn-of-the-century carriage drawn by four prancing white Arabian horses, certainly a farewell send-off that yours truly thought Mr. Hangen would never forget. That turned out to be a misconception, as when we chatted over lunch in 2013 the former PSO conductor commented that “lots of carriage-type” entrances were used by the PSO, and neither the unique antique carriage nor the four Arabians had “no part in my memory at all”. Well........ yours truly would have remembered; although I can’t remember any time when I was transported in a horse-drawn carriage---- much less a special antique one.

An All-Tchaikovsky program was on tap that evening, once again featuring Angela Cheng, the 1982 winner of the PSO/Bookland Piano Competition (HS: Also several subsequent competitions in other locales), playing the Russian composer’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. The concert also included Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36 and his Suite from Swan Lake. (HS: Which, of course, was too-tempting for newspaper reviewers---  most predictably tossed in references to this final performance by Mr. Hangen as his “Swan Song” for Portland’s concertgoers.) A fireworks display concluded the evening.

In a Spring-1987 article in “Greater Portland Magazine”, reference was made to Mr. Hangen’s much-earlier arrival in Portland. “Twenty-nine-year-old Bruce Hangen looked more like a bright young lawyer than a maestro when he became PSO music director in 1975. His informal, gregarious showmanship made the PSO popular and financially successful: The PSO budget grew from $350,000 a year in Hangen’s first year to over a million in his last.” The article cited the important and leading role that the Portland Symhony Orchestra had played in Portland’s renaissance under his direction.

Before going to his full conducting assignment with the Omaha Symphony, Bruce Hangen told “Maine Life” magazine what he thought his major accomplishments had been: “revamping, creating, really, a public image for the PSO; expanding the audience; broadening the orchestra’s repertoire; and improving the orchestra’s technical ability—it is the latter that Hangen values most highly” he said. The magazine stated that Hangen had brought the orchestra from being a “community orchestra” to being recognized as a “professional orchestra”. He felt that he was leaving the orchestra in a status when better musicians were striving to replace departing players–who in so doing created vacancies. (HS:  Bruce Hangen remained music director of the Omaha Symphony for 12 years, until 1996. During the two seasons of 1998 and 2000, he remained in the Midwest/Mountain region, as acting resident conductor of both the Utah and Kansas City Symphony Orchestras. He also accepted positions in the Boston area in 1997.)

Several decades later, a longtime PSO player complimented Bruce Hangen as having been “an enormously creative and energetic force”; someone who “started things......... and got stuff going”. Another longtime PSO’er, in a separate conversation, referred to Mr. Hangen and the 1976-1986 period when he held the baton in Portland as the Symphony’s “Golden Years”; -----both the orchestra and its conductor experienced supstantial musical growth during this decade....... and they also had a “ton of fun”.

The departing PSO Music Director had been insistent to annually hold auditions in Boston so that he could hear as many musician candidates as possible. During one such excursion, one of the PSO prinicipals who would accompany him on these trips, without remuneration, grew frustrated about having to hear so many people trying out for available positions....... and asked Mr. Hangen why he went all the way to Boston when the candidates could come to Portland for auditions?  He recalled that “Bruce asked me in return, ‘do you play the best horn you can have?’.” The PSO principal responded, “of course”, whereupon “Bruce said........ ‘I’d like to conduct the best orchestra that I can’.”

Another longtime member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra also commented that “Bruce was the most effective music director that we’ve had--  Bruce grew the orchestra.” With a bit of a wry smile on his face, that PSO’er also commented......... “but Bruce couldn’t ‘swing’, until some of us taught him ---  so as the years wore on his pops concerts got better and better.”

This coming season, Robert Carabia of Harrison would be conductor of the Communithy Orchestra of the Portland Symphony.

In August, about half-way through the summer, Toshiyuki Shimada took the official reins as the PSO’s Music director and Conductor, a career that would extend to 2006. He joined the PSO after a 6-year stint as Associate Conductor of the Houston Symphony. At age four he had begun studying the violin in his native Japan. He joined the Tokyo Boys Choir at the age of eight, and at age eleven first conducted that group. His family moved to the United States when he was 15, and he attended the University of California-Northridge, where he earned degrees in conducting and the clarinet in 1977. Two years later he was a finalist in the Herbert von Karajan competition, benefitting from the great composer’s mentoring. Four years after that he studied with Leonard Bernstein, and subsequently patterned much of his conducting style after that great maestro.

The above-referenced Spring “Greater Portland Magazine” article that detailed the PSO’s transition to a new maestro said that “Toshiyuki Shimada can be serious—downright scholarly, in fact—about music.” It went on to add, “The man, however, is not. His modesty, wit and warmth make him immediately accessible.” Furthermore, “his manner is a pleasant mélange of Japanese grace, European sophistication and American panache. His speech is thoughtful and deliberate when the subject is music, and slangy and relaxed about anything else.” Glad to be with the PSO, he joked, “You spend the first ten years out of school trying to get a job. A diploma in music doesn’t guarantee you’ll be working.” Regarding his then-upcoming start with the PSO, he said, “When I move to Portland, I’ll be married to Portland.”

--The PSO’s “Toshi Era” began: He would later be credited with having tightened the orchestra’s grasp of symphonic master-works and deepening its commitment to youth and family programming while building higher on the firm musical foundations left by his predecessors.

Before the new maestro could ascend the PSO podium, however, the orchestra concluded its summer series of outdoors concerts, returning to Mackworth Island  on September 7, where the 6th “Symphony By The Sea” Concert was conducted by Richard Vanstone (HS: Presumably the assistant conductor had long-ago been contracted to handle this concert, inasmuch as when the date was set there was no certainty that a then-unchosen new PSO conductor would definitely be available for this gig.). The 2pm “Picnic Pops” program was kicked off when a Chinese-red MG sportscar delivered Conductor Vanstone and the concert’s mascot (“a stuffed and tuxed, Oscar van Beartoven”, noted the Press Herald) to the stage as “cellist Dick Noyes got the orchestra rolling” with some frolicking bear music---- read on for details. That first number was a special arrangement by former Boys Singers of Maine director Michael Braz of Teddy Bear’s Picnic (HS: Presumably no live bears of any type were picnicking that afternoon along with the concertgoer visitors to Mackworth Island.). Other works featured included Selections from “A Chorus Line” by Marvin Hamlisch, Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday, Gioacchino Rossini’s Barber of Seville, Polovtsian Dances by Alexander Borodin, Voices of Spring by Johann Strauss, Jr., and the Mazurka from “Coppélia” by Léo Delibes. And---- (HS: This warhorse must have been the PSO’s most-played work over the years; I wish I’d have owned the New England gunpowder monopoly during the past 50 years.), the  1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. An estimated crowd of 1500 showed up for the afternoon, despite cool, cloudy skies..... but NO RAIN!  At the end, the Press Herald reported, “many concertgoers took a rousing “Stars and Stripes Forever” as a cue to hit the road”, when “a release of balloons at the piece’s end made a cheery splash of color across the gray sky”.

A short time after the Mackworth Island concert, longtime PSO general manager Russ Burleigh announced that he would retire following the conclusion of the 1986-1987 season when he would be completing 18 years of service to the Symphony. He told reporters that he planned to remain in Portland, but to “try something else” other than managing an orchestra, “but I have no idea what”. Sometime during the next eight months the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra contacted Mr. Burleigh about taking on the duties of general manager of that organization, which he accepted in early June of 1987 and began the following August 1. With a half-million dollar accumulated deficit, the RIPO’s fiscal challenges were significant, and he remained in that post for less than a year. (HS: Today [2013] he still resides in the Portland area, and is owner/operator of Brown Fox Printing.) Immediate PSO past president Joel C. Martin referred to departure “an end of an era” for the orchestra. Mr. Burleigh is credited with originating the idea of the PSO’s annual “Magic of Christmas” concerts, subsequently successfully developed musically by Bruce Hangen. Almost thirty years later (2014), Russ Burleigh still has many admirers for his many years with the PSO, who recall his significant and positive marks on the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

During a City Hall ceremony welcoming him, the first event as the City-Council-declared Portland Symphony Orchestra Month was kicked off, Toshi Shimada reviewed the several 1986-87 group musical offerings lying ahead for the PSO: the seven-concert Classical Series, four pairs of concerts in a Pops Series, another four pairs of  Candlelight Series concerts, another four special concerts including an Opening Night spectacular, six Youth Programs, numerous KinderKonzerts and  ten “Magic of Christmas” concerts. On the schedule was a February 14 Valentines’ Pops concert. Not counting the section-ensemble KinderKonzerts, that all added up to thirty-five performances..... plus an even greater number of rehearsals. The then-34-year-old new conductor must have wondered whether he’d end up feeling ten years older upon completion of his first-year PSO duties.

Beginning what was marketing-labeled the PSO’s “Premiere Season” a concert heralded as “Opening Night 1986”, with a $125/per-head concert telecast from PCHA and also a post-performance Black-Tie party (HS: With dinner and dancing for benefactors at a PSO patron’s mansion) formally introduced Portlanders to new Music director and Conductor Toshiyuki Shimada. A concert program is now in the Portland Symphony Orchestra Archives, a May-2013 contribution from longtime PSO violist Elizabeth Miller. The Saturday-evening September 27 grand opening performance and gala reception musically featured the new maestro’s first selections for PSO City Hall Auditorium attendees — the bubbly Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss, Jr.; Pietro Mascagni’s Intermezzo from “Cavalleria Rusticana”; Gioacchino Rossini’s familiar Overture to “William Tell”; and the blockbuster Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 by Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky. The Evening Express headline read “PSO’s ‘Shimada Era’ opens on a high note”. The review concluded with the prediction that the concert was “a pretty happy start to the latest chapter in the PSO story”.

Conductor Shimada’s next concert on the podium was on Tuesday, October 14 at City Hall Auditorium. This evening was technically the PSO’s inaugural Classical series concert (HS: The “technicality” being that the earlier September 27 concert was named “Opening Night 1986”, and by marketing-label thus not officially  part of the 1986-1987 Classical Concert series). This evening, the opening 1986-87 classical season concert, started the PSO’s 62nd year. After The Star Spangled Banner  began the event, the PSO performed what the Press Herald referred to as a “traditional program-ender”, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67. Reviewer Doug Hubley observed that the “famous four-note motif hooked the crowd immediately. And the performance that followed... ...was well-paced and exciting”. Following intermission, featured guest soloist soprano Melanie Helton sang Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. The concert ended with Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, also by Strauss. In his “From the Podium” column in the concert program, Maestro Shimada stated that this work was one of his favorite compositions by the great composer. Another newspaper reporter concluded a favorable review of the concert with a warm “Welcome, maestro!” to the new PSO conductor. (HS: The P-H reported about what it might have described [HS: but didn’t] as an unusual type of encore: as concertgoers filed out after the final work, someone with the PSO’s obvious blessing was “posting baseball scores on stage”.)

After Maestro Shimada had held the PSO helm for several years, in a January-’90 look-back at the previous decade’s arts scene in Portland, an Evening Express article said “Whereas (Bruce) Hangen was a rather dashing public figure of immense talent, (Toshi) Shimada has proven quiet, tireless and also immensely talented. He has also been surprisingly outspoken, particularly in his dismal assessment of City Hall Auditorium, the PSO’s performing home.”

PSO concertogers next assembled at PCHA for Saturday and Sunday concerts, when during the week-end of October 25 & 26 George Shearing twice appeared as guest artist with the PSO “Pops”, along with bassist/pianist Don Thompson (HS: When he had earlier appeared with the PSO in Portland eleven years earlier, the jazz great was part of The George Shearing quintet, which he disbanded in 1978). The Symphony opened the concert with Richard Wagner’s Arrival of the Guests from “Tannhäuser”, and The Moldau from “My Fatherland” by Bedřich Smetana. These were followed by Three Cameos (Little Miss Molly; To a Young Lady; and Portrait of a Flirt) by Canadian composer Robert Farnon. The EE of the 27th headlined, “Shearing dazzling in Pops opener”. During the concerts, Mr. Shearing and the PSO performed works by Anthony Newley–a personal arrangement of Once In A Lifetime, and also What Kind of Fool Am I?. With Mr. Thompson he played a piece by Claude Bolling–“the lush Africaine”, wrote the P-H), and another by Steven Sondheim–I Remember Sky, along with the orchestra on this number,  These were followed by a Farnon arrangement of Frederick Hollander’s Strange Enchantment, then Look At That Face from the composing pen of Mr. Newley. Of course, he also included his trademark hit Lullaby of Birdland. The 6th game of the World Series took place during this concert, and just prior to the intermission, PSO general manager Burleigh walked onto the stage holding a sign that read “2-0 Sox, 3rd”. Members of both the audience and the orchestra cheered. During a second-half opener of a medley from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”, when the PSO played the Dance in the Gym mambo, conductor Shimada encouraged concertgoers to shout something other than the usual “Gumbo” cry-out that he said audiences in Texas would yell..... suggesting they shout “Red Sox”. Of course, his suggestion was greeted with enthusiastic acclaim and widespread participation. At one point when Mr. Shearing returned to the stage for some impromptu-ing, he shared in the post-season baseball spirit, doing a bit of at-the-keyboard-creating, and coming up with something he mischievously named Two Nothing, Til You Hear From Me. When he contributed renditions of Stranger in Paradise and Shadow of Your Smile, the conductor and orchestra stood by and enjoyed his talents along with the audience.

The next two mornings, the PSO musicians were back on the stage for two pair of Youth Concerts at PCHA on Monday and Tuesday, the 27th and 28th. It is a safe bet that the students eyes were focused on members of the Portland Ballet Repertory Company for the main event, when they and pantomimist Tony Mantanaro presented staging of Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. Earlier on the program, Music Director Shimada conducted (likely excerpts) Gabriel Pierné’s March of the Litle Lead Soldiers and Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony. (HS:  Whether members of the dance troupe were involved in these two works is now uncertain.)

Late in October, the PSO’s long and active involvement in the American Symphony Orchestra League was rewarded with a feather in the Portland Symphony’s cap. Some 200 symphony orchestra trustees, volunteers and staffers from around the East held a two-day workshop in Portland. The over-riding theme of the conference was fund-raising techniques. A highlight of the sessions was when Senator William S. Cohen addressed the group.

Chamber music enthusiasts gathered at the Sonesta Ballroom for one of two concerts presented on Sunday, November 2. Henry Purcell’s Suite from Abdelazar opened the program. Bach’s Concerto for Three Harpsichords and String Orchestra in C Major, BWV 1064, was performed by...... well- three harpsichordists. Shirley Matthews, Marion Anderson and Michael Braz were the performers. Ms. Matthews was also featured in the contemporary  Jazz Concerto for Harpsichord, by Joseph Horowitz. Ms. Anderson and Mr. Braz combined to play Bach’s Concerto No. 1 for Two Harpsichords and String Orchestra in C Minor, BWV 1050. The “One-Two-Three”-harpsichord concerts were conducted by Richard Vanstone. According to Press Herald reviewer Doug Hubley, the high point of the afternoon was Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Op. 46, cited as a “lush, lyrical string piece that brought an emotional expansion to the afternoon that was sorely needed after the dry Bach” works. To close out both concerts, the assistant PSO conductor led the chamber ensemble in a performance with Ms. Mathews of Joseph Horovitz’ Jazz Concerto for Harpsichord, which the reviewer found “fun to hear” (HS: Mr. Horowitz was the composer of the music for the 1981 British television serial based on Evelyn Waugh’s novel “Brideshead Revisited”, that a year later was broadcast by PBS in the U.S.).

The audience at the Tuesday, November 18, Classical Concert at PCHA renewed its acquaintance with former PSO conductor Paul Vermel. Christopher Parkening, classical guitarist, was the guest soloist. The program opened with the Overture to “Le Corsaire”, Op. 21, by Hector Berlioz. This was followed by Tracings, by USM professor and music department head Jerry Bowder, written five years earlier for string orchestra. Mr. Parkening appeared for a performance of Concierto de Aranjuez, by Joaquín Rodrigo. A special “from the Poduim” column in the concert program was penned by Mr. Vermel. In it he informed concertgoers that Mr. Parkening had specifically the opportunity to perform the Rodrigo concerto in Portland. This was followed by two encores, the first what the P-H review referred to as “an anonymous tune called Romance and an unspecified Albeniz work. The evening concluded with Brahms Symphony No. 1, in C Minor, Op. 68. One newspaper reported about the evening that it was, “for Vermel, many in the orchestra and very many in the audience a Proustian Remembrance of Things Past”. For a night that was cold outside, the event inside had “warmth” and was “an impressive evening musically”. One Portland newspaper article referred to Mr. Vermel’s 1968-1975 PSO Music Director and Conductor tenure as one that “revitalized the PSO, raising it from the doldrums of the early 1960s to a position as one of the foremost orchestras of its size in the country. Immediate past conductor-music director Bruce Hangen has properly received much credit for the orchestra’s improved stature, but Vermel’s boosters are on firm ground when they lay at least equal credit at his feet”.

Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening, December 2 and 3, found the PSO on stage to perform a Classical Concert, once again under the baton of conductor Toshi Shimada (HS: He was back with the PSO after several weeks work with the Houston Symphony.). The 1986 PSO/Bookland Piano Competition winner, Mayo Tsuzuki, performed Pyotr llyichTchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, in B-flat Minor, Op. 23, the piece that she performed to capture the prize. The talented and intelligent performer was also that year’s winner of the New York Philharmonic Young People’s Auditions, and had graduated from Harvard with a degree in East Asian Studies in 1984. Other compositions on the program this evening were the Overture to “Oberon” by Carl Maria von Weber, Franz Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 92 in G major, (“Oxford” / “Letter Q”), H. 1/92., and Scenes from Basho by Japanese composer Jōji Yussa. Somewhat unusual for local newspaper reviews of PSO concerts, the EE reviewer critically commented that in the Tchaikovsky work, Ms. Tsuzuki’s “performance of the difficult concerto was uneven”. Describing her playing as “a gutsy one”, her “nerves seemed to affect her timing several times”. An interesting non-playing, but still music-related, sidenote is that an American Orchestra League management training program had earlier this year placed Ms. Tsuzuki in a second summer office staff role, helping assistant manager Linda Bliss assemble the PSO’s summer season.

During a span in later December, Conductor Shimada returned to Houston for performances contracted before he accepted the PSO assignment and Mr. Vanstone took the podium for ten extravagant “Magic of Christmas” celebration oncerts, one more than in 1985. This year marked the seventh annual series of “Magic of Christmas” concerts. Top guest billing this year was shared by soprano Nadia Pelle and tenor Franco Farina, husband and wife stars of the New York City Opera in the early 1980s. This was their first time together as a duo. To begin each concert, preceded by the sounds of handbells, the Boy Singers of Maine made an effective entrance from the back of the auditorium as they sang the Finnish carol Personent Hodie in Latin. They also performed Star Carol, composed four hundred years later, in 1945, by John Rutter.

This season, in his first year as director of the Boy Singers of Maine was Edward F. Cetto -- then currently completing his Master’s degree in Choral Conducting at the Boston Conservatory. He was also then serving as assistant conductor of two large Boston area choral societies. Mr. Cetto was an alumnus of the Hartt School of Music, and was a tubist and jazz pianist.

The Magic of Christmas Chorus, meanwhile, was under the direction of Stewart Shuster, founder with his wife of the Choral Art Society. A realtor by vocation, the graduate of both Glassboro State College in New Jersey and the Westminster Choir College, in 1986 he was music director of at Trinity Episcopal Church. The Magic of Christmas Chorus was drawn from the Portland Community Chorus, a group that featured 85 voices.

Ms. Pelle sang Gusu Bambino by Pietro Yon, and and a Medley of Christmas Favorites arranged by Michael Braz. For his selections, Mr. Farina sang two numbers from Handel’s “Messiah”, also the 1847 composition O Holy Night by Adolph Adam, and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. The “Magic of Christmas” Chorus performed a selection from J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the “Magnificent; also The Twelve Days of Christmas; and the Hallelujah Chorus from the “Messiah”. A highlight of each evening involved all the performers with the orchestra, re-creating We Need a Little Christmas from “Mame”. Instrumental works played by the Symphony were Benjamin Britten’s Men of Goodwill variations on a carol; and Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. The orchestra also played several selections from Tschaikovsky’s “Nutcracker” Suite, including Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, the Trepak Russian dance; the Chinese Dance; and Waltz of the Flowers.

For the first four days of the “Magic” run, former Portland Municipal organist Douglas Rafter was at the keyboard and foot pedals of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ for an hour-long recital preceeding each concert. For the remaining performances, Elizabeth Sollenberger was the organist. Each “Magic of Christmas” concert ended with the traditional audience sing-along of familiar Christmas melodies and verses, accompanied by the orchestra and organ. Ms. Pelle and Mr. Farina even had a helper during the sing-alongs, as at each performance they brought their small dog, Barney, onto the stage for the finale (HS: There’s an Anecdote that involves an episode regarding Barney later in this THINGS-PSO. Don’t miss it!). Once again, this was reported as “the all-time favorite part of the program” in one post-concert newspaper article. “Young and old joined together in the spirited singing of several popular carols”. Top price for tickets this season was $16, then down to $7, with discounts for group purchases of ten or more. Altogether, 22,200 people attended this season’s “Magic of Christmas” performances, which PSO Manager Russ Burleigh at the time observed, “represented more than 10% of the greater Portland population.” (HS:  Mr. Burleigh also wrote that “Someone once speculated that if the New York Philharmonic attracted a similar percentage of its constituency, [that] orchestra would be playing 24 hours a day all year long to accommodate the crowd[s] at Avery fisher Hall.”)

An insert found in one of the 1986 PSO concert programs long-saved by Joanne Woodward and now contributed to the PSO Archives, was an order slip for “The first of an annual series, the PSO ‘Magic of Christmas 1986’ bell”. The silverplated bell was produced by Reed and Barton, and the insert stated: “boxed for gift-giving”. The items were priced at $10 each, but needed to be picked up in person at the PSO offices. (HS:  I don’t recall spotting mentions of subsequent “Magic of Christmas” bells elsewhere in the PSO Archives, and guessed that the “annual series” didn’t continue as originally planned. Upon checking [in 2013] with someone who had been around the PSO offices back then, the answer was: “....the bell was a pet project of the then development director, and it faded away after perhaps three years. ....Used to be able to sell things in the lobby at concerts...cookbooks, ornaments, tickets to fundraisers, food and drinks...but volunteers faded away and concertgoers’ interest in buying things faded, too, and then all the rules changed with the renovation of the hall.) If anyone reading this might still possess one or more of these bells, it is suggested that the PSO Archives would now be a wonderful place for some of these special bells to reside.


1987       Beethoven’s 1803 Concerto for Violin, Violoncello, and Piano in C major, Op. 56, the “Triple Concerto” as it is more commonly known, was a mid-January (Tuesday the 13th) work featured by the PSO, with a stellar guest-artist trio. Violinist Stephanie Chase, cellist Leslie Parnas and pianist Grant Johannesen appeared with the PSO, which was once again conducted by the PSO’s Music Director, Toshi Shimada. (HS: Googling reveals that the composer’s “choice of the three solo instruments effectively makes this a concerto for piano trio the only concerto Beethoven ever wrote for more than one solo instrument. A typical performance takes approximately 37 minutes.”) On their own this eveing, the Symphony musicians performed Richard Wagner’s Overture to “Tannhäuser” and Robert Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 97 (“Rhennish”). Reviewer Hubley wrote of the evening that the concert was “outstanding”. Immediately prior to the concert in the PCHA, Assistant Conductor Richard Vanstone discussed the evening’s selections in a talk with interested concertgoers, an assignment he regularly performed prior to PSO Classical Concerts.

Subsequently, two Candlelight Series chamber concerts were presented on Sunday, January 25 at the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom. As usual, the first began at 3 pm, followed by an evening performance at 7:00. Conductor Toshi Shimada chose a theme of “The Charm of Old and New Vienna” and featured works by older Viennese composers that had been transcribed by a later school. The Schubert-to-Mahler example was Death and the Maiden, originally a string quartet composed by Franz Schubert, and adapted by Gustav Mahler for chamber orchestra. Strauss-to-Berg was Wine, Women and Song, arranged by Alben Berg. A Strauss–to-Webern composition was Schatzwalzer from “Die Zigeunerbaron”; and a Strauss-to-Schoenberg arrangement was Kaizerwalzer, arranged by Arnold Schoenberg(HS:  His family’s original spelling, Schönberg, is a lot more cool to read, don’t you think?). One special instrument featured during this concert was a restored 19th-century harmonium, a foot-bellows-driven keyboard instrument that produces organ-like sounds. Some Vieneese composers wrote music for the instrument (HS: Kurt Weill was fascinated by one and is reported to have included harmomium parts in his score for “The Threepenny Opera”.). The harmonium at the Candlelight Concert this Sunday was salvaged from the then-closed North School before it was converted for congregate housing. David H. Maxwell, organist and choir director at the State Street Church, played the instrument at the concert.

During the January 31 and February 1-2-3 period the PSO joined with an ensemble from the Brunswick Music Theater for an adaptation of “Oklahoma”. Two full-length concert versions of the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit were performed on Saturday and Sunday, followed by excerpted versions twice on both Monday and Tuesday at Youth Concerts for students. A newspaper clipping mentioned that with BMT singers belting out familiar songs for a reportedly enthusiastic audience, on the back half of the stage the orchestra was “corralled behind a fence.... ....suggesting for all the world a herd of beef critters waiting for the big drive to Kansas City.” Cleverly referencing Curly’s refrain in Surrey With the Fringe On Top--  ...”Don’t you wish it’d go on forever?”, the reviewer answered his own question in regard to the concert as a whole, with a final written word:  “YEOW!” (Source: Evening Express)

During the first half of that concert a Copland work and music from three other Broadway shows to which Mr. Rodgers contributed were performed. Opening the performances was Three Dance Episodes from “Rodeo”, Buckaroo Holiday; Saturday Night Waltz; and Hoe-Down. Next, K.K. Preece sang My Funny Valentine from “Babes in Arms” accomopanied by the Symphony, which Richard Rodgers composed with Lorenz Hart. This was followed by another Rodgers and Hart hit, With a Song In My Heart from “Spring is Here”, a duet sung by Judith McCauley and John Leslie Wolfe. The first half concluded with You’ll Never Walk Alone from “Carousel”, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein. Mary Stout was joined by the Brunswick ensemble for this Broadway winner.

The PSO musicians stayed busy throughout the first half of February. Four Youth Concerts were performed at PCHA over the two-day Monday-Tuesday period of the 2nd and 3rd of the month. Selections from the BMT “Oklahoma” program were presented for the students, and Richard Vanstone was on the podium.

Then on Wednesday the 11th, yet-another local-area musical ensemble, the Choral Art Society, joined the Symphony on stage at PCHA for a classical work. The program this evening had the combined ensembles performing Francis Poulenc’s Gloria (FP 177), with Boston soprano Bonnie Scarpelli a principal guest performer. Robert Russell, then (HS: as he still is, in 2013) the CAS director, and in his 11th year in 1987, conducted the majestic Poulanc work. On its own the Orchestra also performed Stephen Paulus’s “kinetic” (HS: So-described by EE critic Hubley) five-movement Concerto for Orchestra. The tempo and expression markings in his score left little doubt as to their respective meanings: Bold and impetuous; With abandon; Tenderly and somewhat mournful; Lively and with buoyancy; and Austere, explosive. The concert concluded with Maurice Ravel’s Suite No. 2 for Orchestra from “Daphnis and Chloe”. York County Coast Star reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth found the Ravel work’s “wind solos... ...just lovely. Shimada is maintaining a fine orchestral caliber in his first season”. A pre-concert lecture by Dr. Russell about the Poulenc work was open to all concert ticket-holders at no charge.

The mood inside PCHA changed three days later when on February 14 a “Valentine Pops” concert started at 7 pm. Richard Vanstone held the baton this evening (HS: Necessitated, it is presumed, by a long-outstanding commitment by Mr. Shimada to work on that date in Houston.). This program began with Mozart’s Overture to “The Marriage of Figaro”, followed by a portion of the same composer’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major, K. 467 (“Elvira Madigan”), played by guest pianist Michael Braz. The soloist was teacher of piano and theory at the Unversity of Southern Maine, and also organist and choirmaster at Temple Beth-El in Portland. Rachmaninoff’s Variation XVIII from the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (Andante cantabile in D flat major), Op. 43 was also performed by Mr. Braz, supported by the Orchestra. Other pieces enjoyed by Pops concertgoers this evening included Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy Romeo and Juliet, TH 42, ČW 39; Wine, Women and Song by Johann Strauss II; the Overture to “Girl Crazy” by George Gershwin; Jack Mason’s arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s Selections from “West Side Story”; and Maurice Ravel’s Boléro. The names of what the EE referred to as “several planned encores” are yet to be uncovered in the PSO Archives. (HS:  Hey!!  Former PSO Manager Russ Burleigh called many months after this last sentence was written, advising that he wanted to donate some recently-found old concert programs to the PSO Archives. One turned out to be a program from this concert....... with the names of the three encores pen-written onto the program-content page on the evening of the concert. So---- We now have that missing info!) The encores turned out to be three Beatles’ hits:  And I Love Her; Yellow Submarine; and Yesterday.

A Saturday evening chamber concert on February 28 at Ellsworth’s Grand Auditorium presumably gave the chance to put the finishing touches on a Mozart/Salieri-theme concert in Hancock County that would be performed twice the following day in Portland.

It was back to the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom on Sunday, March 1 for another 3 pm Candlelight Concert, followed by a second performance at 7:00. This was an “Amadeus”–themed program, a quasi-documentary based on the Mozart biography. The PSO’s GM, Russ Burleigh, narrated..... and PSO French horn principal John Boden was featured in excerpts of works by both Mozart and (HS: As it was then [1987] being surmised..) his arch-rival, Antonio Salieri. A 35-member PSO chamber orchestra was on hand. Scenes involved works including “The Magic Flute”; “Requium”; “Cosi Fan Tutti”; an excerpt from the Concerto for Horn and Orchestra, No. 2, featuring Mr. Boden; and “The Marriage of Figaro”. At this concert The Bel Canto Quartet participated during many of the works performed, both as an ensemble or as vocal soloists—depending on what the respective scores required. The membesr of the quartet were Ellen Chickering, soprano; Gabriella Mira, mezzo soprano; Bruce Fithian, tenor; and Peter Allen, Baritone.

The next evening, Monday – March 2, much of the chamber program presented the previous day in Portland was reprised. The Journal Tribune reported that 35 PSO musicians accompanied Toshi Shimada to Biddeford’s tight City Theater stage, where for part of an “Evening with Mozart” they were joined by the Bel Canto quartet and Mr. Burleigh. A good turnout was on hand for the musical review of Mozart’s life, as 526 of the theater’s 600 seats were occupied.

Any late-comers who hadn’t closely looked at their tickets for either of two Pops Concerts, on Saturday and Sunday, March 7 & 8, might have done a double-take when they scurried to their seats. On stage at the podium was.... no that can’t be.... but YES!- it most certainly is.... the March King, John Philip Sousa!!  Obviously, it wasn’t JPS, but it was someone doing a a great job impersonating him.... dressed in a smart military uniform, sporting an enviable white mustache, and waving a baton with authority and effectiveness. Guest-conductor Keith Brion, a former Yale bandmaster, did a great job impersonating Sousa, re-creating a late-1890s concert. “Marching Along With Sousa” was the title for the evening, and the orchestra presented a fun selection of light classics and familiar pops tunes...... and of course- famous and still-popular Sousa marches. (HS: An Anecdote in this THINGS-PSO similarly comments about the events of this evening at PCHA.)

The program began with The Star-Spangled Banner, followed by Franz von Suppé’s Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna (HS: Which Googling informs went on to become the central subject of the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Baton Bunny” that shows Bugs conducting an orchestra – with a fly bothering him. A website review advises that Bugs was unusually quiet during his conducting stint..... or more accurately, nearly silent, for at one point, he ‘shushes’ the brass.). PSO principal trumpet John Schnell then solo-ed during H.L. Clarke’s The Bride of the Waves. A Sousa arrangement of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s Selections from “The Pirates of Penzance” was next, followed by his rarely performed and difficult to play march, From Maine to Oregon, from “The American Maid”, Mr. Sousa’s last operetta (HS:  Googling informs that “The Glass Blower” was the original name for this operetta.). The next-to-last work in the first half was Gioacchino Rossini’s Una Voce Poco Fa (“A voice a little while ago”), from “The Barber of Seville”, sung by soprano Kathryn Wright. The March King’s also rarely-performed light orchestral music suite, Dwellers of the Western World.immediately preceded the intermission (HS:  Noted in the program for these concerts, as “Interval”.). Something that would likely not be written today, this work has been described as “designed to depict the three main races living on this continent: The titles of the movements [of which] are ‘The Red Man’, ‘The White Man’,  and ‘The Black Man’.”

In the second half of this concert began with F.W. Meacham’s American Patrol, followed by Mr. Sousa’s Dance Hilarious, With Pleasure, for Fox-Trot Band. (HS:  This is another work with which yours truly was unfamiliar, but hearing a You-tube of a 2006 rendition conducted by Mr. Brion, no less, was a delight.) The guest conductor next led the PSO in Percy Grainger’s Irish Tune, from “County Derry”, after which PSO principal clarinet Thomas Parchman performed Luigi Bassi’s arrangement of Giuseppe Verdi’s Fantasy on Themes, from “Rigoletto”. Before likely encores (HS: No record has been found in the PSO Archives as to what any might have been.) the concert concluded with Jaromír Weinberger’s melodius Polka and Fugue, from “Schwanda the Bagpiper”.

Already then a preeminent violinist although only 26 years old, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was guest soloist with the PSO at PCHA on Tuesday, March 17. Trained at both Curtis and Julliard, she performed Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto, Op. 14. Based on clippings found in the PSO Archives, she must have been fantastic. The EE’s Bob Niss found her to be “an artist of immense talent and an individual of attention-getting demeanor”. The York County Coast Star’s Jacqueline Neuwirth found the artist to “distinguish herself with pianissimo poassages that were breathtaking in their shimmering timbre”. P-H reviewer Doug Hubley, making reference to Portland concertgoers being “rather too forthcoming in the area of standing ovations” summed up the quality of Ms. Salerno-Sonnenberg’s performance by writing, “but the one won by the young soloist was merited down to the last ‘brava’ “. He found her tone “remarkable”. Mr. Hubley also wrote that “Shimada’s skill as a sympathetic accompanist by this time has been amply proven. Suffice it to say that he met his usual standard.” Two other works were played by the PSO this evening, the first Mozart’s venerable Symphony No. 29 in A major, K. 201/186a, with the strings joined by two oboes and two French horns. The other was Camille Saint-Saëns’ Symphony No. 3 in C minor, “Organ”, Op. 78. The latter featured Portland Municipal Organist Gerald McGee at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. For this concert, Mr. Shimada returned once again to the podium.

Two early-April week-end Festival Series Pops Concerts at City Hall Auditorium, with a “Fabulous Forties” theme included several Portland-based soloists. At one point Music Director and Conductor Shimada took out his clarinet and played the theme songs of several of the era’s big bands in a medley arranged by Michael Braz.....  Benny Goodman’s Let’s Dance, Tommy Dorsey’s I’m Getting Sentimental Over You , Glenn Miller’s String of Pearls and Duke Ellington’s Take the A Train. (HS: I chuckled upon reading an easy-to-make typo in the Journal Tribune [at least, “easy to make if you’re not into big-band-style music”], for the copy department mistakenly instructed the the typesetter, for the article referred to “Take a Train”.) The other ‘special soloist’ was PSO manager Russ Burleigh who was featured in Leroy Anderson’s novelty favorite inspired by offices-everywhere........ The Typewriter Song. (Q-  While Toshi played the clarinet..... guess what Russ played?    A-  Likely an Underwood or a Smith-Corona?) (source: Journal Tribune)

Those April 4 & 5 Saturday-Sunday Pops Concerts also presented concertgoers with a medley from Richard Rodgers “South Pacific” and the Waltz from “Carousel”; Mikhail Glinka’s Overture to “Ruslan and Lyudmila”; two dances from Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” (Saturday Night Waltz and Hoedown); an Armed Forces Medley; and several other Leroy Anderson hits – The Syncopated Clock and also Fiddle Faddle. Edvard Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen from “Lyric Pieces” Op. 65, and also Erich Korngold’s Music from the Film “Sea Hawk” were performed during the first half of the concert. A big showstopper hit in the second half was a bouncy rendition of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, sung by three high-personality gals who comprised the Broadway Celebration Company who recreated the Andrews Sisters performance. Michael Braz had a hand in arranging this number, sung by Gloria Bonnin, Leslie Cheney and Carol Baker.

Four Youth Concerts, two each day, were presented at PCHA on Monday and Tuesday, April 6 & 7. With the theme – “The Amazing Technicolor Orchestra”, members of the Portland Ballet Company and soprano Gloria Bonnin worked along with support from the Symphony musicians. Maestro Shimada explained and the musicians demonstrated various roles that orchestras can play, from accompanying dancers and singers to performing with soloists. The orchestra opened each concert with Russlan and Ludmilla Overture by Mikhail Glinka and closed with Franz Lizst’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Another work performed was the White Swan pas de dux from  “Swan Lake”, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (HS:  Alternately featured at the two respective performances in the role of Odette were Jennifer Cavanaugh, a Portland High School sophomore; and Alisia DiBiase, a South Portland High School sophomore. Following their college studies, both would go on to become professional dancers and instructors.). Ms. Bonnin sang Musetta’s Waltz from “La Bohème” by Giacomo Puccini; and an audience sing-along of Katherine Lee Bates’ 1883 America the Beautiful that a year earlier during the 19th-century had been composed by Samuel A. Ward.

The PSO and Assistant Conductor Vanstone traveled to Bates College in Lewiston for an appearance on Saturday, April 11. Some of the music of the “Fabulous Forties” concert in Portland was reprised, and featured at this Pops. Presentations known to have been included were Aaron Copland’s Saturday Night Waltz from “Rodeo”; Edvard Grieg’s Wedding Day at Troldhaugen, Op. 65, No. 6; a collection of  Selections  from “South Pacific” by Richard Rodgers; the Raye-Prince hit, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, again with with a look-alike Andrews-Sisters impersonators-trio on the stage with the PSO; and concluded with a Big Band Medley. At one point that especially pleased the crowd (HS: so reported the Lewiston Journal) was when pianist Michael Braz recreated the popular and sentimental piece As Time Goes By, from “Casablanca”. Although a concert program from the evening has not yet (2013) appeared in the PSO Archives, the three Leroy Anderson numbers performed at the April 4&5 Portland concerts are known to have been played at Bates.

The next day, with Maestro Shimada apparently still out of town (HS: He had not conducted the prior-evening’s Pops affair at Bates.), guest violinist Arturo Delmoni both performed and conducted at a pair of April 12 Candlelight Concerts, the final events of this season’s series. The program consisted of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major, Op. 93; soloist Mr. Delmoni in Lewis Spohr’s Violin Concerto No. 8, Op. 47; Darius Milhaud’s Concerto pour Batterie et Petis Orchestre (HS: Translated—“for percussion and small orchestra”.). This work featured PSO percussionist Nancy Smith (HS: She remains with the PSO currently [2013] and is now principal in the section, in her 32nd season.); also featuring Ms. Smith was Maurice Wright’s 1932 Set-up Music for Percussion Solo with Electronic Sound (HS: That’s Vieneese?). A movement from Sir Edward Elgar’s E Minor Serenade for Strings, Op. 20, preceded Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane in F-sharp minor, Op. 50. The concert concluded with Gioacchino Rossini’s opera-buffa Overture to “The Barber of Seville”. An extra-interesting side bar to this concert was that not only did Arturo Delmoni guest conduct and perform with his violin, his credentials included also having been the teacher of one of the PSO members, Joanne Schnell. When at the New England Conservatory of Music, Joanne (HS: In 2014, now Joanne Woodward.) had been a member of the New England Ragtime Ensemble (HS: For our family, any opportunity provided to mention “ragtime”...... is an opportunity ALWAYS taken!).

Maestro Shimada’s premiere season with the PSO concluded with two classical concerts, on Tuesday and Wednesday the 28th and 29th of April. Two compositions by Sergei Rachmaninoff were performed, one with pianist Alexander Toradze, a defector from the Soviet Union in 1985 who after many seasons of concert-soloist touring, later went on to be professor of piano at Indiana University South Bend. He played the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18. Following what the Times-Record’s Raymond Blair called an exciting performance (HS: The EE review referred to it as “virtually flawless”), the “burly, bearded Russian... ...(got) up, turned and enfolded maestro Toshiyuki Shimada in a bear hug, then walked among the orchestra members to thank one after another”. After intermission, the PSO played the composer’s long Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 27 , the only other work performed by the orchestra this evening. The Wednesday concert marked the final regular on-stage PSO appearance by two Symphony stalwarts, cellist Katherine Hatch Graffam and General Manager Russell Burleigh. A newspaper clipping included mention that both received heartfelt recognition from all present. In tasteful  tribute, Mr. Shimada had the PSO perform a third unscheduled Rachmaninoff work, the “tender, even sorrowful short” Vocalise, Op. 34, No. 14, which he dedicated to the retiring pair. The cellist was retiring following a 59-year PSO career, and Mr. Burleigh after 19 years.

On a related but separate subject, reviewer Blair also praised the worthwhile KinderKonzert series presented by the PSO during the 1986-1987 PSO season, a series which had begun 11 years ago with only two performances. This season the “PSO musicians representing the four respective instrument ‘families’ – percussion, brass, strings and woodwinds – played 99 KinderKonzerts in nine Maine communities. Some 32,000 youngsters (were) introduced to melody, harmony, rhythm and the sounds of symphony orchestra instruments”. (HS: While I have not meticulously included comments in this THINGS-PSO about the PSO’s respective annual KinderKoncert series, the continuing efforts [still active to the present day – 2014] to present aspects of classical music to young students was meticulously adhered to...... and has been a major contribution to the Portland-area community. While in the minds of older PSO concertgoers, knowing that KinderKonzerts are “going on somewhere or other” may correctly equate to understanding that good deeds are taking place. However, if you attend some KinderKonzerts, as I have, and watch how attentive the young students are..... your appreciation of the value of those “good deeds” will soar. KinderKonzerts are definitely a Good Thing, and the PSO’s behind-the-scenes KinderKonzert program deserves High Praise, which [due to restrictions on time and energy} I have been derelict in heaping in these pages.)

PSO Manager Russ Burleigh penned his career-ending “From the Manager” column for the final concert program of the 1986-1987 season. In it he wrote about “ ‘highlights’ of my time here – events and people.” He mentioned that when he first arrived during the summer of 1969, Andy Holmes, his predecessor, had the symphony telephone line set up so that it would ring at his father’s camp for kids in Fryeburg, where he doubled (HS: Definition – “moonlighted”.) as a counselor and symphony manager. “We’ve come a long way, baby”, observed Mr. Burleigh. He next wrote about the PSO’s trip to Canada that first fall, plans set up before he arrived in Portland. Russ recalled that as “a great success”, and observed signs of the passage of time since that excursion, noting “there are only five of us still active in the PSO who made that trip: Jean Alvord, Katherine Graffam, Rebecca Garland, George Rubino and myself. Our face has certainly changed since 1969.”

Top highlights were listed from years of PSO Classical-Series concerts:  “Gina Bachauer’s Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto in 1973; the appearance as an unknown mezzo in 1972 – Frederica von Stade, now recognized world-wide; Richard Tucker in 1974 (HS:  In the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO, be sure to see a delightful tale passed along by the former PSO manager about when his father met Mr. Tucker.); Eugene Fodor in 1976; the live telecast of Lorin Hollander with the PSO in 1978; (and) Paul Vermel’s farewell concert of Britten’s War Requiem in 1975.” Russ went on to mention, “After Bruce Hangen’s arrival, we had lots of Mahler, the best being the Mahler Second in 1978 with Hilda Harris and Susan Davenny-Wyner.” Continuing his memories, “Other Hangen highlights were his Verdi Requiem in 1981 for which we assembled a chorus of 240; János Starker’s Walton Cello Concerto in 1979; the first Thaxter Fund music commission – Barbara Kolb’s Grisaille in 1978; another (work) commission(ed) in 1981 by David Amram, which included a tribute to his unborn child, who was born the very day of the premiere; (and) Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in 1980.” (HS:  A technicality disclosure---  originally, Mr. Burleigh put quotation marks around the names of works in the above; this THINGS-PSO repeat lists each in boldface and italics.)

Moving to non-classical events, Mr. Burleigh continued listing highlights. “Pops concerts were begun as a series in my first season. I was pleased to institute the tradition of having Arthur Fiedler here on a yearly basis for seven straight seasons. Although he had reputation for gruffness, I believed it to be a façade. He was kindly and polite, conscientious about quality in his music and free with his stories. I feel privileged to have known him and to have spent so much time with him.” The retiring PSO manager went on, “Other favorite artists: George Shearing, Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines, Peter Nero, Hoffnumg Music Festival (cornball, but Annetta Hoffman was a delight!), Peter Schikele as P.D.Q. Bach, Canadian Brass, Lionel Hampton and Billy Taylor.” He added that “Probably one of my fondest pops memories is of Duke Ellington”, adding that after the concert he was given one of the jazz great’s “velvet bow ties, which I still wear today with my tux.”

His lengthy column went on to include the inauguration of the PSO’s summer concerts, and of course, “Magic of Christmas”, which Russ wrote “means the most to me because it’s a series that has grown phenomenally in its seven years, and the concerts –ten performances in a row—never get old.” To read his entire article (HS:  Yes, there was more!), a complete scan is included as part of the concert-program for April 28 and 29 of 1987 that is available at

In total, all that Russ mentioned in his final column are a well-considered and informative notation of key events over an important eighteen-year period of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. A scanned copy of Mr. Burleigh’s complete final column is included with the other program information pertaining to the April 28 and 28 concerts that has been uploaded to

Three decades later, one of the PSO musicians who had been a principal player with the Symphony in the 1970s and 1980s was still commending the many talents and accomplishments of Russ Burleigh, summarizing his admiration and appreciation by saying about the former PSO manager, that “the orchestra ‘turned the corner’ on his watch.”

Charles A. Harvey Jr. was elected to what would become two terms as PSO President.

In May the PSO announced that Jane Hunter, the general manager of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, had been selected to take the same post with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, effective in mid-July. She replaced the retiring Russ Burleigh. A cellist who had played professionally with both the Midlands and Kalamazoo symphonies in Michigan, she had from 1981 to 1985 managed the Springfield Orchestra Association in Massachusetts. From 1976 to 1981 she had both managed the Midlands Symphony and been a member of that orchestra’s cello section (HS: She had also been principal cellist of the symphony in Flint during the time she was affiliated with the Midlands orchestra.). A native of Wisconsin, Ms. Hunter had earned both bachelor and master of music degrees in music (violoncello performance) from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In a newspaper article written ten years later, the story was told about an early visit that Ms. Hunter made to Portland City Hall Auditorium, observing “There wasn’t even a fire alarm system”, something incredibly ironic about a facility that existed because a predecessor building was destroyed by a massive fire in 1908. Ouch!!  The City responded to her alarm by installing a system.

Toshi Shimada and his Portland Symphony Orchestra musician troupe “did troupe” to Camden for the first of what would be three “Independence Pops” concerts this week-end..... a July 3 appearance on Friday. The Bok Amphiheater was the scheduled venue, but rainy weather forced everyone inside and the Camden-Rockport High School gym was packed. The concert marked the opening of the Camden Shakespeare Company’s 10th season. To honor the Bard of Avon, the concert definitely included Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (HS: Which, as a play, was scheduled to open with theatrical performances in Camden starting on july 23.). Francophiles who later in the concert might not have liked political implications of the “1812 Overture” were possibly placated for a brief time by Jacques Offenbach’s Overture to “Orpheus in the Underworld”, which the PSO is known to have played in Camden. For a gist as to what else the PSO performed..... check out below the Sunday night 2nd reprisal “Independence Pops” concert-program details regarding a Fort Williams pops in Cape Elizabeth.

Under pleasant moonlight, Bridgton somehow once again beat out the Portland area to garner the PSO on the Fourth of July. A Bridgeton News clipping mentioned that “three Sondheim selections” would be performed, but no other info about that item has been spotted. But..... instead of specifying in this paragraph what else was performed at this Saturday concert, as mentioned in regard to Camden–let’s let the next night’s Portland-area concert list take those honors (HS: There might have been a slight variation here or there..... but certainly not much was differenct.). Read on........

“Shimada adds fizz to PSO pops” read an Evening Express headline, after an “Indepence Pops” concert treated concertgoers at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on Sunday, July 5. On a perfect (weatherwise and musicwise) evening, the holiday affair was Toshi Shimada’s first outdoor concert in Greater Portland (HS: Bridgton must be in the “Lesser Portland” area?). The EE reported that he exhibited a “refreshing, light-hearted attitude” by introducing each piece. “At one point, he goaded the audience into shouting ‘Happy Birthday, America’, and kept it up until the right amount of enthusiasm was reached”. The Maestro followed The Star-Spangled Banner immediately with the Maine Stein Song (HS: That popular number had, over the years, usually been reserved to be a #2 or #3 encore.). Baritone Robert Honeysucker was on hand, and he thrilled the audience with versions of Cole Porter Favorites from “Showboat” that included Ol’ Man River, as well as Porter’s All the Things You Are and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. He also sang Aaron Copland’s American Folksongs and an aria from a Giordano opera. Felix Medelssohn’s Wedding March from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was again on a Portland Pops program. Mr. Shimada did not fail to call on the musicians to bring old favorites out of their music folders. Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man; a George M. Cohan Medley, some marches; Meredith Willson’s Seventy-Six Trombones from “The Music Man”; the patriotic America the Beautiful and other July-4th winners were performed. The First Newmarket Militia, joined by seven other New England militias likely drowned out the PSO musicians at a noisier-than-usual conclusion to the “1812” Overture; the EE review of the concert failed to note how many BOOMS! that the collective groups guns and cannons fired. Keeping in the spirit of the impending “Battle”, before the Tchaikovsky work Toshi donned a red and blue militiaman’s coat. He subsequently directed Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever march “with gusto”.

Another “Starlight Concert” at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth took place on Friday evening, July 24. The theme this time, as it would be for several other concerts this summer, was an All-Gershwin affair saluting the great 20th–century American composer, the first of three Starlight Series events. Michael Braz, who had recently appeared with the PSO during the “Fabulous Forties” concerts in April, and also had created several arrangements for Mr. Shimada and the Orchestra, would be a piano soloist (HS: As well as being the PSO’s principal keyboardist, Mr. Braz was organist and choirmaster at Temple Beth-El in Portland, and was also music director of the Boy Singers of Maine.). The program also included the Overture to “Girl Crazy” (including I Got Ryhthm and also Embraceble You); Cuban Overture; and a Porgy and Bess Symphonic Picture that contained roughly 20 songs from the show, arranged by Gershwin’s good friend and sometimes assistant Robert Russell Bennett in 1942 (HS: Mr. Gershwin had died five years earlier, at age 38.). A section titled “Gershwin in Hollywood” included the Back Bay Polka; A Foggy Day; Love Walked In; Nice Work if You Can Get It; Love is Here to Stay; and They Can’t Take That Away from Me. Before this concert the Bill Street Jazz Quintet (HS: Mr. Street was Director of Jazz Studies at USM) played an hour long concert featuring Duke Ellington favorites and other jazz numbers, including at least one by Gershwin, But Not for Me. Coincidental to what was to come over the next ten years at the PSO’s “winter home” at PCHA, there was some P-H criticism of the quality of the sound system--- JUST WAIT to see what REAL CRITICISM ABOUT MUSICAL ACOUSTICS will develop in regard to City Hall Auditorium!

The third annual “Festival by the Lake” Pops Concert by the PSO was set for the next evening, Saturday, July 25 on the shores of Lake Auburn behind Central Maine Vocational Technical Insitute, with Maestro Shimada conducting a “Gershwin Salute”. As he did the previous evening at Fort Williams, piano soloist Michael Braz performed Rhapsody in Blue. Obviously, the Symphony played a program virtually identical to what had been performed on Friday in Cape Elizabeth. The Lewiston Sunday Sun Journal reported about some weather-related challenges during the concert: “A heavy but short downpour was the intermission entertainment... ...The rain fell to cool the muggy air just as the PSO... ...finished the first half”. “The sky cleared for the second half of the concert, and nearly all of the sellout crowd stayed”. A finale of fireworks was launched over Lake Auburn.

On Thursday, July 30, the Symphony musicians, their 17-pole canopy (HS: with 20 stakes needed to secure it) and Toshi Shimada traveled to Old Orchard Beach where a crowd gathered at the high school athletic field for a concert of “light, classical pops-y type music” (HS: The P-H came up with that one, not me.) as its successful summer tour continued. This marked the fifth consecutive annual appearance by the PSO in OOB, although the venue this year was not The Ballpark, returning to municipal grounds. A Journal Tribune editorial after the concert not only described the core of the concert, but established what the Symphony brought to town: “The program, which ranged from Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man through Bizet’s Carmen Suite to Stauss’s Roses from the South Waltz to America, the Beautiful, (and) Oklahoma through to the Stars and Stripes Forever, was as right a Pops concert as one could hope for.” (HS: The boldfacing and underline-effects are mine, but the well-expressed sentiments are those of the paper’s editor. Hoo-Ray!). And---- Toshi was happy about being there, too. He told the crowd that “even with a few mosquitoes, it was better than enduring the heat of Houston”. (HS: Unfortunately the crowd was less than projected and the sponsoring “Friends” group did not cover expenses. Let’s see what happens in 1988.)

The PSO entourage made its way to Maine’s Carrabassett Valley on August 1 (a Saturday). Beneath Maine’s second highest peak at Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Area (HS: Currently [2013] it claims to be the largest ski resort east of the Rocky Mountains) the Symphony rehearsed from 3-6 pm, practices open to the public. The next day, Sunday, at noon the non-profit Mountain Arts promotional organization sponsored a mid-day outdoors pops concert on the grasses of The Birches area of the resort. Although the Sugarloaf board which had declared bankruptcy was gone, the Portland Symphony Orchestra was back. A clipping from a Kingsfield newspaper included a large list of works performed at the concert: Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man; Verdi’s Overture to “La Forza del Destino”; Strauss’s Roses from the South:  and selections from Reznicek, Richard Rodgers, and Meredith Willson. A special ballet piece from “Faust” by Gounod was selected (HS: But I haven’t yet [2013] spotted which one it was.) to acknowledge the ongoing summer residency of the Hartford Ballet at Sugarloaf.

The summer season’s final “Starlight Series” Concert was presented on Saturday evening, August 8 at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. Tabbed with the name “Summer Serenade”, a highlight of the performance was prize-winning violinist Stephanie Chase, who had appeared with the PSO the previous January in PCHA. This evening she played Felix Mendelssohn’s gypsy-souled Violin concerto in E minor, Op. 64. Ms. Chase was then an artist-in-residence at the Boston Conservatory of Music and a teacher at MIT. A gradate of Julliard, the previous May she won a $10,000 Avery Fisher Career Grant. Other works known to have been performed by the PSO at this concert were Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture to “La Forza del Destino” and Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No.9 in E minor Op.95 (“From the New World”). No post-concert clippings about this concert have been spotted in the PSO Archives.

The next night, the PSO wrapped up its summer season with a Pops Concert at St. Joseph’s College in North Windham. Tired of playing the same old stuff over and over, Conductor Shimada and the PSO musicians threw away all their copies of music that had been played throughout the summer and improvised a complete two-hour concert of music describing antics of each-and-every Sesame Street character!  (HS: Ha-ha! Only kidding. Of course they treated the folks at this concert in North Windham to the same neat Pops-stuff that had pleased concertgoers at other concerts during the summer. Most of this evening’s works were likely the same as the “Summer Serenade” concert the prior evening. However...... I’m too tired right now to dig out precisely which pieces were performed. So.... let’s just move on to September PSO events...).

Now free of commuting-to/from-Houston duties, when Toshi Shimada heard a siren the overcast afternoon of Labor Day,, September 7, he didn’t have to look around to see where the sound was coming from. He knew that it was coming from the fire truck he was riding on, from the Munjoy Hill fire station to the PSO’s stage and colorful canopy set up on the Eastern Promenade. There the Symphony musicians and 3000 people were waiting for him to give the downbeat to begin a free Monday mid-afternoon concert sponsored by the city of Portland and the DMR property development group. This was the first time ever for the PSO on “The Hill”. The PSO was situated with its back to the Promenade on the grass between Moody and Wilson streets, while the crowd spread out below and faced uphill toward the orchestra. The concert began with E.E. Bagley’s National Emblem March, followed by Aaron Copland’s An Outdoor Overture. Newspaper reports said that the large crowd also enjoyed a Medley of Armed Forces Tunes; the Overture to “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein; Variations on “America” by Charles Ives; Franz von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture; Struass’s Fireman’s Polka (HS: I don’t know that one. Could it have been a take-off on Thunder and Lightning? Or the Feast of Fire Polka?  Or the Fireproof Polka?); and medleys from Richard Rodgers’ “Oklahoma” and Frederick Loewe’s “My Fair Lady”. At the finale, the audience was on its feet and clapping to John Philip Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever. The Evening Express reported that this was the first-ever concert by the PSO on the Eastern Prom. The Munjoy Hill Observer reported that “Some 3000 people gathered on the Eastern Prom on Labor Day to enjoy (the) pops concert by the Portland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Toshi Shimada”.

This fall, Mr. Shimada accepted the post of music director of the Nassau Symphony on Long Island in New York State. Like many other conductors, he added a second podium upon which to stand, before a second orchestra.

The PSO performed what was listed as a special non-subscription concert at PCHA on Saturday evening, September 26 (HS: The official “Classical Series” opening concert would be performed on October 13.). This “Opening Night” Concert featured Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Schéhérezade Symphonic Suite (after “The Thousand Nights and one Nights”), Op. 35: II; Georges Enescu’s Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, Op. 11; and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1, in F Sharp minor, opus 1 (the latter two “No. 1” selections likely unintended to be as especially apropos as they were---- since this was the orchestra’s No. 1 concert of the 1987-88 season). Making her American orchestral debut was was 26-year-old guest piano soloist Gabriela Imreh. A Journal Tribune reviewer wrote that she “demonstrated impressive technique... (and that)... the performance was outstanding”. Other newspaper reviews were similarly complimentary about her playing. A private piano instructor at Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas since 1986, she likely became an acquaintance of Mr. Shimada when he was with the Houston Symphony. In 1985 Ms. Imreh had secretly married the-visiting American conductor Dan Spalding in Romania, but it was only a year later –after help from Senator Bob Dole and Secretary of State George Schultz—that the couple could settle in Texas.

Prior to the “opening Night” Concert the Women’s Committee hosted a pre-concert reception party in the lobby. After the concert at One City Center, major contribuotors to the 1987-1988 Operations Fund Campaign were invited to a “festival in old Baghdad”, a party that included cocktails, late-night buffet and dancing until 1 am in the morning. Patrons who pledged $500 or more to the fund campaign received a pair of complimentary tickets to the concert and post-concert gala.

The PSO and guest pianist Ms. Imreh traveled to Orono for a Sunday-afternoon concert on September 27. Works performed were the same as at the special season-opener in Portland (see immediately above). This was the Orchestra’s first appearance in the Greater Bangor area in twelve years, and the PSO’s first “crack at the new Performing Arts Cnter” there (HS:  So penned PSO manager Burleigh in an earlier-1987 “From the Manager” column.). A review by Hetty Preble Archer said that “The program itself was designed to be a crowd-pleaser, and it did generate an enthusiastic response.” Commenting on Ms. Imreh’s performance, the reviewer offered somewhat qualified approval, observing that she played a “seldom performed” Rachmaninoff work “with a lot of brittle energy”, showing a “wonderfully fluid sonic force”. This concert was sponsored by the Maine Center For The Arts.

Local-area residents hoping to be chosen for this season’s Magic of Christmas Chorus auditioned at the PSO office on both Friday and Saturday, October 2 & 3. The audition piece was J.S. Bach’s “Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light”. An audition notice in the Press Herald listed the PSO’s phone number as 773-6128. (HEY!  That is still the PSO’s current telephone number [in 2013].)

At its “official” Opening Night on Tuesday, October 13, the PSO was joined by guest violinist Rubén González, then the co-concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (HS: The Argentine-born artist would continue to hold the CSO position through 1996), in a performance of Johannes Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77. The EE review was genuinely complimentary to the soloist, who had earlier been concertmaster of the Houston Symphony (HS: Which is where his and Toshi Shimada’s paths most certainly had crossed.). The epic 1934 Mathis der Maler Symphony (Matthias the Painter) by Paul Hindemith included a shrill and dissonant third movement that reviewer Anthony Betts interpreted as making “certain we knew we were in Hell, and it was a vast relief to escape into the inspiriting, final chorale”. A George Perle work was also performed at this concert. (HS: my college concert band was a high-quality ensemble, and we played lots of avant-garde pieces that I didn’t particularly like —most of us called it ‘weirdo music’-- , and we once premiered [on the East Coast] one of Perle’s wing-a-dings..... so had the reviewer only contacted me in advance..... I could have predicted that he’d end up writing something similar to what he did write; see what follows.) The reporter, Anthony Betts, a Brunswick physician who was at that time writing reviews for a group of newspapers, penned: “George Perle’s Dance Overture was played at the opening of the concert. I leave my comments on it last for indeed it was least.” (HS: I could’a told him.... I could’a.... I could’a)

As the Press Herald expressed it in a post-concert headline, the “PSO put a happy face on Halloween’s dark side” at Pops Concerts presented at PCHA on both Saturday, October 31..... and also Sunday, November 1. Freely stealing from many of the P-H’ review ideas, these were “Halloween Pops” concerts of fun, with a touch of scary humor. Several PSO musicians were in costume, and spine-chilling tones emanated from the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. Special lighting effects also added to the chilling excitement. The Dracula-look-alike Maestro emerged from a coffin, replete with fangs and a black cape. Before he began conducting, a ghoulish creature brought a cart and pencil sharpener on stage so that Mr. Shimada could sharpen his baton. Selections performed included Paul Dukas’ The Sorcerer’s Apprentice; Charles Gounod’s The Funeral March of a Marionette.... (HS: That was sure to have reminded many of the parents of evenings spent watching black-and-white Alfred Hitchcock thrillers.); the Gounod work being followed by music from the later-era movie thrillers – “Psycho” and “The Birds”. Among other works performed were: Hungarian March from “Damnation of Faust” by Hector Berlioz; Danse Macabre, opus 40 by Camille Saint-Saëns; Béla Bartók’s Dances of Transylvania, Manuel de Falla’s Ritual Fire Dance from “El Amor Brujo”; Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King, from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1; John Williams’ Flying Music from “E.T.”; and Anatoly Lyadov’s Baba-Yaga, Op. 56. Parents probably had to explain to their kids why George Bizet’s “March to the Scaffold” from Symphonie Fantastique was on this Halloween program. Two compositions by Franz Waxman were reported to have been effective. First was his creepy Bride of Frankenstein from “The Creation of the Female Monster Suite”, which included a steady dirge of tympani and muted lower brass trying to terrify even the strongest man’s soul. The second was the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Suite. .........BOO!!  (HS: A Braz arrangement of the Thriller Medley was also listed on the program, but a file copy of that program in the PSO Archives had that number crossed off.)

No record has been located in the PSO Archives of precisely what was performed at two pairs of Youth Concerts on Monday and Tuesday, November 2 & 3. The theme is known, however, from a 1987-1988 Season Brochure saved by PSO violist Pam Doughty---  “Meet the Orchestra”, featuring the 1987 Young Artist Competition winner.

The 1987 “Lewiston Festival Series” of concerts concluded with a third PSO appearance, at Bates College on Monday, November 16. Featured were the music of Webern, Mozart and Tchaikovsky, which would be performed in Portland the following evening (HS: And about which details are presented in the following paragraph.).

Two PSO principals, flutist Randolph Bowman and harpist Jara Goodrich, were showcased on Tuesday, November 17 at a Classical Concert at PCHA. But first..... let’s consider what opened the evening’s music, according to a local newspaper report. Anton Webern’s Passacaglia, Op. 1, was played “with great sensitivity and (with an) orchestral balance that was quite exquisite”. Then, notably, “as the last dying note fell away, it was unfortunately marred by the dissonance of the City  Hall chimes, at least a tone and a half off.” Before the intermission Mr. Bowman and Ms. Goodrich performed a young-22-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Concerto for Flute, Harp, and Orchestra in C major, K. 299/297c, with a slimmed-down chamber orchestra designed by Maestro Shimada to allow the pair’s respective solo passages to be clearly heard in Portland’s large (HS: be sure..... acoustically challenged) concert hall. (HS: Googling reveals that this was one of only two true double concertos that he wrote, as well as the only piece of music that Mozart wrote that contains the harp.) The two PSO soloists’ efforts were reported to have helped give concertgoers a “thoroughly joyful and entertaining evening”. During the second half of the program the Symphony performed Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Op. 13 (“Winter Daydreams”), a work by a then-young composer that tantalizingly hints at great things to come in later compositions. (source for much of this paragraph–Evening Express)

The first pair of Candlelight Concerts of the 1987-1988 Season, featuring Baroque concertos, were performed at the Hotel Sonesta’s Eastland Ballroom on Sunday, November 22. The program consisted of Archangelo Corelli’s Concerto Grosso No. 4 in D Major; Antonio ortrai’s Concerto for Two Trumpets in C Major, RV537; Georg Phillip Telemann’s Viola Concerto in G major, TWV 51; and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068.

At about this point in time, two run-out concerts were performed, respectively in Biddeford and Durham, N.H. (HS: No record has yet been located to pinpoint the specific dates.) A check made in 2015 with Maestro Shimada yielded his memory recalling these two events, although he was unsuccessful when searching old boxes for actual concert programs. He then commented, “I remember going to both Durham and Biddeford, and I think we repeated the program of the classical series ... Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 and Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto”.

This fall five members of the PSO took a two-week leave-of-absence and traveled to Japan with the Boston Esplanade Orchestra for a 10-concert tour under the baton of John Williams.

A December 1 appearance by guest-artist pianist Misha Dichter included what the Evening Express reported was a “thrilling and exciting performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Op. 73, popularly known as the “Emperor Concerto”, his last piano concerto. This Tuesday-evening’s all-Beethoven program at PCHA also included the Leonore Overture, No. 1, Op. 138, which was followed by the great composer’s cheerful Fourth Symphony, B-flat major, Op.60, written in 1806. There was a guest-concertmaster at this performance, Masako Yanagita (HS: Sandra Kott was among the Boston Esplanade PSO’ers then in Japan with that ensemble’s conductor John Williams.). A sense that her section leadership had helped make the Symphony even better than it would already have been was evident in the EE reviewer’s post-concert article, which summarized the overture as “Very satisfying”. The newspaper report about Mr. Dichter’s masterful performance of the “Emperor” rated it a step above “satisfying”, instead placing this treat to Portland in the “magnificent” category. His playing was superb, enhanced for the audience by what was referenced as “a subdued charisma”. Maestro Shimada and the PSO might have gone home that evening wondering if any of the season’s remaining concerts could possibly top this one.

The Symphony’s contributions to Portland-area concertgoers’ holiday celebrating in 1987 was a ten-perfomance “Magic of Christmas” gig at PCHA. This was Toshi Shimada’s initial involvement with this now-traditional happy annual engagement. (HS: A year earlier Mr. Shimada was away on Houston music-assignments and then-assistant conductor Richard Vanstone was on the podium for all ten shows [PSO Archive files note that he was called “Rick” by his associates, by the way].) Six evening and four matinee performances of “Magic” were presented.

The EE reported that after Gerald McGee used the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ “to the fullest and fostered a mood of anticipation, serenity and merriment associated with the holiday”, each concert opened with Gabrielli’s Canzona Septimi Toni No. 2. In addition to the Symphony musicians, other “Magic” performers this year were Californian coloratura soprano Christine Lundquist, the 20-voice Boy Singers of Maine –directed by Ted Cetto, and the Magic of Christmas Chorus  –directed by Stewart Shuster. As usual, both reverent and humorous music was  programmed. Ms. Lundquist sang O Holy Night by Adolphe Adam, Handel’s Rejoice, O Daughter of Zion from “The Messiah”, and Mozart’s Alleiuja “Exsultate Jubilate”. The Boys presented Benjamin Britten’s Procession from “A Ceremony of Carols”, three selections from “Winter” by Vaughan Williams and also sang the traditional Wassail Song. The chorus excelled in Bach’s Christians, Be Joyful from “Christmas Oratorio” and the Hallelujah Chorus. Broadcaster Geoffrey Doughty (HS: See a delightful Anecdote elsewhere in this THINGS-PSO about him and longtime PSO violist [then-soon-to-become Pam Doughty) read the “Night Before Christmas” poem, accompanied by the orchestra. On its own, and under a giant snowflake and garlanding that adorned the pipe-organ rear façade of the stage, the PSO performed works that included Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival; two incredibly-serious works by P.D.Q. Bach (HS: Yeah!  Oh, sure....) and selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”. Of course, concertgoers enjoyed the traditional Christmas carol sing-along with the Symphony. PSO-office budget projections were to sell all 23,400 seats this year and for the “Magic” series to generate revenue of $290,000, a not-insignificant contribution representing almost one-fifth of the Symphony’s total annual budget.

At this year’s “Magic of Christmas” concerts, the PSO musicians initiated Maestro Shimada into their clan of hi-jinks-makers, the traditional fun tricks and humorous pranks that broke the tedium of performing many shows during a short time period. I forgot to ask Mr. Shimada when I interviewed him what his reaction to all that frivolity was at first (HS:  But I suspect he enjoyed it, given all kinds of “Magic” fun that would happen in later years.). However, Jane Hunter, the PSO’s then-recently-arrived executive director, definitely did not consider such hi-jinks acceptable. For several years thereafter, reports are plentiful that she clamped down on the musicians with annual edicts that strictly forbade such activities. Fortunately, by the 1990’s both she and Mr. Shimada considerably eased up, recognizing that PSO audiences very much enjoyed seeing the musicians and the conductor happily having fun with each other during what everyone regarded as “Extra-Magical” concerts.

Various newspaper articles from this period complained (and also referred to complaints from patrons) of problems with City Hall Auditorium. Issues primarily focused on:

• uncomfortable seats, many frayed and tattered

• poor acoustics (the topic was referenced OVER AND OVER)

• many seats (some maintained that close to 50%!) having obstructed views

• loud HVAC systems and unpredictable-and-varying temperature conditions

• not enough Broadway-type shows appearing

• shabbiness of ceilings and other painted areas where peeling was frequent

• disappointment that ballet companies refused to appear at auditorium

• and...... acoustics, acoustics and “damn acoustics”.

The Portland City Council reconstituted the Auditorium Committee as the City Hall (Auditorium) Advisory Committee to determine what type and level of renovation to the hall would be needed in recognition of the hall’s 75th birthday. (PortlandCARES files)


1988       A capacity crowd was on hand at PCHA when Toshi Shimada conducted the PSO on Tuesday, January 12. They were rewarded with performances of two major works. Before intermission was Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 102 in B flat major, Hoboken I/102, the tenth of the composer’s twelve so-called London Symphonies. Following the intermission the orchestra performed Anton Bruckner’s Ninth Symphony. The orchestra was reduced in size for the Haydn work, but massively augmented for the Bruckner symphony.

The second pair of Candlelight Concerts of the 1987-1988 season were presented on Sunday, January 24 at the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom, the first at 3 pm and the second at 7 pm. Two Mozart Serenades were performed, the first written for a wind octet, his Serenade No. 12 in C Minor, K. 384a. The other Mozart work was the Serenade No. 9 in D Major (“Posthorn”), K. 320. Sandwiched between these two compositions was Czeck composer Josef Suk’s Serenade in E flat major for Strings, Op.6 (HS: An EE article at the time noted that this work was “lighter, less serious music” than what Zuk normal composed, the result of encouragement from his father-in-law, Antonín Dvořák.).On the Saturday-Sunday week-end of January 30 & 31, a PSO Pops Concert was performed with the theme “From Vienna to New York”. Guest artists soprano Mary Beth Peel and baritone Robert Goodloe joined the program after the Symphony opened with Overture to “Die Fledermaus” by Johann Strauss II. The duo sang together or individually: My Hero from “The Chocolate Soldier”, by another Strauss..... Oscar; Franz Lehár’s Yours is My Heart Alone from “The Land of Smiles”; the Victor Herbert number- I’m Falling in Love with Someone from “Naughty Marietta”; as well as selections from Broadway musicals respectively by Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Richard Rodgers-  “Show Boat”, “Porgy and Bess” and “Annie, Get Your Gun”. (HS: Many in the audience had likely seen Ms. Peel as one of many “Anna’s” who played opposite Yul Brynner over the years in “The King and I”. She had merited a Tony Award nomination for her performances of Anna.)

Two Youth Concerts were performed each day on Monday and Tuesday, February 1 & 2. The theme of the concerts for students was “A Symphonic Encounter with Papa Haydn”. Mr. Shimada attempted to pique the interest of the young audience, some of whom often were indifferent when attending Youth Concerts, by enlisting the services of a mime and music consultant (who dressed like Joseph Haydn) and a local youth who played the role of a a baseball-playing young teen who would rather be on a diamond than in a symphony hall. “Papa Haydn” drew similarities between baseball and symphonic music with the aim of proving to the audience that music and sports weren’t as at-odds as one might think. Interspersed with musical examples by the PSO, the actors discussed how sections of symphonic works by Haydn, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms were developed.

The February 9 Classical Concert produced what a Press Herald article headlined were “magical moments”. The evening opened with the premiere of American composer Paul Cooper’s Symphony No. 6. A local newspaper reviewer, prepared for an “ultra modern, acerbic and dissonant” work found himself to be astonished and delighted in its “Debussnoid” sound, labeling it “at times... ...quite ethereal”. Next, cellist Sharon Robinson (HS: Then, and still [2013] married to violinist and onetime PSO violin guest soloist Jamie Laredo; both are now on the faculty of the Cleveland Institute of Music.) was more than equal to the force-and-power requirements called for by Dmitri Shostakovich’s difficult Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major, Opus 107, composed in 1959 and thought by some to be the most popular 20th-Century cello concerto. After intermission conductor Shimada set a Parisian mood for the audience, as the Symphony performed Ravel’s melodic Pavanne for a Dead Princess and Debussy’s three sketches of the seas, La Mer, L. 109.

Although Saturday, February 13 was one day early, the PSO and concertgoers gladfully jumped-the-clock on Cupid and celebrated Valentine’s Day that evening at PCHA. A “second annual” “Valentine’s Pop”s concert was scheduled, and next-day newspaper reviews in both the P-H and EE took fun-pun liberties with headlines that respectively read: “PSO plays the heartstrings” and “Symphony swoons endearing tunes”. Instead of the PSO’s maestro, Assistant conductor Richard Vanstone was at the helm, as an unexpected shoulder injury to Toshi Shimada forced him to the sidelines. The familiar music of Rossini’s Overture to “La Cenerentola” (HS:  “Cinderella” to you and me) and Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” Suite, Op. 66 were highlights. Other classical works performed were Venetian master Tomaso Albinoni’s Adagio for Organ and Strings; Jules Massenet’s delicate Meditation on Thais; and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 11. The second half of the concert turned to 20th-century compositions:  the Oscar-nominated More (“Theme from Mondo Cane”) by Italian Riziero Ortolani; Dane Jacob Gade’s Jalousie, tango for orchestra; Selections from “Camelot” by the team of lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe; and Max Steiner’s classic Selections from “Gone with the Wind”. It’s hard to imagine how Cupid, bow-and-arrow in hand and undoubtedly hiding high above the City Hall Auditorium’s proscenium arch, could have been anything but impishly smiling throughout this concert.

The weekend of February 27-8-9 was a busy one for a PSO chamber music ensemble. Performances of Igor Stravinsky’s 1916 theatrical work, L’Histoire du soldat (“The Soldier’s Tale”), were read, played, and danced before four audiences. First it was presented on Saturday evening in Boothbay as part of the Boothbay Region Performing Arts Council’s fall and winter concert season. The PSO Chamber Orchestra ensemble consisted of seven PSO musicians. The Press Herald reported that “although L’Histoire du soldat has been presented both as a mime work and as a ballet by other companies, this marks the first collaborative effort to use both performing arts”.

On Sunday in Portland, two performances of the Stravinsky work were presented, before afternoon and evening audiences at Candlelight Concerts in the intimate confines of the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom. At all the presentations of  L’Histoire du soldat the PSO ensemble was joined by Maine mime artist Tony Montanaro, narrator Reginald Bonnin and five dancers from the Portland Ballet Repertory Company with the combined artists performing a musical-dramatic-dance and narrative presentation of the parable-comedy by Stravinsky. To combine mime and ballet, Mr. Montanaro collaborated with Andrew DiGiambattista, a member of the ballet company, in special choreography for the production. Mr. Bonin actually had somewhat of an acting role as the narrator, as he sat on the side at a small table, with a glass of brandy and a candle in front of him—describing the events as they unfolded, also the characters as they arrived and left. One of several highly-enthusiastic post-concert reviews mentioned that the joy, energy and entertainment was so great that even conductor Shimada changed hats and assumed a miming role at one point. A post-performance check-in (HS:  This follow-up was in 2014.) with the Portland Ballet Company revealed that the PSO maestro assumed the role of a card-player.

A fourth performace of L’Histoire du soldat was presented the next evening, Leap-Year-Day February 29, at the City Theater in Biddeford. This marked the third annual benefit performance by the Portland Symphony Chamber Orchestra in Biddeford as the Theater and the University of New England presented the dramatic Stravinsky work. A copy of this program, retained in the Portland Ballet Company archives, was lent for scanning purposes—and portions can be viewed at the PSO-History website. The PBC’s founder and Artistic Director, Eugenia O’Brien, graciously made the dance ensemble’s scrapbooks available to the THINGS-PSO history project.

If you remember the wonderful Scott Joplin arrangements in the movie “The Sting”--- those were Marvin Hamlisch’es arrangements. If you remember the haunting Nobody Does It Better theme accompanying Sean Connery in one of his James Bond movie portrayals--- Marvin Hamlish wrote that. If you remember the song “The Way We Were” from the movie starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford winning an Academy Award for  somebody--- Marvin Hamlish carried off that Oscar. If you remember enjoying music accompanying “A Chorus Line”, “Ordinary People”, “Ice Castles” or “Sophie’s Choice”--- those were also works by Marvin Hamlisch . If you remember Marvin Hamlisch delighting PCHA concertgoers twenty-five years ago (HS: This part of THINGS-PSO is being compiled in 2013.), then you were at one of the Saturday, March 5 or the Sunday, March 6 Pops concerts in 1998 when he was the featured guest artist with the PSO.

Those two pops concerts started off with Toshi Shimada conducting Sir Edward Elgar’s flashy Pomp and Circumstances, No. 1; followed with Samuel Barber’s emotional Adagio for Strings. To maintain already-established diversity, the Symphony completed the first half of the program by next performing Aaron Copland’s rhythmic El Salon Mexico. After the intermission, Michael Berkowitz, Mr. Hamlisch’s regular conductor, took over the podium from Mr. Shimada. Marvin Hamlisch then showplaced The Entertainer; Nobody Does It Better; The Way We Were; A Chorus Line, and What I Did For Love. The relaxed Hamlisch then did a “Rent-A-Composer” segment, where, the EE later reported, “he fielded suggestions for titles from the audience and created songs from them on the spot.” A medley hit that the newspaper mentioned was “developed from the two audience phrases—‘two nights in Portland’ and ‘where Longfellow slept’, from which Mr. Hamlisch combined to make a Johnny Mathis single about an exhausted Longfellow who searched the world for a good night’s rest and could only get it in Portland, Maine.” The Portland crowd loved the song.... and they loved the lively and humorous Marvin Hamlisch.

Ready for a Tuba solo?  At one point during a March 22 Classical Concert, the PSO’s Roger Bobo impressively “strode to the front of the orchestra bearing his massive, gleaming, brass tuba like a Greek warrier” (HS: So wrote the P-H’s reviewer Anthony Betts.). Then “glorious sounds emerged. Rich, purple notes filled the auditorium, interspersed with airy blasts, brilliant staccato phrases all played with amazing ease. Just to hear Bobo as a virtuoso was a delight in itself.” He was performing John Williams’ then-recently-composed Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra. Other works that Maestro Shimada had chosen for the Symphony to play this evening were Druckman’s short Paean Fanfare (see the next paragraph), then Benjamin Britten’s Sea Interludes from the opera “Peter Grimes”. The major work of the concert was Dane Carl Nielson’s 1916 violent reaction to war, his Symphony No. 4, “The Inextinguishable”, Op. 29, FS 76, noted by the P-H as a “huge work... ...with a giant array of brass” called for by the composer.

Concertgoers at this March 22 March PSO concert were likely surprised during Mr. Druckman bombastic Paean Fanfare, about which the P-H reported that “Trumpets, trombones and horns filled the hall with martial blasts, while from around the percussion area, tinkly sounds in fourths echoed in the air.” The reviewer then complained that “it was over” too quickly. “The end was sudden, and one felt deprived”. He concluded, “The entire piece lasted only 1 minute, 50 seconds.” (HS: What a delightful tease that must have been for Toshi to spring on the audience.)

The first of three 1988 concerts that Lewiston organizers this year was called the “Festival Series” was performed by the PSO on Friday, April 8, at Bates College. A similar series had been held in 1987. The popular Maine singing group Schooner Fare joined the PSO for a sort-of warm-up prior to similar concerts in Portland over the week-end. On its own, the Symphony played Richard Wagner’s Overture to “The Flying Dutchman”, Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II; and also Joseph Handel’s Water Music. Among the numbers that the folk trio sang after the intermission, the audience enjoyed The Ballad of Mad Jack; The Mary L. McKay; We the People; The Kingfisher; My Lady in Waiting; Powder Monkey; and..... of course, the always big-hit–Portland Town.

As just mentioned the same program as performed at Bates College on Friday evening was presented at PCHA on Saturday evening, April 9 and Sunday afternoon April 10.

Then....... a little classical music, and a LOT of folk music was performed for a total of about 9000 fourth-to-seventh graders at pairs of PCHA concerts on both Monday and Tuesday, April 11 & 12. Schooner Fare and the PSO played at all four of the events for students, each a sell-out.

A post-season summary of the 1987-1988 youth concert series informs that almost 19,000 students from Maine and New Hampshire attended the PSO’s performances during the year. In all, students from 126 school systems attended one or more concerts.

Toshi Shimada introduced the final April 17 Candlelight Concert of the 1987-1988 season, according to a next-day review in the Press Herald, as “as a light one that would give us ‘a Sunday soiree’. Indeed, the mood... ...was reminiscent of the charm and grace of a turn of the century parlor party.” First was Los Esclavos Felices (“The Happy Slaves”), by Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga. Next was Jacques Isbert’s Divertissement, followed by the afternoon’s feature, PSO concertmaster Sandra Kott playing a romance for violin and orchestra by Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Lark Ascending. The afternoon’s music closed with three romantic pieces by one of Maestro Shimada’s favorite composers, Sir Edward Elgar--  Chanson de Nuit; Chanson de Matin; and Salut d’Amour. As usual for Candlelight concerts, a first performance was presented at 3 pm, and a later repeated at 7 pm.

PSO Concertmaster Sandra Kott, at this point in time of the history of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, had been sitting in her chair next to PSO conductors for almost seven full seasons, since September of 1981. She had first become a member of the Symphony in 1971. A native of Racine, Wisconsin, she had moved east in the late 1960s, and commuted to her Portland assignment from the Boston suburb of Watertown. Ms. Kott graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music, from which she also earned a Masters Degree. In 1973 she ascended to the first stand among the orchestra’s 1st-violinists, next to Stephen Kecskeméthy. Currently (2013) she is Assistant Professor at the Berklee College of Music in Boston where she teaches private violin lessons and a performance lab, which the college’s website describes is run like a master class. (HS: I found it a delightful coincidence to learn that she is a founding member of the Arriaga String Quartet, named after the composer of the opening work in the above-described 1988 PSO Candlelight concert. Due to my ignorance, I had never been aware of Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga prior to just writing about this concert. Upon subsequently Googling for information about him...... there was a link to Sandra Kott; --- that was delightful serendipity.)

The final Classical Concert of the 1987-1988 PSO Season was presented twice, on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 26 & 27. Both evenings the Choral Art Society of more than 100 voices performed a grand-scale concert version of Giuseppe Verdi’s “La Traviata” with the Symphony. The combined ensembles produced what the Evening Express review described as “magnificent sound”. The article concluded with the comment that “it was a stimulating, exciting eveing of music.” Former PSO executive director Jane Hunter recalled (HS: In a 2013 phone interview  that guest soprano Nancy Shade was not feeling 100 percent when she arrived in Portland for the first rehearsal, sensing a cold coming on. During the first performance on Tuesday her voice was noticeably giving way, such that she might have been mistaken for an alto toward the end. A call to her agency resulted in Faye Robinson quickly getting to Portland, where her performance during the Wednesday concert was very well done according to Ms. Hunter.

Sometime this month, Toshi Shimada resigned his position as music director of the Nassau Symphony on Long Island, before completing his first season. He had conducted three concerts with the Long Island ensemble during this season, and the Nassau Symphony’s board president said that parting was related to scheduling conflicts. It had proven difficult for Mr. Shimada to fit his Nassau Symphony rehearsal and concert-conducting obligations along with more extensive demands on his time in Portland, according to the Nassau Symphony board president.

A memo spotted in the PSO Archives noted that the PSO played for some 85,000 people during the 1987-1988 season, with an additional 55,000 children attending KinderKonzerts and youth concerts. The budget this year was $1.6 million. The memo also stated that during the year the PSO had played in the two earlier-mentioned locations, about which no detailed information has been spotted:  Biddeford and Durham, NH.

Charles A. Harvey, Jr. was re-elected as PSO President.

The Jewish Federation of Southern Maine Celebration of Israel’s 40th Anniversary included sponsorship of a concert by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, on Saturday the 8th of June. The performance may have been presented at PCHA, although a concert program in the Elizabeth Miller Collection presented to the PSO does not specifiy the venue. Mr. Shimada led the Symphony at the opening of the concert in Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, followed by Czech composer Bedřich Smetana’s Moldau from “Má Vlast”. The first half concluded with Gustav Mahler’s “Blumine”, regarded as the the rejected Second Movement of his Symphony No. 1. After the intermission, the PSO returned to the stage and played the Jack Mason arrangement of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story”. Featured next was Jerry Boch’s “Fiddler on the Roof”. Next performed was Julius Chajes’ Hebrew Suite: Prayer; Walls of Zion; and Hora. Music from Ernest Gold’s 1961 award-winning movie Theme from “Exodus” concluded the classical and pops portions of the concert. The evening’s final number was the Israeli National Anthem, Hatikvah.

During the Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend of July 2-3-4, the PSO performed three “Independence Pops” concerts, the first scheduled for Fort Williams Park at Cape Elizabeth (HS: This July 2 event needed to be moved indoors, to PCHA, due to afternoon heavy clouds—unfortunately, the storm moved on after the decision had been made to take cover at City Hall). The second concert was performed at Pleasant Mountain in Bridgton (July 2), and the third in Old Orchard Beach next to a stand of pines at the high school athletic grounds (July 3). Edmund S. Muskie narrated Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait for the first concert, and also that night, Maestro Shimada conducted Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture. There was some noted “competition” in the area when the PSO was at Pleasant Mountain on the 2nd--- The Grateful Dead were 20 miles away at Oxford Plains. Unfortunately for the “Dead”, nobody showed up since all wanted to listen to the PSO (HS: If you believe that, I’ve got a toll bridge that crosses over the middle of Sebago Lake to sell you...).

Two other Pops events scheduled for Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth later in the month were not unduly disrupted by rain, on Friday July 15, and again on Thursday July 21. The themes of these two affairs respectively were “A Royal Fireworks Concert” and “In the Good Old Summertime”. At the second of these two concerts, the regular announcer for the PSO’s radio broadcasts (HS: At that time he was about to begin his 14th season as the PSO’s broadcast announcer.), Geoffrey Doughty, narrated a Frank Proto musical work- Casey At the Bat, that was based on (HS: “based”—get it?) the well-known epic 1888 poem by Lawrence Thayer. That evening the PSO and the crowd convened on the baseball field of the park, and in addition to, of course, In the Good Old Summertime, concertgoers also enjoyed Shine On Harvest MoonIn My Merry OldsmobileDaisy Bell and The Band Played On.

Two additional summer outdoor Pops or generally-light-classical concerts this summer were performed at venues where the Symphony had performed summer Pops Concerts in past years, the first on Saturday July 23 in Auburn down by the lake (HS: This was the 4th Annual “Festival By The Lake” event, part of the Bates College Festival Concert Series.), where Mr. Muskie again narrated Lincoln Portrait. Very few summer-pops concert programs reside in the PSO Archives; however, thanks to Joanne Woodward’s contribution of programs covering hundreds of concerts during her 30-plus years with the Symphony, one from this performance came into the possession of the PSO. A pdf scan can be seen at

This “Festival by the Lake” concert began with The Star-Spangled Banner. Franz von Suppé’s always-popular  Light Cavalry Overture followed; then Aaron Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody. Carmen Dragon’s arrangement of America the Beautiful preceded Mr. Muskie’s appearance. After intermission, returning concertgoers tapped their fingertips to Victor Herbert’s March of the Toys. Another Carmen Dragon arrangement then brought forward a Stephen Foster Medley: Beautiful Dream; Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair; and Oh, Susanna. Two arrangements of Scott Joplin compositions were next, Maple Leaf Rag and The Entertainer, scored by Gunther Schuller. Mr. Dragon’s third contribution to the evening was titled Summer Time Medley: In the Good Old Summertime; In My Merry Oldsmobile; Shine On Harvest Moon; Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two); and The Band Played On. Then, Selections from “Show Boat”, by Jerome Kern sent everyone home with plenty of songs in both their hearts and their heads.

The PSO’s summer series concluded the next night, Sunday July 24, with an “Americana Picnics & Pops” at St. Joseph’s College near Windham. The works performed at various of the seven July Pops Concerts also included Selections from “On the Town” by Leonard Bernstein; John Philip Sousa’s Liberty Bell March; A Big Band Medley; Victor Herber’s March of the Toys from “Babes in Toyland”; Ned Rorem’s Frolic; Aaron Copland’s Variations on a  Shaker Melody; Charles Ives’ Country Band March; a Stephen Foster Medley; Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Land; Samuel Ward’s tune set to words by Katherine Lee Bates, America the Beautiful; Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture; Jacques Offenbach’s Can-Can; and Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag and also The Entertainer. In addition, other works during this summer were Selections from “Show Boat” by Jerome Kern; Vivaldi’s “Summer” from The Four Seasons; Handel’s Water Music Suite No. 2; Bach’s Suite No. 3; Pachelbel’s Canon; Jean Joseph Mouret’s Fanfare from Suite de Symphonies, No. 1 (HS: This is the theme from PBS’s Masterworks Theatre); and Jean Sibelius’ Finlandia. (HS: I’m too tired right now to list all the respective locale-by-locale specifics, but those details are in the PSO Archives [box 2532; also labeled HS-L] if you would like to learn about each of them.)

Fourteen new contracted musicians joined the PSO in October of this year.

Prior to the October-start of the 1988-1989 Classical Season, the PSO performed a special non-subscription concert on Saturday, September 24 at PCHA. Piano virtuoso Eva Virsik, emigrated from Slovakia, performed Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11. The Symphony was conducted by Music Director Toshi Shimada, Ms. Virsik’s husband. (HS: Currently [2013], she teaches at the Unversity of New Haven and continues to make concert solo-appearances.) On its own this evening the PSO performed the 1981 Promenade Overture by American composer John Corigliano, and also Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky’s Symhony No. 6, in B minor, Op. 74 (“Pathétique”).

Mr. Shimada had met Ms. Virsik when in 1987 he was guest-conducting the National Orchstra in Lille, France. From Slovakia, the Bratislava native was the featured soloist, then living in Germany as an émigré. Besides music, commonality of each knowing the German language (she quite well..... Toshi not so, but at least Viennese-passable) allowed them to get to know each other better. After their two-week stay in France, she returned to Germany and he to Portland..... although he called her three times each day, later commenting that “I made AT&T very rich”. After two additional trips to Europe during which Toshi popped the question, they were married in Portland that fall.

On Sunday, October 2 at Corthell Hall at the USM campus in Gorham, Toshi Shimada guest-conducted the University of Southern maine Concert Band and Wind Ensemble.

Auditions for positions in this year’s Magic of Christmas Chorus were announced in early October. The auditions were held at Woodfords Congregatonal Church.

Reading about the PSO’s official classical series-opening on Tuesday, October 11 immediately gave me one of those “darn! I wish that I’d have been there!” sensations. Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 4 in E minor, Op. 98, and Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra were on the same program. Although only two compositions may seem like a short concert, these are two major works which would put any orchestra to a test. The EE review the next day commented that the Brahms work was enjoyable, but reviewer Hubley did not overly praise the performance. On the contrary, about the Bartok work, he wrote that it “was a gem of a performance”.

The PSO performed at a Bates College Festival Series Concert at the Margaret Hopkins Merrill Gymnasium, on Friday, October 20. Five alumni of London’s D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, then making their first North American tour in a decade, joined the Symphony that evening. The British vocalists..... who were on tour in the U.S. had just sung in the Baird Auditorium of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., and would also appear together in concert with the PSO the next two days at PCHA in Portland. The theme of these Pops Concerts was “A Salute to Gilbert & Sullivan”. All three concerts opened with the Overture to “Iolanthe”, followed by four other songs from that operetta:  When all night long; My lord, a supplicant at your feet I kneel; Love, unrequited/When you’re lying awake; and If you go in. Next came three Songs from “H.M.S. Pinafore”:  Things are seldom what they seem; When I was a lad; and Nevermind the why and wherefore. Prior to intermission it was time for Songs from “The Mikado”:  Were you not to Koko plighted; The sun whose rays; and The flowers that bloom in the spring. G&S melodies from three other operettas were performed in the second half. This segment of the concert opened with the Overture to “Patience”, then also from that show: If Saphir I choose to marry; Am I alone/If you’re anxious for things to shine; A magnet hung in a hardware shop; and Long years ago. Of course, the audience wanted to hear Melodies from “Pirates of Penzance”:  I am the very model; Oh, false one; Poor wandering one; Now for the pirate’s lair; Away, away; and All is prepared. The concert concluded with Songs from “The Gondoliers”, I stole the prince and then Take a pair of sparkling eyes.

One Portland newspaper reviewer felt that the performers needed more elaborate costumes and sets, thinking also that maybe the show was a little bit too long. Anyway, he reported that the PSO shone during G&S overtures that preceded each half of the concert. A scan of the concert program for these two concerts can be viewed at

On Monday and Tuesday, October 24 & 25, Toshi Shimada conducted two Youth Concerts on each day. The title of the performances for grade 3 to grade 6 students from the area was “The Many Moods of Beethoven”. The orchestra played excerpts from both the great composer’s Symphony No. 5 and symphony No. 6, also the Egmont Overture. Mr. Shimada illustrated with the music the wide range of emotions that Beethoven expressed in his music.

Now a year into her office stewardship of PSO activities, general manager Jane Hunter only irregularly continued the interesting “From the Manager’s Desk . . .” columns that for years her predecessor had used to both provide tidbits about behind-the-scenes actions and to also argue for causes that would benefit the PSO. (HS:  From my standpoint --  attempting to chronicle the history of the PSO some 25-plus years later, I miss those perspectives....... for Russ Burleigh’s comments quite often “filled in the blanks” regarding time-periods about which I had spotted no other information.)

The season’s second Classical concert featured violin virtuso-Korean Young Lick Kim, then celebrating his quarter-century of international performing. The Curtis graduate played Sergei Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra in G minor, Op. 63. Howling winds and sheets of rain were the Portland environment from which Portland concertgoers sought escape for the first of two performances by the PSO and the visiting artist. His interpretation and execution of the Prokofiev work was variously described by the EE as “sweet-tempered... ...virtually flawless... ...high-register work that was stunning... ...really moving... (and) perfect interprettive accord” with the conductor and Orchestra. Concert works performed by the PSO were Beethoven’s heroic Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 55 (“Eroica”) and Toru Takemitsu’s “dark, yet adorable” 1964 composition, Textures. These two concerts were presented on Tuesday and Wednesday, November 1 & 2.

It was back to the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom for a pair of concerts at both 3pm & 7pm on Sunday, November 6. These first concerts of the 1988-1989 Candlelight Concert series featured compositions by four members of the Bach family, and were titled “All Bach – but not all Johann Sebastian”. First performed was the Symphony No. 3, Op. 3, No. 1, by Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of the super-great composer. This was followed by eldest son Wilhelm Friedrich’s Sinfonia in D Minor. The first of two contributions by J.S. Bach was his Brandenberg Concerto No. 3 in G Major, BWV 1048. Two other works played were second oldest son Carl Philipe Emmanuel Bach’s Symphony No. 1 in G Major, H.666 Wq.183 01, and finally another composition by Johan Sebastian Bach, his Orchestral Suite No. 4 in D Major, BWV 1069.

Later in this month, on Tuesday, November 29, guest-artist Julliard master’s candidate pianist Thomas Tirino reprised Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 for concertgoers of Portland (HS: He had performed the work when he competed in Portland in 1987 at the PSO-Bookland contest for young artists.). Said the Sunday Telegram, that “was the musical horse he rode to first place” in the PSO-Bookland Piano Competition the preceding March. The Evening Express praised his rendition, concluding that “Tirino brought strength and authority to the concerto from his very first notes.” Other compositions performed that evening by the Symphony were Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 2 and John Adams’ satiric 1996 work The Chairman Dances.

During this fall, Maestro Shimada taught a class at USM’s Community Program series, titled “How to Listen to Music”.

Again this year, a ten performance-run of “Magic of Christmas” was presented for Portland-area and other concertgoers from the region, beginning on Friday, December 9. A colorfully-covered concert program in the Elizabeth Miller Collection presented to the PSO shows a caricature of a rotund Father Christmas toting lots of toys....... and a long-stemmed pipe.

Canadian soprano K.K. Preece, leading lady at the Maine State Music Theatre for 10 summers, was a special guest, along with the Boy Singers of Maine and the 100-voice Magic of Christmas Chorus. In his third year as director of the Boys’ ensemble, Edward Cetto led the now-ten-year-old organizations’ choir. Recently appointed Municipal Organist Earl L. Miller and also Elizabeth Sollenberger were also featured. To choose from, audiences had six evening and four matinee performances to check versus their holiday-season calendars. Warmth and humor awaited “excited adults and children dressed in their Christmas best as everyone had their first look at the Kotzschmar Organ pipes bathed in rich orange, its minarets standing out against a blue dome”, said a post-concert P-H article. The newspaper also wrote that while “camels bearing three kings (did not) appear through the back door in a grand entry... ...instead came maestro Toshiyuki Shimada... ...adorned with a bright red bow tie and marching cummerbund”. With the full Orchestra in black and the massive chorus at the back in white, the Boy Singers red and white robes impressively set the scene.

Not in the order presented, the Boy Singers opened each show with the traditional-English Sussex Carol and Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, Op. 28.... and then later Donkey Carol by John Rutter. For its part, the Symphony and the chorus began with Rimsky-Korsokoff’s Polonaise from “Christmas Night”. Ms. Preece’s less serious numbers were Winter Wonderland, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. She also presented a Christmas reading, “The Story of Brother Johannick and His Silver Bell”. The chorus numbers, directed by Daniel Junken, included Talbot and Perkins’ For Us a Child is Born, the ever-popular  Hallelujah from “Messiah” by Handel, and Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring—which included Ms. Preece. The Orchestra performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Troika, from “Lieutenant Kije”; Georges Bizet’s “L’Arlé<sienne” Suite No. 2; and the traditional PSO holiday treat–Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson, also his Sleigh Ride; the traditional English carol The Twelve Days of Christmas; and Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from “The Nutcracker”. When it came time for group singing, the P-H observed that “even the meanest Scrooge in the hall must have been filled with the spirit of the season”. The six audience-participation numbers concluded with We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

After a guest PCA performance this year, Itzak Perlman publicly complained about the building’s acoustics and accessibility. (HS note: “Attention; Auditorium Advisory Committee! — are you listening?”) (source:  Press Herald)

Talented young local organist, Earl L. Miller was appointed Municipal Organist this year. Two years later, his untimely death left a large void. (Maine Historical Society)

A successful touring-company production run of “Cats” at the Cumberland County Civic Center this year enjoyed a large audience response which showed that local ticket demand for such shows was meaningful, although the large-number seating configuration was described as “much too big for good theater”. (source:  Wolf Company report)

Turning to this year’s developments toward what would eventually be a major renovation of Portland City Hall Auditorium, the following are snippets gleaned from various clippings found in the PSO Archives.

Photographs taken during the 1970’s and 1980’s often showed five to nine of what appeared to be white doors behind the musicians on the stage. HS conversations with PSO players of that era revealed that these were sound baffles. Then..... even further HS conversations revealed that in fact they were of little use acoustically-speaking (they were described by one musician from that era as 2-by-4 frames that were only covered with fabric!  So......... they were primarily only decorative.)

Winton Scott Architects are engaged by the Auditorium Advisory Committee, and in June submitted a preliminary design study for restoration and improvements to City Hall Auditorium. The $45,000 cost was split between the city and the user groups. W-S engaged Klepper, Marshall & King as acoustical consultants, as well as a variety of theater and lighting consultants. The W-S submission included a series of possible options for reconfiguring the hall to solve its acoustical and sight line problems. Those options ranged from a complete gutting of the hall to one ultimately selected as the most appropriate within the available budget: elimination of the first balcony and replacing the orchestra and first balcony with a steeply raked “grand tier”, and a re-sloped  second balcony. This approach was proposed as one that would provide sightlines from all seats. The options did not include installation of an orchestra pit, overhead rigging for theatrical use, creation of fly space or any significant additional wing space, nor deepening of the stage. Total construction and related “soft costs” were projected to be approximately $6 million. (PortlandCARES files)

Major ideas submitted (within a $5.4 million budget parameter) are extensive, and include:

- Improve acoustics “which are universally reported as being very poor”, including modification to stage and auditorium to improve acoustical properties

- Other stage improvements, including lighting, rigging and installation of a resilient floor

- Improvement of line-of-sight characteristics of the stage from all parts of the auditorium which would involve reducing hall seating capacity by 15-20%

- Significantly improved sound-absorbing seats, including replacement of all balcony seats

- Improvement of heating system and addition of air cooling for the summer

- Addition of elevators for the handicapped and other patrons, and for moving stage props

- Addition of dressing rooms and rest rooms

- Changes in the lobby, including moving the ticket offices

- Creation of an area for concession sales

- Improve sound isolation at doors, windows and for mechanical systems

- Construction of a new rehearsal hall to accommodate the full symphony orchestra

- Restoration of the orchestra pit to “usable conditions”

- Suspension of a secondary ceiling or shell over the stage with extensions of such a ceiling beyond the proscenium opening

- A marquee at the entrance to the auditorium


1989       The Evening Express reported that the Andante-Adagio movement from Gustav Mahler’s attempted Symphony No. 10 in F-sharp major was “expressively” performed as the opening work at a Classical Concert on Tuesday, January 10. (HS: The composer had all but finished orchestrating two of the symphony’s five movements when he died in 1911. A decade later his widow requested, in sequence, several composers to complete Mahler’s full symphony using his drafts, and long and embroiled four-decades of delays in doing so were finally overcome in the 1960s by Deryk Cooke. Many conductors refuse to conduct more than the composer’s authentic first movement.) EE reviewer Hubley described the orchestra’s accomplishments in this work as a bit flawed, although his major criticism pertained to the composition itself, describing it as a “dreary, complex work... ...(with) much to admire and little to like”. More than two decades later (2014), some longtime PSO musicians still do not remember the Symphony’s performance of this work as having been all that good.

The featured soloist this evening was the PSO’s principal horn player, John Boden, who Mr. Shimada welcomed to the front of the stage to play Gordon Jacobs’ challenging and technically demanding Concerto for Horn and Strings. York County Coast Star reviewer and musician Jacqueline Neuwirth wrote that Mr. Boden’s effort was “brilliantly performed”, and that the soloist “made the difficult work seem as natural as breathing”. His solo appearance continued the twenty-year tradition of giving PSO regulars a turn in the spotlight. (HS:  Some 25 years later [2014], when I asked John for some of his top PSO memories, his solo-ing this evening was one of his Top Two.) Also on the program, following the intermission, was Franz Schubert’s expansive Symphony No. 9 in C major (“The Great”).

Since January 22 of this year was “Super Bowl Sunday”, the PSO chamber ensemble at two Candlelight Series Concertgoers that day assembled at the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom in a bowl-shaped room-set-up. The concert itself, however, had no other connection to any football game. Performed was George Crumb’s five-movement Ancient Voices of Children, written in 1917. Guest artist lyric mezzo soprano Isabelle Ganz sang, although Mr. Crumb’s work also called for many non-traditional special-effects musical sounds from both the vocalist (HS: The Sunday Telegram reported that she began the piece “with head in piano”) and also the musicians. Boy soprano Matthew Hale, a Falmouth freshman and six-year member of the Boy singers of Maine, also participated. Another 20th-Century piece was Igor Stravinsky’s 24-minute long Pulcinella Suite, written in 1920. Ottorino Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances; Set III opened the concerts, consisting of movements titled Italiana; Aria di corte; Siciliana and Passacaglia.

PCHA was, as usual, filled with students when the PSO presented four hour-long Youth Concerts, two each day, on Monday & Tuesday, January 30 and 31. Folk entertainer Bill Crofut, adept as a singer, banjo player and composer, was featured in programs titled “America Sings, The History of America Through Song”. Mr. Shimada led the Orchestra, joined by the humorous Mr. Crofut reciting (HS: In a native New England twang, reported the Lewiston Daily Sun) in Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait, as well as singing a medley of early American folksongs. That group included Grandfather’s Clock; This Land is Your Land; Streets of Laredo; and Mr. Bear.

Mr. Crofut and the PSO had been busy together the three week-end evenings preceding the Monday-Tuesday PCHA concerts for students, Friday the 27th in Orono at the Maine Center for the Arts, and then on both Saturday and Sunday, January 28 and 29 at Pops Concerts in PCHA. While his American folk songs (HS: And sometimes bawdy chit-chat about many of them.) were enjoyed by the audiences, when the program turned to some classical works, his banjo-playing alongside the PSO in Béla Bartók’s Rumanian Folk Dances made the pieces “Slavic in mood and sound”. He also played Chris Brubeck’s arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in D Minor, BWV 935, No.3, (HS: A review stated that this was arranged for orchestra and banjo...... although my guess after Googling is that probably an orchestra and guitar arrangement was the basis--- refined for banjo-ing.). Other songs performed by Mr. Crofut, most arranged by Proto (HS: No first name was listed on the concert program, although my guess is that arranger Frank Proto may have set out the scores used at these concerts.), included Foggy, Foggy Dew; The Streets of Laredo; Kisses Sweeter Than Wine; Grandfather’s Clock; This Land is Your Land; and Old Joe Clark. On its own at the outset of each concert, the Symphony elegantly set the stage for the remainder of the respective evenings with Aaron Copland’s descriptive Appalachian Spring. The P-H said that the evening was a “relaxed, warm performance” and that the Copland piece, especially, “gave the audience a needed lift from the long winter doldrums”.

The New York Philharmonic’s principal violist Paul Neubauer (HS: Five years earlier, at age 26, he had become the youngest ever to lead the great orchestra’s viola section.) was guest soloist with the Symphony on Tuesday, February 7. Toshi Shimada agreed to play Mr. Neubauer’s own adaptation of Béla Bartók’s Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Op. Posthumous. The audience found his performance fabulous, and after several encores he played an improvisation that the P-H’s next-day article labeled “a little charmer”. Earlier the PSO had opened the concert with Mozart’s short Symphony No. 34 in C major, K. 338, which reviewer Hubley felt was limited by “good old City Hall’s acoustics”. After intermission, the Symphony presented Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7 in D minor, Opus 70. B. 141.

Valentine’s Day came early this year for PSO subscribers, as the closest Saturday to the traditional-annual date with Cupid fell on Saturday, February 11 (HS:  It fell on the 12th in Lewiston, where the same program was performed on Sunday at one of this year’s Bates College Festival Series Concerts.). Some of the world’s love songs were celebrated at a Pops concert. Especially enjoyed by concertgoers were Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture,TH 42, ČW 39; George Gershwin’s Love Is Sweeping the Country; John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Yesterday; and Selections from “My Fair Lady” by Frederick Loewe. Both Gershwin’s Love is Sweeping the Country and his Overture to “Girl Crazy” were hits, as was Sir Edward Elgar’s Salut d’Amour. Romeo and Juliet were saluted a second time, as Sergei Prokofiev’s Balcony Scene from “Romeo and Juliet” was also on the program; as were Aram Khachaturian’s Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia, from the movie; Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Intermezzo from “I Pagliacci”; and Puccini’s Act III Intermezzo from “Manon Lescaut”. The latter composer’s O Mio Babbino Caro from the opera “Gianni Schicchi”; John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s Yesterday; and Richard Rodgers’ Lover (HS: From the 1932 film “Love Me Tonight”.) each likely found more and more couples holding hands while enjoying the PSO’s renditions. According to a post-concert EE report, some extra fun and entertainment, of several types, came when during Max Steiner’s Selections from “Casablanca”, the “orchestra faded away, leaving only Martin Perry playing As Time Goes By. Then the cello section hauled out a little table, tablecloth, and wine bottle (filled with apple cider, Shimada said). Principal cellist James Kennedy, acting as waiter, served his fellow cellists as they listened to Perry finish the famous love song.”

Several attempts to reach Martin Perry to learn his reaction to all this have been unsuccessful, and I finally gave up trying to chat with him, which is unfortunate since I’m dying to know how much he was in on the stunt. Several PSO members from that era maintain that it was semi-impromptu, and that neither Mr. Perry nor Mr. Shimada knew that it would occur. After the foregoing was written, PSO principal cellist Jim Kennedy owned up to me that it was his idea, and that indeed, neither of the mssrs. Perry nor Shimada was aware that the caper would occur; Cool Stunt, I’d say!  (HS: A fun happening about another moment in this concert is told in the Anecdote section of this THINGS-PSO.) Concluding this pops concert was Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Lerner and Loewe’s Selections from “My Fair Lady”.

Another pair of Pops Concerts, on Saturday and Sunday, March 4 & 5, had the catchy title of “Music With a Latin Beat”. The program semi-bordered on being a classical concert, as performed were George Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Maurice Ravel’s Boléro, and Ernesto Lecuona’s Malagueña, Emmanual Chabrier’s España, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Capriccio Espagnol, and Malambo from “Estancia” from Alberto Ginastera’s short ballet based on Argentine country life. PSO principal trumpet John Schnell was featured as the Orchestra played the old public domain bullfight song, La Virgin de la Macarena (“The Great Manolete”). The Iberian-theme evening was rounded out with two Mexican numbers – the traditional folk song Chiapanecas and the ranchera song Cielito Lindo, then Basque composer Sebastián Yradier’s La Paloma and Matos Rodrieguez’s La Cumparisita., all four of which were arranged by the longtime Hollywood Bowl Symphony conductor, Carmon Dragon.

Noted guest pianist Frederick Moyer, a graduate of both Curtis and Indiana, appeared with a PSO chamber ensemble for two Candlelight Series Concerts on Sunday, March 12, at both 3pm & 7pm. The soloist had won the 1986 Gina Bachauer award, and this afternoon and early-evening performed Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major (K. 467). Mr. Moyer’s performance was sandwiched between two distinct musical interpretations of Molière’s “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme”, a play (HS: as the EE put it...) about an average guy who makes his fortune and tries to enter the world of nobility. The opening work was Jean-Baptiste Lully’s, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, LWV 43. Lully was a 17th-century conductor who acceded to Molière’s request to compose music to accompany the play. The final work of the concert was Richard Strauss’s nine-movement version, composed 250 years later, also titled the same as was the play, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Op. 60. The Strauss effort was reported to have been much more animated, and somewhat unusual for the composer who was best-known for writing music for huge orchestras. . .

On Tuesday, March 21 the 130-voice Choral Art Society Masterworks Chorus and the Boy Singers of Maine combined with the PSO to perform Benjamin Britten’s six-movement, ninety-minute-long War Requiem at City Hall Auditorium. The chorus was a larger group than those that Director Robert Russell normally brought before the public, and, as a Sunday Journal report said, “possessed the added vocal power required by this great work. Three vocalists also played a significant role in the production of the passionate war poetry of British writer Wilfred Owen throughout the traditional Latin liturgy of the Requiem Mass. The result is a dramatic musical masterpiece that forcefully expresses the pity and futility of war.” A P-H post-concert review of the 90-minute work that involved some 270 singers and musicians headlined that the “PSO’s spirited performance of Britten shakes City Hall”. The evening was heralded as “the major event of the current musical season”.

PSO principal clarinetist Thomas Parchman was featured in the final Candlelight Series Concert of the 1988-1989 season, on Sunday April 2 at the Eastland Ballroom in the Hotel Sonesta. Then in his fourth year as principal with the PSO, he performed Franz Krommer’s Concerto in E minor for Clarinet and Orchestra, Op. 86:1, written around 1800 but not discovered until around 1985 in a small town near Prague. Reviewer Jacquline Neuwirth rated Mr. Parchman’s performance as “superb”. In addition, on this program were William Bolcom’s 1979 work Comedia, something that Maestro Shimada called “musical Burlesque”, and also Mozart’s A Musical Joke, K. 522. During the latter, PSO concertmaster Sandra Kott played a beautiful cadenza (reported the EE). The show concluded with Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 45 in F-sharp minor, known simply as “Farewell”. And yes..... Mr. Shimada walked out before a small number of still-remaining musicians finished the piece.

Longtime principal horn player John Boden recounted (HS:  some twenty-five years later) that a bonus “musical joke” was part of this gig. He and another player sat at a table in the audience during one of the works that didn’t include parts for their instruments. When that number concluded, the applause ended and things again quieted-----, it was time for them to take positions with the rest of the orchestra. So..... they loudly “popped the tops” of several cans of soda  --trying to fool concertgoers (and Mr. Hangen! – who hadn’t known they would act this way) that plenty of beer was being enjoyed by the duo--  and casually walked to awaiting horns resting on open chairs among the other musicians........... as though they were “just a-bit tipsy folks from the audience who were going to ‘give it a go’ and play along with the PSO chamber players”. Mr. Hangen is said to have had a lot of fun with their act, and went along with the spoof. Whether their “bit” actually fooled anyone isn’t likely, but certainly everyone must have enjoyed the attempt at extra humor contrived by the two players........ and which cleverly fit in with the intended joke-theme of the Mozart composition.

The final Pops concerts of the 1988-1989 PSO Season at PCHA featured a guest conductor, Peter Nero. On both Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9, the regular conductor of the Philly Pops made a stop-off in Portland (HS: He frequently guest-conducted around the country). His Peter-Nero-Pops repertoire was broad and lots of fun for the audience. The show opened with George Gershwin’s Strike Up the Band, and the PSO responded as enthusiastically as any jazz band could. Selections from “Oliver” followed, before Mr. Nero moved to the piano and played Memory from “Cats”, accompanied by the strings. The arrangement started off classically and then shifted to a gentle swing, aided by a trap set and electric bass. Fortunately for everyone the arranger-Nero’s version of Mountain Greenery had been sent ahead, the tune for which he had won a Grammy Award almost twenty years earlier. Next was music from one of his gold records, The Summer of ’42. Telling concertgoers that no Pops concert would be complete without a tribute to Beethoven, at the next drop of his baton the Symphony started playing Moonlight Sonata..... but only for about 16 bars, for then it transformed into Cole Porter’s Night and Day, played as hot jazz. A serious turn came with the start of the third movement of Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, played at first in its traditional style, before another transformation occurred..... and a more-current melody emerged, I Can’t Get Started Without You. His talent to take classical themes and styles, changing them to easy-and-unique jazz next led the audience to feel as though they were in NYC at 4 am in the morning, enjoying Lullaby of Broadway from the Musical “42nd Street”. Everyone went home happy and relaxed, following closing numbers of Jerome Kern’s Long Ago and Far Away and what a next-day EE article called “the best for last”, Selections from “West Side Story” by Leonard Bernstein. The Sunday Sun Journal summed it up with the headline “PSO... ...perform(s) ‘Nero-style’.”

A unique presentation of creations by both young artists and young composers treated students at Youth Concerts in April, two each day on the mornings of Monday and Tuesday, the 24th and 25th. The PSO opened the concerts with symphonic excerpts. Those were the third movement of Georges Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 in C, composed when he was 17 years old; the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 1 in E Flat Major, K. 16 (he was 8 when he composed it); and the Fairies and Giants movement of The Wand of Youth, by Edward Elgar (portions were composed when he was in his childhood) were all performed. Fourteen-year-old Dalit Warshaw was in attendance at the concerts. When 11, she had composed a symphonic poem, Ruth (based on the biblical desert wanderer crying for her lost son), which the Symphony musicians played. An intent of Maestro Shimada, of course, was to allow the student audience to identify with the possibilities of youth, and he had the attractive teen-ager explain her feelings in composing the piece. The 32-member Portland Young People’s Consort, created by PSO violinist Deidre Oehrtmann Clark to prepare young musicians for the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, joined the PSO for part of the concert. Ms. Clark conducted the consort in an arrangement of Rossini’s William Tell Overture. They also played with the Symphony musicians in a presentation of the first movement of Joseph Haydn’s Eighty-Eighth Symphony.

In the evenings of both April 24 and 25, Conductor Shimada held the baton during the PSO’s final Classical Concert of the 1988-1989 season. The program began with Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan, Tone Poem After Nicolaus Lenau, Op. 20 (HS:  I don’t recall ever before seeing the full title laid out like that.). The horns, clarinet and oboe were commended by reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth writing in the York County Coast Star. Next, Russian-born Israeli pianist Yefim Bronfman performed Camille Saint-Saëns’ Concerto No. 2 in G minor for Piano and Orchestra. Unfortunately, the first movement needed to be halted due to feedback from the house sound system, but the soloist was not phased, and “attacked the piano with the same relentless energy throughout”. At the conclusion of the work the audience insisted upon and received a superb encore. The second half of the evening’s music consisted of Manuel de Falla’s eight-section Three Cornered Hat (orchestral suite version), with the orchestra joined by alto June Zwicki. With a timpani and trumpet fanfare, the vocalist introduced the work, a piece written for a Diaghilev ballet in 1919.

In May, Toshi Shimada agreed to a renewal contract for an additional three seasons with the PSO. His contract was signed at the same time that the Orchestra musicians also agreed to a new, three-year contract which the EE stated increased their rate of pay per performance or rehearsal by $11, to $61, a 22 percent jump.

John I. Riddle was elected to what would be two terms as PSO President.

An article in the Maine Sunday Telegram at about this time included information that the PSO’s budget was $1,600,000. Of that total, $650,000 was musicians’ pay, and another $350,000 went to what were referred to as “production costs”. Items in the latter category included fees to soloists and the conductor’s salary. Rental expenses for PCHA use for the year were then about $11,000. Concertgoer attendance at some 65 performances (HS: Some 65 in total, not just classical or pops concerts, but also including KinderKonzerts and all other types.). was projected to be more than 107,000.

In July the PSO embarked for another season of summer-concert activities. The York County Coast Star and other newspapers enthusiastically reported about a Saturday, July 1 outdoor “Independence Pops” concert performed at Fort Williams Park. The patriotic segment of the outdoors show included the Bates-Ward America the Beautiful; Irving Berlin’s God Bless America; and Ron Geese’s arrangement, Salute to George M. Cohan. All that was capped by a fierce rendition of Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever and....... a fireworks display. Other works performed that evening that had a “Western” theme were the Overture to “Annie Get Your Gun” by Richard Rodgers; Ferde Grofe’s On The Trail from Grand Canyon Suite; John Williams’ “The Cowboys” Overture; Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday; Aaron Copland’s Red Pony Suite and Ervin T. Rouse’s strumming railroad song, Orange Blossom Special..

The July 1 Fort Williams Pops concert was the first of three at the Cape Elizabeth venue, and the first of only six in total that the PSO performed this summer. With no appearances this year at Pleasant Mountain, Camden, Sugarloaf Mountain or St. Joseph’s College, cost avoidance was the likely reason for the summer-concert total dwindling down from ten Pops and Starlight-series performances two summers earlier, during the summer of 1987 (HS: The final “Symphony By The Sea” Concert was played in 1986.).

Two additional “Picnics and Pops” concerts at nearby Fort Williams Park were performed by Mr. Shimada and the PSO, as well as outdoor “P & P-type” appearances in Auburn, Old Orchard Beach and Damariscotta. Details about works played at each of those concerts is detailed in the next several paragraphs.

A Friday-night July 14 Pops Concert at Fort Williams featured the theme “Under Paris Skies”, and offered a slate of French-inspired works on the Bicentennial of Bastille Day. Included were Selections from “Gigi” by Frederick Loewe; George Gershwin’s An American in Paris; Hector Berlioz’ “King Lear” Overture and also his Hungarian March (HS: I’m puzzled as to how that got to be “French”..... but since Berlioz composed it, then it must have been OK.); Jacques Offenbach’s Can-Can; the French National Anthem La Marseillaise; and from two Broadway hits—Selections from “Les Miserables” and Selections from “Phantom of the Opera”. Vibrant lyric soprano Andrea Matthews joined the Orchestra for five numbers that included Erik Satie’s Je Te Veux; Georges Bizet’s Michaela’s Aria from “Carmen”; Charles Gounod’s Jewel Song from “Faust”; and also Francis Poulenc’s racy (but it was in French.... so it got past any censors) Les Chermins de’Amour. Of course, as would be true at three “Under Paris Skies” concerts this weekend, a festive fireworks display, French-style, closed the celebrations.

The next night, Saturday the 15th, a concert by the shores of Lake Auburn gave L-A concertgoers their own “taste of France”, essentially a repeat of the Bastille-theme show at Cape Elizabeth. No reports compared the Auburn post-concert fireworks to those an evening earlier at Fort Williams...... but likely folks in both venues thought they were treated to the better show. A new sponsor in Auburn was involved this summer, The Lakeside Center for the Performing Arts, which hired help to design and build a temporary stage and canopy. The organization planned to present two other (non-PSO) concerts later in the summer, one with country music star Emmylou Harris and the other with popular pianist Ray Charles.

Maestro Shimada’s third celebration of the French Revolution was on Sunday evening the-16th in Old Orchard Beach, as the PSO returned to what had been “The Ballpark” where it had performed in both 1985 and 1986. The venue was now called SeaPAC Ballpark. The OOB city fathers knew how to give an extra-snappy salute to the many French-Canadian tourists who annually visit their seaside resorts, that day hoisting the French flag in commemoration of Bastille Day.

The final “Picnics and Pops” concert at Fort Williams Park was on Friday, July 28. The happy crowd this evening  enjoyed music fitting an “Anchors Aweigh” theme, with baritone George Fortune on hand to belt out several favorites. Also, Richard Rodgers Victory at Sea was featured; as were: Erich Korngold’s “The Sea Hawk” Suite (HS: Does anyone remember the 1940 movie starring Errol Flynn?), Sir Arthur Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” Overture, Thomas á Becket’s 1843 Columbia the Gem of the Ocean; Leoncavallo’s Prologue from “Pagliacci”; Rosa’s Over the Waves; Leonard Bernstein’s music for the only movie he was involved with, his On the Waterfront Symphonic Suite; Sousa’s Hands Across the Sea; Jerome Kern’s Ol’ Man River from “Showboat”; Rodgers If I Loved You from “Carousel”; and Tchaikovsky’s “1812” Overture (HS: Hm-m-m; somehow all these years I’ve missed the obvious [??] nautical aspect of that work.)

The next evening, Sunday-the-29th, the PSO and conductor Toshi Shimada traveled to a hillside along the Damariscotta River..... but not to lean back and relax after a busy month of summer concerts. One final outdoor concert audience was there too, anxious for that picturesque small town’s first-ever performance by the Portland Symphony Orchestra. A reprise of the “Anchors Aweigh” concert was presented, undoubtedly a big hit with the locals (HS: Although no post-concert review has been spotted among the PSO Archives.).

In August the Boy Singers of Maine traveled to Europe, performing concerts or rehearsing in Amsterdam, Dubrovnic in Yugoslavia, Leningrad and Venice.

An “even dozen” new musicians joined the orchestra for the beginning of the 1989-90 season. (Portsmouth Herald)

“There were nine new faces on stage when the Portland Symphony Orchestra opened its Classical Series... ...successors to musicians who had moved on to other things in other places after the 1988-1989 season.” (Evening Express)

Regarding any accuracies or inaccuracies in the previous two paragraphs........ YOU figure it out (HS: Even the droll Will Rogers would be scratching his chin about “what’s in the [Portland-area] papers”.).

Longtime concertmaster Sandra Kott resigned from the Portland Symphony Orchestra in late August, announcing her departure just shortly prior to the 1989-1990 season after an 18-year PSO career, eight as the top-dog musician. (HS: Although specifics were but remotely identified in an Evening Express article, that report referred to a Kott-Shimada rift that was a matter of personal, musical interpretation. [A P-H article quoted her as saying, “It just didn’t work anymore”.] Ms. Kott also had some logistical issues to deal with, as she was residing in Watertown in Massachusetts, and also regularly performed with several Boston area ensembles.) At the September Opening Night Concert Richard Vanstone, with whom Ms. Kott had shared the first stand when concertmaster, stepped into the top performing post of the PSO musicians. He would retain the concertmaster assignment for a year until the fall of 1990, a target-date that Mr. Shimada set when first learning of Ms. Kott’s resignation.

It was announced prior to Opening Night in late September that the Portland Public Library “assembled a comprehensive repertoire of recordings... of works to be performed during the PSO’s Classical and Candlelight series concerts”, reported the Evening Express. “Anyone may listen to the recordings at the library and those with library cards may borrow them for at-home listening.” This was the sixth consecutive year that the library assembled discographies of PSO programming.

The PSO’s Portland Opening Night Concert of the 1989-1990 Season, its 65th, was previewed by Orono concertgoers on Thursday, September 21. The PCHA-opener was on Saturday the 23rd. Rising star prize-winning violinist Kyoko Takezawa joined with the Symphony to perform Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 26. A Julliard graduate, she had won the 1986 Indianapolis Violin Competition and her gold medal was worth more than $50,000 in prizes plus numerous engagements around the world. A review after the Orono concert labeled her performance “excellent” and said that “Technically, Takezawa is a knockout”. This concert also featured the world premiere of the two-minute-long Fanfare for a New Season by longtime USM Professor of Music Jerry Bowder, a work commissioned by PSO Music Director Shimada. Other works performed this evening included the preludes of two Richard Wagner operas, “Die Meistersinger” and “Tristan and Isolde”, also his aria  Liebestod, from the latter. Richard Strauss’ always-enjoyable Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks, After Old-Time Roguish Fashion in Rondeau Form, Opus 28, rounded out the program. (HS:  To learn about a fun happening at this concert, check out the “Not Me!!” tale in the Anecdote Section of this THINGS-PSO.)

The official PSO Classical Concert season-opener was launched with a two-evening appearance by pianist Bella Davidovich, at PCHA on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, October 10 & 11. Googling reveals that as a child prodigy in Russia, at age nine she performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, in C major. After graduating from the Moscow Conservatory she had a very successful career in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, in which she appeared with every major Russian conductor and performed as a soloist with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra for 28 consecutive seasons. One of the Soviet Union’s pre-eminent artists as well as one of the few women to be admitted to the inner circle of Russian cultural life, in 1978 she emigrated to the United States at age 50, where she became a naturalized citizen. The year prior to appearing with the PSO she made history as the first Soviet emerge to receive an official invitation to visit and guest-perform in her native country. She has taught at the Juilliard School since 1982. None of the clippings reviewed about her performance in Portland indicated whether PCHA was sold out, however it should have been, considering that audiences in the world’s major concert halls had long flocked to fill every seat whenever she performed.

Ms. Davidovich chose a difficult work for these two concerts, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s grueling Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, which includes variations on each of Paganini’s 24 Caprices for Solo Violin, Op. 1. Newspaper reviewer D.L. Hubley praised her strength and technique, a combination not always equally accomplished by artists attempting this work. The evening’s program began with The Star-Spangled Banner, followed by Walter Piston’s charming Tocatta, which the composer wrote for the Orchestre National de la Radiodiffusion Française, which premiered it in France under the baton of Charles Munch in 1948. The other work performed at this concert by the PSO was Czech Leoš Janáček’s expressive five-movement Sinfonietta (subtitled “Sokol Festival” [“Military Sinfonietta”]), described in music resources as “a powerful composition”—(HS: It is scored for 25 brass players!). Considering all the aspects of this 1989-1990 Classical Season opening-night, the program presented was indeed, a “powerful” evening for Portland concertgoers to experience.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday Pops Concerts featured the McClain Family Band, on October 20 in Lewiston at Bates College, and then in Portland at PCHA on both October 21 and 22. The noted interpreters of Appalachian Bluegrass music were featured with the PSO in Phillip Rhodes’ Concerto for Bluegrass Band and Orchestra, also the five-song medley titled The Fast Lane, by Raymond McClain and Newton Wayland. Other compositions by the vocally and instrumentally talented quintet included Mr. McClain’s You Sing for Me; Back up and Push; On the Road; Fine Times/Big Hill; and Kentucky Wind. From Eastern Kentucky, the band had performed in all 50 states as well as in 62 foreign countries as ambassadors of the U.S. State Department, with over 180 orchestra appearances. On its own, the Symphony opened the concerts with Bedřich Smetana’s Three Dances from “The Bartered Bride”. This concert in Portland marked the final concert for the McClain Family Band after a 21-year career together, and Ruth McClain’s I’m Bound for Gloryland concluded the concert (HS: Why the group chose Portland to conclude their concert careers was not explained in any of numerous articles found in the PSO Archives. There must be a story there....... but...).

A performance of Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra was presented at two pair of Youth Concerts, on Monday and Tuesday, October 23 and 24. WGME-TV newsman Dave Silverbrand narrated. Paul Dukas’ Fanfare from “La Péri” spotlighted the brass instruments, the first movement of Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite, Op. 40, allowed the string sections to shine, while the first movement of Charles Gounod’s Little Symphony in B-flat for Nine Wind Instruments spotlighted the woodwinds. The programs concluded with solo performances by cellist Benjamin Noyes and pianist Jurgen Holleck, both winners of the PSO’s 1989 Young Artists Competition. Young Mr. Noyes was the son of PSO violinist and cello parents Clorinda and Richard Noyes.

On Sunday- November 5, the first pair of the 1989-1990 season’s Candlelight concerts were presented at the Eastland Ballroom of the Sonesta Hotel. Julliard graduate pianist Norman Krieger, an expert on George Gershwin, performed with the Portland Symphony chamber Orchestra during a program titled “Gershwin and Friends”. Works by two contemporaries of Mr. Gershwin who also employed elements of jazz in their compositions were also played by the orchestra. Music from Darius Milhaud’s five-movement ballet La création du monde, Op. 81a, opened the concert, followed by Kurt Weill’s Suite from “Three-Penny Opera”. After the intermission came Maurice Ravel’s “Mother Goose” Suite for Orchestra. To conclude, Mr. Kreiger joined the orchestra for the original version of Rhapsody in Blue, as performed by the composer when it was premiered in 1924. Mr. Shimada advised that this version was arranged for dance band instrumentation, which included only violins and double basses, an expanded brass section, saxophones and guitar. In a post-concert P-H review, the pianist was praised for playing with a “light, articulate touch”, and during solos, “squeezing or stroking each phrase to its limit”.

Start times for this year’s Candlelight series concerts were moved earlier, with the performances beginning at 2 pm and 6 pm, versus the 3 pm and 7 pm start times in effect in prior years. No reference has been spotted in the PSO Archives whether the time-changes resulted in more business for the Sonesta kitchens from concertgoers, which most assuredly was a development the hotel management hoped would happen.

PSO Pops Concerts on Saturday and Sunday, November 18 & 19, treated Portland concertgoers to “The Music of Rodgers and Hammerstein”. Two vocalists familiar to Maine audiences, mezzo soprano Sharon Junken and tenor David Goulet were joined by soprano Lisa Asher, tenor Mark Nicolson, and the University of Southern Maine Chamber Singers, directed by Robert Russell. Selections from six Broadway shows and film scores by the incredible composer/lyricist team were performed. The big numbers were Soliloquy from “Carousel” and From “The King and I”- We Kiss in a Shadow and I Have Dreamed (HS: Altogether, another 20 [count’em.... twenty MORE!] R&H hits were sung..... but my fingers are too tired from typing to enter the entire list here.). Other major Broadway hits by the famed composer/lyricist duo were from “South Pacific” and “The Sound of Music”. The Orchestra opened each concert with Carousel Waltz, and also performed a medley of Kansas City; It Might as Well be Spring; Ten Minutes Ago; Shall We Dance; and It’s a Grand Night for Singing from “State Farm”. The website contains a scan of the complete original program held by concertgoers at these two concerts.

When a guest soloist has numerous times performed a work under the baton of a composer-conductor, the performing artist should be familiar with precisely how the composer wanted it played. That was the situation in Portland on Tuesday, November 28, when Glenn Dicterow, concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic, appeared at PCHA. He was on hand when a PSO chamber ensemble, harpist and percussionist presented Leonard Bernstein’s Serenade [After Plato’s Symposium]. Commenting beforehand that Mr. Bernstein had composed the work from a keyboardist’s orientation, a post-concert review reported that Mr. Dicterow succeeded in a difficult assignment, both technically (HS: It included “blistering 32nd notes!) and interpretively.

The program opened with a composition with which Toshi Shimada was familiar (HS: It was written for the Houston Symphony.), Tobias Picker’s sentimental and lyrical five-minute prelude, Old and Lost Rivers. Other orchestral works also performed by the Symphony this evening were Claude Debussy’s Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun, and Igor Stravinsky’s Suite from ‘The Firebird’.

The evening of Friday, December 8 marked the opening-night of the PSO’s 10th-Annual “Magic of Christmas” series of concerts. Since the concept’s origin, starting with a three-performance set of concerts in December of 1980 when then-PSO Manager Russ Burleigh and then-PSO conductor Bruce Hangen collaborated on the first event, the final night of what this season would be an eleven-performance set of concerts would mark the 74th “Magic” performance by the Portland Symphony Orchestra. When the final curtain came down, and all that was left were 50 poinsettias and seemingly-real drifting large snowflakes (HS: they were paper), respectively on the stage and in front of the gilded pipes of the giant organ, Deborah Hammond announced that more than 23,000 people attended this season’s concerts, generating close to $360,000 in ticket sales.

Incidentally, longtime principal horn player John Boden was the first to tell yours truly about a unique entrepreneurial event that, during the early years, took place after the final performance of many annual “Magic of Christmas” series:  Russ Burleigh would come to the first row area of the orchestra section and sell the poinsettias, one by one, to concertgoers heading for the exits. Unfortunately, such determined dedication to efforts that could squeeze “extra dollars” for the PSO were turned the other way, and costs associated with producing  extravagant shows hurt the P&L results of the Symphony.

The guest soloist under Maestro Shimada’s baton this year was tenor John Walker, and the 20-member Boy Singers of Maine and the 100-member Magic of Christmas Chorus, the two groups directed by Daniel Junken. For an hour before each concert, Elizabeth Sollenberger at the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ played a program of holiday music (HS: One work that commended special post-concert praise by reporters was her version of  Victor Herbert’s March of the Toys from “Babes in Toyland”.). Then the Symphony took over, opening with Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa’s Festive Flourish. The musicians also performed selections from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker”, Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture, Carmen Dragon’s Jingle Bell Fantasy, and two always-sure-winners by Leroy Anderson, Sleigh Ride and A Christmas Festival. Mr. Walker, who sang with the PSO for a 1984 summer pops “A Night in Old Vienna”, treated the holiday-season concertgoers with renditions of Pietro Yon’s Gesù Bambino, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, as well as being accompanied by the chorus for César Franck’s Panis Angelicus and Adophe Adam’s 1847 work “Cantique de Noël” (O Holy Night). He also presented a Christmas reading. The chorus contributed the Prologue from Vaughan Williams’ cantata Hodie (“This Day”); the Hallelujah Chorus from “Messiah” by Handel; and Robert Shaw’s Many Moods of Christmas No. 1. The Boy Singers took the spotlight to sing Alfred Burt’s Caroling and Some Children See Him (HS: Also by Burt) and White’s Gloria. The annual sing-along near the end of each concert ended with We Wish You A Merry Christmas. . And...... looking forward another twelve months------ everyone left the 1989 holiday series of performances happily thinking about 75th “Magic” PSO concert!

A group of PSO supporters, Ovation, this year conducted an auction of 78 charity items at the Woodlands Club in Falmouth. Top prize was a Chevrolet Lumina from Forest City Chevrolet. (HS: Sometime later the formal name “Ovations” was selected by PCA – The Portland Concert Association.)

And now, before turning to PSO musical happenings in 1990..... trying to locate items about if, how and whenever something could be done to improve City Hall Auditorium turned up the following:

Children of Paul E. Merrill agreed to liquidate stock in Merrill Industries earlier bequeathed to the City for $1 million, in return for the right to determine how the money would be used. The heirs then pledged the entire $1 million amount to catapult the renovation of City Hall Auditorium. (Maine Times; also Portland CARES files)

A Boston law firm representing the Merrill interests submitted a contract to purchase City’s interest in the estate of Paul E. Merrill, installments to be:

$50,000         with this agreement proposal

$50,000         7/1/90

$100,000      7/1/91

$150,000      7/1/92

$200,000      7/1/93

$200,000      7/1/94   (A record of this next-to-last payment to City Manager Ganley was observed)

$250,000      7/1/95

(The contract included provisions for allowed respective “up-to-six-month extensions, with interest, with   permission of City Manager”. A copy of a City Mgr. Office document that was read [in 2012] by HS in the PSO Archive files revealed  that one such request was granted, in June of 1991, that granted request being one to delay of payment of $80,000 until year-end; the need caused by a major recession in the paper industry, a very significant business  served by Merrill Industries.)

A multi-page newspaper article: “Why What They Play Isn’t What You Hear”, dealt with listening problems in City Hall Auditorium.

...Sub-titled “Acoustics Play Havoc”, the article referred to radiators hissing, steam pipes hammering

...”curved smooth ceiling harmful, causes strong, delayed reflection of sound”

...”poor sound insulation of windows and doors”

...”poor onstage conditions for musicians and, for the audience, tones that lack crisp definition    and sufficient loudness”

Years later, longtime PSO horn player Nina Miller recalled that the pairs of four large arched windows next to the balcony would sometimes have pane segments suddenly blow open without warning, with wind and accompanying noise an uncomfortable distraction.

A longtime PSO patron commented that even after the late-60’s renovations, “there were both hot spots’ and ‘cold spots’ (sound wise) in the hall”.

One acoustician involved in the eventual project to renovate City Hall Auditorium commented to HS that there was a “horrendous problem” re the overhead reflecting geometry of the above-stage ceiling. No subsequent conversations with PSO musicians who were in the orchestra prior to the ’97 re-opening have ever included disagreements with that scientific judgment.

A later newspaper article labeled the concrete stage as one “that serious dancers won’t set foot on”.

Patron-complaint comments about this era include references to “seasonal stifling heat and chilling cold. Musicians and performers themselves have long endured inadequate, even embarrassing, dressing and rehearsal space. Sadly, some performers have declined to be booked at the Auditorium because of the poor facilities.” (Landmarks Observer)

Subsequently, appearing was a newspaper political-column reference to the possibility of a May ’90 referendum regarding a proposed $3 million City Bond issue associated with renovation of the auditorium.

A newspaper article listed respective PSO season rental charges paid for recent-years’ use of City Hall  Auditorium (concerts and rehearsals). The PSO’s rental rates ‘came off’ in the article to be dirt-cheap:

total:                          1985-86                $8,000
                                    1986-87                $8,500
                                    1987-88                $9,000
                                    1988-89              $11,000
estimated                 1989-90              $11,500

At the request of the City Manager, the Advisory Committee commissions a marketing study by the Wolf Company to determine the impacts of a renovated hall on the use of the facility. The Wolf Company conducted  series of confidential interviews with 31 Portland civic, cultural and government leaders.

The Playhouse Theater on Preble Street near Congress, which had been closed as a business establishment since the 1960s, was demolished this year. Some in the Portland community exerted efforts to have the theater preserved, since its modest-sized seating capacity of 700 or so would make it a more intimate facility for performing groups than did the much-larger (seats available and also stage-area size) State Theatre or Portland City Hall Auditorium. The Portland Ballet Company was one such organization which hoped the Playhouse Theater might survive, since its stage area was a comfortable size for dance productions. However, overall community interest in preserving the facility was not significantly large enough to persuade the political establishment to save The Playhouse— and the reality was that the municipal budget was already too heavily strapped. Nor was the diverse group’s collective wealth enough to purchase and maintain the theater. Today (2014), the drive-through area for People’s Bank is where the Playhouse Theater once was.


1990       The first concert of the new decade, and this Classical Season’s third for the Portland Symphony Orchestra, included a major composition, Gustav Mahler’s Seventh Symphony. The PSO’s Tuesday evening performance, on January 9, began with Franz Schubert’s “Rosamunde” Overture., written for an 1820s melodrama “The Magic Harp”, by Helmina von Chézy. Counterposed against the companion Mahler piece, the Schubert work is said to have represented the beginning of German Romantic music. The massive 85-minute five-movement Symphony, on the other hand, is said to have signified the waning of German Romantic music, a “Farewell to Romanticism”. Only one newspaper review of this concert was located in the PSO Archives, and in that P-H reviewer Rojean Tulk (HS: The paper always noted at the end of this articles that he was “A musician and teacher of piano and voice”) wrote that it “bordered on understatement” to describe “the performance as marvelous, fantastic and stupendous”. He observed that “the audience was blown away – certainly in the figurative sense, and very nearly in the literal sense”, continuing that “for everyone there, both audience and musicians, this became an intense emotional experience”. Mr. Tulk concluded that “Mr. Shimada never worked harder”.

At noon a day earlier at Raphael’s Restaurant, the PSO’s recently-formed volunteer organization, Ovation, presented a luncheon where Maestro Shimada spoke about this concert and other upcoming works scheduled for the remainder of the season. Over the next several years Ovation would arrange many such information luncheons in the days preceding concerts.

A Candlelight Concert featured works by Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner and Antonín Dvořák on Sunday, January 21. The theme of this performance was “Made for the Occasion” compositions, music written for special people or events in the composers’ lives. Serenade in E-flat major, Op.7, by Richard Strauss, composed for a class assignment at Munich University came first. Next was Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a birthday gift to his wife. Also on the program was the Strauss Sextet, from “Capriccio”, a love token to a countess he wanted to woo; and Dvořák’s four-movement Serenade, Op. 44, a piece dedicated to a music critic. While there has been so far (2013) no post-concert clipping found advising if the gifts of music that Mr. Shimada scheduled for concertgoers “on this occasion” won extra audience affection..... I bet they did.

Masks and puppets visually competed with the PSO musicians for audience attention at a Family Concert at PCHA on Saturday, January 27. Area youth (and parents, as well—of course) were treated to a production of Carnival of the Animals, involving a family-oriented fun-filled collage of music, giant puppets, masks and costumes at an afternoon concert. The Symphony’s presentation of Camille Saint-Saëns’ work this afternoon shared the stage with “a turtle, a swan, a dinosaur, Leo the Lion and a 12-foot pink elephant named Bob”, according to the Press Herald. An out-of-town professional theater troupe, The Underground Railway Theater (HS: Originated at Oberlin, Ohio, some 14 years earlier) which complemented the PSO, had first created this act for a Detroit Symphony concert performance of the famous French composer’s work. The three-person puppeteer-troupe was assisted by students from the Portland School of Ballet and members of both a local Brownie troop and a Cub Scout den, all performing roles of various animals. Specifically aimed at families with youngsters, tickets to the concert for children and students were just $4, and for adults, $10. A gotta’do-it, family-of-four ticket cost only $20. For  one-hour preceding the concert, kids could learn about orchestra instruments at a “petting zoo” in the lobby, which the PSO aptly named “Carnival of Instruments”. Seven PSO musicians participated in that special event. At the concert, the Orchestra also performed Julius Fučík’s Entry of the Gladiators, Bedřich Smetana<’s Dance of the Comedians and Dmitri Kabalevsky’s Comedians’ Galop. Unfortunately, the PSO Archives does not retain any reviews or clippings about this concert, so there’s no first-hand record about how the show was performed and received. But... it wouldn’t be a surprise if a review were to show up, it might conclude with something like: “What a neat-and-great afternoon that was!”

Concertgoers attending the Tuesday-evening Classical Concert on January 30 heard the PSO “tell some stories”. On the program were all highly-descriptive works: Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony (Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68); music from a comic opera by Gioacchino Rossini, his brilliant “Il signor Bruschino” Overture; a somber contemporary concertato called Moby Dick by Peter Mennin; and an impressionistic trumpet concerto by Henri Tomasi. During the latter, the PSO’s principal trumpet, John Schnell, was the orchestra’s guest soloist. The reviewer-duo for the Sun-Journal wrote that he “shined” in Tomasi’s rarely-performed often-jazzy Concerto in C for Trumpet and Orchestra, alternating from a beautiful muted opening to a later “clear, mellow cadenza... ...almost as refined as a violin”. For one passage he played an obbligato above the strings, “displaying a mastery of the technically difficult”. Only the strings and two horns were employed for the Rossini overture, while the Mennin work allowed the brasses and timpani to star. Beethoven’s descriptive symphony found the PSO “fully enjoying” the great master’s glorious work, said the review...... and the audience fully enjoyed the entire evening.

The Saturday-Sunday weekend of February 10 & 11 found pianist-composer (HS: Make that “Composer EXTRAORDINAIRE”!!,  for two years earlier he had won a Pulitzer Prize for Music.) William Bolcom and his , mezzo-soprano wife, Joan Morris on stage at PCHA with the PSO, with a program of popular music from vaudeville and Broadway, a show sometimes referred to (HS: In newspaper articles, that is) as “With a Song in Their Hearts”. At this point in time, the couple had been concertizing together for 18 years. The duo’s unique stylings of nineteenth and twentieth-century music had produced 15 albums and countless tours of the U.S., Canada and Europe. Among works at the concert (HS:  The concert program indicated that many other numbers would be announced from the stage.), Mr. Bolcom played Scott Joplin’s Pineapple Rag and James Scott’s Calliope Rag, while the duo performed George Gershwin’s Stairway to Paradise, Peter Grimm’s Come Down My Evening Star and other songs by Gershwin and Irving Berlin. The audience was encouraged to sing along during the classics—Kerry Mills’ Meet Me in St. Louis and also Maurice Scott’s I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers. On its own, orchestrally the Symphony performed Giuseppe Verdi’s Overture to “La Forza del Destino” and also Leonard Bernstein’s Overture to “Candide”.

Two pair of Youth concerts were performed on both Monday and Tuesday, February 12 & 13. The theme was “Out of This World”, and included Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra which had been featured in the film “2001”. Also played by the PSO were two movements from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, “Mars” and “Jupiter”. When You Wish Upon a Star and Somewhere Over the Rainbow charmed the students, and Selections from “Star Wars” by John Williams thrilled them.

The next day was Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, February 14. Since there was a general strike in Portland at all of the flower and jewelry shops, and since all the restaurants closed in sympathy with the strikers, throughout the area all the wives and girlfriends donned aprons and happily prepared sumptuous meals for their lovers. NO! – That’s not true, as you probably already guessed. Of course..... corsage-wearing gals of all ages were really interested in gathering with their guys at PCHA for a Valentine’s Pops concert!!

Guest baritone vocalist Larry Adams joined Mr. Shimada at the front of the stage for a Cole Porter medley that included Where is the Life that Late I Led; Night and Day; and Begin the Beguine; then Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti’s operatic aria Bella siccome un’angelo from “Don Pasquale”. In addition to a bevy of love songs from movies, television and Broadway (HS: Including music from “King’s Row” and “Doctor Zhivago”, the Theme from “Moonlighting” and Selections from “Man of La Mancha”.), the musicians of the Symphony also performed on their own, Mikhail Glinka’s Overture “Russlan and Ludmilla”; Sir Edward Elgar’s Chanson de Matin and also his Chanson de Nuit, Op. 15, No. 1; and Tchaikovsky’s overture-fantasy Romeo and Juliet, TH 42, ČW 39. Music by another Italian composer, Vittorio Monti, the rhapsodic Csárdás  and then John Lennon’s and Paul McCartney’s collaboration, Yesterday, rounded out what was a very full program. During the evening, Toshi presented a bouquet of flowers to the couple in the audience who had been married the longest, and a box of candies to the couple most recently married. PSO Director of Marketing and Development Debby Hammond commented to the Press Herald, “Perhaps the ones married the shortest time can afford the extra calories... ...But one year both couples were in their 70s, so you never know.”

Yale organist and School of Music faculty member, Thomas Murray, was guest soloist with the PSO on Tuesday, February 27. At this performance he played Francis Poulenc’s 1930s-composition Concerto in G minor for Organ, Strings and Timpani, PF 93, of course from the console of the historic Kotzschmar Memorial Organ. The program also included Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummernight’s Dream: Four Pieces, and also Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 7 (“Sinfonia Antarctica”), which featured narrator Joel Martin, soprano Rebecca Schnell and the Women’s Chorus of the Choral Art Society, directed by Robert Russell. The scoring for that work included an organ, another good reason to have Mr. Murray on hand this winter evening at PCHA. Googling reveals that as a symphony, the work was inspired by earlier music the composer had provided for the film “Scott of the Antarctic” in 1947. (HS: Although Ralph Vaughan Williams likely never visited Antarctica personally, there is no question that “The Ice” at the bottom of the world is awe-inspiring. I write that from experience, having returned to the 7th continent twice more after being captivated during a first eco-expedition on a smallish 70-meter research ship constructed in Finland. Antarctica is without question the most fantastic place that Sue and I have ever visited.)

“Maine-ly Mozart” was the title attached to a March 4 Candlelight Concert at the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom. No.... research by Toshi did not turn up info that Mozart originally heralded from where “a visit is worth a lifetime”, however—that theme on this Sunday was felt adequate to justify the PSCO performing Mozart’s Serenade No. 11 in E-flat Major, K. 375, and also his Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543  (HS: Those certainly seem to qualify.). But also played was Georg Friederich Handel’s Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, No. 9 (HS: I’m scratching my head on how that does, however.). In any event, Press Herald critic Rojean Tulk thought that the concert was “just right”, aided “as usual (by) the semi-casual atmosphere, with cabaret seating and light refreshments, complement(ing) the program”.

Julliard graduate and Fulbright scholar pianist Jeffrey Siegel appeared with the PSO at a Tuesday Classical Concert on March 13. He performed Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major, M 46, and also César Franck’s suspenseful, frequently played, and highly regarded Symphonic Variations. One post-concert newspaper article stated that Mr. Siegel “commanded the (PSO) ensemble with panache and aplomb” and commended his interpretations. Orchestral works performed by the Symphony this evening at PCHA were Jean Sibelius’ Karelia Suite, Opus 11 and Paul Hindmith’s Symphonic Metamorphses of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber.

Before the season, the PSO listed Ivan Moravec as guest pianist for this evening. He had been the pianist for the film “Amadeus”, and was originally scheduled to play the program performed by Mr. Siegel. The explanation for the change-in-artist plans was that Mr. Moravec sustained a hand injury necessitating cancelation of his spring tour in the U.S.

A newspaper criticism of the evening’s listening experience during the March 13 concert was expressed as hearing “what sounded like distant wind”. Since the piece being played when it was noticed “was somewhat romantic, (the reporter) thought it was an interesting percussion technique. However, when it was heard again, many times, during the second piano piece, (it was) realized that it was the auditorium’s steam heaters hissing across the first balcony. Ugh.” Over the next several years, there would more chapters written about this effect..... also  many other chapters about many other problem issues associated with “the less-than-satisfactory experience” of attending concerts in PCHA. In aggregate they would have a definite impact on decisions to “do something about” making the auditorium a better symphony hall.

The two Candlelight Concerts at the Eastland Ballroom on Sunday, April 1, featured the top American prize winner at the 1982 Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, violinist Stephanie Chase.... returning to Portland for a third appearance. She performed Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. While in Portland, Ms. Chase was engaged in a sponsored five-day String Residency, which included a panel discussion at the Holiday Inn By the Bay, her participating in a Youth Concert on Monday, April 2 with the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, as well as conducting a master class at USM and visiting some schools. The public was also invited to an open rehearsal at PCHA with Ms. Chase and the Portland Symphony Chamber Orchestra on Saturday afternoon. This concert also included an instrumental work by the PSO chamber ensemble, Georges Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 in C major. A letter in the PSO Archives references a generous contribution from the Joan Whitney and Charles Shipman Payson Charitable Foundation that helped finance the string residency of Ms. Chase.

Two dates in April should have been long-before circled on Portlanders’ calendars, for Chester Burton Atkins, who had appeared with the PSO back in 1975, returned to City Hall Auditorium and closed out the 1989-90 Pops season with consecutive Saturday & Sunday appearances with the orchestra, on the 7th and the 8th. After the concerts the likable guitarist “Chet” Atkins, a MULTI-award winner famed for co-inventing/developing “the Nashville sound” (HS: The Evening Express respectfully called him a “country picker”, but he’ll forever be best known as “Mr. Guitar” who humbly claimed to just “play jazz-country or something”.), was complimented for being LOTS more than just a “C.G.P.”—a Certified Guitar Player (HS: See a fun Anecdote about that “C.G.P. designation.). The EE’s Rojean Tulk observed that Mr. Atkins was also “a low-key comedian, earnest singer, songwriter, fiddle player and genuine nice guy” (HS: There’s also an Anecdote about that “nice guy” designation.). Reporter Tulk continued that he was “a genuine class act, Atkins played old country favorites, a variety of medleys, a bit of jazz, some reharmonized pops, a few original compositions, and some mild-mannered jokes”. For several numbers he played with the Symphony, sometimes with his quartet of sidemen, and then others just by himself,  “The mixture was just right”, wrote the obviously impressed critic. He opened with Mrs. Robinson, a theme from the movie “The Graduate”. After playing his own composition, Waltz for the Lonely, came the time-honored winner, Tennessee Waltz. A neat medley of Beatles hits was followed by some more Atkins standards – Freight Train and Yakety Sax, then some patriotic traditionals which included a sing-along God Bless America. He closed a personal segment with what he called “a tear-jerker of industrial strength”, I Still Can’t Say Goodbye, and then everyone was wow-ed when he played a fiddling medley where he dueled with the PSO string section.

One example of Mr. Atkins’ delightful sense of humor was a comment he made about then playing about 10-15 orchestra dates each year, that was passed along by the Sunday Sun’s Doug Hubley---- “I just play the melody, and it’s easy to play a pretty melody when you’ve got an acre of fiddles behind you.” (HS: I think that’s just wonderful!). This THINGS-PSO later contains an Anecdote that’s a real put-down tale about himself; don’t miss it.

Oh.... I almost forgot: on its own at the April 7 and 8 Pops Concerts, the PSO performed some orchestral classics: Gioacchino Rossini’s “Barber of Seville” Overture, Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Johann Strauss’ Tritsch Tratsch Polka, Op. 214, and his father’s Radetsky March, Op. 228.

The third and final pair of Youth Concerts for the 1989-1990 season were performed on Monday and Tuesday, April 9 & 10 (HS: It appears that only three pair of such concerts were on the PSO schedule this season. Information about any fourth pair has not been spotted among the PSO Archives.). The theme at this April pair (HS: Geared toward students in grade 4-6.) was “Once Upon a Time”, with guest artists from the Portland Ballet Company portraying characters from Prokofiev’s comic ballet Cinderella. Mr. Shimada opened each concert with the “Snow White” Overture by Frank Churchill, from the classic Disney film; also Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beaty Waltz and concluding with Music from the Movie “An American Tale”, by James Horner.

The final Classical concert of the PSO’s 1989-1990 season was performed on the back-to-back evenings of  Tuesday and Wednesday, April 24 & 25. This was a Choral Concert, with guest mezzo soprano Cynthia Anderson and The Choral Art Society Masterworks Chorus performing with the PSO. The vocalists  participated in performances of Sergei Prokofief’s powerful seven-movement cantata Alexander Nevsky, Op. 78, composed from a 1938 score to accompany the film “Alexander Nevsky”, which tells the story of the famous 13th-century Russian knight (HS: The film also paralleled Hitler’s invasion of Russia.). As opposed to choral works which are accompanied by orchestras, in the Prokofiev composition the orchestra plays throughout, with a more incidental role performed by the chorus. The P-H reviewer praised the performance, commenting that somehow the roof had not been blown off City Hall. Earlier Ms. Anderson sang Johannes Brahms’ Rhapsody for Alto, Men’s Chorus and Orchestra in C Minor, Op. 53. The post-concert EE review noted that this work created a solemn, reflective aura. At the start of the evening, the Orchestra opened the concert with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture, No. 3, Op. 72a.

A special student discount was offered on tickets to the second (Wednesday) concert. A price of $4 per student or chaperone, a substantial savings off the regular $10 to $25 ticket prices was available to high school and college groups attending the performance.

A colorful pleasant-green insert contained within the concert program for these final 1989-1990 classical concerts at Merrill Auditorium encouraged Maine Mid-Coasters to make plans to “Enjoy the lovely sounds of the Portland Symphony Orchestra floating through the open meadows as the sun sets over the Damariscotta River”, at the Round Top Center for the Arts on the upcoming July 28. Music lovers were encouraged to “Bring a tasty PICNIC and your favorite BLANKET.”

During the preceding 1989-1990 season, more than 140,000 attended PSO performances of all types.

John I. Riddle is re-elected as PSO President.

With future developments insofar as renovating City Hall Auditorium still in the early stages of maturation, Greater Portland Magazine published a multi-page article in its April-May issue that covered a conversation between Paul E. Merrill and Toshi Shimada regarding City Hall Auditorium. Much of their discussion focused on personal comfort issues of audiences (HS: Translation--- uncomfortable seats.). Mr. Shimada told that on his first visit when he was auditioning to replace Bruce Hangen that he sat in the balcony for a concert conducted by the outgoing-maestro, thinking “WOW, what a small and hard seat this is!  And then the concert started and there was a somewhat obstructed view, even there, and obstructed sound and I thought—This is a difficult performance hall, but the orchestra is playing very well. And that was my first reaction—too bad this hall is this way, but—great orchestra”. Another important topic was, of course, ever-present acoustical difficulties for the conductor and instrumentalists to overcome—therefore restricting their collective ability to maximize the Symphony’s musicianship. Conductor Shimada mentioned that during rehearsals a big thick curtain would be hung to help minimize the adverse effect of horizontal echoes, but that nothing could be done to offset vertical echoes. Mr. Merrill shared Mr. Shimada’s perplection that oftimes cellists could not hear the violins. When the PSO’s complete 1990-1991 Season schedule was announced, listed were seven Classical Concerts, four Pops Concert offerings, four pairs of Candlelight Concerts, three pairs of Youth Concerts and one Family Concert. Departing from traditions of recent years, no designated “Opening Night” performance was scheduled, nor was a Valentine Pops Concert. In an effort to encourage more students attending PSO concerts, this season tickets for the PSO’s three series were reduced by 50 percent. Full-time students could now purchase full-season Classical Series tickets for as low as $24, full-season Pops Series tix for as low as $24 and full-season Candlelight Series tickets for $27.50.

The evenings of Tuesday and Wednesday, June 19 & 20, found Toshi Shimada atop a summertime-Pops podium. However..... had you just inadvertently wandered past this concert, something just wouldn’t have seemed right about it. That is because he was not inside PCHA; he was not at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth; he was not in Auburn, Damariscotta, Ogunquit or any of the other Maine-region venues where the PSO had performed summertime concerts over the years. Nor were the PSO regular musicians on stage with him. Instead, he was in Symphony Hall in Boston, directing  the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. (HS: A copy of that concert-program resides in the PSO Archives. Mr. Shimada that evening chose to mix music of Dvořák, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Korngold, Strouse-Hayman, Ramin, Mancini-Hayman and John Williams.) Upon his return to Portland he excitedly commented to a newspaper reporter, “The audience was wild!”. (HS:  According to a P-H clipping about this event, Maestro Shimada had once before conducted the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra. So far [2013], no info about the previous gig has been spotted among the PSO Archives.)

The first of six summertime outdoors PSO concerts was presented in Auburn on Sunday afternoon, July 1. The venue, once again, was alongside Lake Auburn on the campus of the Central Maine Technical College, sponsored by the Lakeside Center for the Performing Arts. This Pops Concert’s theme was “A Red, White and Blue Celebration”, and besides the Star-Spangled Banner, among the patriotic numbers performed were: The Battle Hymn of the Republic; America the Beautiful; Morton Gould’s American Salute , based on “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again”; and two marches by John Philip Sousa— Liberty Bell and then Semper Fidelis. So-called “pure pop” works included The Maine Stein Song; Marvin Hamlisch’s Selections from “A Chorus Line”; When You Wish Upon A Star; music from John Williams’ Superman Suite; Samuel Barber’s Essay for Orchestra, Op. 12; and various compositions by Chopin, Glière, Brahms, Dvořák and others. At the end of the concert, as the Symphony played The Stars and Stripes Forever they had some assistance....... pyrotechnicians doing what they do best at Independence Day festivals---- fireworks!. (HS: There were no post-concert clippings about this concert found in the PSO Archives, so we don’t know now if rain forced folks indoors to the high school gymnasium; let’s hope that backup site wasn’t needed.)

Normally, handout concert programs were not printed for outdoor summer concerts by the PSO (HS: Eventually this information was printed on the back of large tickets that concertgoers wore around their necks, held by strings.). An exception was this concert in Auburn, and a copy of that printed program was spotted by Debby Hammond when in late 2014 she searched through a heavy box containing her personal collection of old PSO programs. A scan of this 7/1/90 “Red, White and Blue Celebration” event at the Lakeside Center for the Performing Arts concert program is available for viewing in the Performances section of

The first of three “Picnics and Pops” PSO performances this summer at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth was the “Independence Pops” concert on...... of course...... July 3. (HS:  Why it wasn’t played on Wednesday-the-Fourth??? ---- I haven’t a clue.) The concert concluded with Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever, and a fireworks display over Casco Bay. The PSO was amazed to find more than 6,000 people descending on the event, resulting in huge traffic and parking challenges. Stuck along with many others along Shore Road himself, Maestro Shimada wouldn’t have gotten to the podium without the assistance of a police officer who rescued him from the bumper-to-bumper jam and drove Toshi (HS: In the front seat, I hope!) to the park. In the end, the start of the concert was delayed anyway, for like their conductor, many musicians were also stuck in traffic. Years later during a 2014 conversation with yours truly, the former PSO Music Director laughingly recalled that the policeman who came to his aid was driving a K9 car, “so I was sitting with a dog!”.

A glance at the PSO Archives files containing 1990 newspaper clippings confirms that, as would be expected, at this Independence-Day-EVE (HS: I’m still scratching my head over that one.) concert, the musicians’ folders held the same music as two nights earlier in Auburn.

On July 13, Schooner Fare joined the PSO during the summer’s second “Picnics and Pops” event at Fort Williams Park. The theme this Friday evening was “From Sea to Shining Sea”, a program featuring lots of ballads, jigs and reels. One pre-concert clipping mentioned that the popular local trio would sing The Ballad of Mad Jack; Powder Monkey; Leviathan; John Cook; and We the People. In addition, the group’s “Atlantic Suite”, consisting of Day of the Clipper; The Kingfisher; My Lady in Waiting; and Portland Town were also performed. The Symphony itself played O’ Danny Boy; Erik Korngold’s Captain Blood; and America the Beautiful. (HS: If I learn about more stuff being performed at this [or any other concerts, for that matter], I’ll try to later include that info.)

Two weeks later in July, on Friday the 27th, the final event at Fort Williams Park had a “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” theme, with music performed including excerpts from the ballets: “Sleeping Beauty”; “Swan Lake”; and “The Nutcracker”. Also played were the Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, fantasy for orchestra and the Polonaise from “Eugene Onegin”, Op. 24, written for the opera. The Russian composer’s “1812” Overture, accompanied by fireworks, capped the show that night.

The “Tchaikovsky Spectacular” program was repeated the next night in Damariscotta, on the hillsides overlooking the river. More than 3000 were in attendance, despite what one article labeled as an “admission price beyond... ...reach” for some families with children.

In mid August, two significant Portland music vacancies were filled. Following a coordinated search effort headed by USM Associate Music Professor Robert Russell that waded through about 50 applications, both a new PSO concertmaster position and also an assistant professor of music position at USM were offered..... to the same individual, Lawrence Golan. Then a year out of the University of Indiana with a Violin Performing Masters degree, with a minor in Orchestra Conducting, Mr. Golan agreed to move to the tropic climate of Portland from a just-concluded one-year term as principal 2nd  violinist of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, thereby escaping the mid-Pacific ocean state’s frigid climate. The son of a longtime principal second violinist of the Chicago Symphony, he would remain PSO concertmaster for eleven years. He would go on to build the USM ensemble up from scratch into a 75-piece orchestra, also serving in that post for eleven years. (HS: In 2001 he would accept a position as Director of Orchestral Studies and Professor of Conducting, at the University of Denver’s Lamont School of Music, as Full Professor with Tenure. Who’s going to turn that down!?)

Years later during a conversation (in 2013), Mr. Golan said that upon seeing an advertisement for the opening, he was intrigued by the possibility of combining performing and teaching assignments. His audition with Toshi went well, and he beat out the Assistant Conductor of the Montreal Symphony for the PSO post. As other events unfolded, there was no conducting audition that the USM’s Robert Russell had him do, and shortly thereafter he learned why--- at his first rehearsal of the university orchestra...... there was only a single violist attending. He needed to build a string program from the ground up, and thus there was no way at the time that Dr. Russell could have auditioned him to conduct a non-existent USM orchestra.

The final summer concert for the PSO was in Ogunquit, on Saturday, September 8. The 81-strong orchestra contingent treated concertgoers at “The Beautiful Place by the Sea” to an evening of light classics and pops at the Ogunquit Playhouse. The performance was part of the arts community’s three-day “Capriccio ‘90” Festival. No clippings indicating specific works played were retained in the PSO Archives’ “Summer – 1990” file folder, however the program most certainly included music performed at other Pops concerts in July.

The covers of the 1990-1991 PSO concert programs carried one of the best photographs ever taken of the inside of Portland City Hall Auditorium. Taken from the back of the second balcony and looking down to an empty stage and the majestic pipes of the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, the almost-wide-angle full-color picture totally masked how tired the “old lady” had become. However, it also preserved a peak at the grandeur of the hall before old age began to wreak havoc, with soft colors highlighting the beauty of the eight chandeliers (HS:  There are now [2013] only six, as the rear pair was removed during Merrill Auditorium renovations.) and soft sunlight at the curtained, arched windows. The quality photograph also masks the disastrous acoustics of what had been designed as a grand meeting hall shortly after the turn of the century. If you haven’t seen this photo, take a look at one of the scans at pertaining to any of the 1990-1991 season concert covers.

Tuesday, October 9 marked twenty-three year-old Lawrence Golan’s performing introduction to Portland Symphony concertgoers. This evening the Portland Symphony Orchestra opened with The Star-Spangled Banner. Then, with “enthusiasm and finesse” before a packed house, the young Illinois native played Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3, in G major, K. 216, earning accolades from the audience and praises from the Press Herald reviewer that concluded with “If this, his Portland debut, is typical... ...he has a great career ahead.” (HS: Presumably Dr. Russell, who had announced the committee’s choice of Mr. Golan as unanimous, was deservedly beaming.) This evening also marked the start of the fifth season with Toshi Shimada on the podium. He chose Igor Stravinsky’s  Le Sacre du Printemps (“Rite of Spring”) to be included in the event, a tough work for Mr. Golan to shine just after the Mozart concerto. After the intermission, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92, rounded out the evening, rated a “good start” on the 1990-1191 season by an EE headline writer.

More than twenty years later, Mr. Golan retains memories of this concert as one of the top moments of his PSO career. “I will never forget the warmth with how the audience responded”, he recounted. After the second movement, a very slow Adagio, concertgoers broke into sustained applause. It wasn’t a situation where the audience didn’t know the proper etiquette.... they simply couldn’t hold back their pleasure at being treated to such wonderful playing, especially knowing that years more with Mr. Golan were to come.

This opening night concert was performed on a damp night, during which the auditorium reportedly became quite warm, necessitating that windows be kept open. Mr. Shimada commented on this situation, making a plea for the renovation campaign and urging passage of the bond issue in November.

A fun musical group that started on a street corner in Philadelphia one summer fifteen years earlier, the five-member Chestnut Street Brass Company, came to Portland for a multi-day “inside” gig in late October. To differentiate themselves from other popular brass ensembles, the CB bunch often played on historical instruments, including cornetti, 16th–century sackbuts and piccolo trumpets. On Saturday and Sunday, the 20th and 21st, they were guest artists for the 1990-1991 season’s first Pops Concert at PCHA, called “Swing’s the Thing”. They performed some Dixieland Jazz, and also Friendship by  Cole Porter; George Gershwin’s The Man I Love and S’Wonderful; some of their own arrangements; and the Portland premiere of Five of a Kind, a concerto for brass quintet and orchestra by Peter Schickele that was semi-straight (HS: Really, now.... what did you expect from P.D.Q Bach?). The PSO opened the two concerts with both The Star-Spangled Banner and  An American in Paris, and then with the CBC featured, played both an Ellington set (included was Caravan and Prelude to a Kiss) and Mr. Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm, which included 37 trombone glissandos (HS:  Who counts that kind of stuff?). The PSO concluded with Porgy and Bess Symphonic Suite.... and EVERYBODY had a good time.

At Monday and Tuesday respective pairs of Youth Concerts the next two days, October 22 & 23, Portland-area students were glad that the Chestnut Street Brass didn’t immediately head back to The City of Brotherly Love (HS: The group was an ensemble-in-residence at Temple University in those days.). The theme of the Youth Concerts was “Hot Air: The Story of Brass instruments”, with a program that guided the young audiences through the 400-year history of the brass family of musical instruments. The brass ensemble demonstrated early music, as well as from the 19th- and 20th-century repertoires. With the PSO, during the performances for students the quintet played some stuff on their own, and also an excerpt from George Gershwin’s An American in Paris. Other works listed on a concert program from these performances were:  The Star-Spangled Banner; a movement from Peter Schickele’s Five of a Kind (Concerto For Brass Quintet And Orchestra); and Mr. Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm,  excerpts from “Porgy and Bess”,  and Strike Up the Band!

Again this season, the Sonesta Hotel Eastland Ballroom was the venue for all the PSO’s Candlelight Series of chamber concerts, the first pair of which were on Sunday, November 4. The theme this day was “Music for Royal Occasions”, a program of Baroque melodies (HS: And my bet is that it was most pleasant for concertgoers to imagine themselves back in another era..... as members of royal crowds once gathered at Versailles, Windsor or by The Thames.). Maestro Shimada chose to open the concert with Joseph Mouret’s 1729 Première Suite de Symphonies  (HS: Think—Masterpiece Theater theme-music.), originally dedicated to French King Louis XV. The ensemble also performed Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s 1700 Prelude, from Te Deum, and Handel’s complete Water Music. For fun, Toshi offered the Charpentier work in two versions, straight-eighth’s and then dotted-eighth’s, with the latter called the “swing version” by the conductor. Afterward he took a poll, and Portland “swingers” outnumbered the minority by a 2-to-1 margin. As for the Water Music, a neat touch was the showing of slides of scenes along the route of the barge party on the Thames, also slides of paintings by Monet, Whistler and Turner. One reviewer wrote “this Water Music performance was like meeting an old friend decked out in a beautifully tailored new suit”. (Journal Tribune, also carried in the Evening Express)

So now....... since currently (2012) the Eastland Hotel is undergoing extensive renovations, if you’re like me and weren’t living in the Portland area during the years when Candlelight concerts were being performed there..... you might wonder--- “what was it like?” A 1990 Journal Tribune clipping found among the PSO Archives describes the scene as follows:  “plush – with a glass-walled entrance, understated by thick rugs underfoot”. “Half an hour before ‘Music for Royal Occasions’ begins, the hall is nearly full”. All “tickets for the 375-seat hall are sold out... (as) ...concertgoers circle the large room looking for seats in the rows of chairs on the first floor, at the ring of tables lining the ballroom, or in the balcony above”. Four-foot-diameter chandeliers hang from above. “The crowd, well dressed in Sunday afternoon skirts or sport coats, greet other, then settle in their seats. Their murmurs gradually diminish as the 30 or so musicians come onto the dais at the front of the room in small groups, followed, with applause, by conductor Toshiyuki Shimada.” The paper continued, “The afternoon of 18th-century music evokes memories of long-ago times of omnipotent kings and queens. The music is regal and bright, with quick trumpet notes and rapid string passages. The resounding kettle drums seem to signal the entrance of the king.” All tickets cost $17 (HS: Inflation-adjusted, a pair would cost more than $60 now [in 2012].). At about this same point in time, two Press Herald articles also made reference to the set-up for Candlelight concerts. Observations in those included, “Luxury. A Candlelight Series show at the Sonesta hotel’s Eastland Ballroom means opulent surroundings, a comfortable chair, precise acoustics. It means good wine. It means hors d’oeuvres. It means rubbing elbows –in some seats, almost literally—with the orchestra.” Also, “ rows of chairs at the center facing the orchestra are flanked by tables where listeners can sit and enjoy refreshments – a far cry (HS: Here comes something more appropriate for an editorial rather than a concert review) from City Hall Auditorium, whose woes are all too familiar and cry out for the remedies which would be assured by passage of the bond issue on Tuesday”.

The next pair of weekend Pops concerts this season were on November 10 and 11 at PCHA. The theme was “Great Themes from the Silver Screen”, and since the catalyst for every work played was a movie familiar to all, no guest artists needed to be on the bill to attract extra concertgoers. Among the classic movie music compositions performed were The Parade of the Charioteers from “Ben Hur” by Mikos Rozsa; Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, used in “2001: A Space Odyssey”; Kenneth Alford’s Colonel Bogey March, from “The Bridge on the River Kwai”; and selections from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Suite used throughout “The Turning Point”; Music from “The Philadelphia Story” by Franz Waxman and Max Steiner’s Music from “Gone With the Wind”. Some other pieces played that were also classical works used in films were Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, adapted for both “Platoon” and “The Elephant Man”, and Giacomo Puccini’s O Mio Bambino Caro, heard in “A Room With a View”. Fussbudget P-H reviewer Bonnie Moore expressed her own musical viewpoint when reporting that “the infernal” Boléro from “10” was also on the concert program, as were the Theme from “Exodus” and the Overture to “Lawrence of Arabia”. Interspersed at various times during the evening were the “Star Trek” Theme; the March from Raiders of the Lost Ark; and a double encore that surprised a not-quite-full house..... the “Batman” Theme and When You Wish Upon A Star from “Pinocchio”.

The Symphony concluded its November appearances with a Classical Concert at PCHA on Tuesday, November 27. After the concert the EE reported that guest soloist Jeannie Yu “gave a spirited performance of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto... ...(which she had) known cold for a third of her 24 years”. In a preview meeting with some in the audience, it is reported that she likened playing this work with “doing 100 pushups”, emphasizing the #3 C-major-concerto’s requirements. Earlier in the year Ms. Yu, a double-graduate from Julliard, had won what was by-now called the Portland Symphony Orchestra-Priscilla Morneault Piano Competition. Johannes Brahms’ exacting Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 73, was ably performed by the Symphony this evening, as was another then-new work titled International Business Machine, by David Lang. Googling reveals that, originally subtitled “an overture for Tanglewood,” it was written for the Boston Symphony Orchestra. The Boston Globe called the piece “a brisk, elegantly-fashioned work depicting today’s post-industrial computer age.” (HS: I made a quick Google-search for a YouTube performance, but did not spot one. For that I’m glad, as later I read that it had a constant eighth-note pulse, called for the use of two lengths of steel plumbing pipe, and also a pair of automobile brake drums, struck with a claw hammer. Hey!  This guy can clean out my garage whenever he wants to!  In fairness to Mr. Lang, I’ll note here that he did go on to win a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2008.)

Amidst evergreen wreaths, garlands and a stage garnished with pots of poinsettias, with red bows bedecking the orchestra’s music stands...... eleven “Magic of Christmas” concerts were again performed during the annual series’ eleventh year, bringing the total since the tradition’s 1980 inception to 85. For one hour before each “Magic” performance, Municipal Organist Ray Cornils performed holiday music on the Kotzschmar Memorial Organ, after which the Portland Brass Quintet played a series of special fanfares to announce the opening of each concert.

WGME-TV’s Jeff Barnd acted as the concert series’ narrator, joining guest singer-actress Karen Stickney for a reading of the holiday favorite with the PSO, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”. The TV anchorman was given the green light to do a lot of ad-libbing and greatly enjoyed fooling around during the PSO’s 11-concert holiday series, even debuting as a playing musician. His unannounced solo gig also occurred during the 11-concert run, when he played on a multi-colored Fisher-Price xylophone......: the Theme From Jeopardy. The Anecdote sections of this THINGS-PSO contains some other tales about his hamming-it-up “Magic of Christmas” antics.

Joining with the PSO for each performance were the twelve members of the Parish Ringers of First Parish Church in Brunswick directed by Ray Cornils. The group played a total of 61 bells covering a five-octave range. Major vocal strength was presented by the 100-voice Magic of Christmas Chorus, directed by Daniel Junken. Making their third “Magic of Christmas” appearance, the Parish Ringers were featured in The Little Drummer Boy, then Angel Tidings, and also the traditional Ukrainian seasonal favorite Carol of the Bells. The Chorus was spotlighted in Hector Berlioz’ The Shepherd’s Farewell from “L’Enfance du Christ”, then “a vigorous Deck the Halls(HS: so reported the P-H.), and finally The Twelve Days of Christmas. The Orchestra opened the concerts with a festive rendition of Joy to the World, and Three Selections from Handel’s “Messiah”---  which included “And the glory of the Lord”; “Rejoice greatly”; and “Halleluiah!”. Ms. Stickney and the Chorus also were part of an almost-all-hands-on-deck performance of the latter; and on her own the soprano sang the Bach/Gounod arrangement of Ave Maria, something about a Red-Nosed-Reindeer named Rudolph, and Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. Instrumental-only compositions played by the Symphony were Waltz of the Flowers from Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky; John Rutter’s Christmas Night; the Shaw/Bennett arrangement of The Many Moods of Christmas; the traditional German folk song O, Tannenbaum; Felix Bernard’s Winter Wonderland and also Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride. And.... you may ask—“Did the audience get a chance for a sing-along?” Well....... you guess the answer (hint: nobody left PCHA early).

The PSO’s three youth ensembles were joined by the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra for a joint concert in City Hall Auditorium this year.

Ray Cornils was appointed Portland Municipal Organist.

Portland High School Auditorium was renovated, seating 750; but since no change to the size of the stage had been in the plan---, although improved, the venue did not become suitable for PSO concerts.

Summarizing significant developments related to possible renovation of Portland City Hall Auditorium during various months of 1990, the first item of note occurred in February, when consultant The Wolf Organization submitted a MARKETING FEASIBILITY STUDY to the Portland City Council. The primary evaluations and recommendations were:

- “City Hall Auditorium is currently underutilized due to acoustical and technical difficulties, limited   audience appeal, and City policy of restricted investment in management and promotion.”

- “Auditorium is inefficiently utilized since the main performance space is also used as a rehearsal space.”

- “Public investment will be justified through the creation of a greatly improved facility and through new   programming and increased revenues.”

- “Proposed renovation of City Hall Auditorium represents a valuable investment for the City of Portland.”

- “Portland is considered as ‘underdeveloped’ by promoters of concerts, plays and other events.... And a   renovated Auditorium could draw more performances to the area.”

  .. Wolf’s report poignantly described the lobby-entrance area as having an “undistinguished appearance” which with less-than-satisfactory acoustics, sightlines and uncomfortable seating “combine to form a low expectation of the quality of the (attendee’s) experience.”

The report detailed how a limitation on rental use of the auditorium (beyond the problems related to acoustics, uncomfortable seating, poor sightlines and undistinguished-looking areas) was the “complexity of scheduling” since then-current users often tied up the hall for rehearsals. Although intentionally using conservative assumptions, Wolf nonetheless concluded that creating rehearsal space would free up an additional 14 to 18 performance dates (vs. a total of 121 auditorium events in 1989), sufficient to offset the increased costs of operation and management of the facility.

Conclusions rendered: “Provided that subsequent design development and construction accomplish the stated goals of the (recommended) renovation, there can be no doubt (HS emphasis added) that the renovated facility would become a far superior performing arts venue.” The report also evaluated demographic and population issues, and confidently summarized that “increased programming at City Hall Auditorium is supportable by local audiences.”

The Wolf report’s Principal Recommendations included:

1. “City of Portland should invest in the renovation of City Hall Auditorium”

2. “City of Portland should evaluate the feasibility of combining the management of the renovated auditorium and the Portland Expo under the aegis of a newly-formed commission utilizing existing Expo management staff.”

The Wolf consultant’s summary conclusion ended:  “Therefore, public investment will be justified not only by the creation of a greatly improved public facility, but also through new programming and increased revenues from the facility.”

The Evening Express printed an article referring to a consultant’s proposed $6 million renovation. Certainly, that unnamed consultant was the Wolf Organization.

Conducting a voter referendum on the auditorium renovation matter was urged by Greater Portland Landmarks, in an open letter to the City published in the local newspapers. That letter referenced both Portland CARES and the Building Committee.

A Press-Herald headline this year read: “Portland CARES group supporting $3mm bond issue re $6mm project”. Items reported include that CARES was focused on raising private contributions to complement city funds ---Civic leaders Pam & Peter Plumb co-chairs, aided by Board President Lee Urban. The article also noted that CARES had previously hired Ketchum, Inc., a Boston-based fundraising consultant.

Portland voters in November agreed to authorize the City to borrow $3 million for the renovation, which at the time was estimated to cost $6 million. As later events would play out, that total amount would go higher after historic preservationists blocked the project because it would have required demolishing the ornate balconies. Architects dreaded that preserving and modifying the balconies would raise the final cost to above $8 million. (HS: Hold tight; even $8 million eventually wouldn’t be enough.) A long and arduous saga was yet to unfold. (HS: eventually there would be a happy ending. Keep reading if you want to learn about the most important details over time. Otherwise, skip to 1997 for reports about the auditorium’s Grand Re-Opening.)

The appropriation of the $3 million for renovating the auditorium was conditioned upon the city receiving an additional $2 million of public support (i.e. funds or legally-enforceable pledges) on top of the $1 million previously committed from the Merrill estate. The pre-election information-campaign by PortlandCARES was highly effective, for the affirmative $3 million affirmative renovation vote contrasts with $7.1 million total of several other city bond proposals that were also on voter’s ballots. All the others were defeated, influenced by the Portland Taxpayers Association, which also opposed the auditorium renovation initiative. (HS: Well done, PortlandCARES!)

The initial target date for re-opening of restored auditorium was set as September, 1994.

From a music-performance standpoint, PSO Music Director Toshi Shimada told during a 2014 conversation that at “PCHA (it was) hard to listen to each other”, also that it was very “tight back stage” and the “walls were hard” – an adverse effect on diffusing up the sounds of the Orchestra. He also recalled that there was “not a good seating arrangement for the audience.”


1991       City Hall Auditorium pre-renovation machinations continued to evolve (see below), but the PSO’s classical series carried on as usual as the New Year unfolded.

Violinist Cho-Liang Lin was guest soloist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra at PCHA on Tuesday, January 8. He and Mr. Shimada had gotten to know each other when the latter was in Houston, and said that he was greatly looking forward to performing with the PSO conductor in Portland. Inspired by an encounter with Itzhak Perlman at a master class in Australia when “Jimmy” was only age 12, and by now at age 30 a highly-sought-out soloist by top world orchestras, this evening he played Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35. A local newspaper review extended high praise to his interpretation and performance, using the words “electrifying, soulful and technically astonishing”. The breakneck finale of what is regarded as a tremendously challenging piece brought the audience to their feet. Also this evening, the PSO Music Director and Conductor Shimada and the Symphony played Samuel Barber’s tone poem written for a ballet score for Martha Graham, Medea’s Meditation and Dance of Vengeance, Op. 23a. The program concluded with Jean Sibelius’ often chilly (HS: “Chilly” like the weather in the composer’s country, and the generalized characteristic often associated with its citizens---; although Sue and I know well several people who live in Finland...... and while certainly all practical people, they are lots of fun to be with.) Symphony No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 82. Googling revealed that this work  was commissioned by the Finnish government in honor of Sibelius’ 50th birthday, which had been declared a national holiday.

The PSO’s second Candlelight Concert of the 1990-1991 season was on Sunday, January 13. Critic Rojean Tulk, writing for the P-H, said that while the chamber concert “was at first sensual and serene... ...the second half was for the birds”. That opening suggests all kinds of possibilities, both negative and positive. His intended approach was a positive one, as you’ll read below. With the theme “Soiree at the Sonesta”, this performance presented “Music for Kings and Queens” that made the affair seem as though guests had received private invitations from royalty to attend, and the program replicated “something from the days of Haydn or Mozart, where you would be in someone’s beautiful salon”, the paper quoted the PSO’s Debby Hammond. Featured at the Eastland’s salon this day was Gabriel Fauré’s subdued Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 80, a suite expressly written for drama. Also performed was Johann Strauss’s Im Krapfenwaldl, Polka Francaise, Op. 336 (HS: Googling reveals the French-language title to be Dans la forêt de Krapfenwald – that’s expressed just too beautifully not to be mentioned here.). Before intermission, Jacques Ibert’s 1934 composition, Concertino da Camera, for alto saxophone and orchestra, featured acclaimed guest saxophonist Kenneth Radnofsky, who played with a “stylish, luxurious interpretation”, ending the work with a “fantastic cadenza”. After the intermission the ensemble and Mr. Radnofsky played Ottorino Respighi’s 1927 composition, The Birds (gli uccelli), featuring transcriptions of Baroque works that were extensively decorated with bird sounds, including respective movements inspired by a Dove, Hen, Nightingale and Cuckoo. The guest saxophonist had twice before solo-ed with the PSO, including the 1983 premiere performance of David Amram’s Saxophone Concerto. (HS: When the full-season Candlelight Series had been announced some months earlier, Laura Hunter was listed as soloist. No explanation as to why the change in guest-artist was made appears in the PSO Archive files for 1991.)

As this THINGS-PSO chronological history of the Portland Symphony Orchestra was being drafted, information was found indicating that excerpts from this program were performed each of the following two mornings at pairs of Youth Concerts for Portland-area students at PCHA. Later, however, a Teacher’s Guide that had been provided to faculty members in the area surfaced in the PSO Archives. That listed no works that were on the weekend program; instead preparing the students to hear:  Jean-Joseph Mouret’s Fanfare from Symphony No. 1; Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Prelude from Te Deum; and Water Music from the composing pen of George Frideric Handel. Mr. Shimada conducted at these concerts designed to encourage music appreciation.

Here’s a question.... about whether Robert Moody will be asking his “own question” when he first learns about the following?  On January 16 of this year, conductor Toshi Shimada and the entire Portland Symphony Orchestra traveled to Greenville for an all-day residency (HS: Greenville in South Carolina is where the current [2013] PSO music director was born and raised). If Maestro Moody is reading this now, is he thinking “hey, how did I miss that?”. Or might he be wondering, “why didn’t anyone tell me about that when I first interviewed for the PSO podium job?”. At a minimum, he’s scratching his head since “wouldn’t you think this would have come up over my years here, at least once, in conversations with PSO staff or musicians?”. Well..... this PSO Greenville residency is kind’a tricky; here’s the deal: the “Greenville” to where the PSO traveled this day to perform brass KinderKonzerts, a student chamber concert, a workshop for area teachers, and finally an evening concert---- was only a 150-mile trip from Portland. The residency event was sponsored by Scott Paper Company, aided by donations from Border Trust Company, Fleet Bank, Bangor Savings Bank and others..... at Greenville schools IN MAINE, near the southern tip of Moosehead Lake.

Sometime during the residency, a letter found in the PSO Archives from elementary student Katie Nolan reveals that she guest conducted a PSO ensemble in a portion of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite”. In what appears to be second-or-third-grade large print, a thank-you note to the conductor (HS: Bedecked with a teddy bear holding strings to three brightly-colored balloons, upon one of which Katie added scribbles that clearly show a smiling little girl.) she said the following:  “Dear Toshi,   I really liked conducting the Portland Symphony Orchestra. It looks easy but it’s harder that it looks. (HS:  Here comes the part to prove that she was smart>>>) “I think the Orchestra already know$ the ‘Waltz of the Flowers’ and they don’t need the kids for their cues.” (HS:  And yes, she really did use the $-sign, and not an “S”.)

At the evening concert in Greenville, the PSO had planned to reprise much of its “Music for Royal Occasions” Candlelight-series concert performed two months earlier in November. However, a glitch occurred when after the final rehearsal Mr. Shimada learned that his mother had passed away. PSO Executive Director Jane Hunter tells of driving the conductor down to Portland, then returning to Greenville the next morning. Thus, Assistant Conductor Rick Vanstone held the baton at the concert. (HS: One personal recollection told to me was that the evening concert in Greenville was not performed, as bellicose international events resulted in a 7 pm EST beginning to Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait. Another person’s recollection was that a tremendous snowstorm hit that evening. It is easy to visualize either of two other memories happening, and curtailing the concert. However, Ms. Hunter’s version contained more specifics..... so I’m believing her tale.)

Tuesday evening, January 29, the PSO’s guest soloist at a Classical Concert was guitar virtuoso Kazuhito Yamashita, who performed Joaquín Rodrigo’s Fantasía para un Gentillhombre. P-H reviewer was not particularly taken by the composition, although he did praise the talented award-winning young artist.  Two other fantasy works were also performed this evening by the Symphony. John Harbison’s Remembering Gatsby (Foxtrot for Orchestra), described by Press Herald reviewer Nick Hunez as “a congenial, snappy dance-band number” was a “delightful miniature concerto”, was a rhythmic tongue-in-cheek work full of all kinds of fun musical sounds. (HS:  I listened to a YouTube performance, and was glad once the dissonant beginning evolved into a roaring-twenties swing...... only to then see the swing return to dissonance—and then back’n’forth several more times again. Actually, it was mostly a neat listening experience.) Hector Berlioz’ revolutionary-in-the-1830s Symphonie Fantastique, Op. 14, continued its century-and-one-half ability to startle audiences. The five movement work got the “Standing ovation that guitarist Yamashita missed” (HS: So said Humez’s telling conclusion to his P-H review.).

Candlelight Concert #3 for the 1990-1991 season was on Sunday, February 10, involving the usual two performances. This was an All-Mozart program, featuring PSO oboist Neil Boyer, who performed the great composer’s Oboe Concerto in C Major, K. 314. The chamber orchestra opened the program with the Overture from “Don Giovanni”, K. 527, followed by the popular Eine kleine Nachtmusik, K. 525. The concert concluded with Symphony No. 41 (“Jupiter”), K. 551. P-H reviewer Nick Humez wrote that Mr. Boyer performed “splendidly”. (HS:  A stylish silhouette photograph of Mr. Boyer, bathed mostly in shadow light and his oboe informally resting high on his shoulder, appeared in several newspapers at the time of his performance this February.)

The February PSO Classical Concert on Tuesday the 26th was a GIANT. The major work performed was Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, said to have been dubbed the “Giant” symphony at its world premiere in 1904. In an unusual feature this evening, the Symphony under Toshi Shimada devoted the entire concert to this masterpiece known for evoking tender and solemn passions. According to newspaper clippings in the Archives, the “high point of the composer’s (Mahler) achievement as a symphonist” (HS: there’s a word I don’t recall ever before seeing), was this work. For unexplained reasons, no post-concert newspaper articles were retained in the PSO Archive files for this season.

Thirteen cast members from the Maine State Music Theatre, the name-changed successor to the Brunswick Music Theatre, enthusiastically joined with the Portland Symphony Orchestra for productions of “Fiddler on the Roof” Concert-Versions on Saturday and Sunday, March 2 & 3. Maestro Shimada donned a Zero-Mostel-trademark hat and performed the familiar eight-bar melody to start each show, and the entire vocal ensemble then joined to sing Tradition. Of course, the audience heard a large number of the show’s award-winning songs composed by Jerry Bok. Some dialogue between songs gave continuity to the production. (HS: An “in” joke around town was that Toshi wanted to be featured in If I Were A Rich Man, but the PSO finance department ruled him ineligible. When it was suggested that he do Matchmaker, Matchmaker, rumor had it that before he could answer--  many of the PSO musicians told him to “Stay out of it...... Please!”.) This Pops concert got rave reviews, with several headlines referring to its being a delightful escape from a long just-ended February, “Fiddler concert chases away winter blahs” and “Fiddler sure-fire cabin fever cure”. A scan of the concert program handed to audiences at both performances is available at

Also under the baton of Toshi Shimada, condensed versions of “Fiddler on the Roof” were co-performed by the PSO and the Maine State Theatre ensemble at four PCHA Youth Concerts for students on the immediately-following Monday and Tuesday, March 4 & 5.

The season’s final pair of Candlelight Concerts were performed at the Eastland Ballroom on Sunday, March 10. The program featured an “All-American Program”, 20th-century American music, opening with Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring: Suite. The “Solo Dance of the Bride” movement was especially pleasing to P-H reviewer Nick Humez. Samuel Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915, Op. 24, featured guest soprano vocalist Jane Bryden, noted as a Baroque specialist. The report wrote that Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question required Mr. Shimada to “Masterfully... ...coordinat(e) the strings on stage, the trumpet on the balcony and the woodwinds on the ballroom stairs with precision”, as each group played in different musical keys. He felt that the eclectic program had a “good ending”, concluding with three numbers from Scott Joplin’s orchestrations of his “Fifteen Standard High-Class Rags”, better known as the “Red Back Book”. The reviewer commented on “percussive arpeggios in Maple Leaf Rag”, “the piccolo solo in The Entertainer” (HS:  Noted in the program as “a Ragtime Two-Step”.), and “the trombone guffaws at the end of The Cascades”. The Press Herald headline for the performances proclaimed the Candlelight series “ends in splendid form”. It concluded that audiences were certainly pleased by this season’s Candlelight Concert “Soirées at the Sonesta”.

A Family Concert was performed on Saturday, March 16, following an inaugural similar concert in 1990. The theme this afternoon was “The Symphony and the Sorcerer”, with the PSO sharing the billing with the Landis & Co. Theatre of Magic. Magician Landis Smith brought a show to Portland already with a long run of rave reviews throughout the country (HS:  The concept was first born out of an idea by Detroit Symphony Orchestra conductor Michael Krajewski, who had seen one of Mr. Smith’s performances in Michigan.). One illusion that surely excited lots of kids present with their parents, was the disappearance and then reappearance of Maestro Shimada. It was fortunate that conductor Toshi didn’t totally disappear from PCHA, for otherwise concertgoers would have had to miss out on some fun musical selections performed by the Symphony musicians.

Works at this concert included sections from Georges Bizet’s March of the Toreadors from the “Carmen Suite”; two selections from Aram Khachaturian’s “Gayane Ballet” Suites; the first eight measures of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and his Waltz from “Swan Lake”; and selections from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8. Also performed (sometimes with tricks, included the sawing of a lady in half with a laser beam, and also at one point...... a floating cello) were part of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherazade; Modest Mussorgsky’s In The Hall of the Mountain King; the opening movement of Edvard Grieg’s Aase’s Death from the “Peer Gynt Suite” No. 1; Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor and Sergei Prokofiev’s March from the “Love of Three Oranges”. Hey! – just getting all those works performed inside the union-allowed limit was a feat of magic all by itself. Oh yes.... of course there were ducks, rabbits and doves that were part of the performance. Prior to the concert, in the lobby, youngsters were able to see, hear and try out the different instruments that make up an orchestra, with PSO musicians on hand to demonstrate and answer questions. Since Debby Hammond retained a copy of the handout-program in her personal collection, the names of those PSO musicians are finally back “on the record”: Lawrence Golan, violin; Henry Peyrebrune, double bass; Alison Hale, flute; Betty Barber, trumpet; and Don Rankin, tuba.

The PSO Classical Season’s major choral presentation was on Tuesday, March 26. Joining with the Symphony for this concert was the Choral Art Society Masterworks Chorus of 150 voices and four acclaimed New York guest-soloists (HS: One of whom became ill shortly before the concert; fortunately a replacement tenor who was very familiar with the work was able to step in.) in a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s massive and challenging Messa da Requiem. The work offered “religion and romanticism” stated a P-H headline, adding that Verdi critics in 1874 criticized it as “an opera in church vestments” (HS: That’s a statement that wouldn’t turn away audiences today.).

During the early springtime, Rouben Gregorian passed away at a hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The former PSO Music Director and Conductor, born in Georgia in Europe, was 75 and lived in nearby Belmont.

 “Fiedler’s Favorites” was the theme at two Pops Concerts performed on Saturday-Sunday, April 6 & 7. So-called “elevator music” was not on the program, as Maestro Shimada featured “a tasteful variety of classical music mixed with popular favorites”, wrote P-H reviewer Rojean Tuck. His article went out of its way to heap praise on the PSO’s pianist, Martin Perry. Observing that “Being the pianist in an orchestra is like being an understudy in a play that has a three-night run. When they need you, they really need you, but most of the time you don’t see much action.” Over this weekend, Julliard-trained Mr. Perry got plenty of moments in the limelight, as featured soloist in Edvard Grieg’s well known Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 16, “delivering some fantastic cadenzas”. Another favorite during the two concerts that featured PSO musicians was Gioacchino Rossini’s William Tell Overture. Solos during that work by cellist Richard Noyes, flutist Susan Thomas, and Vaughan Kay on English horn were also favorably cited by the reviewer. A clipping found in the PSO Archives mentioned that included during the concerts were pops arrangements of songs by Stephen Sondheim and the Beatles; however, details containing greater specifics were not spotted. Thanks to Joanne Woodward, a concert program finally appeared when I was about to give up “researching” for more info. Paul McKibbons’ Sondheim Medley contained:  Into the Woods; Could I Leave You; Ballad of Sweeney Todd; Not While I’m Around; and Old Friends. The Beatles Medley, arranged by Richard Hayman, was comprised of: A Hard Day’s Night; Michelle; Eleanor Rigby; Yesterday; Yellow Submarine; and I Want to Hold Your Hand.

The final curtain of the PSO’s 1990-1991 season fell on Tuesday, April 23 at PCHA. Acclaimed Israeli pianist Ilana Vered performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Op. 37, which a Press Herald review praised, led by the headline proclaiming “PSO gives rousing performance”. A strong opposing view of her appearance came up in a conversation (HS: That I recently [2013] had.) with someone who attended the this April ’91 concert. Recalled was that Ms. Vered “messed up in the 3rd Beethoven concerto. She didn’t skip bars, but went off into ‘La-La Land’, and I remember looking at (a companion) and we both began to frown as we both knew the music. She did come back to where she was supposed to be, but for a few moments, we wondered what concerto she was playing.” (HS:  Names are withheld for this story since everyone is still alive. However, I will reveal for certainty that on this occasion my conversationalist was not sitting next to the P-H reviewer!) This knowledgeable PSO concertgoer also remembers “a couple of other gaffs by artists through the years, but hers (Ilana’s) was the most memorable for me”.

 At this concert the Orchestra performed a neat 4+ minute-long fanfare by the so-called “maximal-minimalist” composer John Adams, Short Ride in a Fast Machine. It was written in 1986 for Michael Tilson-Thomas to conduct at a summer music festival.... and originally called simply “Great Woods Fanfare”. The idea for the piece came to him after an experience he had as a passenger in a Ferrari along Cape Cod’s main highway by someone determined to show off what his speedster could do. The memories of his harrowing experience in the sports car come through sharply and loudly in the fanfare (HS: Those are my words, after listening to a frenetic YouTube of it.). Maestro Shimada also chose to have the PSO “play some Wagner” this evening, selecting orchestral extracts from the “Ring Cycle”. Performed were Ride of the Valkyries; and Wotan’s Farewell and Magic Fire from “Die Valküere”; Entry of the Gods into Valhalla from “Das Rheingold; and from “Die Götterdämmerung”..... Siegfried’s Rhine Journey , then Siegfried’s Death and Funeral Music, which was followed by Immolation Scene.

This year’s winner of the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s 1991 Young Artist Concerto Competition was won by Massachusetts teen-ager, 17 year-old Elisabeth Remy. A harpist, she won over 11 other finalists. She was scheduled to perform with the PSO in Youth concerts the following March. (HS:  Sorry, I haven’t been as dutiful as I probably should have been in digging through clippings about all the annual PSO Youth Competitions over the years. Hopefully this report will make some amends.)

At about this point in time, PSO cellist Deborah Dabczynski took on the noble and herculean task of creating a new group of KinderKonzerts. Writing respective scripts for the individual brass, winds, and string sections, Deb was aided by principal percussionist Nancy Smith who designed KinderKonzert programs for the latter’s section. The KinderKonzert renaissance that followed for the next decade enabled young Portland-area students to experience new and interesting performances that combined aspects of entertainment and education, and likely engendering enhanced musical interests in many of the attendees that would last a lifetime. The involvement of these two PSO’ers who spearheaded the new KinderKonzert programs and themes was the cornerstone of a strong decade of KinderKonzert action at PCHA, and then at what would become Merrill Auditorium. An 11-season listing (1991-1992 to 2001-2002) of the KinderKonzert theme-names they wrote and arranged is contained among the appendices at the end of this THINGS-PSO.

Altogether, Deb Dabczynski remained the host and program developer for Portland Symphony Kinderkonzerts for what ensued as a lengthy period of time, a position that extended ten years.

Following the 1990-1991 season, the PSO’s assignment for writing concert-program notes was transferred. From this point forward, the orchestra’s bass trombonist, Mark Rohr, would also research and develop the notes relied on by Portland concertgoers for perspectives and insights about works performed at classical concerts (HS: Local freelance musician and sometime concert-reviewer Doug Hubley previously had responsibility for writing PSO concert notes.). More than two decades later, Mark would still be the PSO’s concert-note writer. In addition, due to his informative and concise style of writing, but “less-stuffy-than-others-do” (HS: my somewhat ungrammatical words, but conversationally also much later confirmed by Mark during a 2014 pre-Concert Conversation with PSO concertgoers.) information about composers and their works, his program-note-writing business would impressively have enlarged to include clients including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Conservatory of Music, the South Bend Symphony and several other orchestras. He would also be writing teacher’s guides, and notes for young people.

Mary P. Nelson is elected to what would be two terms as PSO President.

The PSO was reported to have the highest budget per capita of any orchestra in the United States, meaning that it had the smallest population base of any orchestra its size. While the newspaper clipping spotted in the PSO Archives that provided this detail failed to indicate a source, the survey was likely conducted by a national orchestra league or other similar organization.

It needs to be written that only limited details pertaining to one important item certainly significant as music director Shimada, the PSO board and the PSO staff planned, managed and operated the year-to-year activities of the Portland Symphony Orchestra --  have not been entered into this THINGS-PSO history..... for some years. This is due to the fact that reports about year-end P&L reports and and/or other information concerning the PSO’s finances have not been spotted among the PSO Archives. When such information is located, it will be entered into this compilation of historical events. It is known, of course, that fiscally-dangerous financial deficits had previously occurred during various periods of the life of the PSO, yet the operations continued on, often mostly-unchanged---- that is, UNTIL someone said “STOP!  We’ve got to fix this or we’ll go under!” It is entirely possible during the late 1980s that deficits were once again getting out of hand, but that may not have been the situation--  I just don’t know the facts at this point (2013). During the decade of the 1980s, the annual number of PSO concerts was 47, ranging from a low of 39 (in 1981) to a peak of 54 (in 1987) (HS:  I counted each pair of Youth or Candlelight concerts as a single-service, which may be an incorrect assumption on my part.) each generating payroll and other expenses for both the gigs and related rehearsals. Is it a telling piece of information that the concert-total in calendar 1990 was only 45?  Once again, having financial P&L information available would help answer that question.

Starting from the PSO’s 1990-1991 season, a decade-long series of Annual Reports were published and retained in the PSO Archives. The PSO’s total expenses this season were roughly $1.74 million, down slightly from $1.77 million a season earlier. Both seasons the PSO was successful in receiving contributions and other support to offset operating deficits not completely covered by ticket sales and other revenues. During the 1990-1991 season the Board adopted a Planned Giving Program to address the organization’s long term financial health.

This was the year when Robert Moody, the PSO’s current (2012) Music Director and Conductor received his Conducting Degree from the Eastman School of Music.

Wednesday the 3rd found a large crowd out at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, gathered for the first PSO July “Independence Pops” concert of this year. Most of the works performed duplicated other “Indy-Pops” concert, including the one that followed the next evening; however an exception was Senator William Cohan reciting Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait. The P-H reported that the “informal crowd loved Richard Rodgers’ Overture No. 2, (a potpourri from several shows of his)”. Encores this evening included the Maine Stein Song and also Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever.

July 4 was on a Thursday this year, and that evening the PSO took its special outdoors “Fourth of July Concert” to Casco Day Park in Casco (HS: I checked—Googling confirms that it is NOT Casco Bay Park.). Mr. Shimada, of course, was on the podium, and both he and the musicians were smartly dressed in white-jacket summer tuxedos. The concert was LOADED with patriotic and/or American numbers. The Star-Spangled Banner led off the program, which was then followed by both Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man and Joan Tower’s Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman (HS: Googling reveals that she was inspired by Copland’s work and employed the same instrumentation while adding the glockenspiel, marimba, chimes, and drums. Listening to a YouTube video was my first exposure to Ms. Tower’s composition.). The audience was then treated to William Shuman’s American Festival Overture, Beethoven’s Leonora Overture No.2, Op.72a; Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait (narrated by David Goulet) and Richard Rodgers’ wonderful (HS: That’s always been MY opinion, ever since playing it in high school.) orchestral work--  Victory at Sea. The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that the PSO then played a wide selection of Broadway-show songs by Richard Rodgers: It’s a Grand Night for Singing from “Oklahoma”; Do-Re-Me from “Sound of Music”, My Funny Valentine from “Babes in Arms”, This Can’t Be Love from “The Boys From Syracuse”, My Heart Stood Still from “A Connecticut Yankee”, and The Sweetest Sounds “No Strings” (HS: Not that I didn’t already know it, but...... Wow! This guy was good!) Other for-sure-PSO numbers were Armed Forces Salute by Bob Lowden, a George M. Cohan Medley, Irving Berlin’s God Bless America and Katherine Lee Bates’ America the Beautiful. On his own, Mr. Goulet, a tenor, sang yet-another Rodgers hit from the 1947 musical “Allegro”, A Fellow Needs A Girl. Then the Patriotic Chorus, whose members came from all over Maine to perform in the volunteer choral ensemble, sang Oklahoma, and then the hymn written by Julia Ward Howe based on music earlier composed (HS: around 1856) by William Steffe, The Battle Hymn of the Republic before being joined by Mr. Goulet for Old Man River from Jerome Kern’s “Showboat”. The Bridgton News reported after the concert that “an unscheduled performance of The Music of the Night from “Phantom of the Opera” was the highlight for a group of high school students”. (HS: The precise order of this concert program is now [2013] uncertain. Maybe an old printed program will still turn up.) What is known for certain is that when the final notes of the concert faded away, a fireworks display began over Pleasant Lake, which at one point included a special “Casco 150” signature to signify Casco’s Sesquicentennial.

A “Picnics & Pops” Concert on Friday, July 12 found another happy crowd at Fort Williams Park. Special extra-priced tickets qualified some in the audience to a Patron’s Lobster Bake before the concert. (HS: The Maine Sunday Telegram reported that PSO executive director Jane Hunter “needed some directions tackling her lobster. ‘It’s only the second one I’ve had in my life’”, she said.) This evening the attraction was “TV’s Greatest Themes”. Among the familiar TV themes performed were those from “Sgt. Preston”; “Murder, She Wrote”; “The Thornbirds”; “The Lone Ranger”; “Alfred Hitchcock Presents”; and the always 100mph-thriller from “Bugs Bunny”.

 A second “Picnics & Pops” Concert at Fort Williams was scheduled to be performed two weeks later, on the 26th. However, due to too much fog, this summer’s final “Picnics & Pops” Concert was moved to PCHA from Cape Elizabeth. The theme was “Out of This World”. The program around the world and into outer space included the themes from “Star Wars”; “Star Trek”; “E.T.”; “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”; and “2001; A Space Odyssey”. Also performed this evening were Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune and On the Beautiful Danube by Johann Strauss Jr.; and selections from Aram Khachaturian’s “Gayane Ballet” Suite. Music from Giacomo Puccini’s “La Bohème” rounded out the program.

The “Out of This World” concert was also performed the next evening in Damariscotta, at the Round Top Center for the Arts. For this concert the Center admitted children 12 years and under for free, a policy intended to eliminate objections raised the previous summer when the PSO performed there.

From what was mentioned in an article about a fall event in Damariscotta that was found in a misplaced envelope in the PSO Archives, Conductor Shimada occasionally traveled here and there in areas of Maine presenting a class titled “How to Listen to Classical Music”. His presentation encompassed four sections: the elements of music – tempo, rhythm, harmony, etc.; the forms of music – simple, complex, dissonant, etc.; an assignment that the audience compose some simple music; and suggestions for how to listen to contemporary music. The session referred to in the article lasted 2 & ½ hours and involved audience participation throughout. The maestro played varieties of recorded music, and also imparted many of his points on the piano.

A PSO-issued news release prior to the start of the Symphony’s 1991-1992 season, its 67th, had a catchy headline. It was, of course, designed to get folks interested in ordering tickets for concerts: “From Beethoven to Bernstein, From Severinsen to Stravinsky, The Portland Symphony Orchestra Has Something For Everyone This Season.”

Twelve years after his only other appearance at Portland City Hall Auditorium, cellist János Starker returned to guest-solo with the PSO on Tuesday, October 1. This Classical Concert opened the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s 1991-1992 season, its 67th. Now in his sixth season in Portland, Toshi Shimada was on the podium. After The Star-Spangled Banner, Antonín Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, Op. 92, B. 169, opened the program this evening. (HS: Googling reveals that the work is part of a “Nature, Life and Love” trilogy of overtures written by the composer, forming the second “Life” part.) York County Coast Star reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth reported that the work was “played with dash and elegance”. The renowned virtuoso cellist then performed Franz Joseph Haydn’s Violoncello Concerto No. 2 in D Major, Hob. VIIb/2 (Op. 101), accompanied by a chamber ensemble of PSO musicians. Said the YCCS article, his “stunning (HS: personally-written) cadenza at the conclusion of the first movement displayed a skill and musicianship that had the members of the cello section of the orchestra at the edges of their chairs. The appreciative capacity audience granted him several bows” at the conclusion of the popular work. After the intermission the Symphony performed Tchaikovsky’s 45-minute-long Symphony No. 4 in F minor, Op. 36. Reviewer Neuwirth wrote most favorably about the performance, especially singling out the achievements of the PSO horn section.

During the daytime, Mr. Starker conducted a master class at the University of Southern Maine, acceding to a request by PSO concertmaster Lawrence Golan. Both Mr. Golan’s father and Mr. Starker joined the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1953, “a great year” has said the cellist. He asserted that this time was the inauguration of “the golden era of the Chicago, when it rose back up to international ranking” under Fritz Reiner. Lawrence Golan told the Press Herald that his father and Mr. Starker liked and respected each other, and “had each other over for dinner now and then”. (HS: An ironic coincidence is that this morning’s at-the-time not-yet-completely-read newspaper when these two paragraphs were written about János Starker, contained news of his death that occurred yesterday [April 28, 2013].)

The PSO appeared at a concert in Portland City Hall Auditorium on Sunday, October 13, along with the Choral Art Society Masterworks Chorus. An unusual aspect of the program was that this time the Orchestra had been invited to perform by the CAS, not the usual other-way-around arrangement between the two ensembles. Two years earlier, the CAS had contracted with pre-eminent choral conductor Robert Shaw, under its auspices, to  conduct the chorus in a presentation of Brahms’ German Requiem, Op. 45, so their longtime director, Robert Russell, sought out the best orchestra in the area to accompany the vocalists. The P-H’s Rojean Tulk reported that “as predicted by Mr. Russell, the Choral Art Society conductor, the ensemble probably gave the strongest performance of its entire history.” The talents of soprano Heidi Grant and baritone William Stone ably added to the accomplishments of the afternoon. Interestingly, neither of two post-concert newspaper reviews found in the PSO Archives included comments about how the Symphony musicians performed this afternoon, but they enthusiastically heaped great praise upon Mr. Shaw and the CAS Masterworks Chorus. (HS:  But, hey!  This was, after all, the CAS’s Big Show!).

Two months later in Washington, D.C., President George H. W. Bush draped a medal and ribbon around Mr. Shaw’s neck as he and six others were 1991 recipients of Kennedy Center Honors for lifelong achievements in the performing arts. At this 1991 ceremony, the choral conductor was feted along with others with equally-high-quality reputations: Roy Acuff, Betty Comden & Adolph Green,Fayard & Harold Nicholas, and Gregory Peck.

The PSO’s evening Pops Concert on Saturday, October 19 was “A Salute to Leonard Bernstein”, who had died a year earlier. This event opened the 1991-1992 Pops Concert Series for the Symphony. A second concert was presented on Sunday afternoon. Conductor Shimada opened the program with the frenetic Candide Overture, followed by a jazzy Three Dance Episodes of “On The Town” and his 1954 Symphonic Suite from “On The Waterfront”, Mr. Bernstein’s sole effort as a film composer. After the intermission the Symphony performed the Concert Version of “West Side Story”, which featured three vocal soloists: soprano Sarah Fachada, mezzo-soprano Sharon Junken and tenor Robert Randle. They acted out parts of the musical between songs. Music critic Jacqueline Neuwirth, commenting in the York County Coast Star that she had been “privileged to attend many rehearsals and concerts which were under (Bernstein’s) baton”, reported that the PSO “played very well” and that Mr. Shimada “conducted with knowledge and understanding”.

Pairs of Youth Concerts for students that included some of the Saturday/Sunday Pops’ musical salute to Mr. Bernstein were performed at PCHA by the PSO on Monday and Tuesday, October 21 & 22. While no newspaper-clipping files in the PSO Archives contain any information as to what works were played, a PSO Season Brochure saved by violist Pam Doughty confirms that Mr. Shimada conducted some of the Leonard Bernstein compositions enjoyed by subscriber audiences during the weekend concerts. A Teacher’s Guide to this season’s concerts for students also surfaced while researching the Archives was underway, listing details of these “Salute to Leonard Bernstein” concerts. Soprano Sarah Fachada, mezzo Sharon Junken, tenor Robert Randle and narrator Dense Reehi were on hand to help Mr. Shimada and the PSO. Works on these concerts for students were:  Prologue; Something’s Coming; Mambo/Cha-Cha; Maria; Balcony Scene: Tonight; I Feel Pretty; Somewhere; A Boy Like That; and Finale.

Chamber-music enthusiasts gathered at the Sonesta Hotel Ballroom on Sunday afternoon, November 3, for the first pair of Candlelight Concerts of the PSO’s 1991-1992 season. PSO second clarinetist Patricia Shands was the featured soloist on the program. Wife of PSO Principal clarinetist Thomas Parchman, she stepped into the spotlight when it was discovered that he didn’t have any decent reeds to perform himself (HS: No., I’m only kidding.). Actually, it turned out that he wasn’t good enough to play what Toshi Shimada wanted (HS: No, I’m still trying to “make funny”.)

The truth is that Ms. Shands won her PSO audition on her own, two months after Mr. Parchman had joined the orchestra back in the mid-1980s. Then completing her masters-degree studies in California, she had met her clarinet sidekick, not-yet-husband, when she came to Portland. Ms. Shands was by now on the faculties of Dartmouth College, Plymouth State College, the University of New Hampshire and the Concord Community Music School. Her preference, playing/performing-wise, was chamber orchestra and smaller ensembles. She was a member of the Block Ensemble, a woodwind quintet, and also a member of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. This afternoon she performed Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A major, K.622, during a program with the theme “Mozart’s Swan Songs”, featuring works composed as he approached the end of his life. Reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth found her tone “velvety and rich... ...with a sweet and lyric sound”, reporting that she demonstrated perfect dialogue with the orchestra, “with tasteful refinement and grace”. The chamber orchestra also played the great composer’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor, KV. 550, his next-to-last symphony, and also the crisp Overture to La clemenza di Tito (“The Clemency of Titus”), K. 621.

The second Classical Concert of the 1991-1992 PSO season was presented on Tuesday, November 19 at PCHA. This evening marked the sharing of the PSO baton, as Mr. Shimada first conducted Symphony in C from Igor Stravinsky’s Neoclassic period. In her review, the YCCS’s Jacquline Neuwirth especially praised the performance of oboist Neil Boyer. Following intermission, Choral Art Society director Robert Russell conducted Mozart’s final work, his Requiem, K. 646. Commenting on his conducting debut with the PSO, Mr. Russell told the P-H that Mr. Shimada “generously offered me the podium...’s a wonderful opportunity”. The YCCS article concluded that the conductor led the 70-voice chorus maybe “a tad rushed”, however still rendering the view that the energy and restraint required by the classical masterpiece “were met and surpassed”. The CAS members likely went home and slept for a month, inasmuch as this concert marked their second performance with the PSO in five weeks, also their second “Requiem” – both works of renowned composers. Guest vocalists during the work were soprano Bonnie Scarpelli, mezzo-soprano Mary Westbrook-Geba, tenor Bruce Fithian and baritone David Arnold.

On Friday evening, December 13, the PSO under Music Director Toshi Shimada kicked off the Twelfth-Annual “Magic of Christmas” series of concerts at Portland City Hall Auditorium. This year, a record-tying eleven performances would be performed, matching the number of concerts presented in each of the prior two seasons. Nearly 25,000 people would attend. Weekend matinee shows doubled the daily efforts required of the Symphony musicians, although the extra work for them resulted in extra pay..... a good bit of which likely was spent on family gifts for placement under their respective Christmas trees at home.

This year’s guest soloist, and also narrator, was Broadway star tenor D. Michael Heath, a veteran of New York and touring theatrical productions, notably as the Phantom in the touring companies of “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber”. He was joined by seventh-grader Annadeene Konesni from Union and Waynflete six-grader Rebecca Rockefeller from Falmouth, who sang Away in a Manger to the accompaniment of PSO harpist Jara Goodrich. The Parish Ringers from Brunswick appeared for the fourth year, performing We Three Kings and Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych’s 1904 classic Carol of the Bells (“Ring Christmas Bells”). The Magic of Christmas Chorus, including some applicants who successfully auditioned in November at First Lutheran Church, was 142-voices strong this year, all directed by Judith Quimby. During the performances the Chorus opened with Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Polonaise from “Christmas Eve Suite”, and also sang Good King Wenceslas; John Rutter’s arrangement of Joy to the World; and Hallelujah Chorus from “Messiah” by Georg Frideric Handel. Special surprises were when the Chorus charmed kids and oldsters with Jingle Bell Rock and also All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth. Of course, toward the end of each “Magic of Christmas” performance, they also accompanied the rest of the cast and the audience for the traditional Christmas carol sing-along of seven seasonal favorites.

The Kotzschmar Memorial Organ console was once again manned by Portland Municipal Organist Ray Cornils, who entertained those in the audience well-organized enough to arrive an hour early to enjoy his talents during the traditional prelude, by tradition ending each recital with Adolphe Adam’s beloved 1847 Cantique de Noël (“O Holy Night”). Although themselves not seen by the audience, the work of special lighting and sound effects elves  --as usual--  added to the wonders of each entrancing show. The hall was decorated with fir wreaths and garlands, with poinsettias garnishing a stage floodlit in pink. Oh..... and despite untold hours of preparatory work throughout the preceding year at the North Pole, somehow Santa had found enough time to learn to play the tuba; he was on hand doing so in the lobby before each “Magic of Christmas” performance.

 While the PSO Archives have not yet (2013) produced a copy of the concert program, it is known that the Symphony musicians followed Mr. Shimada’s baton during renditions of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride; Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Greensleeves” Fantasia; The First Noel; Deck the Halls; as well as (HS: what local newspapers listed as..) “music by” Mozart , and the English composer Frederick Delius

Mr. Heath presented readings from some of America’s best-loved holiday verse, such as John Updike’s “December”, Langston Hughes’ “Shepherd’s Song at Christmas”, and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells”. In addition to the three key high A’s he successfully hit in “Messiah”, audiences also enjoyed his renditions of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and a Christmas Pops Medley featuring I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and The Christmas Song (“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”).

Years after this concert when the draft of this THINGS-PSO was being written (in 2013), a nearly-complete collection of “Magic of Christmas” concert programs was assembled. Missing only a program from the 1991 “Magic”, before the collection was to be carefully stored away in a locked section of a warehouse rented by the PSO—a call went out to the 2013-PSO musicians in hopes that a copy might be found in somebody’s attic, basement, barn or car glove compartment. Fortunately, one of Santa’s most trustworthy elves stepped forward and contributed her copy so that the “Magic of Christmas” collection could be complete. Longtime PSO oboist Stephanie Burk saved the day!  Hoo-ray for Stef!!!

Summarizing key activities this year insofar as efforts to renovate Portland City Hall Auditorium are concerned, the following paragraphs detail various activities and developments.

The City Council formally established the Auditorium Building Committee this year, which was charged with selecting the architectural and engineering firms and overseeing the renovations to the auditorium. The Building Committee was initially made up of three city councilors, designated representatives from the three tenant organizations (PSO, PCA and FOKO), a member from the Portland Planning Board, and several members from the public-at-large. The committee immediately began a search for the appropriate architectural and engineering team.

Greater PortlandCARES (Citizens for Auditorium Restoration) was incorporated to undertake the private-sector fund-raising efforts to solicit and collect at least $2,000,000 for the project. Lee Urban was elected corporation President; Peter and Pam Plumb were named fund-raising co-chairs.

The Portland City Council approved providing PortlandCARES with $130,000 start-up money for the group’s effort to raise funds equal to the voter-approved $3 million bond issue. The start-up funds would come from a portion of the Merrill bequest, and would be repaid later. P.D. Merrill strongly supported this use of (part of) the Merrill bequest. The immediate specific use was to pay Ketchum, Inc. for fund-raising (advisory and other) services.

The Auditorium Building Committee puts out a request for proposals (RFP) for teams to design the renovations. Sixteen applicants, including most of the nations’ best known acousticians and theater designers, are reported as responding. The joint team of Crissman/Solomon and Douglas Richmond, associated with theater designer George Izenour, are among the applicants. (HS: Eventually they will be authorized to move forward.) (PortlandCARES files)

Ketchum, Inc. conducts series of confidential interviews with Portland civic, cultural and government leaders.

The Winton Scott architectural firm was one of several bidders on the auditorium renovation. When they were not selected, the firm was greatly disappointed—since that firm hoped to build upon the auditorium renovation project insofar as being able to better market other assignments.

Final negotiations between the city and a design team headed by architect Douglas Richmond were reported as close to agreement. Initial design could be completed by December. Article refers to City Hall Auditorium as “aged and acoustically crippled”, with “2340 seats and almost as many problems” and with “quirky, sometimes awful acoustics.” (Portland Press Herald)

HS was advised during various interviews that George Izenour’s pre-bid-award presentations were a key to the Richmond/Izenour team ultimately being selected; he came across as impressive [college profs generally do know how to give effective lectures] and an authority on acoustics. Folks then on-the-scene recall his personality as being “a bit prickly”.

The Portland City Council authorizes an initial $70,000 of expenditures for design work and schematic drawings. The choice of the winning team was issued shortly thereafter.

Architectural firms Douglas Richmond (Brunswick) and Crissman Solomon (Watertown, MA) collaborate on design renovations for City Hall Auditorium, with George Izenour engaged for his expertise in theater design. He is “an old friend of and former employer” of Richmond, an “architect with an international reputation for theater design. Richmond met Izenour at Yale” ...... where he “was doing his graduate work in architecture in the early 1960s and Izenour was teaching a staging class in the drama department.” (Brunswick Times Record)

One news report read by HS discussed how Izenour, wanted to demonstrate use of high-tech when later showing off a three-dimensional scale model of the team’s final proposal. Show-man-like, for public display, he bounced lasers inside “an acoustical working model” to grandly illustrate how (HS: he said) sound waves would react to the design. While that might have wow’ed the visiting masses, a later-to-be critic of Izenour said that it side-slipped lots of other factors that should have been considered. (HS-  Having through all my researching learned “just enough about this topic so that I can be dangerous”..... I can show off too: --- go ask any acoustic engineering friends of yours about how “seat-dip effect” eats up sound energy.)


1992       Famed violinist Isaac Stern appeared at PCHA on Saturday, January 4, but not at a PSO event. His mellow playing was, of course, warmly received by the PCA audience in attendance.

The first PSO Classical Concert of the New Year was three nights later, on Tuesday, January 7 at PCHA. Another violin soloist was on tap, and comparisons with Mr. Stern were likely not something the guest had counted on when he originally agreed to appear with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. However, P-H reviewer Nick Humez, having attended the PCA event, started off his post-symphony concert article referring to “two fine violinists” having appeared in Portland during the prior week. 1986 Julliard graduate Kurt Nikkanen, then not yet thirty years old, was said to have “held City Hall spellbound this performance” during this PSO concert, with play that was “as fiery as Stern was mellow”. After performing Beethoven’s Violin concerto in D major, Op. 61,  he received a standing ovation and two curtain calls. His playing was the talk of the intermission. Earlier the PSO had opened the concert with the soulful air from Bach’s  Orchestral Suite #3 in D major, BWV 1068, popularly entitled “Air On The G String”. This piece was a moving tribute to the memory of three good friends of the PSO who would be sadly missed, Martha Blood, Abby Niss and Lucy Pachios.

Next came Franz Schmidt’s Intermezzo from “Notre Dame”, an opera based on Victor Hugo’s famous novel of Quasimodo and Esmeralda. The second half of the program was devoted entirely to Edward Elgar’s Enigma Variations, formally Variations on an Original Theme for orchestra (“Enigma”), Op. 36, arguably the composer’s best orchestral piece. The fifteen movements performed were each miniature portraits of the composer, his wife, and their friends. (HS: While reviewer Humez was not a regular Press Herald reporter, it should be noted that he was a with-it guy, musically. He was executive director of the Maine Composers’ Forum, which during that period of time annually presented a series [of about five] annual concerts showcasing contemporary Maine composers and their works, held throughout the state. Active for some years, the organization is now [2013] dormant.)

Ms. Neuwirth’s column about this concert contained a criticism regarding the performance of the Elgar miniatures. She wrote that the work was “well-played by the orchestra, and sometimes conducted by Shimada. That is not to say that the conductor was not present on the podium; but it seemed as though the orchestra was in charge of the performance”. (HS: While I was not residing in Maine during “the Shimada years” and thus never attended PSO concerts until more recently, while researching information to compile this THINGS-PSO, I have heard similar general observations from more than just a few people who were involved with the Portland Symphony Orchestra during the era that Mr. Shimada was Musical Director and Conductor.)

Two weekend Pops Concerts, on January 11 and 12, found Mr. Shimada and the Symphony treating  concertgoers to a trip through the major cultural centers of Europe, titled “All Aboard the Orient Express”. Soprano Rhee Michelle, of Kennebunk, was on hand and performed selections from “Gigi” and also “My Fair Lady”. The orchestral numbers played were Jacques Offenbach’s Overture to “Orpheus in the Underworld” (HS: This “Can-Can work opened the concert, and one newspaper review heartily praised Principal clarinetist Thomas Parchman.); Carnival of Venice; Tales From the Vienna Woods by Johann Strauss II; and Mozart’s The Abdication from the “Seraglio Overture”. Lighter music rounded out the program, including Beethoven’s Turkish March from “The Ruins of Athens”, Op. 113 No. 4; one of Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances; and at least one of Johannes Brahm’s Hungarian Dances (HS: Regarding both the “Slavonic Dances” and “Hungarian Dances”, so far [2013] no concert-program has been found, and only partial details were included in newspaper clippings read.). Music from popular films that was performed was Suite from “Murder on the Orient Express”; Escape from Venice, from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” by John Williams; and Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement, Suite from “The Sound of Music”.

A pair of Candlelight Concerts on Sunday, January 26 at the Sonesta Ballroom featured forte pianist John Gibbons. The theme this afternoon and early evening was “Mozart and his Friends”. Mr. Gibbons solo-ed throughout what a P-H review labeled “a thoroughly convincing version of Mozart’s 23rd keyboard concerto(Concerto for Fortepiano No. 23 in A Major, K. 488). The forte piano was built by R.J. Regier of Freeport, thus a reproduction of an 18th-century instrument that was “much quieter than the pianos of today, with a light and fleeting tone”. Christoph Willibald von Gluck’s 1774 Overture to “Iphigenia in Aulis” preceded Mozart’s Divertimento in D Major, K.136/125a. The “Surprise” Symphony (No. 94) by Mozart’s friend and mentor, Joseph Haydn, closed the program, comprising the entire post-intermission portion of the concerts.

Another special Family Concert was set for Saturday, February 8 at Portland City Hall Auditorium, the third-annual such event. Canadian Feltist Steven Toth was on hand to perform with the PSO during a concert with the theme, “Adventures in the Old West”. As the Kennebec Journal put it, during “this afternoon’s musical trip for the family to the days of stagecoaches, posses and the OK corral”, the Orchestra would work with a cartoonist who created larger-than-life illustrations on a 12-foot by 6-foot easel. “Filling giant sheets of paper with a variety of whimsical characters as the orchestra” played nearby, the artist was equipped with a handful of black felt markers made by European craftsmen in the 17th–century (HS: No.... forget that last part. I just made it up to lend extra authenticity to his credentials.). What Mr. Toth did was make visual notes and drawings with the felt markers that interpreted and clarified the music conducted by Toshi Shimada. He had performed with orchestras throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as in Singapore. Having carefully prepared prior to the concert, knowing well the music that was coming, he both worked with a synchronized plan in mind but also added options as the conductor interpreted the score with the musicians. For example, advised the P-H in advance, “big sounds from the brass might mean big, bold strokes with the marker.” But “faster sounds usually mean shorter, quicker strokes.” The fun music to which his clever drawings were made as the kids and their parents watched real-time, were Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain, also Aaron Copland’s Hoe-Down and then Billy the Kid from “Rodeo”. The Symphony on its own, also performed Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture, Mr. Copland’s Saturday Night Waltz (HS: Also from  “Rodeo”.) and Ferde Grofé’s On the Trail from “Grand Canyon Suite”. Sponsored by the PSO’s Women’s Committee, a “Carnival of Instruments” was held in the lobby one hour prior to the concert, where youngsters had a chance to see, hear and try out different instruments. PSO musicians were on hand to demonstrate and answer questions. Ticket prices were designed to attract families, set at $12 for adults, $5 for children and students, but only $28 for families of four. What a neat idea this concert was—I wish our family could have been there!.

On Tuesday, February 11, the 1981 Silver Medalist at the sixth annual Van Cliburn Competition, Greek-born Panayis Lyras appeared as guest soloist with the Portland Symphony Orchestra. The musical challenge he set for himself was the gigantic, 50-minute long Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Op. 83, considered by many authorities to be the most challenging work in the instrument’s repertoire. Nick Humez, an often “critical critic” for the Press Herald, labeled his performance “a thrilling rendition”, favorably citing Mr. Lyras’ musical sensitivity, his ability to make “Brahms’ rhythmic complexities intelligible, especially in the last two movements” and also his appropriate showmanship, writing that he was “a born showman, just this side of a ham”. Also complimenting Mr. Shimada’s “surreptitiously mediating between his orchestra and his soloist”,  Mr. Humez concluded, “the fabric of this great concerto was with seam throughout”. The orchestral work performed by the Symphony musicians this evening was the exuberant tone-poem, Ein Heldenleben (A Hero’s Life), Op. 40, by Richard Strauss. This six-movement, 50-minute-long work was ably performed” wrote Mr. Humez, ending his article with “The evening did Maestro Shimada and the PSO proud”. (HS: Incidentally, back to that 1981 Cliburn contest, the competition was pretty stiff that year, with André-Michel Schub taking the top prize.)

Carl Severinsen, universally known as “Doc”, was the guest at two Pops concerts, on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon, February 29 & March 1. The trumpet virtuoso played a mixture of jazz, pops and classical, part of the time accompanied by a jazz quartet he brought along to Portland. Local area newspaper reviewer Jacqueline Neuwirth’s article labeled the event a “concert that satisfied” that ranged from “Leroy Anderson’s tender Trumpeter’s Lullaby, to an incredible arrangement of (Luigi Denza’s) Funiculi, Funicula to a Big Band Medley that knocked my socks off”. Presaging that a good time was had by all in attendance, the article was headlined “The doctor is in!”. His flamboyance was not a bother, but considered “becoming” she added, and ....”essential!”, continuing “his glitzy appearance and manner enhances his work; much in the manner of the operatic prima donna”. A P-H review praised a flamenco-flavored Arrangement “Carmen”, by Georges Bizet, with that praise presumably aimed at Mr. Severinsen. The Press Herald report also spoke favorably about his rendition of the Dinicu-Heifitz composition, Hora Staccato, written for the violin. Ms. Neuwirth was impressed by “his artistry over a broad range of musical styles”.

On its own that afternoon, the PSO performed two overtures and three portions of Aram Khachaturian’s Masquerade Suite from the 1941 stage production by playwright Mikhail Lermontov, certainly appropriate during the Mardi Gras season. The overtures were Festive Overture in A major, Op. 96 by Dmitri Shostakovich and Franz von Suppé’s Poet and Peasant Overture, with the former opening the program and the latter opening the second half. PSO clarinetist Thomas Parchman was singled out in the article for “playing some gorgeous florid passages”. Conductor Shimada was reported as appearing to be having as good a time as did the audience. The review concluded: “In fact, there were a lot of smiles on stage. The musicians were in their element!  It doesn’t get any better than this, folks. Congratulations, PSO!” The earlier-mentioned Big Band Medley with the Orchestra was a highlight of the second set by Mr. Severinsen, arranged by his Tonight Show NBC sidekick, Tommy Newsom. It concluded the scheduled part of the program. An encore (HS: the P-H reported that before playing he said that he doesn’t practice anything that he doesn’t perform, quipping “If you hadn’t applauded a lick, you would have still gotten this tune”.) was a 10-minute rendition of MacArthur Park “that was so brassy and sassy it would have left Richard Harris’s (HS: The song’s composer) head spinning, had he been in the audience”.

Incidentally, joking about the outlandish outfits that were a trademark of his, “Doc” Severinsen commented about a coat-of-many-colors that he wore during the second half of the concerts, commenting about his carnival-midway duds that would be the envy of any barker, “I bought it right off the rack at L.L. Bean’s”, describing the attire as “the latest in moose-hunting jackets”.

A longtime-saved program from this concert remains among the personal program collection of PSO bass clarinetist John Korajczyk. John’s copy, autographed by Doc Severinsen “To John  --  all the best”, was made available to me for PDF-scanning (HS:  Along with LOTS of others!), and a Xerox-copy of the page dedicated to John is now included in the Permanent PSO Program Collection. Thanks, John!!

While Portland students might have preferred that Doc Severinsen had hung around for some gigs with the kids at PCHA, four large young crowds nonetheless gathered to hear music by Mozart at pairs of Youth Concerts,  on Monday and Tuesday, March 2 & 3. The theme of the concerts was “Dear Wolfgang”, and in costume, actor/mime Benny Reehl hosted and narrated the concert, portraying the composer answering questions about his life and activities contained in letters written earlier by students as part of class assignments. Music Director Shimada conducted the PSO in excerpts from the prolific and gifted composer’s “Marriage of Figaro” Overture; then Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Serenade No. 13 for strings in G major), K. 525; and selections from Symphony No 41 (“Jupiter”) in C major, K. 551. The concerts also featured the top two finishers in the 1991 Young Artists Competition, violinist Elise Kuder and harpist winner Elisabeth Remy. Ms. Kuder performed some of Handel’s Harp Concerto No. 6, Op.4 No.6 in B flat Major HWV294 II, and Ms. Remy played a movement of Mozart’s Violin concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, often referred to by the nickname the “Turkish”.

A bit more than week later, on Tuesday the 10th of March at Portland City Hall Auditorium, the Orchestra presented a Classical Concert. Gioacchino Rossini’s sparkling 1823 Overture to “Semiramide” was featured on this program, as was the 1924 work by Danish composer Launy Grøndahl – his Concerto for Trombone and Orchestra, reportedly expressively played by the PSO’s principal trombonist, Nicholas Orovich. The P-H headline above reviewer Nick Humez’ article said it all, “Trombonist proves a winner with PSO”, despite (the review observed) the composer and his work having asked “much of (any) soloist, some of it nearly impossible”. Years later during a conversation, Nic said that he had earlier been approached by Toshi Shimada following a sensitive solo rendition of “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” at a pops concert, with the maestro asking if there were any trombone concertos. The invitation from Mr. Shimada for Mr. Orovich to perform the work followed somewhat later, and Nic extensively practiced the Grøndahl concerto during a summer when teaching at Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan. He memorized the piece, playing it early in the fall at a private session for the music director so that Toshi could learn the work from the soloist’s point of view, and performed the difficult composition from memory. During the 2014 conversation that I had with Nic, he listed this solo performance as his PSO career highlight, and mentioned that a photograph taken from offstage by bass trombonist Mark Rohr resulted in a prized framed picture that hangs on a wall of Nic’s home in New Hampshire. (HS:  The longtime PSO principal trombonist solo-ed with the PSO on two other occasions.)

According to the York County Coast Star, the Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 47, of Dmitri Shostakovich was performed “under a very controlled (Toshi) Shimada”. This performance caused reviewer Jacquline Neuwirth to write that it “gave me cause to think that Shimada has brought the PSO a long way from where he found it”, also that “the most important factor is the good chemistry between Shimada and the orchestra members in the music-making process”. Referring to the development of the orchestra over the preceding half decade or so, she cleverly commented that “it (was) artistically satisfying” to have been able to follow the PSO “from its infancy with Vermel to its adolescence with Hangen to the maturity of middle adulthood with Shimada.”

Later in March, on the 22nd, another pair of Candlelight Concerts were performed at the Sonesta Ballroom. This concert bade farewell to the PSO’s year-long salute commemorating the bicentennial of Mozart’s death. An octet of winds opened the program with Selections from “Don Giovanni” arranged by Joseph Triebensee. The work had been arranged for 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons and 2 horns. After the intermission the octet was augmented by PSO horn players Nina Allen and Bob Mariatt, as well as two basset horn players (HS:  Although I was a longtime b-flat clarinetist, I needed to look that up; they are tenor-range clarinets.) plus a contrabassist, as the group performed Mozart’s Serenade No. 10 for winds in B flat major, K. 361/370a, a composition scored for thirteen instruments. The theme of these Candlelight concerts was “On the Streets of Mozart’s Vienna”.

The post-concert P-H review of the March 31 PSO Classical Concert started by asking the question, “Can orchestral music be theater all by itself?” The next sentence answered that question, “The Portland Symphony Orchestra concert Tuesday night showed us it can – and very good theater too.” The nearly full house at PCHA first heard Mr. Shimada conduct the Symphony musicians in a “stage-setting” Symphony No. 6 (“The Morning”), for flute, two oboes, bassoon, 2 horns, violins by Joseph Haydn, which afterwards caused one person seated near reviewer Humez to exclaim, “Love that music!” The next work was Béla Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, music from a one-act 1928 ballet of love and death that caused shocked German censors to ban the production after just one performance. Fortunately, the suite from the ballet later became a standard of the orchestral repertoire. After the intermission, a work that P-H reviewer Humez claimed “all but cries out to be staged”, Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 (“Scottish Symphony”) was performed. He wrote that he also enjoyed this work, concluding that the evening was fine for the PSO, a “textbook sampler of thoughtful orchestration played to its best effect”.

“Hail Brittania”, featuring great British music, was the theme of two PSO Pops Concerts at PCHA performed on Saturday and Sunday, April 4 & 5. Violinist John MacLaughlin Williams, concertmaster of the Norfolk Symphony Orchestra, joined Mr. Shimada and the Portland Symphony Orchestra for a performance of Max Bruch’s melodic four-movement Scottish Fantasy in E-flat Major, Op. 46, based on Scottish folk melodies (HS:  Mr. Williams replaced the originally-announced Tamara Smirnova-Sajfar, whose absence has so far not been recounted in clippings or other items in the PSO Archives.). Other works performed were the Sir Arthur Bliss March, from “Things to Come”, the H.G. Wells 1936 science-fiction film; the Overture from Royal Fireworks Music by Georg Frideric Handel; and Jeremiah Clarke’s Baroque-period Trumpet Voluntary. After intermission, Broadway shows and classic films with British themes were also represented at these “Hail Brittania” Pops, specifically music from “The Adventures of Robin Hood”; the British drama “Henry V”; and also five selections from Lionel Bart’s “Oliver” (Oliver!; Where is Love; I’d Do Anything; As Long As He Needs Me; and the bouncy Consider Yourself) . The performances concluded with Robert Russell Bennett’s arrangement of Frederick Loewe’s music, Brigadoon; Symphonic Picture. No reviews or other post-concert reports have so far (2013) been located about these concerts.

The final pairs of Youth Concerts of the 1991-1992 PSO Season were performed before student audiences in PCHA on Monday and Tuesday, April 6 & 7. A Times Record clipping in the PSO Archives reported that “Music and Dance Around the World” was the theme. “Art of Black Dance and Music, a Boston-based, multicultural performance ensemble, will join the PSO in bringing dance, music and folklore of Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas to the City Hall stage. The program includes ‘Fanga: A Liberian Dance of Welcome’”. Also at the concerts, dance music from other cultures was introduced to the students, including Russia, Hungary and Australia. Featured were performances of Reinhold Glière’s Russian Sailors’ Dance from “The Red Poppy”, Op. 70; one of Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances (HS: No. 7); Arthur Benjamin’s Jamaican Rumba; Voices of Spring by Johann Strauss, Jr.; Polka from “The Age of Gold” by Dmitri Shostakovich; and Aaron Copland’s Saturday Night Waltz and then Hoe-Down from “Rodeo”. Altogether this season, more than 13,000 students attended PSO Youth Concerts in 1991-1992, down from more than 15,000 the prior season..

Sunday, April 12 found the PSO chamber musicians performing two Candlelight Concerts at the Sonesta Ballroom. During this program PSO piccolo player Catherine Payne gave what reviewer Neuwirth described as a “brilliant performance”. Maestro Shimada commented that Antonio Vivaldi must have known “a hot piccolo player” when he wrote his Concerto for Piccolo and Orchestra in C Major, op. 44, No. 11. The work featured after the intermission was Sergei Prokofiev’s 1918-premiered Symphony No. 1 in D major, Op. 25, (”Classical Symphony”). The York County Coast Star review of the concert reported some fun comments about the Prokofiev symphony made to the audience by Toshi, speculating that “If Mozart could hear it he would ‘laugh’. In Haydn’s case, he would “chuckle”, and Beethoven would find ‘something philosophical to say about it’ “. The PSO chamber group was said to have played the work beautifully for its intrinsic musical humor and warmth. This afternoon, the ensemble also performed Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 5 in B Flat Major, D 485. Following the concert, a York County Star headline complimented the conclusion of the 1991-1992 Candlelight Season Series, “It’s been a lovely flame”.

Mahler made, for what four consecutive PSO conductors (HS: Up through 2013, anyway) have traditionally insisted upon, an annual appearance at a classical concert in Portland this year, on Tuesday, May 5. While Gustav Mahler, himself, certainly wasn’t in the auditorium, his music once again was. This time being performed was his five movement Symphony No. 1 in D Major, the “Titan”, completed in 1888 and premièred the next year in Budapest. The Maine Times found the Symphony’s performance “breathtaking and glorious, although not uniformly flawless”. The newspaper reported that this evening “Music Director Shimada chose to include the rarely heard ‘Blumine’ movement, which Mahler deleted before he published the symphony.” This movement sported “a sweet solo by the principal trumpet and the bass section, and a regrettably out-of-tune high cello solo”. The reviewer (HS: Who did not earn a byline for the article found in the PSO Archives.) “found the movement... innocuous addition to the symphony. In other words, after one hearing, I could take it or leave it.” The other work performed this evening, to open the program, was a reported-to-be “thrilling performance” of Franz Liszt’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 2 in A major, S.125, performed by guest soloist Janina Fialkowska. The Maine Times reviewer wrote that he found “her Liszt a delight”, and several other newspaper reviewers were equally enthusiastic about Ms. Fialkowska’s performance—and also about the entire program this evening.

This year’s winner of the PSO piano competition was 24 year-old Gregg Pauley of Brunswick, New Jersey. He emerged from a five-candidate group of finalists, having started as one of 21 artists who first registered to win the $2500 first prize. Mr. Pauley performed Johannes Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor, Op. 15. Mr. Pauley earned his bachelor of music degree from the University of Southern California, where he studied with James Bonn. He earned a master’s degree at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, studying with Ilana Vered.

In early May the PSO and Toshi Shimada agreed on the conductor’s third three-year contract. The now-40-year-old maestro had previously worked under PSO contracts extending from 1986 to 1989, and the second from 1989 to 1992. Meanwhile, negotiations remained ongoing for a new contract to replace the one agreed to by PSO musicians in 1989. The Maine Sunday Telegram reported that the musicians were then being “paid $61 per performance or rehearsal”.

Near the end of May, the PSO Women’s Committee announced that after assessing the success of its various projects and endeavors, projections were that an earlier $55,000 pledge to the Orchestra would be fulfilled.

The PSO co-organized what was labeled an “unused” music instrument drive that resulted in more than a dozen instruments being contributed to support the music program in Portland Public Schools. Among instruments donated were 3 clarinets, 4 flutes, 2 violins, both a trumpet and a trombone, an oboe, a marimba, a guitar and a drumset. These instruments enabled students who neither owned nor had resources to rent, to study music in the city’s schools.

During this era, the PSO Women’s Committee annually awarded music camp scholarships to multiple members of the Portland Symphony’s three youth ensembles.

A festive fundraiser dinner dance was held at the end of May at One City Center and at UNUM’s Corporate Headquarters. A northern Italian buffet at Don Giovanni’s was followed by dancing to the music of the Five-Cylinder Jazz Band, and an auction of exotic specialty items (HS:  The 1991-1992 PSO Annual Report did not specify what the adjective “exotic” meant.). About $5000 was raised for the organization’s Operations Fund.

Operating expenses this season rose from $1.74 million to $1.78 million a year earlier. Once again, contributions and other support more than offset the operating deficits—which this year were $569,000. Although the organization’s published annual report showed investments larger than a year earlier, there was no delineation revealed of market-value growth versus additional contributions. (HS:  Since later reports referring to this season indicate that investment gains were only about $8000, substantial contributions to investment accounts appear to have been received from supporters.)

This year, Mary P. Nelson was re-elected as PSO President.

PSO Archives contain newspaper clippings about four Pops concerts performed during the summer, three at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, and a fourth in Damariscotta--  again at the Round Top Center for the Arts.

This year’s “Independence Pops” at Fort Williams was on Friday evening, July 3. This was the first of three July “Picnics and Pops” shows in Cape Elizabeth. American and patriotic music played featured Irving Berlin’s God Bless America; America the Beautiful; Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” Overture; sections from Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo”; and Selections by George M. Cohan. Other highlights included the Carmen Dragon medley, Memories of America; John Williams’ “Superman” Suite; Richard Rodgers show-music medley, his Overture No. 1; and Samuel Barber’s Knoxville; Summer of 1915; Stephen Foster’s Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair; and Music of the Civil War from the 1990 PBS documentary. Archives clippings failed to note specifics about a “Sousa” work that several newspaper articles mentioned. (HS:  Anybody want to bet AGAINST it being The Stars and Stripes Forever?)

Non-musical highlights of this 4th-of-July fest were a pre-concert lobster/clambake hosted by the Westbrook Music Boosters and a fireworks display over Casco Bay at the conclusion.

Fort Williams was again a PSO “Pops” venue two weeks later, on Friday evening the 17th of July. With the theme “Rodgers & Hammerstein on Broadway”, at this concert conductor Toshi Shimada led the Symphony musicians in favorites from such memorable shows as “The Sound of Music”; “South Pacific”; “Oklahoma”; “The King and I”; “State Fair”; and “Carousel”. The orchestra was joined by guest vocalists and the PSO Summer Chorus. Soprano Karen Stickney, mezzo-soprano Sarah Shepherd, tenor Stanley Elowitch, and tenor David Goulet, all Portland-based singers well-known to local audiences, joined with the Symphony for selections from the Broadway shows and film scores. Mr. Shimada had the Orchestra open the concert with Carousel Waltz, and then a medley consisting of Kansas City; It Might As Well Be Spring; Ten Minutes Ago; and Shall We Dance. Also performed were It’s a Grand Night for Singing; I Have Dreamed; We Kiss in a Shadow; I Whistle a Happy Tune; and Hello, Young Lovers. Smiles undoubtedly came from audience members with June is Bustin’ Out All Over; If I Loved You; Mister Snow; You’ll Never Walk Alone; and the always-wonderful Soliloquy. Since so many songs have already been listed here.... let’s go for the entire lot!  My Favorite Things was followed by Climb Ev’ry Mountain, then Do-Re-Me and the title song The Sound of Music. The concert concluded with Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’; Out of My Dreams; The Surrey With the Fringe On Top; People Will Say We’re in Love; and finally....... with the entire ensemble, a rousing rendition of Oklahoma!

The final July “Picnics and Pops”, scheduled for Fort Williams on Friday evening the 31st, needed to be moved indoors at PCHA due to bad weather. With a theme “Baroque Spectacular”, the Sun-Journal had advised readers that “Portland native Jennifer Elowitch will make her Portland Symphony debut performing Vivaldi’s Spring from “Four Seasons”. A former concertmaster of the Portland Youth Symphony, Ms. Elowitch held degrees from the Yale and Eastman Schools of Music. Maestro Shimada also conducted Georg Frideric Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music (HWV 351); Henry Purcell’s Trumpet Tune; a work that has forever challenged string players, the Dance of the Furies from “Orphée ed Euidice”, by Christoph Willibald Gluck, countered by  his, Dance of the Blessed Spirits; Tomaso Albioni’s Adagio in G minor for Strings and Organ; Handel’s entrance Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from “Salome”; and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 1 in F major, HWV 1046. The P-H review championed Ray Cornils’ work on both the organ and on harpsichord during the concert, and also praised concertmaster Lawrence Golan, who “shone in the exacting violin solo of (the Brandenburg’s) third movement”, continuing “the two horns, played by Nina Allen and Neil Deland, came through loud and clear, as did Neil Boyer’s oboe. As the final trio in the last movement, they gave a near-flawless performance at astounding speed.” Fireworks followed the concert.

The first 600 tickets sold at this year’s Round Top Center in Damariscotta, on Saturday the first-of-August, guaranteed holders a seat in the event of rain forcing use of the Central Lincoln County YMCA, just across the way on Route 1. However, after the needed switch to indoors the previous evening in Portland, the weather apparently was OK (HS: No reports of a change-of-venue have been spotted among PSO-Archive files). The “Baroque Spectacular” concert was repeated in this picturesque village. An hour before the concert began, children accompanied by an adult holding a ticket to the concert were invited to a free “Carnival of Instruments”, where kids were encouraged to listen to the music in harmony with other instruments and become more familiar with how members of an orchestra work together to create music. Once again, the rousing Royal Fireworks Music provided a powerful finale to the evening.

In late September, Bangor Symphony Orchestra conductor Werner Torkanowsky suffered from lower back trauma, and was thus unable to take the podium for the BSO’s season-opening concert on Sunday, October 4. Toshi Shimada agreed to hold the baton for that concert, conducting the Bangor orchestra in a concert that included Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring.

When the PSO’s schedule of concerts for the 1992-1993 Season was announced, the assumption was that this would be the final season the Symphony would perform in Portland City Hall Auditorium before renovations would require closing of the hall for workmen to take over. The thinking at that time was that a restored and newly-named Merrill Auditorium would be available for use after a less than two-year absence. It would turn out that for a number of reasons and events (HS: Chronicled in significant detail below in many pages of this THINGS-PSO), PCHA would not be vacated by the PSO until February of 1995, considerably more than one-and-one-half years beyond the expected May ’93 move-out date projected when season subscribers received their ’92-’93 ticket packages.

During this season, PSO Candlelight Concerts would continue to be held at Sonesta Hotel. (HS: The Ballroom-series of chamber concerts there ended up extending yet another full season after this, to April of 1994.)

This winter, the PSO’s Classical Concerts would be broadcast on television with coverage on Maine Public Broadcasting.

With the new season about to open, a usual handful of new musicians became members of the PSO. As this is written (late 2013), two among that year’s septet of rookies are now longtime Symphony stalwarts at Merrill Auditorium, oboe/English horn Julianne Verret and principal bassoon Janet Polk. Ms. Verret, a music graduate of the University of Vermont and holder of a Performance Degree at the New England Conservatory of Music, had been a student of PSO principal oboist Neil Boyer. (HS: Years later when the PSO would have its own website, in her personal-profile she would credit her instructor and now associate:  “He taught me how to be a musician; not just an oboist.”) Ms. Polk was a graduate of the University of Massachusetts/Amherst in Music Education and the University of New Hampshire in Music History. (HS: Years later, the PSO website would list her teaching positions as at both UNH and Dartmouth.) An insert in the concert programs handed to concertgoers at the first concert of the year welcomed the newcomers.

The Opening-Night Classical Series Concert of the 1992-1993 PSO Season was on Tuesday, October 13 at Portland City Hall Auditorium. Following The Star-Spangled Banner, Maestro Shimada and the Symphony opened the concert with the premiere of Rowing in Eden, by University of Maine at Farmington music professor Philip Carlsen. Beforehand, the composer described the work as “pretty exuberant at the beginning and through much of the piece, with a couple of moments of repose throughout the exuberance. Finally, at the end, it becomes very calm”. He said that he was inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Wild Nights”. The P-H concert review found in the PSO Archives made no comment about audience response to the ten-minute-long work. Guest soloist this evening was young 20-year-old Corey Cerovsek, the son of Austrian parents and born in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. A child prodigy, he entered Indiana University at age 12 (HS: Then the youngest person ever accepted at the university.), graduating at 15 with degrees in both music and mathematics. By the time he was 19 he had earned doctorates in both fields. (HS: Now [May, 2013], he continues to perform [playing on the “Milanollo” Stradivarius violin and living in Paris.) Violin Concerto in D minor, Op. 47, before a packed house, which responded to his performance with what P-H reviewer Nick Humez wrote was “warm applause... ...proof that he’ll be welcome here again”. The headline of the article read, “20-year old violinist sparkles”. After the intermission, concertgoers were treated to the Orchestra’s performance of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “From the New World”, Op. 95, B. 178. The audience applause following the finale was interrupted by a fire alarm, resulting in everyone moving out of the hall into the street. Firefighters from responding trucks entered the building, but soon thereafter gave an all-clear signal. A post-concert reception was briefly delayed, but did take place in the lobby.

On Saturday and Sunday, October 17 & 18, the PSO Women’s Committee co-sponsored the 1993 auto Show plus  CarFare, under tents at the Maine Mall. On Display were nearly 200 new 1993 models from 25 manufactures, plus dozens of vintage collector cars. A “Tune-up Party” preview and gala had been held on Friday evening.

The season’s opening Pops Concert was performed at PCHA on Saturday evening, October 24th, followed by a repeat concert the next afternoon. Mr. Shimada had invited jazz pianist Tommy Gallant and his All-Stars to appear with the PSO (HS:  Portland’s Don Doane was in the sextet, on trombone.). The P-H had advised readers that “the Gallant-PSO pops program includes arrangements of Variations on Dixie; Southern Breeze; and Fantasy on the Saints”.” While numbers that the Symphony played on its own didn’t qualify as pure Dixieland, their being selected was based on the PSO music director wanting to maintain a “southern” connection. Thus he choose the junior Johann Strauss’s Roses of the South, Op. 388; Ferde Grofé’s musical portrayal of The Big Muddy, his Mississippi Suite; Max Steiner’s Tara Theme from “Gone With the Wind”; and Jerome Kern’s “Showboat” Overture. The All-Stars, several of whom had performed with the biggest names in Dixieland and swing, also performed some of their signature New Orleans Dixieland, Chicago-style jazz and big band and swing hits. It’s a sure-fire bet that you’d have enjoyed every one!  At the Jazz Band Ball and Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone had solos by Dave Whitney on cornet and Portland’s Don Doane on trombone. The sextet also swung into Honeysuckle Rose and then Sweet Georgia Brown, which featured (HS: So reported the P-H.) “clarinet wizardry by Jerry Fuller and a witty bass solo by Jim Howe”. That concert review noted that the bassist made “passing allusions to Fascinatin’ Rhythm and Dixie”. The All-Stars answered final enthusiastic audience applause with an encore, a reported-to-be mellow Just a Closer Walk With Thee. The PSO also played an encore, Robert Wendel’s orchestral spoof, Saint Baileys’ Rag.

Portland City Hall Auditorium was filled with third-to-sixth-grade students on Monday, October 26. A pair of Youth Concerts were presented that day, following on the “Swing and Dixieland” theme of the weekend’s Pops concerts, as today’s concert was billed as “Way Down South in Dixie”. Tommy Gallant and the All-Stars joined the Orchestra and guest conductor Richard Vanstone, and the musical highlights included Frank Proto’s arrangements of both Fantasy on the Saints and his Variations on Dixie; also Selections from “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin; Huckleberry Finn from “Mississippi Suite” by Ferde Grofé; a Stephen Foster Medley; and the traditional folk song, Yellow Rose of Texas, arranged by Carmen Dragon. Mr. Gallant and his band performed several individual pieces that focused on the concept of Jazz improvisation. Mr. Gallant had honed his trade by earlier stints with the bands of Woody Herman and Bobby Hackett. He was now a teacher at Phillips Exeter Academy.

Candlelight subscribers gathered at the Sonesta Hotel’s Eastland Ballroom for the 1992-1993 Season’s first pair of PSO chamber concerts since the springtime, Sunday the 1st of November. Tenor Jan Berlin was once again on hand for a program entirely devoted to the music of Franz Schubert, composer of many classic works that tended toward the lighter, more sublime side of the art. With the PSO, he sang the lieder An Die Musik, then the reflective Im Abendrot and finally Serenade, a musical poem from a lover to a beloved in the middle of the night. Mr. Shimada also conducted the Orchestra in Incidental Music from “Rosamude”, an Entr’ Acte and Ballet Music, from the composer’s romantic drama. The melodic Symphony No. 2 in B-flat Major, D. 125 was also played. A post-concert P-H review by Nick Humez favorably mentioned Mr. Berlin’s “quality in his lower register”, also his “clear diction and sensitive interpretation”. The article by Mr. Humez mentioned that Maestro Shimada took questions from the audience following the intermission, an invitation that “carries its risks”. He playfully poked fun at the PSO Music Director in regard to a concertgoer asking “why the English translations seem to pale next to the German originals”, concluding that Mr. “Shimada wrestled to a draw” with his response.

Although at this time (May, 2013) no specifics have been spotted in the PSO Archives, a later-published 75th  Anniversary timeline of Symphony Highlights over the decades noted that during the 1992-1993 season some chamber concerts were performed by the Orchestra at the Portsmouth Music Hall. A logical guess would be that works played at some of those concerts were the same as those performed at the season’s four Candlelight Concerts in Portland. (HS: It is positively known that at least one PCHA Classical Concert this season was repeated the next night in Portsmouth.)

The second pair of Pops Concert of the 1992-1993 PSO Season were performed on Saturday and Sunday, the 14th & 15th of November. A wizard was on hand, according to advance promotional newspaper articles, a harmonica whiz renowned as a dazzling showman and master of his instrument, 36-year-old New Yorker, Robert Bonfiglio. He performed pops, blues and Broadway hits with the PSO, including George Gershwin’s Summertime, Claude Debussy’s Reverie, a memorable Medley of Stephen Foster’s Music, John Philip Sousa’s Harmonica Wizard March and David Guion’s The Harmonica Player. A recipient of a music degree from Mannes College and a master’s from the Manhattan School of Music, both in composition, Mr. Bonfiglio knew his way around musical staffs as well as his instrument. On its own, the Symphony performed orchestral works composed by Cole Porter and Mr. Gershwin. By the former were Easy to Love; Night and Day; In the Still of the Night; and So in Love from “Kiss Me, Kate”. Gershwin’s Overture to “Girl Crazy” and his Overture to “Oh, Kay” were enjoyed by concertgoers. As well, was Gioacchino Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra” Overture and Franz von Suppé’s 1864 “Pique Dame” Overture. No post-concert newspaper reviews are included in the PSO’s Archive file of “Pops” concerts for this season, thus you are on your own (HS: if you even care....) to guess how the harmonica whiz was received by audiences this weekend. Before the Sunday-afternoon performance, the orchestra sponsored an Instrument “Petting Zoo” in the lobby where youngsters could hear and try out different orchestral instruments such as violins, flutes, trumpets, French horns and harp. Once it was decided to have a harp on display, there was no more space remaining such that a harmonica section of the zoo could be set up (HS:  Only kidding.... only kidding.).

On Sunday afternoon, November 22, Mr. Shimada led both the University of Southern Maine Chamber Orchestra and the USM Chorale in a performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s sacred Gloria, RV 589. The PSO conductor was conducting the chorale this semester during the sabbatical leave of Robert Russell, the USM’s Director of Chorale Music. This concert was presented at the Portland High School Auditorium.

The 1992 first-prize winner of the biennial PSO-Priscilla Morneault Piano Competition, Gregg Pauley, was guest soloist with the Orchestra at the December 1st Classical Concert in PCHA. He performed the work that he played in the competition finals, Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 4 in G. Major, Op. 58. Writing the Press Herald, reviewer Rojean Tulk expressed the opinion that the recent University of Maine graduate “played with an abandon that belied his age. His style was expressive and graceful. His body language sang along with his playing, and his performance of the final solo in the first movement was particularly effective.” The other work performed this Tuesday evening was Gustav Mahler’s hour-long Symphony No. 4 in G Major for Orchestra and Soprano Solo. During that composition’s final movement, 1991 UM-Orono graduate, soprano Elizabeth Nicholas, making her professional debut, came on stage and sang the Wonderhorn song, Das himmlische Leben. Both the young pianist and the young vocalist were thought to “Shine” in their debuts with the PSO.

Under Maestro Shimada, the PSO previously had performed Mahler’s Seventh and Fifth symphonies. The Music Director was by now saying publicly that he planned to present a Mahler work every year until the composer’s entire symphonic repertoire has been performed in Portland. (HS:  So....... let’s keep track as the years progress in this THINGS-PSO.)

The Portland Symphony Orchestra musicians’ attention and work for the rest of December now turned to this year’s “Magic of Christmas” performances, the popular family-event’s 13th year providing Yuletide-season happiness to youngsters and adults. In addition to the conductor Toshi Shimada and the Symphony, guest appearances were set for actress/singer soprano Karri Nussle (HS: A well-received Hampton Playhouse performer the last three summer seasons), The Boy Singers of Maine, the 150 voices of Portland-region singers in the Magic of Christmas Chorus under director Judith Quimby, and organist Ray Cornils. The PSO staff projected that combined attendance at the 11 concerts, including four week-end matinees, would exceed 20,000, and in the end that estimate appeared to be a “low ball”, since once again nearly 25,000 concertgoers enjoyed the shows.

The December 14th Portland Press Herald headline above Nick Humez’ review of one of the first-Sunday’s concert instantly revealed how successful the PSO’s advance efforts had turned out, “It’s ‘Magic’ – to hear and see”.

As was by now tradition, early arrivals were treated to a recital by Municipal Organist Ray Cornils. He made the mighty Kotzschmar Memorial Organ sing with a delightful blend of classics and popular melodies, with the range extending from Hector Berlioz’ Shepherds Farewell to Ralph Blaine’s Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The P-H reported that “the concert opened with (Eugène) Gigout’s Grand Choeur Dialogué, in which orchestra and organ exchanged salvos in a stilling fanfare”. Ms. Nussle acted as emcee, reading some poems and using her fine vocal talents in Pietro Yon’s Gesù Bambino and also Alice Parker’s arrangement of the ancient English Christmas Carol, So Blessed a Sight, backed by the chorus. She also sang The Little Drummer Boy; Silver Bells; and, of course, Irving Berlin’s classic --  White Christmas. Of course, the full-house audience was treated to excerpts from Georg Frideric Handel’s “Messiah”. The Boy Singers of Maine, about to head off to Washington, D.C. for a 1993 Presidential Inauguration Parade appearance, sang John Rutter’s arrangement of I Saw Three Ships, the Slovak carol Hasten Swiftly, Hasten Softly, and the spiritual Go Tell It on the Mountain. The chorus also contributed several holiday-season classics, such as What Child is this?; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; and Angels We Have Heard on High.

On its own, the Symphony performed Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy and also the Grand Finale, both from “The Nutcracker”. For certain, “Pops” favorites were also on the program, with Ms. Nussle singing the lead vocals in a medley which included Santa Claus is Coming to Town; Winter Wonderland; and (HS: The P-H came up with this next clever one.) “a renowned caribou named Rudolph”. When funny hats suddenly appeared on the heads of the PSO musicians, “Magic” old-timers immediately knew what was coming........ Leroy Anderson’s wonderful Sleigh Ride. A Robert Shaw and Robert Russell Bennett Medley of Christmas Carols preceded the traditional carol sing-along which concluded the program.

LOTS of action occurred this year regarding plans to renovate Portland City Hall Auditorium. Reviewing many happenings: The Richmond-Crissman-Izenour team submitted its proposed design approach. They claim that their plans will meet the City’s stated RFP goals:

Especially to make City Hall “Auditorium into a major performance center in New England”.... “to serve larger and more varied audience(s), and which attracts the best performers” who want to exhibit their artistic talents in an excellent venue. Improved comfort for both audiences and performers are also major requirements. “The orchestra needs to be able to hear itself play; traveling shows need a fly loft and stage wing area; dancers need a resilient floor; the Kotzschmar organ needs to maintain the long reverberation time of the room”. Also required are “backstage a new rehearsal room”.... and “enlarged dressing room capacity”. ALSO INCLUDED AMONG THE CITY’S GOALS (<HS emphasis added) is the obligation to “respect”...”the valued historic and architectural qualities of the building”. “On the interior, as much as possible of the original detailing is to be retained in the public spaces.” And...... “Lastly, the project needs to be tailored to meet the $6 million project budget established earlier.”

Significant objectives the Richmond-led team proposed included:

• Bring closer together the side walls of the auditorium
Strongly asserted is that a hall shaped in a two-by-one ratio is an absolute requirement

• Remove existing balconies, constructing a single, more steeply sloped balcony with small wing balconies cantilevered from each side of the room.

• Seating to be continental style, with total audience capacity reduced (by 400) to 2000

• Existing coffered plaster ceiling and pro-proscenium restored and repainted

• Contraction of an additional floor backstage, to be occupied by two rehearsal rooms, additional dressing rooms, offices and storage space

• Painting the interior black

• Installing an orchestra shell that would partially hide the organ façade.

Shortly thereafter (January), the Building Committee endorses the design presented by Crissman-Solomon/Richmond and Izenour team.

During this period of time, Greater PortlandCARES was out seeking financial support for the project. Their early spadework results in a large donor pledging $200,000 to CARES; while FOKO and PSO supporters pledge $700,000. The group succeeds in raising more than $2,000,000. PSO, PCA and FOKO provide more than 100 volunteers for the effort. The primary funds are solicited from patrons of those organizations. More than 1100 individuals, foundations and businesses from New Hampshire to Presque Isle contribute to the cause, with more than 72% of the gifts coming from outside the City of Portland. Although widespread concerns about the experts’ assertions that the historic balconies need to be removed are widely expressed by many people solicited for pledges; however most accept this situation and agree to support PortlandCARES. The funding group asked the designer team, over and over, “Are you SURE” that this is the only way to go?  The answer is always a strong “Yes!” (sources: PortlandCARES files and interviews)

Crissman Solomon withdrew from the project after disagreements with Douglas Richmond because of a fee dispute, “at odds over how to split up the work  -  and pay under the city-awarded contract awarded (sic) a year ago”. Former Portland Mayor “Linda Abromson, (also a)... former city councilor who heads the city’s Auditorium Committee” referred to the news as “a bombshell”. The Press Herald reported that the committee was “concerned that Richmond’s firm was not large enough to handle the task”.

It wasn’t long until Winton Scott was subsequently named to work with George Richmond as the architectural firm to replace Crissman as the architect of record.

Although old news sources are short of specifics on the reason for the Crissman break from Richmond, one did include reference to how “Jim Crissman....recently quit over a dispute with Richmond. The dispute centered on how the work — and $500,000 in fees — were going to be split up, according to Richmond. ‘It was like saying we were going to build a railroad track to Bangor and your firm was going to put in the ties and rail and mine was going to put in the bushes along the way”, Richmond explained. (Casco Bay Weekly)

Prior to voting approval, the Building Committee made open for public view a scale model earlier prepared by Richmond and Izenour that displayed the proposed renovations. Portland newspapers reported that “Historic preservationists” in the city decried the gutting of the auditorium’s interior, particularly the removal of balconies. Editorial support for that position was substantial... affecting public opinion. Published reports of the time always referred to “concerned citizens” or the above-mentioned “historic preservationists”, invariably almost always reporting that those individuals were not representing the Greater Portland Landmarks group (HS: During the early phases of my researching I thought that “out-caveat” was just political cover..... although later I was very surprised to learn that, indeed, GPL had zero involvement. That seemed most strange..... and still continues to be a puzzle in my mind.)

Some individual objectors to the Richmond/Izenour would publicly testify before the Building Committee, requesting a delay before the Committee voted on whether to approve the proposals. An idea was proposed to form a privately-funded committee to develop a second opinion to determine if alternative ways could be developed to meet the Committee’s already-set criteria of acoustics, sightlines, budget and operational feasibility. The Building Committee authorized Earle Shettleworth, Jr. to head such a group, named The Second Opinion Committee. That committee was charged to find and manage private funds to pay expenses. Tension was high.

Speaking at the meeting was the son of Sally W. Rand, president of Maine Citizens for Historic Preservation. By coincidence Robert Rand’s experience included service as a senior scientist, specialized in areas of acoustics, with the international industrial construction and engineering firm Stone & Webster (HS learned that his industrial and commercial experience was extensively focused on acoustics and vibration work). Mr. Rand focused on addressing Dr. Izenour’s proposed plans to eliminate the auditorium’s balconies and supposedly improve acoustics. His observations included:

• Balconies definitely DO NOT need to be gutted to achieve better acoustics

• A number of Izenour’s assumptions regarding acoustic changes are uncertain as to effect

• Central design element of stage must be a ‘live’, voicing stage to project the acoustic energy of the symphony, constructed of correct woods

• First floor seating area should be narrowed (by about four to five seats) on each side

• Seats need to be carefully selected to control sound reverberations and echoes

• Reflection phase grating diffusers needed on side walls

• Replacement balconies, if curved, would improve sightlines, with rake increased

• So-called ‘cloud’ acoustic panels hanging from ceiling may unintentionally unduly accentuate woodwind sounds.

Needless to say, the PortlandCARES fund-raisers feared an exodus of pledges, after having already made their solicitations using impressive color portraits and diagrams of a new Auditorium to a huge number of (what turned out to be successful) meetings. Although both its leaders and many people who had already agreed to support the group’s cause had long been somewhat uncomfortable with (and had repeatedly questioned the experts about) the Richmond/ Izenour plans, they had “come to grips” with the concept after the architects’ repeated and repeated their strong professional assertions. The PortlandCARES group was, understandably, very nervous. More than a few feared a CRASH of the entire project.

The Second Opinion Committee was quietly formed by Earle Shettleworth so as to not undermine fund-raising activities. (Maine Historic Society files --- collection of Jane Moody)

Ultimately, over 80 individuals contributed to the Second Opinion study — many of whom had earlier also committed pledges to the Portland CARES fund drive for the actual renovation of the Auditorium. An internal SOC document that HS examined notes a worthy, yet also politically-intelligent (and politically-necessary) philosophy for the group:  “All of us share the same goal-  the best for the Auditorium’s future.”
(see anecdotes re another likely local-politics factor during that era)

None-the-less, repeating something written earlier-----  Tension WAS VERY High.

(But... Getting ahead of the story, in the end virtually all the active parties seeking an improved auditorium will come together--  a definite tribute to the people of Portland.)

A Press Herald report broke the news to the public that a “group of preservationists not linked directly to Greater Portland Landmarks have hired an acoustics expert”.

The PSO placed a “Dear PSO Friends” letter-insert in the program-booklet handed to concertgoers of the October and November concerts of 1992. The letter informed that “Our goal is to achieve the best possible auditorium for audiences and performers, now and well into the future.” It mentioned that “we are committed to examining every suggestion that presents a reasonable solution to the hall’s many problems. This process will take a bit longer than originally projected.” Continuing, PSO President Mary Nelson assured that “The primary objectives of the project are to solve the problems with sightlines and acoustics while preserving as much of the auditorium’s architectural character as possible, provide for greater economic viability of the facility, and spend no more than is raised by Greater Portland CARES.” She also wrote that “The Building Committee, comprised of representatives of the major user groups, the Portland City Council, and the public, is carefully studying proposals that adhere to these objectives, and working to ensure that the project is completed within a reasonable period of time.” The PSO did not take a specific public position, pro or con, on the Richmond/Izenour proposal----nor would it later take a public position on what would be an alternative proposal based on acoustic plans from Kirkegaard and Associates. A scan-copy of Mrs. Nelson’s letter is attached to the 1992-1993 Season Opening-Night PSO concert program details that are available for viewing at

A local newspaper report quoted Maine State Historian, the state’s preservation director, Earle Shettleworth, as calling the Izenour plan “radical surgery” and putting forth the argument “when you’re considering radical surgery in the real world, you get a second opinion.”

At some point, perhaps about now, Izenour made known to newspapers his views about the balconies: “They’re a disaster” wrote one paper detailing his beliefs. “The Portland Auditorium is a dog, not an architectural gem. And if you’ve got a dog, you rip it out and forget it” was the paper’s quote from the theater designer who they describe as being “a little cranky about his experience in Maine.” (Casco Bay Weekly) (HS: “international reputation for theater design?” — Maybe Yes. Does he have a “local reputation for verbal diplomacy?” — No..... definitely not.)

The Second Opinion Committee attempted to persuade internationally-renowned acoustical architect, Larry Kirkegaard, to agree to formulate alternative renovation plans for City Hall Auditorium and then also to seek an alternative contract award from the Building Committee. If he eventually agreed to the latter that would then also be a direct attempt to have Izenour dismissed from the project, and likely also the Douglas Richmond firm. The SOC attempted to work “in the background” so as to not adversely affect representations made by PortlandCARES to donors, that had of course, been based upon the Izenour design. The SOC stressed to Kirkegaard the necessity that any alternative design he might agree to develop must 100%-fulfill those promises---- excellent acoustics, improved sightlines, new seating, enhanced organ performance..... achieving all those while maintaining the basic existing seat layout (preserving the balconies being the top requirement), also not resorting to continental seating on the main floor level.

Larry Kirkegaard twice visited the auditorium in Portland, and was intrigued as to the possibilities to preserve the balconies while also improving sightlines and acoustical conditions. Earle Shettleworth recalls Kirkegaard’s initial Saturday morning visit to the auditorium:  “He came out after going into the empty and still hall for about 16 minutes, saying it was ‘easily fixable; I know exactly what to do’.” (HS: there is an anecdote containing Mr. Kirkegaard’s recall.) Holmes Stockly recalls that Mr. Kirkegaard saying “The problem is not the hall.... it’s the stage.”

Not surprisingly, early on very few folks gave encouragement to Mr. Kirkegaard and the small group of Portlanders who felt that he was the best man for the job. At one early information meeting when he had flown to Portland from Chicago, ONLY ONE representative of the many user groups and the Building Committee attended, Russ Burleigh, who was a stand-in associated with FOKO (HS: He came to the session with an open mind, and told me that he left impressed.). The PSO did not send anyone, nor did PCA (HS: Amazing.... and also mysterious.). To say that an uphill fight was ahead is an understatement. Inexplicably, Greater Portland Landmarks “took a pass” on the issue (HS: One would logically expect the “take out the balconies” factor to have made that group’s involvement automatic. Perhaps this potato was just “too hot”. [HS: Twenty years later, my questions about GPL’s non-involvement generally resulted in conversations shifting. My sense was that politics apparently surpassed principals.] A senior employee of GPL devoted significant personal time to help the Second Opinion Committee; but the GPL board steered entirely clear of both the issue and the controversy.)

Although several PSO Annual Reports published during this era referred to the private-public partnership model to renovate PCHA, the primary focus of comments concerned the PSO readying for transition-periods ahead that would affect temporary concert venues and new challenges attracting and accommodating concertgoers.

Two months later Mr. Kirkegaard formally addressed the Building Committee and laid out numerous specific concepts and also arguments in a professional attempt to win a design contract. He would later submit specific proposals that focus on design goals of: convenience, comfort, seating, sound absorption, acoustics, how the hall can gain multiple uses, a better orchestra pit, an enlarged stage floor, better stage walls, acoustic reflectors and a rehearsal room (these were his major categories, from an article in The Maine Sunday Telegram.)

Larry Kirkegaard presented his plans to the Building Committee on November 30. He emphasized his convictions that his approach would definitely improve the auditorium’s acoustics and sightlines without gutting the structure. City records indicate that George Izenour was in attendance at that presentation. There is no indication whether Izenour rebutted any of the Kirkegaard firm’s arguments at this meeting.

In a 2014 conversation, Toshi Shimada told of how “Izenour had worked at the origination of Houston’s (concert) hall”, adding that “I kept my mouth shut about him”. Mr. Shimada also had some knowledge of Mr. Kirkegaard, offering that he had “renovated Houston –  so I knew he was good.”

Related to a reporter’s question, a newspaper article that ran following the meeting reported a most diplomatic reply, reflecting that “Kirkegaard said he respects Izenour, but added that Izenour is really a theater designer. Izenour has probably consulted with so many acoustical experts that he feels confident in calling himself an acoustician”.

Fortunately for Portland, a characterization regarding Larry Kirkegaard was true: he “liked to ‘fix up the bones’ rather than tear everything up and start all over again.” (HS: from a phone interview with a former associate of the Kirkegaard firm)

Larry Kirkegaard’s views reached the public: “acoustical and sightline problems.... Can be corrected without gutting the structure” (re source: newspaper name missing on microfilm; likely the Press Herald)

Among the Kirkegaard proposals, other key factors included:

--placing panels on the ceilings; with the on-site architect Winton Scott to handle mechanical design of moveable side walls

--moving sidewalls several feet inward, and using massive materials to shape walls and ceiling

--making the stage floor resilient, replacing current concrete stage with new flooring

--pushing back the wall at back of stage by 16 feet; re-creating and improving the orchestra pit;

--moving back the organ 16 feet; also reinstalling the 32-ft organ pipes removed in 1967

--removing focusing plaster ceiling and replacing it with a splayed, acoustically diffuse ceiling

--“narrowing of the room in the zone of the proscenium is fundamental” to most effectively influence reflected sound. That is “the zone where narrowness is most critical to early sound development”

--raising the ceiling of the upper balcony three feet, to increase sound area for lower balcony

--upper balcony to rise more sharply than the lower (the term “Grand Tier” not yet adopted)

--side walls of orchestra-level seating area be brought inward, with hallway concession areas

--large windows to be double glazed to reduce unwanted reverberations

--open up the ceiling with acoustical grilles to improve overhead acoustics

(HS note:  Interviews made it crystal clear that City Hall officials were “very nervous” throughout this period.)

Donnell Consultants of Tampa, Florida was hired by the Committee to evaluate “acoustically and functionally improving the Portland Civic Auditorium in accordance with preliminary design recommendations and sketches provided by Kirkegaard”. In short..... Donnell’s work would be independent third-party budget-reality evaluations and comparisons of both the Kirkegaard and Richmond-led team renovation proposals. Their involvement was critical, and ultimately very significant.

--Donnell “immediately commenced reviewing the drawings and documentation and (was)..liaising with Larry Kirkegaard and Robert (Rand)” (the latter representing the Second Opinion Committee)

--Donnell ultimately estimated Kirkegaard’s scheme at $5.0 million, below budget.

The understandably-nervous Building Committee also decided to run another independent check of the two dueling acousticians’ proposals. The committee commissioned South Carolina-based consultant M. David Egan (a Clemson Univ. acoustics professor) to review the two competing renovation proposals.(Press Herald 11/10/92) Incredulously, he said both plans would work. (HS: What a great job—take the $10 grand and render no choice!)

HS interviews revealed that both the Building Committee and the City Council members were, more and more, coming to the observation that the Richmond/Izenour team couldn’t seem to portray who was in charge.

An angry Izenour, by now likely sensing that his plan was toast, and thus primarily only an ineffective defender of his own (unaltered) plan, was quick to offer furious characterizations of Kirkegaard’s plan when interviewed by local reporters:

....”a bad joke”

....”defies belief” (both quotes in Press Herald [within a week of Kirkegaard having released its plans])

....”said he wouldn’t have sought the job if preserving the balconies was one of the initial criteria. (He said ‘Life is too short. This is nonsense.’)” (Casco Bay Weekly)

....”historic preservationists go into a sweat when they see ornament(also Casco Bay Weekly)

The public was provided with impressive past-contract credentials of Kirkegaard & Associates, which included:

Davies Hall in San Francisco

Carnegie Hall in New York City

Orchestra Hall in Chicago

Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood

Symphony Hall in Boston

Academy of Music in Philadelphia

Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh

Jones Hall in Houston

Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, England

Also projects for London Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, New England Conservatory, Cincinnati Conservatory, Emory University, Curtis Institute


1993       Tuesday, January 12 brought concertgoers, Mr. Shimada and the PSO musicians back to PCHA for the New Year’s first Classical Concert. An all-orchestral evening was on tap this evening, with what the post-concert Press Herald article re