School of Music

USM School of Music, Local High School Choral Groups to Join in Performance of “Unfinished Masterpieces” at Merrill Auditorium

GORHAM, Maine – The University of Southern Maine (USM) School of Music will hold a high school choral invitational later this month at the Merrill Auditorium, featuring the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, University Chorale and five local high school chamber groups 

The concert, “Unfinished Masterpieces: Schubert’s ‘Unfinished Symphony’ and Mozart’s ‘Requiem,’” includes high school chamber groups from the following Maine towns: Freeport, Newcastle, Westbrook, Gorham and South Portland.

The details of the concert are:

  • “Unfinished Masterpieces: Schubert’s ‘Unfinished Symphony’ and Mozart’s ‘Requiem,’” 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 16, Merrill Auditorium, Portland; $15/$10 suggested donation at the door; open seating; sponsored by Macpage LLC and by Murray, Plumb and Murray.

The Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Lehmann, USM director of string studies and orchestral activities, will open the concert with Franz Peter Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony.” The orchestra is comprised of USM School of Music students as well as community members.

Schubert began composing “Unfinished Symphony” in 1822 and completed only two movements. The composer died in 1828 at the age of 31, and the piece wasn’t performed until 1865.

“Schubert’s ‘Unfinished Symphony’ was discovered in a pile of his manuscript papers several years after his death,” Lehmann said in a recent interview. “It’s his eighth symphony and one of his greatest pieces, and nobody quite knows why he didn’t finish it.

“While there is a school of thought that the piece is complete in and of itself, and that the two movements are meant to complement each other, Schubert did make sketches for the third movement but never got around to following through” Lehmann said.

The University Chorale, comprised of USM students, will be joined by the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra and the high school chamber groups to perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Requiem,” conducted by Robert Russell, USM professor of music and choral studies.

The high school chamber groups include: Freeport High School Chamber Choir, directed by Jessica Kenlan; Lincoln Academy Lincolnairs, directed by Beth Preston; Westbrook High School Chamber Singers, directed by Michelle Snow; Gorham High School Chamber Singers, directed by Matt Murray; and South Portland Chamber Singers, directed by Beverly Hosic.

“The directors of the chamber groups are excellent, and they have been wonderfully committed to, and invested in, this project,” Russell said.  “The students in these five groups are very strong singers, and they bring great value to this performance, alongside members of the University Chorale.”

In total, there will be more than 175 singers on the stage, along with the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, to project the intensity and depth of “Requiem.”

In July 1791, a mysterious visitor appeared at Mozart’s door and commissioned him to write a requiem for his recently deceased bride, offering half-payment in advance and half-payment upon completion.

Shortly after Mozart began working on the piece his health began to fail. Without knowing the name of the man who commissioned the piece, Mozart became convinced that he was in fact writing a requiem for his own death. Mozart died in December 1791 before completing the piece, which had been commissioned anonymously by Count Franz von Walsegg. 

There is a $15/$10 suggested donation for the concert, which can be made at the door. There will be open seating. For more information, call (207) 780-5555 or go to http://usm.maine.edu/music.

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The concert is sponsored by Macpage LLC and by Murray, Plumb and Murray.

Auditions for Community Area Musicians

Youth vocalists, Southern Maine Children's Choir (treble voices grades 4 and up) and Southern Maine Youth Chorale (middle/high school mixed voices) will hold auditions on Wednesday, September 3 beginning at 5:30 p.m. Schedule online.

Adult musicians, Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra auditions will be held on Wednesday, September 3 at 7 p.m. More information.

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