Office of Public Affairs

Feb. 5, 2019 — USM and the Portland String Quartet Society celebrate Valentine's Day with “Baroque Pearls and Romantic Gems"


Press Contacts:
Danielle Vayenas, USM Director of Communications, 207-780-4150, cell 207-239-5715

Maureen Puia, PR/Event Promotions Associate, 207-780-4200

USM School of Music Contact:
Lori Arsenault, Performing Arts Operations and Concert Manager, 207-780-5142

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USM and the Portland String Quartet Society celebrate Valentine's Day with “Baroque Pearls and Romantic Gems"

On Sunday, February 17, 2:00 p.m., the University of Southern Maine School of Music and the Portland String Quartet Society co-present their popular Valentine’s Day concert. This year’s concert, titled "Baroque Pearls and Romantic Gems," takes place at Woodfords Congregational Church (202 Woodford Street) in Portland. Featuring violinist Ronald Lantz and pianist Laura Kargul, this performance marks the seventh time the duo has celebrated the holiday of romance with a concert in the Portland area.

The performance will feature a selection of romantic music drawn from a span of nearly three hundred years, ranging from the Baroque era through the twentieth century to include: "Adagio in G Minor," Albinoni; "Chaconne," Vitali; "Romance in F Major," Beethoven; "Sonata in F Minor, Op. 4," Mendelssohn; "Vocalise," Rachmaninoff; "Nocturne," Lili Boulanger; and "Café -1930," Piazzolla. The performance is sponsored by Dr. Newell and Tenney Augur, and Piper Shores.

Lantz and Kargul first performed as a duo on the Portland String Quartet concert series in 2010 and have continued to delight audiences near and far with their impassioned performances of romantic music combined with thoughtful and lively remarks from the stage. Recent tours include concerts in Arizona, Florida and Jamaica, as well as appearances throughout Maine and northern New England.

“We always try to introduce some lesser-known works to the public in our Valentine's concerts," says Kargul. "This time the 'new' work is the rarely performed "Sonata in F Minor" by Felix Mendelssohn, written when he was only 14."

"The sonata is particularly notable for its mature expression of romantic feeling," says Lantz. "Mendelssohn wrote it in 1823 when the 19th century's Romantic movement was still in its infancy, but the second movement is one of the most poetic and tender works composed in his short lifetime. At the age of 14 he was clearly already at the forefront of what was to come for the rest of the century."

Lantz goes on to describe the musical line-up for the evening in cinematic terms, "...whether the setting is a Baroque palace for the Vitali "Chaconne," or the sensuous, smoky atmosphere of a café in the 1930's as depicted by Piazzolla, the characteristics of 'romantic' music appear to be universal. No matter the century, there they are, once again: soaring lyricism and high drama juxtaposed with moments of tenderness and intimacy."

Ronald Lantz has taught and concertized in over 30 countries as a founding member of the Portland String Quartet. He has also performed with numerous symphony orchestras both as soloist and as principal player, and has served on the faculties of the University of New Hampshire, Bates College, the University of Southern Maine, Bowdoin College and Colby College, where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree. Mr. Lantz performs with a violin and bow made in Paris in the 1850's by the renowned instrument and bow maker, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.

Laura Kargul is the Director of Keyboard Studies at the University of Southern Maine School of Music. She has appeared as a soloist and collaborative artist throughout Europe and the USA, as well as in Canada and the West Indies, in venues such as the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, the Liszt-Haus in Weimar, the Aspen Music Festival, the Evian Festival of Chamber Music and the Chamber Music Festival of Lucca in Italy. She holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Michigan, where she studied with pianists Leon Fleisher and Theodore Lettvin and conductor Gustav Meier.

Tickets are $22 general public; $20 seniors; free for students and/or 21 and under. Subsidized tickets are available from the PSQ Society. Purchase online via USM at, by phone at (207)780-5555, and by phone via Portland String Quartet Society at (207)761-1522.

Those needing special accommodations to participate fully in this program, contact Lori Arsenault, (207) 780-5142, Hearing impaired: call USM's telex / TDD number (207) 780-5646.



Situated in Maine’s economic and cultural center, the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a public university with 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students taking courses online and at campuses in Portland, Gorham and Lewiston-Auburn. Known for its academic excellence, student focus and engagement with the community, USM provides students with hands-on experience that complements classroom learning and leads to employment opportunities in one of the nation’s most desirable places to live.