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November at the School of Music features tribute to Bernstein and JFK, orchestral, jazz, chamber music and seasonal favorites

USM's Vocal Jazz Ensemble

The fall semester is in full swing at the University of Southern Maine School of Music. The month of November will feature a variety of concerts showcasing the School’s faculty-led student ensembles, faculty concerts and seasonal favorites.

The popular Faculty Concert Series will continue with Barry Saunders’ “Classically Sax” concert on November 3. Saunders will perform several major works for saxophone with piano accompaniment, and several pieces for saxophone in a chamber music setting. Saunders will be joined by Dean Stein, violin; Patrick Owen, cello; and Chiharu Naruse, piano.

On November 4, the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Lehmann and Ben Richmond, will perform their fall concert at the Gorham Middle School Auditorium. The program will include Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 3,” Bolcom's "Commedia for 'almost' 18th century orchestra,” Wagner’s “Siegfried Idyll” and “Symphony No. 9” by Shostakovich.

The USM Concert Band, directed by Trae Blanco, will present Lennie and John at 100, celebrating the 100th birthdays of John F. Kennedy and Leonard Bernstein, on November 5.

USM’s student and faculty jazz ensembles will give their first concerts of the semester in Gorham and Portland, featuring the USM Jazz Combos at One Longfellow Square on November 7; the USM Vocal Jazz Ensembles directed by Taylor O'Donnell at Corthell Hall on November 14; and the Portland Jazz Orchestra and USM Jazz Ensemble on November 17 and 30, respectively, both directed by Christopher Oberholtzer at Corthell Hall.

On November 28, the USM Chamber Singers, conducted by Nicolás Alberto Dosman, will present their popular seasonal concert, Joyous Sounds for a Festive Season, at the Williston-Immanuel United Church in Portland.

November concert lineup:

Barry Saunders “Classically Sax”
November 3, 2017
8:00 PM

Barry Saunders has assembled fellow musicians to highlight the saxophone, include several major works for saxophone with piano accompaniment, and several pieces for saxophone in a chamber music setting. Joining Barry for this installment of the USM Faculty Concert Series will be Dean Stein, violin; Patrick Owen, cello; and Chiharu Naruse, piano.

Southern Maine Symphony OrchestraSouthern Maine Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert Lehmann and Ben Richmond
November 4, 2017
8:00 PM

The Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Robert Lehmann will perform their fall concert at the Gorham Middle School Auditorium. The program will include Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3, Bolcom's "Commedia for 'almost' 18th century orchestra,” Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, and Symphony No. 9 by Shostakovich. Conducting associate Ben Richmond will share the conductor's podium.

The Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra is a full-sized symphony orchestra comprised of USM students and talented members of the community.

Concert Band

Lennie and John at 100: USM Concert Band Conducted by Trae Blanco
November 5, 2017
2:00 PM

Featuring Mariana Mihai-Zoeter, soprano and SSG Chris Leslie, euphonium, West Point Band, we celebrate two great Americans, John F. Kennedy and Leonard Bernstein.

The alignment of the 100-year anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein and John F. Kennedy make for a monumental celebration over the United States with Bernstein extending across the globe.

According to Bernstein biographer Humphrey Burton, “Bernstein saw Kennedy as a leader with outstanding intellectual gifts and a sympathy for the arts. Kennedy recognized Bernstein had something of his own inspirational qualities and speed at grasping issues, as well as a passion for promoting the arts.” Bernstein said of Kennedy, “Of all the political men that I have ever met, [he] was certainly the most moving and compassionate and lovable.” The newly elected President selected Bernstein to compose and conduct a fanfare for Kennedy’s Inaugural Gala. Bernstein soon became a regular presence in the Kennedy White House. In turn, the President and his wife attended the opening night of Candide. Bernstein kept a signed photograph of the President on his piano.

USM Jazz Combos Perform at One Longfellow Square
November 7, 2017
7:00 PM
One Longfellow Square, Portland, Maine

Admission is $5 in advance, and on the day of the concert $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for students.

USM Jazz Combos under the direction of School of Music jazz faculty members, will perform a diverse and memorable show. This performance is a collaborative effort between OLS and USM to showcase the USM School of Music’s jazz program.

USM Vocal Jazz Ensembles Directed by Taylor O'Donnell
November 14, 2017
7:30 PM

The USM Vocal Jazz Ensemble, directed by Taylor O'Donnell, includes both music and non-music majors. The ensemble will perform intricate arrangements of jazz standards, as well as pieces written specifically for vocal jazz ensembles. Per the ensemble’s custom, the performance will include improvised vocal solos.

Youth EnsemblesUSM Youth Ensembles Fall Instrumental Concert
November 16, 2017
7:00 PM
Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle Street, Portland, Maine

The University of Southern Maine (USM) Youth Ensembles, Portland's outstanding regional youth music performance program, will perform their annual Fall instrumental concert at Merrill Auditorium.

Presented by the USM School of Music, the concert will include: the Portland Youth Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Robert Lehmann, USM director of string studies and orchestral activities; the Portland Youth Wind Ensemble, conducted by Trae Blanco, USM director of bands; the Portland Young People's String Consort, conducted by Deborah Dabczynski; and the Portland Youth Junior Orchestra, conducted by Ferdinand Liva, USM violin artist faculty member.

USM Youth Ensembles are sponsored by Macy's.

Portland Jazz OrchestraPortland Jazz Orchestra directed by Christopher Oberholtzer
November 17, 2017
8:00 PM

Music professor Chris Oberholtzer leads Maine’s premier big band, the Portland Jazz Orchestra in a concert that features original compositions and arrangements by members of the band. The Portland Jazz Orchestra is a non-profit jazz organization dedicated to curating jazz in Portland, Maine and fostering the growth of musical experiences in the New England area. A large part of PJO’s mission is to inspire, educate and in turn, develop future jazz audiences for generations to come. This show promises to be a swingin’ evening!

Opera Workshop Performance: The NEW Orient Express—All aboard for OPERA!
November 18, 2017
8:00 PM

A Night at the OperaIt is well known that the Orient Express during its existence changed its itinerary many times. Opera director Dr. Mariana Mihai-Zoeter together with the USM-Opera Workshop singers invite you to discover the newest itinerary of this famous train which now includes tickets to famous opera houses from each of the important cities where the train stops.

The travelers on the Orient Express train will be entertained with opera scenes from the following operas: Rinaldoby G. F. Handel, La cenerentola by G. Rossini, Faust by C. Gounod, Carmen by G. Bizet, Die Zauberflöte, Le nozze di Figaro, and La finta giardiniera by W.A. Mozart. All of them in their original languages! English translations will be provided!

Celestial Sounds: University Chorale, Southern Maine Children’s Choir and Southern Maine Youth Chorale
November 19, 2017
5:00 PM
State Street Church, 159 State Street, Portland

The “Celestial Sounds” concert will be an uplifting musical experience that is designed to reach a broad audience. Works to be featured include classical composers such as Haydn and Mozart as well as more contemporary works including a Broadway medley. In addition to diverse programming, this concert will include a diverse range of singers featuring the Southern Maine Children’s Chorus*, Southern Maine Youth Chorale*, and the University Chorale. The “Celestial Sounds” concert is sure to be a heavenly experience!

USM Youth Ensembles are sponsored by Macy's.

Mark Gibson Residency, Piano and Conducting
November 28, 2017 to November 29, 2017

Tuesday, November 28:
10-12: Opera master class.
1-5: Piano master class.

Wednesday, November 29:
3:45-5: Mark Gibson conducts the Wind Ensemble in an open rehearsal of Carter Pann’s “The Bach Buch”

7-9:30: Conducting master class with Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra in an open rehearsal of Wagner Siegfried Idyll, and Mozart Regina Coeli. Ben Richmond, graduate student choral conductor.

Internationally acclaimed conductor/pianist Mark Gibson will present two days of master classes in conducting, opera and piano.

Maestro Gibson, director of Orchestral Studies at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), University of Cincinnati, also serves as guest conducting faculty at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and the Hochschule für Musik und Theater, München, and has previously served as visiting director of orchestral studies at the Eastman School of Music and music director of the New York City Opera National Company.

Last summer he led the highly acclaimed world premiere of Greg Spears’s opera, Fellow Travelers, with the Cincinnati Opera. His book on conducting and music, The Beat Stops Here, was published earlier this year by Oxford University Press.

These master classes are free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Warren Memorial Foundation.

USM Chamber SingersJoyous Sounds for a Festive Season: USM Chamber Singers
November 28, 2017
7:30 PM
Williston-Immanuel United Church, 156 High Street, Portland

The USM Chamber Singers conducted by Nicolás Alberto Dosman present this favorite seasonal concert.

Suggested Donation $12. Sponsored by Norway Savings Bank.

USM Jazz Ensemble Directed by Christopher Oberholtzer
November 30, 2017
7:30 PM

The USM Jazz Ensemble, directed by Christopher Oberholtzer is a full sized 17 piece big band. This performance will be diverse in nature and will focus on more contemporary literature from composers such as Fred Sturm as well as more classic big band literature from the musical libraries of bands including Duke Ellington, Olivar Nelson and Buddy Rich.

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.

Unless otherwise noted:

  • Performances take place at Corthell Concert Hall on the USM Gorham Campus

  • Ticket prices for Faculty and Guest Artist concerts, and the Fall Musical are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, USM employees and alumni, and $5 for students.

  • Ticket prices for student ensembles are $8 for adults, $5 for students, seniors, USM employees and alumni

  • Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling (207) 780-5555, or in person during business hours, and whenever available, at the door.