Office of Public Affairs

USM School of Music professor and alumnus guide PSO through the solar system on March 3

Lehmann conducting

Join the University of Southern Maine School of Music (SoM) faculty member Robert Lehmann on Sunday, March 3, at 2:30 p.m., when he will guest conduct the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s (PSO) Discovery Concert, Solar System Symphony, at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. Eric Berry-Sandelin, a 2016 USM SoM Musical Theater alumnus, will act as narrator and guide for the musical space journey.

Solar System Symphony combines astronomy and live classical music for an afternoon spent among the stars. Discovery Concerts bring the whole family together to enjoy the music of the PSO. Concerts are approximately one-hour long and take the audience on a mind-expanding and educational journey with the full orchestra. Doors open at 1:00 p.m. for games, a hands-on Instrument Petting Zoo, and lots more musical fun - costumes are encouraged!

Lehmann is a substitute violinist with the PSO, and over the years has also been a frequent guest conductor, including 2006 Magic of Christmas.

"Contributing to and being inspired by the dynamic arts scene of the Portland area is one of the great strengths of our program. Our faculty, alumni and students are a part of the sound of this region. It is particularly exciting when they get to work together in such a high profile way," said Alan Kaschub, director, USM School of Music.

"Choosing music for a concert about the solar system is like taking a kid to the candy store, " said Lehmann.

PSO concert promoHe describes the concert's musical journey through the universe:

"The concert begins on Earth, with Ferde Grofe’s evocative “Sunrise” from his Grand Canyon Suite, which pays homage to our Sun as it dawns, brightens and blazes across this natural wonder. From here we move a bit higher, to the clouds. I chose Claude Debussy’s “Nuages” as the perfect vehicle to demonstrate the musical equivalent of the visual arts’ “Impressionism.” Through clever orchestration and ground-breaking harmonies, Debussy is able to paint a picture in sound.

Although Franz Joseph Haydn lived 200 years before humans traveled to the Moon, he wrote an entire opera about it. The “Age of Enlightenment” was one of great scientific exploration. It is curious that both religion and science can agree that the universe was created by some sort of ‘big bang’. Haydn’s ‘Depiction of Chaos’ from his oratorio “The Creation” will be re-imagined as a compressed history of our planet and its place orbiting in our solar system.

Gustav Holst wrote his seminal suite “The Planets” with more of an eye toward Astrology than Astronomy, nevertheless, he imagines the personalities of our planets though both mythology and scientific observation and as early as 1914 created the orchestral sounds that will come to exemplify “space music” for years to come. During this concert, we will sample Mars, the warrior as well as Jupiter, the bringer of jollity. To travel to these planets we need music from “Star Trek”, and once we begin exploring other solar systems and civilizations, no Space Concert would be complete without John Williams’ “Star Wars”."

Don't miss out! This performance is designed for ages 5 - 12, but all are welcome; all tickets are $10.