Kennebunk, ME. Maestro Bruce Hangen returned to lead the Portland Symphony Orchestra in an outdoor Music On Main concert in downtown Kennebunk on Thursday evening July 26, 2018 at 6:00 pm, right after the rainstorm.
The sun came out and together with the music pleased an expectant audience. Maestro Hangen is a former music director of the Portland Symphony Orchestra. This is the third year for this relatively new annual event.
Eclectic programming delighted and led this obviously new symphony audience to consistent heights of responsive energy, leading them to continue to applaud between orchestral movements of the last work of the evening.
It was the Symphony No. 1 by Ludwig van Beethoven. Hangen hung in, this time not acknowledging the applause until the conclusion of the four movements of the Beethoven.
The final movement of the symphony begins with unfinished runs up the scale one after another, each successively not quite reaching the goal until it breaks out into a grand flourish of irresistible melody. What a way to hook a new audience strongly enough to lure them to Merrill Auditorium in Portland for the season! The evening’s success will also attract support for future seasons of Music on Main in the Waterhouse pavilion.
“Salut d'Amour” by Sir Edward Elgar was familiar to the elderly in the audience as the theme song of a radio show in their youth although the name of the show may escape them. The violin section soared through the melody with notable dialogue later from the clarinet.
The presentation of the first movement of the W. A. Mozart “Clarinet Concerto” by Principal Clarinetist Robert Parchman was sure-to-please crowd programming. For me, it recalled the scene in “Out of Africa” in which the monkeys discover and were fascinated by this work as it was played on an old Victrola.
A syncopated selection associated with the outstanding Kronos Quartet proved to be for me the high point of the evening. “The Funky Chicken” by David Kechley had a distinctive sound and flavor to make it irresistible even to those who may not yet fully embrace classical music. The Symphony can indeed jazz it upon on cue. Personally, I enjoyed the orchestral instrumentation better than the Kronos YouTube rendition that can be found online.
The program had opened with the rousing Rossini “Barber of Seville Overture.” This was followed by delightful “Romanian Folk Dances” collected from the countryside and composed by Bela Bartok. Then the musicians sought to amuse with “March of the Kitchen Utensils” by R. Vaughn Williams.
Many thanks are due the Virginia Hodgkins Somers Foundation, Spang Builders, Kennebunk Savings and other patrons. Future ongoing fundraising will be needed to assure continuity of this annual event. Volunteers passed through the capacity crowd to collect donations in watermelon logo bags.
This retired writer is grateful to Huntington Common of Kennebunk for providing a bus to the event. Earlier reviews by Mary Elizabeth Nordstrom remain online at her CVNC.org Author Page.