October 20, 2011

PSO soloist finds harmony in her Maine life and music

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Laurie Kennedy's life priorities go something like this: Family, classical music and a rural lifestyle.

click image to enlarge

Violist Laurie Kennedy joins the PSO on Sunday.

Courtesy PSO


WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland

HOW MUCH: $20 to $58

INFO: portlandsymphony.org

Thanks to her 30-year association with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Kennedy has all three lined up quite nicely.

A violist, Kennedy will be the featured soloist at Sunday's PSO performance at Merrill Auditorium. Under the direction of Robert Moody, Kennedy will lead the orchestra in Bloch's "Suite Hebraique," a three-movement piece that highlights the sonorous characteristic of the viola.

"Bloch was a great writer for viola," said Kennedy, who suggested the piece when Moody sought her input. "Bloch just loved the viola, and said it was one of his favorite instruments. He wrote a number of substantial pieces for the viola."

Sunday's program also includes Barber's Essay No. 1 and Schubert's Symphony No. 9, known as "The Great."

Kennedy has lived in Cathage, located in western Maine between Rumford and Farmington, since 1971.

She came to the PSO after spending several years working with full-time orchestras across North America. She began her career at age 21 with the Montreal symphony, and also performed with the Vancouver Symphony and the Buffalo (N.Y.) Philharmonic.

In addition to her work in Portland, Kennedy is deeply involved in chamber music. She performs at the Sebago-Long Lake Music Festival, which she also directs. She is founder, co-director and violist with Maine Mountain Chamber Music, and teaches viola, violin and chamber music in the Farmington area.

"I am very much a country person. I love being outdoors, hiking and gardening. Coming to Maine and settling down in Maine was a gathering together of all those important things to me," she said.

"The Portland Symphony fit right in. It allowed me to continue my chamber music career, which has been a large part of my life. I have brought up children, known a rural setting and continued to live that way, growing my own food and having a very good orchestra to play with."

Kennedy grew up in Amherst, Mass. Music was a part of her life for as long as she can remember. She started out on the piano, and jumped over to the violin when she was 5. Chamber music soon followed. She made the move from violin to viola in her teens.

Kennedy has spent months preparing for Sunday's concert -- a major commitment of time and energy for 13 or 14 minutes of performance. For her, it's less about the finished piece and more about the process.

"When I have a performance like this, I consider it a growing experience for me," she said. "I am not just learning a new piece, I am taking upward steps in my performance and how I approach the piece. It's a project, not a goal."

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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