This week

At 8 p.m. Saturday at Gorham Middle School, the Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra will perform the premiere of ”The Lost Art of Steam Heating,” a new piece by composer and teacher Travis M. Ramsey, a 2003 alumna of the University of Southern Maine — for orchestra and two cast-iron radiators.

Yes, radiators.

”The Lost Art of Steam Heating” is a seven-minute piece inspired by the old house that Ramsey and his wife purchased in Malden, Mass., in 2007. ”We awoke many nights to the startling noises produced by an old steam heating system: radiators that hissed like demented teapots, pipes that banged loud enough to shake the floors, and a 1937 steam boiler that roared like a lioness in heat,” Ramsey says.

Written for orchestra, the piece also calls for unusual percussion instruments including two old radiators, plus the sound of a lion’s roar.

The composer includes the following instructions for how to play the radiators. ”Each radiator is to be struck with small metal hammers or heavy beaters. Percussionists should be able to locate three distinct sounds on the radiator: a high-pitched tone by striking the radiator on its top where the ribs connect; a low-pitched, ringing tone by striking the sides of the ribs; and a dull, dead tone by striking the legs or the valve at the bottom.”


In addition to Ramsey’s work, the program will include Mussorgsky’s ”Pictures at an Exhibition,” Mendelssohn’s ”Fingal’s Cave Overture” and three Slavonic dances by Dvorak. Robert Lehmann will conduct and share duties with School of Music graduate conducting student George Wiese and USM senior Craig Ouellette.

Gorham Middle School is on Weeks Road, and tickets cost $6, or $3 for seniors and students. For tickets, call the music box office at 780-5555.

This coming weekend, at 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Feb. 28, the Longfellow Chorus and Orchestra will present ”The Death of Minnehaha” by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The concert will also feature winning choruses, songs and short cantatas from the 2010 Longfellow Chorus International Composers Competition.

Portland resident Charles Kaufmann directs. The program features soloists Angela M. Brown and Robert Honeysucker.

Performances will be at First Parish Church, 425 Congress St., Portland. Admission is a suggested donation of $20.

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