PORTLAND — Despite operating with a budget that allows few frills, the Portland Symphony Orchestra today announced plans for a 2010-2011 concert season that includes guest appearances by a handful of big names in classical music and the premiere of several new pieces of contemporary music.

Among the guests who will come to Portland is Edgar Meyer, a Grammy Award-winning bass player and composer whose musical expertise spans several genres, including classical, jazz and bluegrass. Meyer will join the PSO for its season-opening gala Oct. 3 at Merrill Auditorium, and will remain in Portland a few days to perform again on Oct. 5.

Celtic fiddler Eileen Ivers and her band, Immigrant Soul, will sit in with the orchestra for two pops concerts that same week, on Oct. 9-10.

On Nov. 21, the trio Time for Three – a group of young classical musicians performing on violins and bass – will play a concert that includes music written for them by jazz and classical composer Chris Brubeck, “Travels in Time for Three.” This performance will mark the Maine premiere of the piece, which the PSO co-commissioned.

The pops series also include tributes to Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and the music of Motown.

Overall, the orchestra will perform three series of concerts: five Sunday Classical concerts, featuring a mix of chamber orchestra and full orchestral works; six Tuesday Classical concerts; and four PSO Pops! concerts. That equals a total of 19 performances of 13 programs. Those concert totals represent a slight increase over the current season.

This year, the orchestra will play four Sunday Classical concerts and a total of 18 concerts. In addition, the PSO also will perform its holiday concert, Magic of Christmas, 11 times – the same number as this season.

Two concerts appear on both the Sunday Classical and Tuesday Classical series: the season-opening concert with Meyer, and the season-closing concert on May 1, 2011, featuring music by Wagner, Mozart and Ravel.

The orchestra has reduced its budget in each of the last three years, and currently is operating under a $2.4 million spending plan. For the first time in many years, it operated in the black last season, and the orchestra is on track to remain on budget this season, said Executive dDirector Ari Solotoff. The orchestra has not set its budget for next season, but it likely will be about the same as this year’s budget, or perhaps slightly higher, Solotoff said.

Music director Robert Moody, who recently signed an extension to remain with the orchestra through at least the 2015-2016 season, unveiled the season line-up during a meeting with the media at the orchestra offices on Monument Square on this afternoon.

Moody said he made his programming choices to appeal to a variety of tastes. The concerts include many contemporary works, as well as masterworks of the classical repertory.

“I’m looking to constantly focus on how do we create the live music experience for folks from 4 to 104 in our community,” he said.

Next year’s season also will include a tribute to Maine composer Elliott Schwartz, who will turn 75 during the season. Schwartz is writing a new piece of music called “Diamond Jubilee,” which will premiere Jan. 25, 2011. The orchestra will continue its tradition of collaborating with other arts groups, including Choral Art Society, which will join the orchestra on Jan. 31 for Bach’s masterwork “Passion According to St. John.”

The orchestra currently is selling series subscriptions. Prices range from $70 to $225 for the Sunday Classical Series, $114 to $378 for the Tuesday Classical series, and $68 to $221 for the pops series. The bottom tier of prices remains unchanged. Otherwise subscription rates are up between 3 percent and 10 percent, depending on seat location and other factors. Individual tickets are not yet on sale.

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