It’s not enough anymore to go a concert hall, sit quietly and clap at the right moments.

“Audiences are looking for an experience and something that brings them closer to art-making and so that they become part of the art-making process,” said Aimee Petrin, executive director of Portland Ovations.

They’ll get that chance when Portland Ovations hosts the New York-based, Maine-rooted Metropolis Ensemble at Victoria Mansion on Oct. 3. The chamber orchestra will place 10 musicians in different rooms throughout the historic Portland mansion, and perform a piece called “Brownstone” by contemporary composer Jakub Ciupinski.

It is part concert, part installation, part performance piece.

Audience members are encouraged to walk around the house while the piece is performed as part of Portland’s First Friday Art Walk.

The Metropolis Ensemble is the creative vision of Andrew Cyr, who grew up in Fort Kent and graduated from Bates College in Lewiston in 1996. The Metropolis specializes in new music and presents its concerts in non-traditional settings across New York in hopes of drawing wider audiences to contemporary classical music. Cyr is founder and artistic director of the ensemble. It has performed at Radio City Music Hall, traveled to Washington, D.C., and appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”


In addition to the Portland performance, Metropolis will perform at Bates on Oct. 2, and at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, on Oct. 5. These are its first appearances in New England.

Portland Ovations arranged funding for the tour through the New England Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Brownstone” is unique because it doesn’t involve a fixed audience.

“We asked our fans, ‘Do you have any cool ideas about what a great concert would be? Something we could do that you’ve never experienced?,’ ” said Cyr, 41.

“One woman suggested that we have this concert in her home, throughout her home. It was a restored Brooklyn brownstone, and from a central staircase, it was very reverberant. Once on the stairs, you could hear everything going on in the house. That gave us an idea to write a piece for the house.”

Metropolis commissioned Ciupinski in 2010. The composer sampled animal sounds as an electronic backdrop and instructed musicians to perform their parts individually throughout the house.


Cyr said the Victoria Mansion will provide an appropriate backdrop for the piece. It’s an opulent home and large enough to accommodate 100 people at a time. The recorded soundscape will play from the second floor of the central stairway, and individual musicians and small groups of musicians will be scattered in adjacent rooms.

The performance lasts about 25 minutes and will be repeated three times throughout the night. The Metropolis also will perform other music during the evening.

The performance is free, but reservations are required.

“Brownstone” is not intended as a backdrop for a social event, Cyr said. Nor is it a gimmick to garner attention. It’s a formal piece of music, with a beginning, middle and end, meant to be experienced from different vantage points.

“It’s not just a neat experience, but a satisfying listening experience,” he said. “There is substance to the music.”

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