We all know there’s an abundance of creativity in southern Maine, but that point will be underscored by a factor of nine this Sunday, when “Hear, Here” debuts in Portland. Nine different acts with an astonishing breadth and variety will be showcased.

One of Portland’s newest Valentine’s traditions, the annual concert by pianist Laura Kargul and violinist Ron Lantz, is also scheduled for Sunday. Romantic music is always featured.

Portland Ovations has booked the American Contemporary Music Ensemble for a Feb. 21 concert at the Maine College of Art. Expect an evening of cutting-edge classical compositions.

‘Hear, Here’

What do you get when you invite an indie rock group, an organ superstar, a chamber orchestra, an African percussion troupe, a female rapper and four other artists and ensembles of similarly disparate styles and genres and assemble them to perform in one majestic concert hall?

The result will be “Hear, Here,” a showcase of Portland talent that’s scheduled for this Sunday at Merrill Auditorium. It’s an inaugural event, possibly to become annual, sponsored by Creative Portland, a 10-year-old nonprofit organization that officially represents the city and its efforts to promote local artistic talents as an engine of economic and cultural growth.

Nine acts in all will be assembled. Among the most prominent is Weakened Friends, an indie rock group that’s fronted by a pair of women, guitarist and lead singer Sonia Sturino and bassist Annie Hoffman. Weakened Friends are about to launch a winter-spring tour that will take them across North America and finish across the Atlantic.

British-born James Kennerley is Portland’s 11th official municipal organist, plus he’s a noted composer for the “King of Instruments.” Palaver Strings is a chamber orchestra. The 14 musicians formed in Boston five years ago, have one major standing gig in Rockport and are about to launch a new music school in Portland. The Batimbo United Burundi Drummers produce a spectacle of synchronized drumming and dancing. Rapper Sarah Violette has just released a new and highly personal track, “Anxious Love.”

Just Plain Jones is a rapper who recently released his newest track, “Find Your Peace.” JanaeSound is a singer whose huge voice wraps around a song with the force of a tornado. Betty Rines has been playing trumpet for the Portland Symphony Orchestra for decades. Dancer Riley Watts has performed, taught and choreographed in 30 countries.

Creative Portland presents “Hear, Here” at 4 p.m. Feb. 17 at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTix at 842-0800 or visit HearHereMaine.com.

Lantz-Kargul Duo

Violinist Ronald Lantz and pianist Laura Kargul will present another of their popular Valentine’s concerts this Sunday, marking the seventh time this classical duo has celebrated the holiday of romance with a concert.

The program, titled “Baroque Pearls and Romantic Gems,” will feature a selection of music drawn from a span of nearly 300 years, ranging from the Baroque era through the 20th century.

Lantz has been a fixture on Maine’s music scene since 1969, when he was a founding member of the Portland String Quartet, and he remains one of two original members. Kargul has been professor of piano studies at the University of Southern Maine School of Music for about a quarter of a century.

Expect one surprise. “We always try to introduce some lesser-known works to the public in our Valentine’s concerts,” says Kargul. “This time the ‘new’ work is the rarely performed Sonata in F Minor by Felix Mendelssohn, written when he was only 14. The first time we played through it we wondered where this remarkable piece had been hiding!”

Catch the Lantz-Kargul Duo at 2 p.m. Feb. 17 at Woodfords Congregational Church, 202 Woodford St. in Portland. Call 761-1522.

American Contemporary Music Ensemble

Performing masterpieces of the 20th and 21st centuries is the big idea behind a group that’s being hosted by Portland Ovations on Feb. 21. The American Contemporary Music Ensemble, under the direction of cellist Clarice Jensen, is dedicated to the outstanding performance of modern classical music, primarily the work of American composers.

This flexible ensemble presents fresh work by living composers alongside the classics of the modern age. The ensemble’s dedication to new music extends across genres, and has garnered a reputation among both classical and rock audiences.

The ensemble is based in New York, but performs around the world, having played at many of the big music festivals. In 2015, on the group’s 10th anniversary season, they were honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers as champions of modern American music.

Portland Ovations presents the American Contemporary Music Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 21 at the Maine College of Art, 522 Congress St. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Pianist Laura Kargul and violinist Ron Lantz are again teaming up for a concert of Romantic masterpieces on Feb. 17 in Portland.

filed under: