Two of southern Maine’s top performing arts organizations check out soon for the 2018-2019 season.

The Portland Symphony Orchestra, in the last two concerts of its maestro-less season, will exit with two performances under the baton of guest conductor Jeffrey Kahane, who will also play piano.

Portland Ovations exits with two performances of “Finding Neverland,” the behind-the-scenes story of how British playwright James M. Barrie created one of the most beloved characters in English literature: Peter Pan.

The Portland Community Orchestra will perform the final concert of its third season on Saturday.

Portland Symphony Orchestra

A celebrated pianist and music director will be the featured artist this Sunday and Monday as the Portland Symphony Orchestra wraps up its 2018-2019 season. Jeffrey Kahane will perform and conduct the two performances, which end the PSO’s maestro-less season. (Eckart Preu – rhymes with “boy” – will take over this coming fall as the PSO’s permanent music director.)

In the absence of a music director, Kahane has helped put together this season, scheduling himself as guest conductor for three of the programs, incluidng the season-opener and the finale. His program selections cover a lot of artistic ground, beginning with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchrestra No. 1, with Kahane conducting from the keyboard. This concerto is a big work, full of Beethovian swagger and multiple themes and variations. According to musicologists, it was one of the composer’s personal favorites.

For the second work on the program, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “The Bells,” Kahane and company will be joined by the ChoralArt Masterworks, the biggest of the three vocal ensembles that comprise the ChoralArt organization, under the director of Robert Russell. Three soloists will also sing. “The Bells” is a three-movement musical setting of a poem by American writer Edgar Allan Poe.

The finale will be Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Capriccio Espanol,” a masterpiece of Russian Romanticism described by PSO program annotator Mark Rohr as “a feast of orchestral color without peer.”

Two performances are slated for Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall: May 12 at 2:30 p.m. and May 13 at 7:30 p.m. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

‘Finding Neverland’

More than a century ago, a boy who never grows up became one of the most beloved characters in all of English literature: Peter Pan. Along with his pal Wendy, a group of Lost Boys and arch-nemesis, the one-handed pirate Captain Hook, the original 1904 play, by James M. Barrie, has been produced countless times, and it’s been repeatedly adapted to film, cartoon and musical stage formats.

The backstory behind the creation of this literary masterpiece has itself become a much-lauded Broadway musical.

“Finding Neverland,” with book by James Graham and score by Gary Barlow and Eliot Kennedy, was one of the top shows of the 2015 Broadway season, and now it’s on a national tour that’s motoring into Portland for two midweek performances May 15-16.

The general format is play-within-a-play, a time-tested formulation that permits interesting parallel developments. In “Finding Neverland,” James M. Barrie is the playwright for an English theatrical troupe in the early years of the 20th century. As “Finding Neverland” opens, the company needs a new play. But Barrie struggles to find inspiration until he meets a beautiful widow and her four sons. The boys’ vivid imaginations ignite Barrie’s own, and he writes “Peter Pan,” which becomes a hit with audiences in London and around the world.

Portland Ovations presents “Finding Neverland” at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall at 7:30 p.m. May 15-16. Call PortTix at 842-0800.

Portland Community Orchestra

One of the Port City’s newest performing arts organizations is closing its third season this Saturday. The Portland Community Orchestra will perform a program of half a dozen short works under the baton of Vinny Fuerst, a Yarmouth musician of many talents. He plays several instruments and has formal training as a conductor and composer.

Fuerst founded the orchestra in the fall of 2016 with fewer than 20 instrumentalists. Since that time the roster has more than doubled in number, and its outings have increased to five concerts per year. He’s always looking to increase the membership.

All members are amateurs who love to play. Some are better than others, Fuerst acknowledges, adding that he chooses repertoire appropriate to his members’ skill levels and sometime re-writes certain parts to accommodate less skilled players.

Fuerst was involved in the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra during the years it blossomed into a cultural mainstay of Maine, and he hopes that his own nascent company can follow the same arc.

Catch the Portland Community Orchestra at 7:30 p.m. May 11 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 580 Forest Ave. Call 232-5327.

Guest maestro Jeffrey Kahane will conduct the final two concerts of the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s 2018-2019 season this Sunday and Monday.

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