Longtime Springvale composer and musician Morton Gold will perform a specially commissioned piece, “Acadia: A Rhapsody for Piano and Wind Symphony,” on Saturday May 25, when the Strafford Wind Symphony brings their Memorial Day Weekend concert to Sanford Performing Arts Center. COURTESY PHOTO/SPAC

SANFORD — Concert organizers say residents are in for a treat on Saturday, May 25, when Sanford’s own renowned composer, Morton Gold, performs the world premiere of “Acadia: A Rhapsody for Piano and Wind Symphony.”

The new piece will be performed during the Memorial Day Weekend concert with the Strafford Wind Symphony that also features a number of patriotic pieces, from Sousa’s “Hail to the Spirit of Liberty” to Leroy Anderson’s “Bugler’s Holiday.”

“Acadia” was commissioned by the Sanford Performing Arts Center to commemorate the theater’s opening, as well as the acquisition of its Steinway Model D concert grand piano, said SPAC director Brett Williams. The selection will be performed by Gold and the Strafford Wind Symphony under the baton of conductor Bruce Gatchell.

Gold said he spent the summer of 2018 composing the piece.

“The construction is classic with a three note motto that runs through the composition,” he said.

The roots of the piece are in Acadia National Park, not far from where Gold was working as a music supervisor in the Ellsworth school system in the mid-1950s. It was his first foray into Maine, and he became friendly with Shirley Povich and his wife Helen, who owned a local variety store. When Morton and his fiancée Esther married, Helen Povich gifted them with a painting featuring Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park.

“I became inspired by that vision,” said Gold on Wednesday.

The composer has previously collaborated with the Strafford Wind Symphony – a year ago they performed his 1955 composition “A Prayer at Eventide” in Rochester, New Hampshire, and so approached them about performing the new composition together at the SPAC.

A music professor at Nasson College in Springvale from 1964 to 1982, Gold later taught music in Vermont for 18 years he said in a 2017 interview. He and his wife Esther returned to Maine in 2007, where he continues to compose, is organist at St. George’s Episcopal Church, and for the Springvale Masonic Lodge, is the accompanist for Sanford High School and Sanford Junior High School choruses, and is a substitute teacher. Gold writes theater and music reviews for the Journal Tribune.

His work called “Haggadah: A Search for Freedom,” was recorded by New Jersey Public Television in 1975, and was also performed at the National Cantor’s Assembly convention that year.
Another piece, “Prayers of Comfort” will be performed on Monday at the National Cantor’s Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

Gold has been immersed in music essentially his entire life. Born in New York City, his father was a leading personality in Jewish theater, said Gold in the 2017 interview,  and as a boy, he got to know the theater’s composers. His father later became a cantor, and the family moved to Boston. He has earned degrees from Boston University and Harvard University.

Williams noted Gold’s role in choosing the 2009 Steinway piano for the SPAC.

“The SPAC had secured private donations for a Steinway Model D piano, but still had only half the cost of a new piano|,”: said Williams. He said one day in April, 2018, he got a call from the Steinway factory letting him know they had seven model D pianos being retired from rental to venues like Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.

“This was a very rare opportunity and there was intense interest in these seven pianos from similar groups around the country,” said Williams. “We acted quickly and Dr. Gold and I flew down to the Steinway factory in Queens, New York within a couple of days of that call. We got first dibs on the pianos for sale, and he found a piano that he loved. When he selected it, he didn’t know it was the newest piano of the seven. He just knew he loved the touch, the feel, and the action. And it absolutely sings.”

Tickets for the Memorial Day Concert are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and free for students. Advance tickets are available online at sanfordpac.org. Williams said the SPAC box office will open one hour before the performance for in-person ticket sales.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]journaltribune.com.

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