Taylor Mac, who has won both a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” and a Guggenheim fellowship, will begin the 2019-2020 season of Portland Ovations with a performance of the widely lauded and unusually ambitious “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (abridged)” at the State Theatre on Sept. 19.

Aimee Petrin, Portland Ovations’ executive and artistic director, announced the season from the stage of Merrill Auditorium on Wednesday, after a street party outside beforehand. Suzanne Nance, soprano and classical music radio host, performed music from the upcoming season, accompanied by pianist George Lopez.

The season begins dramatically with Mac’s history of music. In the original version, Mac dedicated an hour to each decade of music since 1776, performing more than 240 songs for 24 hours. A critic for The New York Times called it “one of the great experiences of my life.” Mac will perform an abridged version in Portland.

Among other things, Mac is a playwright, actor, singer-songwriter and performance artist. In addition to the prestigious grants, Mac also won the Doris Duke Award in 2016 and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2017 for the popular-music history piece.

Fiona O’Grady, her daughter Maggie Fleming, 6, both of Portland, and Joshua McCarey of Sedgwick watch a performance by Portland entertainer Michael Trautman during Portland Ovations’ street party on Myrtle Street in Portland on Wednesday. The party was held to announce the group’s performance season. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The season focuses on Maine history, acknowledging the bicentennial by offering programs and performances designed to provide historical context and create a sense of place. Many will feature Maine performers.

Boston Camerata will perform a concert of 18th- and 19th-century songs of resistance in “Free America” on Dec. 1. The concert will include songs from Maine’s Shaker community.

The season also includes “Burnt-Out Wife” by Maine choreographer and comedian Sara Juli, a co-commission with Space; a live, local presentation of National Public Radio’s “From the Top,” which will include young Maine musicians; the national Broadway tour of “Chicago” with a Maine orchestra; Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero; mandolin master Avi Avital with harpist Bridget Kibbey; the New York Philharmonic String Quartet; the International Contemporary Ensemble with a program with work by Maine composer Suzanne Farrin; and the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra’s tribute to the music of Allen Toussaint.

For more details, do to portlandovations.org.

Tom and Lula Ruff, 2, of Cape Elizabeth, watch Tim Paradis and Hamid Karimian of the band B+ as they perform during Portland Ovations’ street party on Myrtle Street in Portland on Wednesday. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


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