The Russian National Ballet Theatre will present “Sleeping Beauty” on March 18, part of Portland Ovations’ Raising the Barre dance series. Portland Ovations

On March 15, 1820, Maine legally separated from Massachusetts and became the 23rd state of the American union. All this year, Maine arts organizations are incorporating bicentennial observations into their programming. This Sunday, on the exact 200th anniversary of statehood, the Portland Symphony Orchestra will present its bicentennial concert. Maestro Eckart Preu’s program includes a world premiere of “First Light,” a fanfare penned by University of Southern Maine music professor Daniel Sonenberg, plus a ballet suite composed by Rockland native Walter Piston.

Speaking of ballet, Portland Ovations is presenting the premier item on its Raising the Barre dance series, the Russian National Ballet Theatre’s “Sleeping Beauty,” on March 18.

An outstanding acoustic string duo comprising mandolinist Joe K. Walsh and guitarist Grant Gordy will take the stage in Portland on Friday night. Both men are longtime fixtures on the Americana scene.

Portland Symphony Orchestra

Two Maine composers, one from the past and one very much in the present, will be featured this Sunday when the Portland Symphony Orchestra presents its official observation of Maine statehood – 200 years to the day after that historic event.

The concert will open with a brilliant piece by composer Dan Sonenberg, a Portland resident and professor at the University of Southern Maine School of Music. The piece is titled “First Light: A Fanfare for Maine,” and it was commissioned by the orchestra. Sonenberg is best known for his opera, “The Summer King,” which was based on the life and struggles of a star baseball slugger of the Negro Leagues of the 1930s.

Walter Piston was born in Rockland in 1894 and gained fame in the middle years of the 20th century as a composer and professor. He will be represented by “The Incredible Flutist,” an orchestral suite from his 1938 ballet.

Maestro Eckart Preu’s program will wrap up with two pieces with southwestern flavor: contemporary Mexican composer Arturo Marquez’s Concerto for Harp, and American composer Ferde Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite,” an epitome of our country’s classical tradition.

Portland Symphony Orchestra presents “Maine’s Bicentennial” at 2:30 p.m. March 15 at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTIX at 842-0800.

‘Sleeping Beauty’

Among history’s many creative partnerships, few can rival the twin geniuses of Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa. Working together in St. Petersburg in the late 1800s, the pair created three classic ballets that remain popular more than a century after their premieres:  “The Nutcracker,” “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty.”

The latter, which premiered in 1890, will be presented March 18 as part of Portland Ovations’ 2019-2020 Raising the Barre dance series, and most Portland terpsichorean enthusiasts will consider this touring production by the Russian National Ballet Theatre to be the highlight of the season.

The company was formed in 1989 in Moscow, and one of its goals is to present classical Russian ballet in as many cities as possible around the world, including medium-sized venues such as Portland’s Merrill Auditorium. Artistic director Elena Radchenko, a legendary dancer of the Bolshoi, promises to bring this timeless fairy tale to life with a company of 50.

The company prides itself on presenting narrative and interpreting character for modern audiences. “Sleeping Beauty” is a story based on a French fairy tale, and it revolves around the forces of evil – which temporarily get the upper hand – and good, which prevails in the end. The title character is a beautiful young princess who is condemned to sleep for a century. She is awakened with a kiss from a handsome bachelor prince and the pair marry and live happily ever after.

Portland Ovations presents the Russian National Ballet Theatre’s production of “Sleeping Beauty” at 7 p.m. March 18 at Merrill Auditorium at Portland City Hall. Call PortTIX at 842-0800.

Joe K. Walsh and Grant Gordy

Mandolin wiz Joe K. Walsh is a fixture on the southern Maine Americana music scene, teaching at 317 Main in Yarmouth and appearing in numerous ensembles that perform frequently.

He was a founding member of the band Joy Kills Sorrow, a progressive string band, and toured for years with the Gibson Brothers traditional bluegrass band. This Friday Walsh is joining guitar virtuoso Grant Gordy for an evening of acoustic string music in Portland.

Gordy’s credentials include a long stint with the David Grisman Quintet. Gordy and Walsh often perform as a duo, and they impressed a reviewer for Fretboard Journal at their 2016 appearance at the Fretboard Festival. The Journal’s reviewer stated: “Gordy and Walsh proved why they’re one of the best acoustic duos performing today.”

Catch Joe K. Walsh and Grant Gordy at 8 p.m. March 13 at One Longfellow Square, corner of Congress and State in Portland. Call 761-1757.

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