Melissa Reardon, artistic director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival.

When it became apparent that musicians could not perform in person, Melissa Reardon, artistic director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival, still wanted to find a way for them to get paid to play.

“I really felt that it was important and somewhat urgent to honor the commitment to the artists,” Reardon said. “Most performing artists have lost a lot of their work during this time, so it was really important to try to keep that commitment to them.”

The Portland Chamber Music Festival, held each August in Portland, will move online with four concerts that will feature musicians originally contracted for the festival, including the chamber pop violin-and-piano duo Charles Yang and Peter Dugan, East Coast Chamber Orchestra and Time For Three, as well as pianist Henry Kramer and Reardon, a Grammy-nominated violist. The livestreamed concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6, Aug. 9 and Aug. 13.

The concert on Aug. 2 featuring Yang and Dugan is a benefit for the festival, and all concerts, including the benefit, have pay-what-you-can options. Other than the benefit, the suggested donation is $40 per concert.

The musicians adapted repertoire from their original festival plans, and the online programs will reflect their ability to make music remotely among small, socially distanced configurations. “Chamber music is nearly impossible when people are not in the same room,” Reardon said. “So the programs are a mix of different ways that musicians can perform remotely,” including as trios, duos and as soloists.

Composer Jessie Montgomery Photo by Jiyang-Chen, courtesy of Portland Chamber Music Festival

All the programs are designed to be lively, fun and collegial, she said, with music by Beethoven, Bach and Ravel as well as several contemporary composers. At three of the concerts, Reardon will interview composers whose work will be performed. On Aug. 6, Michi Wiancko will talk about her work “Franklin,” which Reardon will perform. Throughout the festival, she will highlight works by the composers Joao Luis, Jessie Montgomery and Allison Loggins-Hull, among others.

While none of the material is new work commissioned for the festival, all the concerts feature original programming and performances that are unique to the festival, Reardon said. She described these concerts as time capsules – something to be treasured at a later date, specific to a moment in time.

Time for Three will perform a live-streamed concert on Aug. 9. Photo by Lauren Desberg, courtesy of Portland Chamber Music Festival

Members of the East Coast Chamber Orchestra, the festival’s first-ever ensemble-in-residence, will perform as soloists and duos on Aug. 9, and end their program with a full-ensemble performance of Bach’s “Schmucke dich, o liebe Seele,” a signature piece for the ensemble. The Aug. 9 Time for Three concert will feature a recording of Bach’s “Chaconne,” adapted and recorded for the festival as “Chaconne in Winter.” The finale on Aug. 13 is a co-production with the Peasmarch Chamber Music Festival in East Sussex, England, and will include violinist Anthony Marwood and video he made in East Sussex with narrator Walter Van Dyk of Alan Rideout’s “Ferdinand the Bull.” Marwood will perform other music on the program as well.

Reardon praised the festival’s board for moving forward. It would be easy and far less risky to cancel, she said. “We had some conversations about that, and we thought about whether we would just sit this one out. But we have a commitment to our community in Portland,” she said. “We wanted to see what we could do to honor our commitment to the musicians and to our community.”


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