Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Forte music fundraiser and auction May 18 at Halo at Thompson’s Point sold out in advance and netted $48,000 for the nonprofit’s artistic and community programs.

While the event was a cocktail party for adults, speakers highlighted the youth education programs benefitting from the fundraiser.

“It’s extraordinary what these musicians and staff do in the community regarding education,” said event chairperson Breda White of Cape Elizabeth.

Through the PSO Explorers program, musicians go to two Portland elementary schools – Reiche and Longfellow – every two weeks to deliver a music curriculum in collaboration with teachers. The PSO also offers KinderKoncerts across the state, Discovery Concerts for young families, and a Podium Hero program in which kids have a chance to use a baton and beat a pattern for two musicians to follow.

Percussionist Richard Kelly said, “The PSO has created an environment in which the relationships in the community are important.”

During the 2022 “Magic of Christmas,” Kelly was onstage with kids playing sleigh bells during 14 performances. For Forte, he took on the role of auctioneer as only a percussionist would think to do – using a snare drum to build suspense, a ratchet to wind things up and a siren to indicate the winning bid.


An online auction, a general appeal and a raffle for a Nautilus lounge chair donated by Chilton Furniture rounded out the fundraising efforts. Corporate sponsors included Eaton Peabody, Merrill, Hopkinson & Abbondanza, Ryan Dental and Resurgam Group.

At the core of the event – and at the center of the room – were musicians: Amy Sims, Sarah Atwood and Cara Pogossian on violin, Willine Thoe on viola, and Rebecca Thornblade and Ronald Lowry on cello. Highlights of the evening’s music program included “Strum” by Jesse Montgomery, “Passacaglia, Op. 20, No. 2” by Johan Halvorsen and String Sextet in D minor, Op. 70 (“Souvenir de Florence”) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly symphony experience this summer, consider “The Magic of Harry Potter,” a PSO performance at 7 p.m. July 8 at Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach. With guest conductor Morihoko Nakahara, the symphony will bring the iconic film score to life, taking listeners on a magical journey from Platform 9 3/4 to the hallowed halls of Hogwarts. For tickets, go to porttix.com.

“Concerts bring people together who in other circumstances wouldn’t come together – all ages, races and backgrounds,” said Music Director Eckart Preu. “That’s how we create community.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at amyparadysz@gmail.com.

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