The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rohan Smith, returns to the stage for its 34th concert season with performances in Topsham and Lewiston from October 2023 to May of 2024.

This year’s concert series features a diverse mixture of canons from the classical musical repertoire by such composers as Beethoven, Mozart and Shostakovich, as well as many contemporary works including pieces by Latin composers Ginastera, Moncayo and Piazzolla, as well as well-known African American composers William Grant Still and the up-and-coming Jessie Montgomery.

The orchestra is celebrating Music Director Rohan Smith’s 20th year as conductor by revisiting some old favorites as well as tackling Debussy’s great masterpiece “La Mer” for the first time. Other highlights include songs by Aaron Copland, symphonic dances from West Side Story, and the extremely complex “Enigma Variations,” by Edward Elgar, which will be conducted by guest artist Emily Isaacson.

The MSO’s upcoming season also features a mixture of professional guest artists in keeping with the MSO’s tradition of featuring the best artists in the region to accompany the Midcoast’s best known community orchestra. The guest artist for the October concerts is pianist Anatasia Antonacos, who will be joining the MSO for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Antonacos is the founding director of 240 Strings, the Artistic Director of Fox Islands Concerts, and a faculty member at the University of Southern Maine.

Baritone Philip Lima will be bringing to life many of the songs in the MSO’s second concert that features song and dance music from around the world. Lima has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops and over 70 orchestras, choral societies, and concert series across the United States and in Korea and Ukraine, and he is the Assistant Chair of Berklee College of Music’s Voice Department. Appearing as the guest conductor for the third concert of the season is Emily Isaacson, the founder and artistic director of Classical Uprising. Isaacson stated that she “looks forward to making music with the great musicians of the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra and working with them to bring incredible performances to our Maine audience.” One of only a handful of female conductors in the country, Isaacson was named the 2018 Maine Artist of the Year by the Maine Arts Commission, one of 50 Mainers Leading the State by Maine Magazine, and the 2022 winner of the American Prize.

The first MSO concert of the 2023/24 season is titled “Soulful Expressions” and will take place over the weekend of Oct 28 and 29. The concert features three pieces, including the well-known Symphony No. 5 by Shostakovich. The concert begins with “Aspiration” from William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 1. Still was the most immediately successful African American classical composer in the first half of the 20th century and is considered by many to be the dean of African American composers.


The second piece features Anastasia Antonacos in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3, one of the beloved composers most popular works in that genre. The concert concludes with a performance of Shostakovich’s landmark symphony which was composed as a reflection on criticism to artistic work by Soviet authorities.

The MSO’s second concert, “Song and Dance Music from Around the World,” is presented on Jan. 20 and 21, 2024, and is suitable for family audiences with its mixture of popular medlies and a “Meet the Instruments” event before the formal portion of the concert. This popular event allows children of all ages the chance to experiment with the various instruments played by symphony members to engage their curiosity about the genre. The program begins with three dance pieces by composers from Argentina and Mexico that will feature Latin rhythms familiar to many audience members. These will be followed by several old American songs by Aaron Copland that originate in hymn tunes and folksongs. A polka by Johann Strauss, Jr. and three songs from “The Boy’s Magic Horn,” by Gustav Mahler, set the stage for the well-known music from West Side Story, composed by Leonard Bernstien. Music Director Smith is looking forward to the “wonderful juxtaposition of music that is pretty new from the Americas, and music that is tried and true from the old world.” Audience members of all ages are sure to enjoy this mix.

The Midcoast Symphony Orchestra welcomes guest conductor Emily Isaacson for the third concert in the series “A New Artistic Mélange” offered on March 23 and 24, 2024. The evening begins with the extremely contemporary “Hymn for Everyone” which Jessie Montgomery wrote in 2022 as a partial response to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The next piece, Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, is another audience favorite that features strong and varied wind and brass parts. The final work in this concert is “Enigma Variations,” composed by Edward Elgar as a series of sketches about his friends, which Music Director Smith terms an “exceptionally virtuosic piece” that audience members are sure to find appealing.

The 2023/24 concert series ends the weekend of May 18 and 19, 2024, with an evening titled “Cityscape, Seascape, Soundscape” consisting of three pieces, beginning with Copland’s “Quiet City” which will feature symphony soloist Tim Kenlan on trumpet and Billie Jo Brito on English Horn. That work is followed by “La Mer,” the middle of Claude Debussy’s three great orchestral trilogies.

Complete concert and ticket information is available at Season tickets for the four classical concerts are now available for $75. Individual tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. All concert tickets are free for students ages 18 and under, or for college students with ID. Audiences are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance online or by calling the box office at 481-0790.

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