Piano movers and shakers

By EMILY PARKHURST  |  January 16, 2008

DaPonte String Quartet | 7:30 pm January 18 | at Woodfords Church, 202 Woodford St, Portland | $15 | 207.775.3356
The Portland Conservatory of Music’s new space will be the setting for its next concert, by the DaPonte String Quartet. The conservatory outgrew its Free Street space (see “Schools of Rock,” by Sam Pfeifle, November 30, 2007) and on January 4 moved the entire operation, including 10 pianos, across town to the third floor of the parish house at Woodfords Church.

The DaPonte concert will be on January 18 at 7:30 pm, featuring the German-Belgian 19th century composer Cesar Franck’s Piano Quintet in F minor, a piece that, with its extremely dramatic highs and lows, is well suited for a live-sounding space like the Woodfords Church sanctuary. Pianist and Portland Conservatory faculty member Chiharu Naruse will join the DaPonte in what promises to be a virtuosic performance.

The conservatory will keep its Noonday Concert Series going at another church, the First Parish Church at 425 Congress Street, every Thursday, showcasing the diverse classical options available to Portland’s listeners.

The free concerts start at 12:15 pm and run for about 30 to 40 minutes, with the idea that you can listen to a short concert on your lunch break (though families and kids' groups are also regular attendees). On any given Thursday, an incredible oboist might also be a fabulous violinist, a piece for piano four-hands and four vocalists is not out of the question, and a 15-year-old pianist receives the same billing as an award-winning string quartet.

“It’s a very casual atmosphere,” says Carol Eaton Elowe, the series’s artistic director. “I think this fulfills a need for people without the time commitment of a formal concert.”

Upcoming acts include jazz pianist Tom Snow, Renaissance music for lute and tenor with the Music’s Quill, Bill Street and his saxophone ensemble, and the incredibly talented Nordica Trio from Farmington. Suddenly working through lunch on a Thursday seems out of the question.

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