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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: August 5, 2015

Portland Chamber Music Festival opens Aug. 13

Written by: Bob Keyes

Jennifer Elowitch, artistic director of the Portland Chamber Music Festival, isn’t sure why she’s selling so many tickets to this year’s festival.

Here’s an idea: star power.

This year’s festival, which opens Aug. 13 on Portland campus of the University of Southern Maine, boasts a lineup of exceptional musicians and composers. Among them is Frank Huang, who assumes the role of concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic in September. An old friend of the festival, Huang has played in Portland each summer for the past five years. He’ll perform concerts at Hannaford Hall on Aug. 13 and Aug. 15, for programs that include canonical and contemporary music.

The festival continues with concerts through Aug. 22.

Other star-power musicians include three-time Grammy-nominated clarinetist Todd Palmer, New York City Ballet principal percussionist James Baker, Fulright scholar Jose Manuel Lezcano, Mendelssohn String Quartet violinist Daniel Panner and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient Kristen Lee. Notable composers who will attend include Alan Fletcher, president of the Aspen Music Festival, and 2014 TED Fellow Dan Visconti.

Elowitch, who grew up in Portland and now lives outside Boston, also performs at the festival. Sometimes she wishes she could listen from the audience. “I literally feel like the luckiest person in the world when I sit on stage with these musicians,” she said.

Ticket sales, she said, are way ahead of past years. “I don’t know why,” she said.

She just answered her own question.


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