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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: April 14, 2015

Storm Large at home with ‘Seven Deadly Sins’

Written by: Bob Keyes
Storm Large. Courtesy photo

Storm Large. Courtesy photo

Storm Large feels right at home singing about lust, gluttony and greed.

The sassy singer from the other Portland joins the Portland Symphony Orchestra on Sunday and Tuesday for performances of Kurt Weill’s 1930s paean to American excess, “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Large, the lead singer for the band Pink Martini, is a longtime friend of PSO conductor Robert Moody, who arranged her appearance and prepared the orchestra.

“He is just so knowledgeable about music, and super educated and passionate,” she said of Moody. “But he is just so easy to hang out with. He’s not prickly. He’s not stiff. There is zero air of any kind about him at all.”

She loves this piece of music because it’s fun to sing. It was written as a “ballet chante,” or sung ballet. It’s a satirical look at pre-World War II America and a celebration – or condemnation, depending on your view – of urban decadence. Large, who grew up as a punk singer, knows how to apply attitude. She a sultry singer, adept at handling a range of music. Weill is right up her alley, and singing with an orchestra is almost too much fun, she said.

“My work with the symphonies is very new. My home symphony in Oregon had me and my band perform a few years ago, and we just fell in love with the whole format,” she said.


Check out video from Storm Large’s visit to the newsroom studio: The Newsroom Sessions: Storm Large


Weill collaborated with Bertolt Brecht on “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Best known for his Brecht collaboration “Threepenny Opera” and the song “Mack the Knife,” Weill composed the music for Brecht’s libretto, which was written in German.

Weill, a German, was living in exile in Paris when he wrote it in 1933.

This version tells the story of two sisters who leave the country for the life in the city. Large sees it as a metaphor for capitalism. The piece associates each sin with a different American city. Boston is the city of lust, Philadelphia the city of envy and Los Angeles the city of wrath.

Brecht detested America. Weill loved all that it represented. This piece presents that conflict, which plays out in the narrative of two sisters, sung in one voice by Large. She sings and acts her way through the piece.

“I walk out on stage as the piece begins, and it’s sort of like a girl walks into a bar. She orders a drink, and she tells her life story,” Large said.

Large made her Carnegie Hall debut with this piece in 2013, performing with the Detroit Symphony.

In addition to “The Seven Deadly Sins,” the PSO program includes Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the third concert in the orchestra’s nine-concert Beethoven symphony cycle over three seasons.

Portland Symphony Orchestra with guest vocalist Storm Large

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland

HOW MUCH: $25 to $75 through porttix.com

INFO: portlandsymphony.org | 207-842-0800

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