Performing with the DaPonte String Quartet is a little like performing with a rock band, says soprano Suzanne Nance, the popular classical music radio host and vocalist, who returns to Maine for concerts with the quartet.
“The difference between singing with an orchestra and singing with a chamber ensemble, a quartet or a trio is just magical,” Nance said by phone from her home in Oregon. “There is such a communication among the performers. There’s no conductor. There’s just eye contact, and you learn to breathe together. It’s the closest thing I can relate to performing in a rock band.”
Nance, the quartet and a male vocalist, baritone Joshua Miller, will perform five Easter concerts over five days in five Maine towns beginning Wednesday night in Thomaston. Concerts also are scheduled in Portland, Damariscotta, Boothbay Harbor and Brunswick.
The program opens with Haydn’s “Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross,” which was commissioned for Good Friday. The string quartet version consists of seven Sonata meditations on Christ’s last words. The program also consists of Bach arias, including “Erbarme Dich, Mein Gott” from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion that is sung after Peter has betrayed Jesus. “Peasant Cantata” is a rustic burlesque that highlights Bach’s lesser-known comedic vein.
Singing Bach always makes Nance happy.
“Bach is one of the most challenging composers to sing or play,” Nance said. “Any instrumentalist or singer would say it. It is the most rewarding and challenging music, because he was writing at a level that has never been surpassed. He takes each musical line on a path that at once is expected and completely unexpected.”
Nance is the former host of MPBN’s “Morning Classical” radio show, who now hosts “All Classical Portland” in Oregon. She left Maine for a radio job in Chicago, then continued west. “When I got the call in Chicago, they said, ‘We’d like to you to come to Portland.’ I said, ‘Great, I am ready to come home.’ They said, ‘Oregon,’ and I said, ‘What?'”
She loves living in Oregon, which Nance says is very much like Maine with lots of opportunities for outdoor adventures and a thriving cultural scene. “People appreciate the good things in life. I am very happy to be here,” she said.
Miller, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine School of Music, has been a soloist with the Metro West Opera, St. Cecilia’s Chamber Choir and the Bagaduce Chorale in New York. He also has performed with PORTOpera.
WHEN & WHERE:
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, St. John’s Church, 200 Main St., Thomaston
7:30 p.m. March 24, Maine Jewish Museum, 267 Congress St., Portland
7:30 p.m. March 25, Lincoln Theater, 2 Theater St., Damariscotta
4 p.m. March 26, St. Columbia’s Church. 32 Emery Way, Boothbay Harbor
3 p.m. March 27, Unitarian Church, 15 Pleasant St., Brunswick
TICKETS & INFO: $20; tickets available at Maine Coast Books or River Arts in Damariscotta, Longfellow Books in Portland and Gulf of Maine Books in Brunswick; daponte.org, 529-4555