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Classical Constellations with the Portland Piano Trio – March 2 at 7:30pm

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An engaging and diverse program of works across the centuries by Beethoven, Amy Beach, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and featuring the premiere performance of “Ascent” by UMA Professor of Music Richard Nelson

About the Musicians

Portland Piano Trio

Portland Piano TrioTracey Jasas-Hardel, violin; Ben Noyes, cello; Annie Antonacos, piano

Since its critically acclaimed Portland, Maine debut in 2016, the Portland Piano Trio’s “enlivening tautness and precision,” “impressive ensemble and shared musical values” have entertained and inspired audiences throughout New England.  Noted for “…sounding like a group that has played together for 10 years,” they have appeared on numerous chamber music series, including Back Bay Contemporary Music Festival, First Fridays at First Parish, and Portsmouth Athenaeum, among others. The trio is serving as the first musicians-in-residence of 240 Strings, a Portland, Maine-based nonprofit dedicated to providing private music lessons to economically challenged children in Portland, and providing affordable community concerts.  Last summer, the trio was awarded a residency at the prestigious Avaloch Music Institute in Boscawen, New Hampshire, for a week of intense rehearsing and sharing with other nationally recognized chamber groups. The group has a passion for playing house concerts – the venue where chamber music was meant to be played – and has garnered a strong following in the Portland area.

Richard Nelson

Rick NelsonComposer/guitarist and University of Maine at Augusta Professor of Music Richard Nelson is recognized for his skillful and original integrations of contemporary jazz and classical composition and performance practices.  His works have been performed by ensembles such as ALEA III, the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Speculum Musicae, and his own Makrokosmos Orchestra at venues including the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, Miller Theater and ShapeShifter Lab in New York, the University of Cape Town (South Africa), and numerous other U.S. clubs, festivals, and universities. He has received fellowships and awards from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, the Charles Ives Center, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop, among others.

As a guitarist, he has performed widely and with many notable figures (including Sheila Jordan, Geri Allen, Mat Maneri, and Taylor Ho-Bynum) at festivals, clubs, colleges and other venues across the U.S. and abroad.  Many of these appearances have been with the Boston-based Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, of which he has been a core member for many years.

Nelson has released four albums of original compositions, Deep River, Pursuit, Origin Story and Figurations, and he appears as a sideman on many others, including over ten with Aardvark.  AllAboutJazz.com called him “an ambitious and daring composer,” praising his CD Pursuit as “a distinctive synthesis of modern jazz, and contemporary orchestral music.”  A major current project is a collection of compositions for the 15-player New York City-based Makrokosmos Orchestra, which Nelson co-leads with colleague Tim O’Dell.

Nelson studied composition at Indiana University with Donald Erb (Masters Degree) and at Columbia University with Mario Davidovsky (Doctor of Musical Arts).  He was a Visiting Artist at the University of Cape Town in 2004.  He is head of the Sonic Arts and Composition studies at the University of Maine at Augusta, where he teaches composition, music theory, and jazz improvisation.

The Program

Trio for Piano and Strings Op. 70, No. 1 (“Ghost), (1809), by Ludwig van Beethoven

Settings of spirituals transcribed for piano and strings, (late 19th-/early 20th-centuries), by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Piano Trio Op. 150, (1938), by Amy Beach

Ascent for violin, cello, and piano, (2017), by Richard Nelson

Portland Piano Trio

Tracey Jasas-Hardel, violin

Ben Noyes, cello

Annie Antonacos, piano

“The Portland Piano Trio unquestionably has the goods…enlivening tautness, flair and precision…among the city’s must-hear groups.”Allan Kozinn, Portland Press Herald

The acclaimed Portland Piano Trio makes the trip to Augusta for a rich and intriguing program of works spanning the centuries and classical styles.  The late 19th- and early 20th-centuries are represented by two unique figures and works: first, the lush, impressionistic Piano Trio, Op. 150 by the pioneering female American composer Amy Beach, and second, settings of evocative African-American spirituals by the Afro-British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.  UMA Music Professor Richard Nelson’s vibrant “Ascent” conjures images of a cryptic remote mountain trek and an energetic, ritualistic celebratory dance at the end of the journey.

And anchoring the program is Beethoven’s celebrated Trio for Piano and Strings Op. 70, No. 1, nicknamed the “Ghost” because of the haunting character of its second movement.

Classical Constellations Poster (PDF) »