fbpx Skip to content
Buy Tix


← Return to Insights

Visual Sounds Program at a Glance

Sep 15 2023

Saturday, September 30, 2023 
Sunday, October 1, 2023   

PSO Music Director Eckart Preu is joined by the singers of Portland’s ChoralArt for a program of music that paints vivid pictures. Visual artists from the Maine College of Art and Design have created new work inspired by Mussorgsky’s great 1874 solo piano work Pictures at an Exhibition, as orchestrated brilliantly by French composer Maurice Ravel in 1922. Slides of the new artwork will be projected over the PSO as it plays this music.

The concert opens with a new edition by Mark Clague (University of Michigan at Ann Arbor) of George Gershwin’s affectionate city portrait, An American in Paris. Clague has restored some measures of music cut in later versions, returned the unmistakable part for taxi horns to its original raucous dissonance, and uncovered more variety in the writing for saxophones. Untouched are Gershwin’s brilliant orchestral colors and irresistible tunes, and his masterful sense of pacing and proportion.

ChoralArt joins the PSO for Ralph Vaughan Williams’ soaring, radiant Serenade to Music, first heard in London in 1938. The text is Shakespeare, from the fifth act of The Merchant of Venice. It was reported at the time of the premiere that the great Russian composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff, who had performed on the first half of the same concert, sat in the audience for this piece and wept at its beauty.

ChoralArt concludes the first half of the concert with two beloved choruses from operas by Guiseppe Verdi.

Modest Mussorgsky took inspiration from the drawings and watercolors of his recently deceased friend Viktor Hartmann in writing his Pictures at an Exhibition. These pictures, where available, will be projected before the new works from MECA&D. Mussorgsky’s work quickly became, and remains, a showpiece for virtuoso pianists. Almost immediately, it also took on an independent life as a showpiece  for great orchestras: more than two dozen orchestral versions besides Ravel’s exist, most notably by Sir Henry Wood, Leopold Stokowski, Lucien Cailliet, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and several heavy metal bands. The Ravel version heard at these concerts nonetheless is  the most frequently heard. It contains notable solos for trumpet, saxophone and tenor tuba.

– Martin Webster

Close Menu
2425 chamber series

Announcing the all new Chamber Series

In honor of its 100th anniversary season, the Portland Symphony Orchestra steps beyond Merrill Auditorium and brings the music to you.

This all-new Chamber Music series celebrates the intimate and artistically vibrant nature of small musician led groups as they perform on stages throughout the state of Maine.


Close Menu
full stage eckart conducting

Never been to a symphony before? Don’t worry, we’re here to help

Find the answers to all the questions about the orchestra you may be too afraid to ask!

Read our First Timer’s Guide

Close Menu

Bring your class to a youth concert

Coming in 2025… The Portland Symphony Orchestra partners with Carnegie Hall to present Link Up: The Orchestra Sings! Link Up is a fully participatory, school-day concert program. Students will fill Merrill Auditorium to sing, play recorders, move, and listen along with the symphony from their seats. This program is designed for students in grades 3-5 but all are welcome and encouraged to participate!

Learn more

Close Menu
Sarah Atwood

your gift matters

Ticket sales cover only a portion of what it takes to produce the PSO’s artistic and education programs. Your generous support is vital in helping us deliver music programs that serve children and adult listeners.


Close Menu


Meet the PSO’s Music Director


Close Menu
FullHall (2)

Help keep the arts alive in Maine

Be an Arts Hero

Learn More