Portland String Quartet returns live in new conservatory space
The last time the Portland String Quartet performed to a live audience was in November 2019, before the pandemic. Julia Adams, the founding violist, was still a member of the venerable ensemble.
Adams, who lives in Portland, has since retired, and the quartet will continue with an original member, violinist Ronald Lantz. With a guest violist in place, the Portland String Quartet is giving their first concert with a live audience since the pandemic began at 2 p.m. Sunday at the newly opened Portland Conservatory of Music at 28 Neal St. in Portland’s West End. The program will include music by Franz Joseph Haydn, Florence Price and Bedřich Smetana.
Dean Stein, who plays the violin in the quartet, called it “a happy circumstance” that the quartet is starting over in the new space of a conservatory. The conservatory will christen Portland’s newest performance space, a former sanctuary, with a Dimensions in Jazz concert at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and the PSQ will be the first classical concert the following afternoon.
“It’s a gem of a place to perform, a very intimate venue. We are excited to be able to help the Portland Conservatory celebrate the opening of its new location and at the same time enjoy being back live, ”said Stein.
In addition to Lantz and Stein, the quartet includes cellist Andrew Mark. He continues to search for a replacement for Adams, who has played with the quartet for 51 years. On Sunday violist Matt Consul will perform. He performed with the quartet in some of their online concerts earlier in the pandemic. “He’s a good looking player, and we invited him to play live with us,” said Stein, noting that the search for Adams’ replacement will continue in November with an appearance by violist Brianna Fischler. “It has to take the time it takes. It has to be the right person, ”he said.
Returning to performance with a live audience with a piece by Haydn is appropriate, as Haydn created the art form of the string quartet. Price was a black composer, whose music the PSQ once played and will do it again. The Portland Symphony Orchestra will also be performing his music in the upcoming season. She wrote her Quartet in G major, on tap for the PSQ, in 1929 in the romantic style. Finally, Smetana’s piece includes what Stein describes as “a huge opening viola solo that will give Matt (Consul) a great opportunity to sing”.
For the opening concert, members of the quartet will perform with masks and will also require members of the public to wear masks.
“We can do it. We’re not wind players, so why don’t we do it,” said Stein. “Is that ideal? No. Let’s do it anyway.
Things to do: Film, theater, crafts, and lobsters galore