November 5, 2017: Ravel, Barber, Kraft and Debussy

Ravel, Kraft and Debussy

Athenaeum 200th Anniversary Celebration

Sunday, November 5, 2017, 3PM

2 PM pre-concert discussion

The Music Hall, Portsmouth, NH Tickets »

John Page, music director


Ravel · Mother Goose Suite
Kraft · Kennedy Portrait with Jerome Meadows, narrator
Presentation of the Portsmouth Athenaeum Prize in the Humanities
Debussy · La Mer

The Portsmouth Symphony Orchestra begins its 21st season with a celebration and concert presented in collaboration with the Portsmouth Athenaeum to celebrate its 200th anniversary! The program contains some of the 20th and 21st century's most important and beloved repertoire to kick off the season.

This special collaborative concert with the Portsmouth Athenaeum, celebrating 200 years, will be highlighted by the inaugural presentation of the Portsmouth Athenaeum Prize in the Humanities (PAPH). This prize honors a Portsmouth High School student for achievement and promise in an area of the Liberal Arts and is intended to exemplify the devotion of the Athenaeum to literature, philosophy, history and all the arts (both visual and performing); to demonstrate the deep and historic relationship between the Athenaeum and the Portsmouth community; and to strengthen the bonds of affection and respect between the members of the Athenaeum and the people of Portsmouth. More information about this special award and the nomination process may be found at

Ravel's Ma mère l'Oye or Mother Goose Suite, opens the concert with a musical representation of childhood fairy tales that capture the imagination and point to Ravel's own attachment to childhood. Though a bit of a misnomer, (only two sections actually reflect tales written by Charles Perrault), the piece was originally a four-hand piano suite dedicated to the children of his friend and sculptor Cyprian Godebski. The master orchestrator expanded the suite for full orchestra in 1911 and has since become a mainstay of the orchestral repertoire.

From "Once upon a time" to a time not long ago, William Kraft's Kennedy Portrait sets the narrated words of President Kennedy and the composer himself to instill a sense of exhilaration and hope in the listener. Unique among our program this year, the work is representative of music by a living composer that helps to instill the sense of realism the topic portrays. Jerome Meadows joins the orchestra as the narrator for a work that will surely inspire you. The Athenaeum has secured Jerome Meadows, visionary artist and designer of the African Burying Ground Memorial in Portsmouth, to perform the narration of A Kennedy Portrait.

Finally, we set sail with Debussy's La Mer. Another cornerstone of the modern repertoire, La Mer bridges the gap between absolute and programmatic music through musical onomatopoeia. Debussy paints a vivid, captivating and ethereal picture of the beauties of the natural landscape he was forever entranced by.

The PSO is also excited to introduce this year's artist-in-residence, Randy Armstrong, World Fusion music pioneer, who will be joining the orchestra to present a unique work that reflects the theme of each concert throughout the season.

Join us for the musical celebration on November 5th at 3 p.m. in The Music Hall. Pre-concert talk at 2 p.m. from music director John Page.


General: $25
Senior: $22 (65 and over)
Student: $12 (college and under)

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