photo: Sarah McCullough

Founded in 1924 in Portland ME, the Portland Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has a long and illustrious history of bringing fine orchestral music to Maine and northern New England. It is an ongoing source of civic pride and artistic leadership, the largest performing arts organization in this city of 70,000 people. All volunteer at its start, the PSO now employs 83 professional musicians drawn from all six New England states. It performs nearly 40 concerts each season at Merrill Auditorium in Portland and at Seaside Pavilion in Old Orchard Beach. Its youth programming reaches thousands of students every year; lifelong learning activities serve the public in person and virtually. 

Led since 2019 by Music Director Eckart Preu, the orchestra proudly lists Richard Burgin, Arthur Bennett Lipkin, Paul Vermel, Bruce Hangen, Toshi Shimada, and Robert Moody among Preu’s predecessors. Its more than 75 world and United States premieres includes works by Alan Hovhaness, Walter Piston, Daniel Pinkham, Elliot Schwartz, Morton Gould, and Daniel Sonenberg. Maestro Preu’s broad musical enthusiasm fits well with the Portland audience’s musical curiosity; each season includes unfamiliar music from the past and a wide sampling of new works. 

  The Portland Symphony Orchestra serves the greater Portland community by enriching lives through music. Beginning in 2020, it embarked on the serious work of transforming every aspect of its operation to reflect strongly held principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This recording, Máscaras: Music from Mexico, is an early result of the orchestra’s efforts to broaden its own horizons as well as the standard orchestral canon. With stunning works by three living Mexican composers—each highlighting the diversity of Mexico’s incredibly rich musical tradition—this recording was made during two live concerts in April 2023 at Merrill Auditorium in Portland. It captures the excitement of these concerts; we hope it will encourage other orchestras to program these works and further explore the music of these composers.