History and Highlights
The Maine Music Society was founded in 1991 to support the artistic and educational activities of two performing bodies: the Androscoggin Chorale and its professional orchestra, The Maine Chamber Ensemble. Based in Lewiston-Auburn, it is a nonprofit professional organization that produces an annual series of orchestral, chamber and choral music concerts. A 15-member volunteer board of directors establishes policy and oversees society activities.
The roots of the Maine Music Society began with The Androscoggin Chorale, which was formed in Lewiston in 1972 as a community chorus. The Chorale provided amateur vocalists an opportunity to showcase their talents in public concerts that added a new dimension to the cultural life of the Twin Cities.
By 1987, with the leadership of director Peter Frewen, the Chorale had attained a level that enabled it to finance and perform Mozart's Requiem with professional soloists and a professional orchestra. This chamber orchestra appeared in many concerts in seasons that followed, accompanying the chorus and playing orchestral works. Audience response grew increasingly enthusiastic.
In 1991, the Androscoggin Chorale's board of directors recognized this success by authorizing the formation of the Maine Music Society as an umbrella organization for the vocal and instrumental groups. A new charter was written and a new volunteer board of directors appointed to guide the ventures of this new regional performing arts organization.
The Maine Music Society has attained a solid reputation for artistic excellence. Notable achievements of its first five years included a 1994 performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which drew nearly 2,000 concertgoers to Lewiston and Brunswick and a 1992 production of Amahl and the Night Visitors, a professionally staged, full-scale opera. The next ten years brought a huge variety of musical offerings, both intimate and large-scale, including Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (in collaboration with the Seaglass Chorale of Kennebunk), Haydn’s Creation, a concert version of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte, and the Requiems by Faure and Durufle. On the lighter side, the American Classics series celebrated the music of such American songwriters as Cole Porter, George Gershwin. Also popular have been the yearly offerings during the Christmas holiday season, variously called Christmas at St. Peter’s, Christmas as St. Mary’s, and now A Heritage Christmas.
For over two decades, Maine Music Society has presented “Battle of the Blends.” This annual fund-raising event brings a cappella groups of all kinds from around New England to perform to consistently sold-out audiences.
During the Spring of 2006, the Maine Music Society was pleased to welcome John Corrie as Artistic Director. John brings a depth of experience, talent and fresh energy to the organization. Under his leadership the Chorale has nearly doubled in size, and its enhanced artistry and blend have been noted by many. Performances under his baton have included Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, and most notably the extremely popular collaboration with Bates College of the Brahms Requiem. This outstanding concert was attended by more than 1,200 concert goers at the sold-out Basilica of SS Peter and Paul in Lewiston.
The Maine Music Society has performed in venues all around Central Maine, but has recently found a home base at the The Franco Center in Lewiston. This beautifully-renovated space, formerly St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, provides a venue that is both rewarding for performers and comfortable for audience members.
The Maine Music Society operates from the office of SmART Management at 46 Cedar Street, Lewiston. Leadership is provided by the Artistic Director, the Board of Directors and volunteers from the general community. Concert patrons, other individuals, local professionals, businesses and corporations provide vital financial support. Together, all these members of the Maine Music Society "family" contribute to its continuing vitality.