Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra
The Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra (PBSO) was founded in 2007 as a constituent member of the Eastport Arts Center. PBSO is a community of dedicated volunteer musicians who cherish the opportunity to play classical music. The mission of PBSO is fourfold: to bring symphonic music to the communities of Washington County, Maine, and neighboring New Brunswick, Canada; to provide an arena in which musicians may meet, practice and perform together; to provide a serious hard-working orchestra in which musicians can further develop their skills; and to premiere new works by Maine composers.
Since 2007, PBSO:
- Performed 84 concerts in venues in Washington County, Maine, and Charlotte County, New Brunswick.
- Featured 27 soloist performances.
- Commissioned and premiered 7 new works by composers from Maine and Norway.
- Played 124 works by 67 composers.
- Reached more than 3,500 children in 19 Music for Children performances.
- Provided outreach to underserved populations, such as school children and the elderly, through ensembles such as the Woodwind Quintet.
- Provided Performance Scholarships and Leadership Internships to 4 high school seniors.
- Provided an opportunity for more than 75 volunteer musicians to learn from Trond Saeverud and Gregory Biss and share their love of music with each other and the community.
PBSO currently is comprised of approximately 40 musicians who come primarily from communities around Passamaquoddy Bay in Washington County, Maine and Charlotte County, New Brunswick. Musicians are of all ages and from all walks of life. PBSO welcomes new players!
If interested, please plan to attend a Thursday rehearsal at 7 pm at the Eastport Arts Center. For more information about the rehearsal schedule, call June Gregory at 207-213-9145 or Lee-Anne Frost at 506-529-8278.
From its inception, PBSO has grown and thrived under the inspiring leadership of music director and conductor Trond Saeverud. Maestro Saeverud is an international violinist and conductor who has served as concertmaster and soloist in Norway, Denmark, The United States, and with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.
He currently is the Music Director and Conductor of the Galveston Symphony Orchestra, Concertmaster for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and Conductor and Music Director of the Bay Area Youth Symphony, Houston, Texas.
Gregory Biss, assistant conductor, is a celebrated composer and pianist, president of the board of the Eastport Arts Center, and a catalyst for the growing musical presence in Eastport. Both men contribute unique styles of conducting and music interpretation that expand the skills, knowledge, and confidence of PBSO musicians.
Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Concerts
The Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 concerts have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PBSO hopes to restart rehearsals and live performances in Fall 2021. PBSO’s music director and conductor, Trond Saeverud, has composed a new violin concerto that will be performed at the orchestra’s first concert, with Saeverud as soloist.
PBSO welcomes new musicians. Rehearsals are held on Thursdays from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Eastport Arts Center. Carpooling is available. For more information about joining the orchestra, please call June Gregory at (207) 213-9145.
In addition to EAC and its constituent groups, PBSO works cooperatively with other community organizations, such as the Calais Downtown Revitalization Coalition, The University of Maine at Machias, and local schools.
The core activity of PBSO consists of spring and fall annual seasons of 10 rehearsals and 3 concerts. Regular venues include Eastport, Machias, and Calais. In addition to these concerts, PBSO offers several other programs:
- The PBSO Woodwind Quintet provides outreach to local school-age children, represents PBSO in venues that are not practical for the orchestra as a whole, and carries the experience of quality classical music to under-served populations. In the spring of 2014, the Quintet completed its first major project, Peter and the Wolf. Through this project the Quintet introduced school-age children in part of Washington County to orchestral instruments and music and cooperated with local schools, artists, and arts organizations to create a stage set and educational materials. Eight schools participated in three performances and a fourth performance was open to the public. At least 725 people, mostly children, were served by this program. Questionnaires completed by over 400 teachers and children yielded overwhelmingly positive results and requests for additional performances.
- The Music for Children Program grew out of the Woodwind Quintet success. It develops and presents music programs to elementary age children with selected music based on children’s literature, history, and/or visual arts. In 2016 Gregory Biss (composer, pianist, and PBSO assistant conductor) adapted Englebert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel opera to create a 45-minute program for an ensemble of 12 musicians and a cast of 5. Music for Children presented Hansel and Gretel to approximately 1,200 children from 18 Washington County Schools, home-schooled children, and 200 adults. In 2018, with a cast of 28 children and an ensemble of 12 musicians, Music for Children presented the children’s opera Brundibar to 1,500 children from 20 Washington County Schools. Brundibar was written by Jewish Czech Composer Hans Krása with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister in 1938 for a boys’ Jewish orphanage in Prague, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic). In addition to introducing school-age children to opera and classical music, the program encouraged dialogue about the Holocaust, bullying, tolerance, coercion, and resilience
The Performance Scholarship is awarded to a gifted young orchestra member who prepares and performs a significant solo piece at the spring concert. The student receives $300 and a certificate.
The Leadership Internship targets a young musician with exceptional interest in music who works with an orchestra member to gain experience in various facets of orchestra management. The student receives $300 and a certificate.
In addition to these permanent programs, in 2016 PBSO purchased lighting (which was permanently installed at Eastport Arts Center) and a keyboard with an amplifier and necessary accessories. The new lights benefit all performance groups and the sound equipment will be available for use by other Eastport Arts Center constituent groups. This project was made possible by a generous grant provided by the Steven and Tabitha King Foundation. This year, thanks to the Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, PBSO has replaced its timpani with two professional, hammered-copper Ludwig instruments. PBSO donated the original timpani to the Eastport Schools.
The Fall 2019 Concert Series was dedicated to Doug and Dovie Gaither, without whom PBSO would not exist. During the spring of 2007, Trond Saeverud was conducting the UM Farmington Symphony Orchestra, in which Doug sometimes played, and covering teaching responsibilities at UM Machias while Gene Nichols took a sabbatical. One of the classes, called “Chamber Group”, was comprised of several students and local musicians, including Doug and Dovie Gaither. Trond thought that we could create a symphony here in Washington County like the one in Farmington. Doug agreed to it enthusiastically and he and Dovie set to work to make it happen. Forty people came to the first meeting! Trond suggested starting in September; however, the group said, “Why not now?” and so we did. The first concert was on September 15th. Doug and Dovie did everything the first year. They created programs, posters, ads, and press releases. They organized the music library, communicated with musicians, and liaised with Eastport Arts Center and other venues. Doug became the first board president and continues to this day as Emeritus.
Doug, on his French horn, and Dovie, on her cello, have been with PBSO for 12 years, every concert, every season. They have helped set up for rehearsals and concerts, hosted Trond and 3 to 4 musicians for concert weekends, put up posters, sold ads, and organized receptions. Dovie initiated the “Young Artist Performance Award” and Doug designed and helped construct the music shell panels in the EAC that have greatly improved the acoustics for the orchestra.
PBSO is forever grateful to this dynamic duo for the contributions they have made, and continue to make, to our organization. —Written by Trond Saeverud and Helen Swallow
Tim Pence, PBSO French horn player and board member, is a composer and multi-instrumentalist. While his first instrument was French horn, his formal instrumental training was in classical guitar. Tim studied at the New England Conservatory of Music and placed first in the 1996 New England Classical Guitar Society Competition. He has written over 50 works and his music has been performed around the world, including Lyon, France, and Moscow, Russia. In 2009 the Chagall Performance Art Collaborative commissioned a “sound painting palate” which they used in performances throughout Boston and New York.
Big Rocks on Steep Hills, a composition Tim Pence, had its world premiere on February 17, 2019 at the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston Texas. Trond Saeverud conducted the Galveston Symphony Orchestra (GSO) in the performance of the commissioned work, which was very well received by orchestra and audience. Tim transported the musicians through dreamlike and surreal soundscapes and gave detailed instructions on mood and character — including a section using double basses and tuba called “losing our minds”. Congratulations, Tim!
Since 2007 PBSO has demonstrated not only the ability to enrich the lives of musicians and community members by performing beautiful music twice a year but also by presenting classical music in new and pervasive ways. You can help assure that the next decade is rich with many more inspired performances! PBSO is supported by donations from the community, ticket donations at the door, gifts from musicians in the orchestra and their families and friends, and by generous grants from foundations such as the Helen and Charles Ladd Charitable Corporation, Morton-Kelly Charitable Trust, the First Bank, the Davis Family Foundation, the Maine Arts Commission, and The Maine Community Foundation. PBSO gratefully accepts contributions of money, services, and equipment.
For more information about the orchestra and how you can help support PBSO, please contact us at: PBSO, P.O. Box 114, Eastport, Maine, 04631.
U.S.: June Gregory, (207) 213-9145 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Canada: Lee-Anne Frost, (506) 529-8278 • email@example.com
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