May 21, 2018
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Portland Performing Arts Festival opens June 28

Sharon Isbin will be one of the headliners at the Portland Performing Arts Festival.
By Dale McGarrigle, Custom Publications Writer

Summer is a busy time for the arts in Maine; now a new festival in Portland hopes to get a jump on the season.

The new Portland Performing Arts Festival, scheduled for June 28-July 1, will feature eight events that encompass classical music, jazz, dance, theater, and performance arts at venues along Congress Street in the city’s arts district.

The festival will partner with the Portland Festival Fringe, which is a collection of events and performances presented by Maine’s artists and arts organizations. Each Fringe participant is presenting their own event and managing their own venues, but links to those events are available at

The festival is modeled after successful events such as the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C. and Luminato in Toronto and mixes together arts genres in hopes of drawing a broad a group of patrons as possible.

Also, by planning the festival for late June, organizers hope to showcase Portland before the summer season truly begins, the state becomes crowded with visitors, and accommodations get strained.

“We hope to create a sustainable and distinctive festival that brings regional residents and cultural tourists to Portland’s vital downtown,” said Kara Larson, the festival’s board president. “By combining visiting artists from around the world with performances by Maine artists and collaborative work with Portland’s arts organizations, we hope to create a world-class event that is uniquely Maine’s.”

From June 28 – July 1, featured festival performances include:

June 28:

• 3 p.m.: Guitar Master Class, featuring visiting artists Sharon Isbin and Doug Wamble in teaching session with Maine artists, free and open to the public; One Longfellow Square, 181 State St.

• 6 p.m.: Maine performance art duo Eepybird (the Coke & Mentos guys), live demonstration; Monument Square. Free and open to the public. Rain date 6 p.m., Friday, June 29.

June 29:

• 7 p.m.: Sharon Isbin, Grammy-winning classical guitarist, solo concert; Williston-Immanuel United Church, 156 High St. Tickets $20-45, plus ticketing fee.

June 30:

• 7 p.m.: Alison Chase/Performance, contemporary dance ensemble, presenting the world premiere of choreography created by Maine resident and Pilobolus co-founder Chase; Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St. Tickets $27-47, plus ticketing fee.

• 8 p.m.: Celebration Barn Ensemble, world premiere play, “Thumbs Up,” an inventive and uproarious look at Maine’s unique qualities and characters; John Ford Theater, Portland High School, 284 Cumberland Ave. Tickets $15-30, plus ticketing fee.

• 9 p.m.: Doug Wamble, jazz. This performance features an eight-piece ensemble presenting “Yoknapatawpha,” an evening-length work based on the literary works of William Faulkner; the State Theater, 609 Congress St. Tickets $20-40, plus ticketing fee.

July 1:

• 1 p.m.: Celebration Barn Ensemble, “Thumbs Up,” matinee performance, John Ford Theater, Portland High School, 284 Cumberland Ave. Tickets $15-30, plus ticketing fee.

• 3 p.m.: Piano concert, festival finale. This concert presents the premier artists of the International Piano Festival in works by various composers, including Maine resident Elliott Schwartz; Williston-Immanuel United Church, 156 High St. Tickets $15-25, plus ticketing fee.

Tickets to the eight featured events are available through PortTix at (207) 842-0800 or

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