The Maine Pops Concert Band completed its 2023 Summer Concert Series on August 16 with a 75-minute performance at the Cape Elizabeth (ME) Veterans Park. The performance was the band’s fourth public performance of the summer and the last of seven engagements for the Scarborough-based community band.
A late-gathering audience arrived to listen to the Maine Pops perform nearly a dozen compositions from its 2022-2023 season, filled with marches, medleys, movie symphonic scores, patriotic compositions, and traditional favorites as the band continued its celebration of 35 years.
It was a very successful summer that saw the band lose only one concert to the weather – our scheduled performance in Bath. “I think what I remember most about this summer is the connections we made with the audiences," said Maine Pops Director David Watts of the season.
For Watts, there was something special for each concert. He said everyone braving the weather at the start of the season at R.B. Hall Day on June 24 in Richmond was one memory, as the band returned to the annual festival for the first time since 2019. There, it joined over a dozen other community bands to perform in a resumption of the annual festival honoring Maine's march king.
There were other highlights for the director; having conversations and fun with the folks sitting in the "splash zone" at The Park Danforth where the band had to move indoors during a downpour. There was the large and enthusiastic crowd at Portland’s Heseltine Park, as well as the joyous faces at 100 State Street in Portland. Watts highlighted the laughter and participation of the large crowd in Falmouth that stuck it out right through the rain that came during our finale, and he enjoyed the engagement of audience members at Cape Elizabeth on August 16. To Watts, all were wonderful season highlights for the band.
To recap the summer, the Maine Pops performed three public neighborhood concerts: in Portland’s Heseltine Park, Falmouth’s Village Green, and Cape Elizabeth’s Veteran’s Park. The band also conducted two private sessions for a pair of retirement communities in Portland – The Park Danforth and at 100 State Street.
“Everyone in the communities was so appreciative of our performances,” said Watts. “There were smiles and pats on the backs everywhere this summer -- the summer of the Maine POPS Pirates (reference to our costumed performances of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End). We took no prisoners.”
Likely the biggest highlight of the band's summer schedule was its selection to perform for the U.S. Coast Guard commissioning ceremony for the USCG Cutter John Patterson, held August 10 in Portland. The band performed a pre-ceremony concert featuring patriotic tunes and marches, then performed the ceremonial music associated with the commissioning. Hundreds of attendees, including U.S. Senator Angus King, and U.S. Coast Guard Vice Commandant Admiral Steven D. Poulin.
Watts said “…the proud moment of our band being asked to provide music for the commissioning ceremony of the Coast Guard's new cutter will be something everyone involved will remember for the rest of our lives.”
“As a director, I'm most proud of the way the band performed at each concert, “said Watts. “Every location brought different set-ups, different acoustics, and different challenges because of weather and members taking time off. But I felt we were like a well 'tuned' team (pun intended!). I had such a deep 'bench' to pull from. We brought a diverse repertoire into the summer season and were very well-prepared for any challenges. I so appreciate the band putting their faith in me to lead and rising to anything I put in front of them this year.”
With the summer concert season complete, the band will take a few weeks off, then return to rehearsals on Wednesday, September 6 from 7-9 p.m. inside the Scarborough High School Band Room for the fall season. Watts says he hopes everyone is ready to work on the final celebratory concerts of the band’s 35th anniversary.
The Maine Pops next concert will be held on Sunday, November 19 at 2:30 p.m. Site for the concert will be announced when the venue is confirmed.