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The Bangor Symphony Orchestra is off to see the Wizard

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BSO’s annual Pops concert to feature “The Wonderful Music of Oz”

BANGOR – The Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s annual Pops concert is off to see the Wizard.

“The Wonderful Music of Oz” will be taking place on March 18 at 4 p.m. at the Collins Center for the Arts on the University of Maine campus.

Produced by Spot-On Entertainment, the show will feature iconic songs from the wealth of Oz-centric music out there. Classics from the film will be present, of course, but so too will great tunes from such Oz-inspired musicals as “Wicked” and “The Wiz” – all of them sung by some of Broadway’s finest voices and accompanied by pianist John Boswell, as well as by the BSO as led by conductor Lucas Richman.

The featured vocalists include Kelli Rabke, Blaine Krauss and Spot-On founder/owner Scott Coulter. The Bangor-based modern choral group Divisi is also taking part in the program.

The Pops concert has long been a welcome part of the BSO’s annual programming.

“The BSO's annual Pops concert is a chance for us to show the full range of what an orchestra can do,” said BSO Executive Director Brian Hinrichs. “So much incredible music has been written for Broadway; this year's program highlights that. Plus, the Broadway tour of ‘Wicked’ has never been to our region, so this is a chance for local audiences the chance to hear that music performed with an incredible cast.

“I saw Kelli Rabke on Broadway in ‘Joseph’ and can't believe she's singing with our orchestra,” he added. “It's going to be a lot of fun.”

The driving force behind “The Wonderful Music of Oz” is Scott Coulter, whose Spot-On Entertainment has created numerous touring shows – both symphonic and non – to bring iconic music to locations all over the map.

Mr. Coulter was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about “The Wonderful Music of Oz” and what audiences could expect from the March 18 performances with the BSO.

TME: Why “The Wizard of Oz”? What drew you to work with this story and this music?

Scott Coulter: L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is America’s first fairy tale. It has captured the hearts and minds of readers for over a hundred years. We all relate to the idea of looking for something to make us feel complete (a heart, a brain, courage) and we all share the feeling of there being no place like home. These are universal desires. There’s a reason the original novel has been adapted so many times. 

TME: You’re working with some very different interpretations of the same story. Is it difficult to reconcile the songs from the movie with fare from musicals like “The Wiz” and “Wicked”?

Coulter: Not at all! That’s part of the beauty of this concert. All the songs fit together incredibly well. They’re all centered around the same cast of characters, but it’s fascinating to see how they’ve been given voice by different composers with their own unique sounds and styles. 

TME: There’s a ton of great music here – how do you determine which songs make the cut for the show?

Coulter: It was pretty simple actually. There are songs that are so indelibly associated with these characters and this story that they had to be included. 

TME: What’s the process of putting together a show such as this one? What sorts of similar shows have you been involved with in the past?

Coulter: I have a concert production/booking company called Spot-On Entertainment for which I create a variety of shows for performing arts centers and symphony orchestras. The goal is to identify a theme or idea that will resonate with audiences and go from there. Once I know what I want to show to say musically and thematically I set about finding the perfect singers to bring it all to life. I’m very lucky to get to work with some of the best singers and musicians in the world. 

TME: Anything else you'd like to share with our readers about the show?

Coulter: This really is a show for audiences of all ages. The story has struck a chord with every generation of readers and film fans and musical lovers since the novels publication in 1900. This is a chance for everyone to celebrate it together. 

(Tickets for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra’s annual Pops concert “The Wonderful Music of Oz” on March 18 at 4 p.m. at the Collins Center for the Arts are available through the CCA box office at 1-800-622-8499 or online at www.BangorSymphony.org.)

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