by Michael Krapovicky| photography by Brewster Burns

Because of the delay from COVID-related shutdowns, the Maine Music Society is observing its 50th anniversary this year rather than in 2022. The Golden Jubilee, a series of events commemorating the MMS’ long tenure of professional chorale and orchestral music performance in LA, has been long awaited by the patrons of the arts in the community.

Current Events

The MMS chorale is a mixed-voice community chorus – soprano, alto, tenor, and bass – based in LA. The MMS chorale performs three annual concerts, two performances each, at the Franco Center in Lewiston, attended by several hundred people. The Holiday Concert, A Season of Celebration, is held in December. A spring concert features pieces from the classical era, Mozart, Beethoven, and the like. The third concert is usually comprised of modern/pop music – from Gershwin to Elton John.

MMS also has a yearly fundraiser concert, Battle of the Blends, held on the first Saturday in November – where a cappella groups from around New England are invited to perform.



The Maine Music Society describes their raison d’etre as “connecting area residents with the broader world of musical art and culture by performing a broad range of musical genres – contemporary, musical theatre, classical, opera, and oratorio.” Their members have a wide range of ages and backgrounds, from amateurs to teachers and professional singers, from recent high school graduates to octogenarians.

Maine Music Society Historical Choral PerformanceIn 1972, a Bates music professor, Dr. Marion Anderson, was tasked to organize a community chorus, and the Androscoggin Chorale was born. In 1991, The Maine Music Society was created, joining Androscoggin Chorale and the Maine Chamber Ensemble under the auspices of Artistic Director Peter Frewen. Frewen and the organization offered the LA area professional music performances, choral and orchestral, from Beethoven to Cole Porter to Elton John. Chamber music consisting of small groups to full orchestral productions were now a regular occurrence in LA.

John Corrie became MMS’s new artistic director in 2006 and exclusively focused on chorale singing. He instituted The Maine Music Society Chamber Singers, which was smaller and performed more often. Under his tenure, the MMS performed the Brahms Requiem at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul with the Bates College Choir and Orchestra and the Lewiston and Auburn high school choirs. Over 1200 people attended the performance. Corrie was set to retire with one final performance of Beethoven’s 9th, but the production was canceled due to the pandemic.


Half a century – Plus

In the fall of 2020, Dr. Richard Nickerson was inaugurated as MMS’s new artistic director at a time when live performance and even in-person practice were halted.

“During this time, the world fell silent from choral singing,” laments Nickerson. “This explains why we are celebrating our 50th anniversary in our 52nd year.”

The Chorale would meet virtually, and then was able to resume in-person rehearsals and perform live again, and the 50-year celebration of the MMS would be planned despite the two-year delay.

“We have built back from this setback and the number of singers on our roster is now back to pre-COVID status,” affirms Nickerson. “We are looking to become more visible and engaged in our community.”


The Golden Jubilee

The Golden Jubilee is a celebration of the fifty years of service to the LA community by the MMS. The commemorative performances occur on March 16 and 17 of 2024: A Breath of Mozart, featuring The Coronation Mass of Mozart, and For a Breath of Ecstasy by Michael John Trotta, a New York composer, and additionally 1972: A Musical Retrospective, on May 11 and 12.

“A Breath of Mozart will feature two major works that were chosen because they represent celebration,” says Nickerson. “The 1972 concert is meant to show what music was like during the year our group was founded.”



Dr. Richard Nickerson Conducts

Dr. Richard Nickerson

MMS is governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors, which currently has 4 officers, 7 Directors, and 2 Associate Directors, including Connie Hitchcock, the marketing co-chair of the MMS. Their members chair the various standing committees – Finance, Development, Marketing, and Nominating.

MMS has no employees but contracts with Nickerson, its accompanist, Morgan Lee, and Penny Drumm for its business office needs. MMS also contracts with any musicians who are needed for any given concert – selected by Nickerson.

The secretary of the MMS is Susan Trask, who is a lifelong music enthusiast, as well as the president of the Chorale, and member of the MMS Chamber Singers.

“Singing has always been an important part of my life, and the Chorale has been central to it,” says Trask. “I was part of the committee formed to determine the wisdom and the logistics of forming the Maine Music Society as an umbrella organization, and I became a Board member once again in 2006 when John Corrie became Artistic Director.”


Growing Attendance

While streaming is the prevalent way consumers listen to music, organizations like the MMS modify their events to reinvigorate the audience’s love for live performance.

“Just as the way we listen to music has changed, the concert experience must also evolve,” explains Nickerson. “This provides more opportunities for community involvement.”

The MMS plans to expand its performance range, adding a “Bluegrass Mass” as an example.

“There is too much music available to only focus on one style,” Nickerson claims. “While many associate choirs with classical music, we feature a variety of genres – looking to become more visible and engaged in our community.”

The MMS seeks to provide opportunities to the youth of LA. The MMS offers discounted or free tickets to all students. Also, Nickerson has employed creative ideas for community outreach.

“I enjoy collaborating with other artists, and this provides many opportunities for bringing people together,” Nickerson recounts. “Last year, we had an informal evening at Side by Each called Beer Choir, where we gathered to sing songs while enjoying some locally produced beer – a wonderful night of celebrating community.”

MMS chorale has two upcoming appearances scheduled – the inauguration of Bates College’s new President on May 4, 2024, and performing the National Anthem for Lewiston Night at the Portland Sea Dogs game.



“My main goal is for The Maine Music Society to continue to be a source of community pride and a major arts organization within the Greater Lewiston  Auburn community,” says Nickerson. “I am honored to be a part of this organization and am tasked with continuing our tradition of excellence.”

Ticket sales comprise less than fifty percent of the Maine Music Society’s income. Individuals and organizations need to donate and/or volunteer to stage quality performances. For more information on concerts or how best to contribute, visit their website.


Maine Music Society