Our Stories – We’re POP-ing with Performances

As we close in on the one-year anniversary of pandemic shut downs, we’re overjoyed to be in production for Portland Ovations Presents: POP 90, a benefit celebration of Ovations’ 90th anniversary year.

That’s right: Portland Ovations was founded as the Portland Music Commission in 1931: in the midst of another global crisis, the Great Depression. And the same year that the Empire State Building was completed. We’re performing our way through this crisis, too. Because performance allows us to mourn. Performance facilitates our healing. And performance is how we celebrate: which is what we are doing at POP 90 on March 25.

The virtual benefit begins with special guest hosts at our “ritzy pre-party” for our POP Star Hosts. If you missed the fabulously fun and uplifting Paige Hernandez in her earlier visits to Portland you don’t want to miss her here. Paige is a world-renowned performer who is known for her playful, mindful and authentic hip hop aesthetic. This will be on display March 25 when she collaborates with her brother, Nick tha 1Da, to welcome you to POP 90 in style. Nick is a live beat maker with an unrivaled passion for listening to and creating music.


From the pre-party we take you LIVE to Merrill Auditorium, where we’ll be hosted by two of Portland’s esteemed performance artists, Kerem Durdag and Sara Juli. Kerem is a poet whose roots in theater and poetry run deep, as a translator of Urdu and Turkish poetry as well as author and performer. He is one of six Maine artists commissioned by Ovations, and is at work on “SoulRoar,” a musical theater project with musician Andy Happelexploring the immigrant experience. Sara Juli is a dance maker and performer whose unique mix of comedy and choreography has made her a standout recipient of a National Dance Project award. Sara’s most recent work, “Burnt-Out Wife,” was co-commissioned by Ovations and is still touring when possible.

Kerem and Sara will guide us LIVE through an evening that includes exclusively made-for-Ovations performances by a trio of other artists who have benefitted from previous Ovations’ commissioning support: violinist and “artivistDaniel Bernard Roumain of En Masse fame; Bridgman | Packer Dance, whose multimedia work, “Voyeur,” was created with Ovations in part at recognizable Maine locations; and Kenneth Kellogg, a distinguished bass baritone who was featured in Dan Sonenberg’s “The Summer King.

We’ll wrap the evening with one of Portland’s own nightlife stars, our own Cherry Lemonade, LIVE from the Merrill Stage as we dance the night away.