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The Best Sounds in Life Are Free

So sometimes you're in downtown Portland mid-day on a Thursday and you're tired of the vibrating din of traffic and commerce and you wish there were some way to escape it all and find a little peace and relaxation but it can't be something that you have to pay for because you're flat broke and you wonder why there isn't some free concert series to take you away from it all.

There is. For 17 years, the Portland Conservatory of Music has hosted free concerts every Thursday at 12:15, at First Parish Church on Congress Street, between Monument Square and City Hall. The music tends towards the classical side of things, but occasionally it's jazz (next Thursday, for instance, pianist Tom Snow, one of Maine's jazz stalwarts, takes the stage). Soloists, trios, choral groups, bands -- music to soothe the soul.

Today, for instance, your correspondent walked through the doors, left Congress Street behind, and was a fortunate audience member, one of a hundred or so, listening to the DaPonte String Quartet. On this wintry day, what balm to sit in a pew in this old, spacious church and revel in the smokey, sinuous strains of Beethoven's String Quartet No. 14, Op. 131. You have to believe that Ludwig would have approved.  

The series runs every Thursday at 12:15 from October into April, year-in, year-out. An opportunity to hear some of the finest classical and jazz performers in the state, for free. Oh, and there's the added bonus of enjoying it within one of Portland's great spaces, the close-to-200-year-old First Parish Church. And did I mention that the music is free?

Sometimes your earbuds just won't do. Sometimes you need the real thing. So some Thursday, at lunch time, swing by First Parish Church. Take a pew all to yourself. Let the music do the rest.

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