phone 207-232-5327
Learn about the Portland Community Orchestra

immerse yourself in an ensemble tailored to improve your performing and technical skills

icon About the PCO 

An Orchestra for Everyone!

The Portland Community Orchestra provides a unique musical experience to those who are interested and ready for the challenges of playing great music with other musicians. Come join us and make beautiful music in a supportive, collaborative, and fun environment!

Orchestra rehearsals focus on enjoying the experience of playing music together and learning how to produce a full and beautiful sound. Repertoire is drawn from all musical eras and styles.

Players will:
 - strengthen their ability to perform and function as a section
 - work to glean a personally satisfying ensemble experience
 - develop and grow their technical skills & musicianship

The Portland Community Orchestra aims for a quality musical experience for players of all ages and abilities, in an atmosphere conducive to learning, individual growth, and fun.

icon Our Conductor

                  Fuerst, music director

Vinny Fuerst, music director Maestro Fuerst is well known for his work with students and ensembles throughout Southern and Midcoast Maine. He grew up in a large family where his mother, a pianist and singer, fostered his love of music. He received a BA in Music at the State University of New York at Buffalo studying flute (Robert Moles and Robert Dick), piano (Carlo Pinto), music history and music theory. Continuing at SUNY Buffalo, he also received a MA in Music Theory. In Hartford, Connecticut he turned to broadcasting to share his love of music and storytelling, hosting Tuesday Evening Classics and The Children’s Corner at the University of Hartford’s WWUH. Vinny studied viola with Michael Moody and Julia Adams (Portland String Quartet), and violin with Steven Kesckemethy (Portland String Quartet). He was violist, manager, and later executive director of the Midcoast Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 2003, and also played with the Bates and Bowdoin College Orchestras. He studied conducting with Jan Williams and James Kasprowitz at the University of Buffalo, and with Paul Vermel at the Aspen School of Music. He has had faculty positions at the Pineland Suzuki School (as chamber music coach and conductor of the middle and upper level string ensembles), and the Portland Conservatory of Music (as conductor of the Portland Conservatory of Music Festival Orchestra). Vinny has continued his long interest in the development of musical opportunities for amateur musicians as director of the Portland Conservatory Adult String Ensemble and as founder and conductor of the Curtis Strings, now in its 15th season at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. In addition, he maintains a studio of 30 piano and violin students throughout Yarmouth, Falmouth, Cumberland, Freeport, Brunswick, Topsham, Harpswell, and Bath. Also an arranger and composer, Vinny owns and operates Birchwood Music, a publishing company specializing in music for strings.

icon PCO Members

The Musicians Who Make Up the PCO

Players of the PCO come from a wide range of backgrounds and musical experiences. Some have played in ensembles before, others for the very first time. Meet and explore the musicians who make the PCO what it is:

                  Zacks, violin

Charles Zacks (violin) Charles has played violin for a few years, or fifty two, depending on how one counts. With a family lineage of musicians from eastern Europe, Charles began violin lessons at the Bryn Mawr Conservatory of Music at age seven, but his violin playing lapsed in college as he pursued a medical education. In spare time however, he enjoyed playing folk music with friends on violin, mandolin and the English concertina. In 2015, with a spirit of “now or never”, Charles began a concentrated effort to “re-learn” violin under the guidance of Yasmin Vitalius of the Portland Symphony. He joined the PCO in its inaugural season September, 2016. Charles is an ophthalmic surgeon at the Maine Eye Center in Portland, specializing in diseases of the cornea. He lives in Cumberland with his wife Sandie Parker and their Labrador Retriever Leila. Other interests include travel and photography, home improvement, recreational sculling, and woodworking.

                    Renton, flute

Nancy Renton (flute)  Nancy's musical journey began in 4th grade with violin lessons, which were not a success. Her music teacher wanted a bassoonist in the school band, so Nancy gave it a try and played it right through high school. Singing replaced instrumental music for many years as Nancy sang in the Portland Community Chorus and Magic of Christmas Chorus. She began flute lessons in 2004, fell in love with it, and continues to this day. She joined the PCO for its Christmas 2016 performance. Nancy graduated from the University of New Hampshire and Central Maine Medical Center School of Nursing, from which she earned her R.N. She lives in Westbrook with her husband, three dogs, and three cats. Besides music, her interests include reading, knitting, stained glass work, hillwalking, and doing nothing at her camp in Madrid, Maine. She's owned by a beautiful Icelandic mare who lives in Limington, and spends as much time with her as possible.

                    McNeal, cello

Bill McNeal
(cello) Bill started his musical studies with the cello in 2010. He originally played the violin through high school, but like many kids, quit to pursue other interests. After helping his daughter with her viola studies, he realized how much he missed playing an instrument, and (with the persuasion of his wife and daughter) started playing the cello at the age of 49 as his musical "mid-life crisis." He has studied with with Susanna Macomber, and Dick Noyes - who happened to be Bill’s orchestra conductor in high school! He is currently continuing his lessons with Christina Chute. Bill joined the Portland Community Orchestra as a founding member in the fall of 2016. PCO is the first orchestra Bill has joined in his adult life, and he has learned an incredible amount from performing in the group. When he is not practicing or trying to recruit new musicians for the PCO, Bill works as a Senior Systems Analyst at Garmin International in Yarmouth, ME. In his free time he also enjoys woodworking, reading science fiction, and spending time with his family and pets at his home in Topsham, ME.


                  LeRoyer, cello

Kate LeRoyer (cello)  Kate has enjoyed making music since she was a young girl learning piano.  Although she is not from a musical family, she has pursued her musical interests through youth orchestra (flute), musical theater and choral singing, and was a member of the Portland’s Choral Art Society for eight years. In the mid-90s, Kate departed from her classical orientation by learning the fiddle, and has been a member of Fiddle-icious since its inception, including six years as treasurer.  Kate has the distinction of building her own violin, as well as restoring her current instrument, a 100 year old cello that was otherwise headed for the wood stove! Kate worked in environmental education for about ten years, and as a classroom teacher for twenty-one, teaching math and science to middle and high school students.  She is currently a tutor with STARS Learning Cooperative in Freeport. Kate is also a saddler, making repairs to saddles, and other leather work.  She and her husband live in Pownal with two Newfoundland dogs, two horses and a hive of honeybees.

                    Daniels, violin

Maggie Daniels (violin)  Maggie has been playing violin on and off since her childhood years, and joined the PCO last year. Her interest in music began as a young student studying dance at Lynn & Conway Dance Company in Newark, NJ. When she was in the 4th grade, the music director welcomed students to join the school’s orchestra. When asked “who wants to play the violin?” Maggie boldly replied “I do!” as if it was her calling. Although she took a hiatus from violin playing to pursue other interests, attend college, and raise a family, she knew that eventually she would return to play classical music and has continued to do so for 20 years now. Maggie also plays in the Curtis Strings for the summer children’s music program at the Curtis Library in Brunswick, and occasionally plays with the fiddling group  Fiddle-licious. Maggie is a graduate of Andover College, and works as a Legal Assistant for a law firm. Her other interests include family, her grandson, friends, hiking, camping, gardening, Maine’s beaches, and drawing.

                  Barley, violin

Stefanie Barley (violin & piano) Stefanie attributes much of the joy in her life to music. Beginning at age 5, she took piano lessons until, as a rebellious twelve-year-old, she told her parents that she would run away from home if they made her continue. They caved in, and she stopped studying, but later took one year of violin lessons with her father, who had always wanted to play. One of her musical “hall of fame” events is the fact that she was the only student accompanist in the entire history of the Chizzle Wizzle shows at Cony High School (now in the 126th year of continuous performances). She has accompanied countless performers over the years and has regular pianist and organist jobs at two churches. Now returning to the violin, she loves the PCO; it's the perfect venue for her abilities and interests.

Trinity Episcopal Church, 580 Forest Avenue,
                  Portland, ME

Rehearsals take place Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church or at various locations around Portland

PCO rehearsals take place Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 580 Forest Avenue, Portland, or at various outdoor locations in and around the Portland area (Fort Allen Park, Evergreen Cemetery, Payson Park, Bug Light Park/South Portland). To audition, volunteer, donate, or just find out more about the PCO, please contact us at:

icon 1 Portland Community Orchestra
         389 Cousins St, Yarmouth, ME 04096

icon 2 207-232-5327

icon 3Send us an email

I love your wide-ranging, interesting and very playable selections and arrangements. Please keep doing what you're doing!

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