Lucas Richman, shown in 2016, originally planned to premiere his work "The Warming Sea" in March 2020 only for it to be delayed by the pandemic. It's now set to premiere this weekend, but Richman won't conduct the work after a recent emergency appendectomy. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

Bangor Symphony Orchestra Conductor Lucas Richman was ready in March 2020 to conduct “The Warming Sea,” his original work about climate change in Maine commissioned by the Maine Science Festival.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed those plans, however.

Two years later, Richman was looking forward to premiering the work on Saturday at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono. But a recent emergency appendectomy has forced him to turn the baton over to Jayce Ogren, the symphony said.

Brian Hinrichs, the orchestra’s executive director, called the timing unfair and wished Richman a speedy recovery.

“There is no doubt that after two years of COVID delays, the timing of this emergency feels particularly unfair,” Hinrichs said. “However, we have every intention of honoring Lucas’s work as the composer of this remarkable new piece, and warmly welcome Jayce Ogren to the podium.”

Richman’s orchestral and choral work explores what it means to find hope in the face of the climate crisis, and was developed with insight from Maine’s leading climate scientists and statewide partners of the science festival.

Conductor Jayce Ogren. Credit: Courtesy of Rebecca Fay

Ogren, 43, of Portland and Brooklyn, New York, is known as one of the most innovative and versatile conductors of his generation. He has conducted many of the world’s most prominent orchestras, including the BBC Symphony, Boston Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, the Dallas and San Francisco symphonies and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

He wished Richman a speedy recovery.

“Though I wish the circumstances were different, I’m looking forward to conducting the Bangor Symphony in Lucas Richman’s beautiful new work, ‘The Warming Sea,’” he said. “As a Maine resident and a lifelong advocate for the environment, I’m honored to take part in this important premiere.  I wish Lucas all the best for a speedy recovery.”

“The Warming Sea” will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Collins Center for the Arts. The evening begins with presentations from leading climate scientists and Gov. Janet Mills, before proceeding to the orchestral performance and a discussion hosted by the Maine Science Festival.

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