PORTLAND — On Saturday, March 25, the Portland Chamber Music Festival presents the internationally renowned Borromeo String Quartet, called “simply the best” by the Boston Globe. This will be the quartet’s first Portland performance since PCMF Artistic Director Melissa Reardon joined as the group’s violist in August of 2022. The matinee concert starts at 3 PM and takes place at Hannaford Hall in the Abromson Community Education Center on USM’s Portland campus.

The Borromeo String Quartet is one of the most sought-after string quartets in the world, each season performing more than one hundred concerts of classical and contemporary literature across three continents. Melissa Reardon, a friend of the group for many years, says, “I was overjoyed to be invited to join this truly extraordinary quartet. It is a dream come true to curate and perform in its PCMF debut along with my deeply esteemed colleagues.”

In keeping with PCMF’s longtime commitment to the next generation of chamber musicians and audiences, Reardon will lead a master class for students from the Maine Suzuki Association at Hannaford Hall on Saturday morning, and concert tickets for everyone aged 21 and under are free. Visit pcmf.org for details.

The concert program opens with Haydn’s String Quartet in F Major, playful and gracious, with a Balkan-sounding theme in the finale that takes off into flights of fantasy. Written during World War I, Bartók’s String Quartet No. 2 is a folk-infused rhapsody described by fellow Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly as “the continual evolution of a single, coherent, spiritual process.” The sensuality and inventive tonal colors in Debussy’s only string quartet are emblematic of its time and place (Paris in the early 1890s, during the Belle Époque or “Beautiful Era”), and beloved for its shimmering textures and iridescent beauty.