Nicolás Alberto Dosman’s Favorite Maine Place

University of Southern Maine's director of choral studies on Portland Head Light.

Portland Head Light
Photograph by Mat Trogner
Nicolás Alberto Dosman
Brooklyn, New York, and Dover, Delaware. Before his first teaching post in Maine, he says, “I just thought it was a very cold place next to Canada.”
Portland’s East End Beach, for seagazing.
The USM choral program’s Joyous Sounds concert, November 29, at Portland’s Cathedral Church of St. Luke. Dosman is also chorus master for the Portland Symphony Orchestra’s Magic of Christmas, December 9–18, at Merrill Auditorium.
By Brian Kevin
From our December 2022 issue

When friends and family from away visit him in Portland, Dr. Nicolás Alberto Dosman always takes them to see Cape Elizabeth’s Portland Head Light, for the same reasons people have always visited Portland Head Light. “It’s simply what people think of when they think of New England and Maine,” he says. But Dosman, associate professor and director of choral studies at the University of Southern Maine’s Osher School of Music, also has an unusual affinity for the postcard lighthouse: about a year ago, he directed a concert on top of it.

“No one has ever done anything like that before,” says Dosman, who’s in his eighth year at USM and previously directed the choral program at Colby College. It was a stirring Veterans Day performance, with military members joining the USM Chamber Singers for a program of American composers and traditional patriotic songs. It was also nerve-wracking, with Dosman conducting some 60 feet off the ground, his back against the 230-year-old beacon’s railing. “I will never forget it,” he says. “And I’ll never do it again, because it was scary.”

Much of Dosman’s work involves honoring traditions while also breaking conventions. Like earlier this year, when he was invited to plan and conduct a collaborative performance of Maine choristers and several New York opera luminaries at Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall. The program he put together for the National Opera Chorus included nods to the classic operatic canon — Bizet, Rossini — as well as less-performed pieces, like selections from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and Scott Joplin’s little-known opera Treemonisha.

“It had to be special — I wasn’t going to do a night of bel-canto opera, which you can hear from anybody,” Dosman says. “We opened up with Treemonisha to make a statement, to show the world there are other voices, not just European males, who have written opera.”

Afterwards, a member of the Detroit Youth Choir, which had shared the bill, approached Dosman to compliment the performance. Opera, she said, had always struck her as music to sleep to, but the concert had her thinking twice.

“She said, ‘I never knew it could be so interesting,’” Dosman recalls. “That was definitely more meaningful than whatever other reviews might have been.”

Headshot by Wohler & Company