Peggy and Yale Gordon Trust helps enliven classical music in Maryland

January 12, 1991|By Ernest F. Imhoff | Ernest F. Imhoff,Evening Sun Staff

Benita Gold, a classical saxophone player, has had 7 or 8 recitals in the past year because of it.

Five young singers are soloing this season with The Baltimore Choral Arts Society because of it.

Scores of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders in Baltimore schools are learning "Adventures with the Violin and Piano" because of it.

At a time when funding for the arts is generally declining, Baltimore's 10-year-old Peggy and Yale Gordon Trust, somewhat protected from the recession, continues to help invigorate classical music in a variety of ways in Maryland.

The trust finances music exclusively for classical music in Maryland at the rate of more than 40 concerts a year, many of them free to the public. It has spurred hundreds of young professional musicians who have earned fees, played recitals and furthered careers. And it fosters partnerships with institutions having concert halls.

"Everybody is happy with the trust," saxophonist Gold said. "It offers performance opportunities" unavailable otherwise. Gold and other Gordon concerto competition winners -- pianist Eric Conway and percussionist Barry Dove -- play at 3 p.m. tomorrow in the "Music in the Great Hall" series at Towson Unitarian-Universalist Church, 1710 Dulaney Valley road. Tickets are $7.50 and $4. Call 823-8339 for more information.

(In another Gordon trust concert this weekend, pianist Choong Mo Kang, a Peabody student, plays from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Walters Art Gallery in the "Peabody's Finest at the Walters" series, free with museum admission. Call 547-9000.)

Tom Hall, director of the Choral Arts Society, praises the trust for "being very clear with its specific mission, not ambiguous as some foundations. We have internationally known singers but also seek out young Americans who need a break. The trust is a real helpful partner for us."

A dramatic instance of the trust's impact -- and of a recurring problem for classical music fans -- is illustrated by an upcoming weekend in February. By an accident of timing, no less than seven concerts funded by the trust will be performed in the greater Baltimore area, two at the same time on Saturday, Feb. 9, and five at about the same time the following day. (See accompany concert schedule on page 4D).

Baltimore natives, Gordon and his wife Peggy set up the trust in 1980 to mark their 20th wedding anniversary. Someone once told director Sidney S. Sherr that a trust designed exclusively for classical music in Maryland was "too narrow" an area.

"I was angry about that at first, but now I'm just glad we're so focused," Sherr said. "Peggy and Yale began this partly because they were seeing classic, Romantic and baroque music going by the wayside. They didn't like the dissonance of much 20th century music. It's a pleasure for us to help provide music they wanted."

Loraine P. Bernstein, the trust's assistant director, and Sherr are two of the seven trustees who pick recipients and funding amounts, acting somewhat but not entirely like a foundation.

"Eight major groups in Baltimore receive percentages each year," Bernstein said, "and the leftover money is for other groups and individuals. We like to work with colleges and schools and we thank Hood, Western Maryland, Fairhaven retirement home in Sykesville and others for providing their halls for music."

The eight groups receiving annual funding for concerts are Peabody Conservatory, the Shriver Hall Concert Series, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, three Jewish reform congregations -- Baltimore Hebrew, Har Sinai and Temple Oheb Shalom -- and the Jewish Chautauqua Society.

The Gordons were not musicians, but serious fans of music and the arts.

Yale Gordon, who died in 1984 at the age of 76, sold real estate in Florida, started a dry cleaning chain in Baltimore, owned businesses in Odenton, painted, sculpted, coached fencing at his alma mater, the University of Baltimore, and at Johns Hopkins, and with Peggy gave to many other institutions in town. Peggy, who died 10 years ago, taught in the Baltimore school system for more than 30 years.

Concert schedule

Here's the lineup for the upcoming super Gordon Trust concert weekend:

Saturday, Feb. 9:

* Friedberg Concert Hall, Peabody Institute, Concert Artists of Baltimore, pianist Paul Maillet. 8 p.m. Tickets: $15, $10 for seniors, $5 for Peabody students, free for students 18 and under. Call 628-0027.

* Johns Hopkins University, "Shriver Hall Concert Series," Bowdoin Trio. 8:30 p.m. Tickets $16 and $6. Call 338-7164.

Sunday, Feb. 10:

* Fairhaven, Sykesville, Bowdoin Trio. 1:30 p.m. Call 795-8800. Free. Series director James Millen.

* Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, oboist Vladimir Lande and pianist Irina Lande, emigres a year ago from the Soviet Union. 2 p.m. Free. Call 764-1587.

* Alumni Hall, Western Maryland College, Westminster, Eva Anderson's Baltimore Dance Theatre. 2 p.m. Tickets $5. Free for students 18 and under. Call 857-2265.

* Jewish Community Center, 5700 Park Heights Ave., mezzo soprano Allison Charney and bass-baritone Derek Anthony, 2 p.m. Free. Call 542-4900.

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