A music course in 10-part harmony


April 02, 1991|By Steve McKerrow


* That comic actor Dudley Moore (a.k.a. "Arthur") is a pretty talented musician, specifically a pianist?

He did a lyrically nice keyboard number yesterday, for example, on "Sally Jessy Raphael," then "answered" audience questions with improvised music riffs rather than words.

And tonight (obviously one of the promotional reasons for the "Sally" gig), Moore is the host of a nice new 10-part music instruction series on the Showtime cable service.

"Orchestra!" premieres at 7:30 on the premium channel, and Moore appears with conductor Sir Georg Solti to explore the instruments in a classical orchestra. The program is the inaugural series launching Showtime's new FamilyHour weekly program block, from 7 to 8 p.m.

Tonight's focus is on the percussion section (of the young Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival orchestra) and includes part of a performance of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring." The show is a little disjointed at times, with quick-cut editing more familiar from that other musical venue, MTV. But it's done nicely on film here, not tape, and really gets the viewer intimately inside the music.

* That this is "Education 1st! Week" on the TV networks?

It's a collaborative effort among ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and PBS to focus on educational issues. A two-part PBS series, "America's Schools," aired last night (part two is at 10 tonight, Channels 22 and 67), and Maryland Public Television offers its own contribution.

"Making the Grade," with MPT reporter John Rydell, can be seen at 8 tonight (on 22 and 67, with repeats at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow and Thursday). It offers studies of several innovative programs in the area, including "parent empowerment" and adult illiteracy projects in Baltimore, a program for troubled teens in Montgomery County, and Montessori education in Prince George's County.

* That CBS tonight is finally launching yet another new attempt to entertain viewers in late-night hours? (Remember the "Pat Sajak Show?")

"The Exile," with John Stone as a double agent, leads the way (at midnight, Channel 11). It's the first of five nightly, hour-long thriller shows that were scheduled to debut just as the Persian Gulf war broke out. CBS then extended the run of its news magazine, "America Tonight," which had already been canceled for low ratings but suddenly picked up viewers because of the breaking news.

Also in the lineup are "Scene of the Crime" (Wednesday), "Fly By Night" (Thursday), "Dark Justice" (Friday) and "Sweating Bullets" (Monday).

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