Exciting Sounds of the City

June 26, 1993

Baltimore City is experiencing one of the busiest seasons of free concerts in memory.

Double-header jazz concerts at Charles Center Plaza and neighboring Hopkins Plaza -- next to the Morris Mechanic Theater -- are in full swing every Thursday night until July 29. The Hopkins Plaza sessions in particular have become something of a cult event. Thousands of young Baltimoreans crowd the plaza every week, dressing up to be noticed. (Program information from 837-4636).

The Recreation and Parks Department's Municipal Concert Band is beginning its season with a concert at 8 p.m. this Thursday at Northwestern High School, 6900 Park Heights Ave.

After that series ends, Baltimore's Big Band takes over with its series starting July 18. (Program information from 396-7076).

Now comes news that the Amaryllis String Quartet has brought its mastery to the West Garden of Mount Vernon Park. It is giving concerts from noon to 1 p.m. every Tuesday until Aug. 3. In case of rain, concerts will appropriately be moved inside the nearby Peabody Institute. (Program information from 244-1030).

This exciting variety of music is made possible by a number of civic-minded corporations and individuals, which have come to the aid of the Downtown Partnership in making the city more livable. Let's not forget taxpayers, either. They are footing the bill for the Recreation and Parks Department's outdoor summer band concert series at 18 locations throughout Baltimore.

In 1860, Baltimore was the first city in the United States to sponsor a municipal band and a municipal orchestra. Even today, the city charter decrees that "music shall be provided for the citizens of Baltimore."

The municipal ensembles remained mainstays of the city's musical life until 1942, when a separate Baltimore Symphony Orchestra was created as a private organization.

But even as most other American cities have discontinued their municipal bands due to budget restraints, Baltimore's continues as a 35-player outfit, performing familiar Broadway tunes and light classical music. Sing-alongs have also been part of each program since 1915.

We welcome the Mount Vernon concerts to this proud tradition. The city's premier square has received an impressive face-lift in recent years. A string quartet will go nicely with its flowers, fountains and art institutions.

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