THE Lyric seeks $2.5 million for improvements to maintain...

salmagundi

November 02, 1994

THE Lyric seeks $2.5 million for improvements to maintain its competitiveness. In this quest, has it perhaps an uncashed asset? We speak of names.

High among the wall decorations on either side of the auditorium is a composers' honor roll. The Lyric being an 1894 building, this is a 19th century pantheon: Chopin, Haydn, Gluck, Handel, Puccini on the south side; Gounod, Schubert, MacDowell, Schumann, Verdi on the north.

Nothing about this list is sacred. Today's populace no longer calls much for the works of Christoph Willibald Gluck. As for the list's token American, Edward Alexander MacDowell has disappeared from the typical repertory.

So, perhaps the contributor of a comfortable sum could be allowed his or her choice of replacement musical name. From Isaac Albeniz to Pinchas Zukerman, who's your favorite? Would you like to immortalize, more or less, B. Bartok or I. Berlin? Today's John Rutter or home-town's Philip Glass?

Absent from the existing list is the famous toller, John Pachelbel. Bidding may be possible: How much to put him on? How much more to keep him off?

To the donor of a really impressive sum, naturally, even more latitude looms. The donor's own name, and other nonmusical friends or heroes as he or she proposes.

All this is simply a speculation. As it now completes its first century, in an age when many downtown buildings face demolition at or about age 60, the Lyric is an essential part of Baltimore. The sounds and sights within it remain enticement enough for community support.

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