Bridge to Montgomery Music: Rockville concert hall could bring Washington suburbs, Baltimore closer.

March 19, 1998

THE SOUND of music can be a powerful instrument. Joshua's mighty trumpet reverberated so fiercely it brought down the walls of ancient Jericho. Dramatist William Congreve declared, "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak."

Now for the big test: Can music transcend the barriers that separate Baltimore from Montgomery County and bring these two crucial regions of Maryland closer together?

Thanks to a commitment this week from Gov. Parris N. Glendening, a sparkling 2,000-seat concert hall will be built on the grounds of Strathmore Hall along Rockville Pike, giving Montgomery countians a long-overdue focal point for top-caliber cultural activities and giving the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra a much-needed second home.

In modern argot, it is a "win-win" situation. For the BSO, Strathmore Hall provides an expansion of its audience into the state's largest, wealthiest and most sophisticated subdivision. It also an audience that, according to surveys, loves classical music. The BSO can give listeners some of the very best symphonic sounds available in this country -- or the world.

For Montgomery residents, the $60 million concert hall will fill a void: a strong artistic center. It will give them full exposure to one of the gems of the Baltimore cultural scene, what County Executive Douglas M. Duncan calls "a state resource."

zTC Too often, elected leaders from the Baltimore region and Montgomery County have been at loggerheads, with Montgomery lawmakers harshly opposing proposals to aid Baltimore. Yet the two areas have much in common to build upon -- great concern for public schools, a strong desire to improve roads and mass transit, and a commitment to helping society's less fortunate. Now officials from both areas are coming together in support of culture. The Strathmore Hall concert complex could prove to be sweet music that serves a far greater purpose than mere entertainment.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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