Awadagin Pratt returns

Music: Baltimore's own maverick pianist is back home to perform with the Baltimore Symphony and guest conductor Libor Pesek.

January 12, 1999|By Stephen Wigler | Stephen Wigler,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

A few years back pianist Awadagin Pratt became the first African-American instrumentalist to win first prize in an international music competition when he won the prestigious Naumburg Prize. The bestowal of musical gifts transcends matters of race and gender. Nevertheless, Pratt's victory understandably caused a stir -- as did his unconventional (for a concert pianist) dreadlocks, casual attire and practically down-to-the-floor (21 inches to be exact) seated position at the piano.

Like his idol, Glenn Gould, Pratt is something of a maverick. And like Gould, he is also enormously talented. It's impossible to predict the Peabody Conservatory-trained Pratt's future -- he's the only musician in the conservatory's history to earn degrees in piano, violin and conducting. But whatever path he will take, it's likely to be interesting.

Pratt returns to Baltimore this week to perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Baltimore Symphony and guest conductor Libor Pesek. The program includes the overture to Smetana's "The Bartered Bride" and Dvorak's Symphony No. 8. In these Czech works, we can expect from Pesek, one of the most gifted Czech conductors of his generation, performances that have a bred-in-the-bone authenticity. In the idiosyncratic Pratt's hands, the Beethoven concerto may sound unlike anything we've been accustomed to hear. All performances (Friday and Saturdayat 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.) are in Meyerhoff Hall. Tickets are $21-$55. For more information, call 410-783-8000.

Crucible tickets remain

Opera fans should note that there are still tickets available for the Washington Opera's acclaimed production of Robert Ward's Pultizer Prize-winning operatic setting of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." Performances continue in the Eisenhower Theater of the Kennedy Center today, Friday, Monday, Jan. 20, 23, 25, 28 and 30. For tickets (priced $37-$187) or more information, call 1-800-87 OPERA or 202-295-2400.

But hurry to buy these

Vocal fanciers interested in hearing Renee Fleming's Washington Performing Arts Society Series recital (Jan. 16 at 5 p.m. in the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall) had better get on the phone to the WPAS box office (202- 833-9800) with all possible haste. Tickets (priced $15-$50) for the superb young soprano's program of songs by Schubert, Wolff, Debussy and Strauss are disappearing fast.

Pub Date: 1/12/99

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