Mayor's band steps up to a change in venue

Music: O'Malley's March joins the BSO to celebrate the music of dance. And, yes, the Celtic band members will be leaving their T-shirts at home.

April 07, 2000|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

Mayor Martin O'Malley generally comes across as a classy guy. But a classical guy?

Not really -- particularly when he's performing with his Celtic rock band, O'Malley's March.

That all changes tonight and tomorrow, as O'Malley's March joins the Baltimore Symphony for a concert titled "Dance! Dance! Dance!"

It's not exactly "An Evening with O'Malley's March," as the band will join the orchestra only for the concert's last four numbers. But it promises to be something completely different from what the group normally does.

"They asked a couple of guys, Greg Pascuzzi and Jon Jensen, to orchestrate a couple of our pieces," says flutist and piper Paul Levin, who co-founded the band in 1988 with O'Malley. "It sounds OK; they found some nice touches to put in different places."

Besides, the band's signature tune, "O'Malley's March," the group will play "The Streets of Baltimore" (from its first CD, "Celtic Fury"), and "Wait for Me" (the title track from its current disc). The group also will join the orchestra for a suite of tunes from the Michael Flat-ley Irish step-dance extravaganza, "Lord of the Dance."

Levin says that while it seemed strange at first to hear the band's repertoire blown up to orchestral dimensions, it wasn't entirely out of character, given the way band member Jared Denhard has expanded the group's own arrangements over the years. " `O'Malley's March' was this simple little jig/march that Martin composed years and years ago," he says.

"Then Jared put the horns in -- put, in other words, the Blood, Sweat & Tears punch in it -- and we created an arrangement out of it. It always seemed to me that once you heard Jared's arrangement, you could easily put strings and the rest of the symphony behind it."

Levin adds that O'Malley seems very excited about having his songs rendered orchestrally. Unfortunately, the mayor was "up to his neck" in dealing with the installation of the police chief, says Levin, and declined The Sun's interview request.

Although the concert itself is called "Dance! Dance! Dance!" it's not an invitation for the audience to get up and shake a leg. Instead, the program -- conducted by former American Ballet Theatre music director Jack Everly -- is a celebration of the dance in its various forms.

Ying Li and Steve Annegarn, principal dancers at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, will perform excerpts from several Tchaikovsky ballets; Gregory Mitchell and Marianne Hettinger will celebrate Broadway choreography; and dancers from the Baltimore School for the Arts will dance George Balanchine's treatment of several Gershwin classics.

There will even be a dance element to the O'Malley's March segment, as dancers from the O'Hare School of Irish Dance will step their way through "O'Malley's March" and the "Lord of the Dance" suite.

"Jack Everly, the conductor, wanted to throw in the `Lord of the Dance' suite, and I connected him with Michael O'Hare," Levin says. "Michael's brother Timmy beat Flatley when they competed against each other [in Ireland]."

Indeed, the O'Hare school is one of the most respected schools of Irish dance in the world.

"Out of the last couple of years, all the senior All-Ireland champions have come from their dance school," says Levin. "There will be six dancers, and all the dancers are either in traveling companies of `Riverdance' or have traveled with `Lord of the Dance,' and they're champions in their own right."

Levin expects that the show will be great fun -- especially since he and his band mates won't be expected to wear black ties and dinner jackets, like the orchestra's members. "That was really nice of them," he says, laughing. "We asked, and they said, `No, no.' But we're not wearing T-shirts, either.

So what will they be wearing? "I guess it's party clothes," he answers. "Nothing that would embarrass the symphony."

Dance music

What: Baltimore Symphony Orchestra with O'Malley's March

When: 8 p.m. today and tomorrow

Where: Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

Tickets: $25-$42 (limited availability)

Call: 410-783-8000

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