An orchestra with a mind of its own

Critic's Choice: Classical Music

May 28, 2000|By Tim Smith

Tradition is obviously a big thing in classical music, which is one reason you can count on someone periodically giving it a big kick in the rear. New York's Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, for example, has proven that it really is possible to make significant music without benefit of a baton-waver; a kind of interpretive socialism takes the place of conventional from-the-podium dictates.

Now comes the Wild Ginger Philharmonic. Although there is a conductor (co-founder David Goodman), any musician is allowed to contribute ideas about interpretation -- not just in rehearsal, but also, amazingly, even in mid-performance. It is not uncommon for players to execute a new twist on a phrase without warning. Now that's revolutionary.

Composed primarily of students and recent graduates from such top conservatories as Philadel- phia's Curtis Institute and New York's Juilliard School, the orchestra meets four times a year in a retreat-like country setting to prepare for a series of concerts. The emphasis is on spontaneity and on reclaiming the love of music that compelled the participants to study the art form in the first place. Oh yes, and they don't get paid. They even cover their own travel ex-penses. Now we're talking super-revolutionary.

The Wild Ginger Philharmonic, wrapping up the 1999-2000 season of the Peggy and Yale Gordon Trust Concerts, will make its Baltimore debut with Brahms' Symphony No. 3 and works by Faure and Humperdinck. During intermission, the audience will be invited to join the orchestra in a sing-along of the famous duet from Bizet's "The Pearl Fishers." So now you have time to practice beforehand.

The concert is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Temple Oheb Shalom, 7310 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore. Admission is free. Call 410-358-0105. For more information on the orchestra and some terrific sound bites from previous performances, check out its Web site: www. wildginger.org.

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