Plenty of concerts planned for first year

Strathmore bill includes an array of musical choices

March 23, 2004|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

The $100 million Music Center at Strathmore will heat up the region's cultural calendar with a starry lineup for its inaugural season, ranging from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra to quintessential Broadway diva Barbara Cook and fresh jazz musicians Dee Dee Bridgewater and Peter Cincotti.

Opening Feb. 5, with the BSO, conductor Yuri Temirkanov, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and the premiere of a piece by exceptional young composer Michael Hersch, the center in North Bethesda will kick into high gear quickly. There will be more than 60 performances in the 1,978-seat hall during this first half-season; more than 120 are expected each full season thereafter.

Strathmore will not only become a second home for the BSO, but an extra venue for the Washington Performing Arts Society (about 20 events a year are planned there) and the new primary residence for a Montgomery County-based ensemble called the National Philharmonic (20 concerts).

The extensive educational wing of the Strathmore complex will find the Levine School of Music offering private and group lessons for all ages and instruments, as well as voice.

The BSO's first Strathmore season will largely mirror the season at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, including programs featuring violinists Vadim Repin, Hilary Hahn and Stefan Jackiw, pianists Arnaldo Cohen, Elisso Virsaladze and Bruno Leonardo Gelber. One program that will only be presented at Strathmore (and later at New York's Carnegie Hall) features violinist Gidon Kremer, who created a sensation in his BSO debut two months ago.

The orchestra's Symphony With a Twist and SuperPops series also will be represented in the new Montgomery County center. And there will be a counterpart to the BSO's "Meyerhoff Presents" series (events without the orchestra; the "BSO at Strathmore Presents" schedule includes the Canadian Brass, the Boys Choir of Harlem and the Peking Acrobats.

The Washington Performing Arts Society's presentations, announced last week, include pianist Evgeny Kissin, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Emerson String Quartet and violinist Itzhak Perlman.

Strathmore's own concert presentations during the inaugural season include a "Great American Song Series" featuring performances by Cook, Bridgewater, Cincotti, Arlo Guthrie and, in an all-Harold Arlen program, Tom Wopat and Faith Prince. A "Celebration" series lists "voodoo funk" from Dr. John and the Nighthawks, Latin jazz from Los Hombres Calientes, and a concert by tap dancer Savion Glover. The "Master Musicians" series offers a Celtic night with Bonnie Rideout with the City of Washington Pipe Band and bluegrass with Seldom Scene.

Funded by the state of Maryland and Montgomery County, Strathmore is nestled in a park-like setting in the shadow of the 19th century Strathmore Mansion, which will continue to house exhibits, intimate concerts and other events. Just minutes from the Capital Beltway and alongside a Metro stop, with a parking garage connected via skyway to the 190,000-square-foot music/education complex, the new center promises to shake up the whole Washington scene.

For more information on Strathmore's inaugural season, call 301-581-5100 or visit

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