For interesting, innovative musical fare, no regional ensemble will beat the Columbia Orchestra in the 2004-2005 concert season.
Oh, the tried-and-true blockbuster masterworks will be there, don't you worry.
Maestro Jason Love and his players begin the season with Beethoven's riveting "Coriolan" Overture and Hector Berlioz's phantasmagorial "Symphonie Fantastique," the groundbreaking Romantic work replete with extraordinary depictions of opium-induced love, fixation and murder with a creepy "Witches' Sabbath" tossed in for good measure.
In January, the orchestra will perform excerpts from Georges Bizet's Carmen, perhaps the most popular opera ever written, while at the May 5 concert, we get Sir Edward Elgar's "Enigma" Variations, a dazzling set of 14 musical portraits of some of the composer's closest friends and colleagues.
The season concludes next June with the monumental C minor Symphony of Johannes Brahms, one of the best-loved masterworks.
But in between, the local ensemble will head off the beaten path for some less familiar but outstandingly edifying works designed to broaden the musical horizons of orchestral players and audiences alike.
Love's opening concert in October features Paul Hindemith's "Der Schwandreher," a "concerto after folk songs" that's one of the most charming and graceful works penned by the 20th-century composer known for somewhat more severe musical fare.
Violist Peter Minkler of the Baltimore Symphony visits Columbia to join with the orchestra in this unfamiliar work.
In January, audiences will be treated to Sinfonia India, the marvelous 2nd Symphony by Mexican composer Carlos Chavez (1899-1978), Latin America's foremost symphonist. A magical piece, full of native American melodies backed by a stunning array of Mexican percussion instruments, the work is a great symphony and an ethnomusicological tour de force at the same time.
The same concert introduces us to "Three Gorges of the Long River," an excerpt from China Dreams by Bright Sheng (born in 1955), a Chinese-born American composer of stage, orchestral, chamber and vocal works being performed throughout the world.
His China Dreams is a four-movement retrospective of China's nightmarish Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, a period of socialist-driven excess when so much of China's aesthetic past was put to ruin by Mao Zedong and his henchmen.
The final concert brings a pair of winners to Columbia: marimbist Eric Beach, winner of the 2004 Yale Gordon Competition, and Belgian composer Frank Nuyts, winner of the orchestra's Composer Competition for his "Woodnotes," a concerto for marimba and orchestra that Beach will perform.
Columbia Orchestra season
The Columbia Orchestra under conductor Jason Love has scheduled the following concerts for its 2004-05 Subscription Season:
October 23, 7:30 p.m. Peter Minkler, viola Beethoven: "Coriolan" Overture Hindemith: "Der Schwanendreher: Berlioz: "Symphonie Fantastique"
January 15, 7:30 p.m. Mussorgsky (orch. Shostakovich): Songs and Dances of Death Bright Sheng: Three Gorges of the Long River from "China Dreams" Chavez: Symphony No. 2 Bizet: excerpts from "Carmen"
March 5, 7:30 p.m. 2005 Young Artist Competition Winners, repertoire TBA Elgar: "Enigma" Variations
June 4, 7:30 p.m. Eric Beach, marimba Nuyts: "Woodnotes", Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra Brahms: Symphony No. 1
Other performances of note
Nov. 13, 12:30 and 3 p.m., Young People's Concerts at Wilde Lake Interfaith Center
April 9, 2005: Symphonic Pops, "Broadway and Beyond"
All Columbia Orchestra subscription concerts held at Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Like High School. To order tickets, visit the orchestra website at www.columbiaorchestra.org