Orchestra's season to begin

Classical: Berlioz's `Symphonie Fantastique' will anchor an Oct. 23 concert.


Howard Live

October 14, 2004|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Columbia's 2004-2005 concert season begins next weekend, not with a trickle but with a deluge.

The Columbia Orchestra, Howard County's premier ensemble for instrumental music, takes the Rouse Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23. Works by Beethoven, Berlioz and 20th- century master Paul Hindemith will be on the program that will be led by Jason Love, the ensemble's conductor.

Anchoring the concert will be classical music's ultimate drug trip gone bad, Berlioz's phantasmagoric Symphonie Fantastique. A centerpiece of 19th- century Romanticism, Berlioz's work, subtitled An Episode in the Life of an Artist, tells of a creative soul who becomes fixated on a lover who has deserted him.

After following her to a masked ball (second movement), he attempts suicide by ingesting opium, after which he imagines her murder, his execution and a macabre "Witches' Sabbath" that calls for scratchy bowings, whooping clarinets and other sonic effects never demanded from an orchestra before Berlioz.

"If ever a piece of music stays new, it's this one," Love said. "No matter how many times you do it, you hear something in it you've never heard before. And on top of the novelty, the Fantastique comes very close to going over the top emotionally, which makes it one of the great thrill rides of all."

The least familiar work in the program is Die Schwanendreher (The Swan Turner), one of the most genial offerings in the oeuvre of Hindemith, a German Jew who came to America in 1935 to escape the brutality of Hitler's Germany.

Inspired by a set of medieval folk songs, the work, which is a de facto concerto for the viola, will be performed by violist Peter Minkler, a member of the Baltimore Symphony since 1984.

Beethoven's blistering Coriolan Overture rounds out the program, which will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: 410-381-2004, or www.columbiaorchestra.org.

Candlelight Concerts to feature Orion quartet

That same Saturday evening, Oct. 23, Candlelight Concerts of Columbia begins its 32nd season of chamber music events with an appearance by the New York-based Orion String Quartet, which consists of brothers Todd and Daniel Phillips, violin; Steven Tenenbom, viola; and cellist Timothy Eddy.

True to its name, the ensemble has shone brightly since its founding in 1987. Individually, quartet members serve on the faculties of the Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute, the Mannes College of Music and Queens College, while collectively they reign as quartet-in-residence at Manhattan's Lincoln Center.

For Sony Classical, the group has recorded trumpeter Wynton Marsalis' 1st Quartet (At the Octoroon Balls) and has made critically acclaimed recordings of Dvorak and Mendelssohn chamber works on the Arabesque label.

The 8 p.m. program at Smith Theatre on the campus of Howard Community College in Columbia demands the stylistic diversity only a great chamber ensemble can muster: Haydn's bright, witty Lark Quartet (Op. 77, No. 1), the 5th Quartet of Bela Bartok, whose six bristling string quartets are among the most visceral of 20th-century chamber works, and a quartet by jazz virtuoso Chick Corea.

Tickets to the Orion String Quartet: 410-480-9950, or www.candlelightconcerts.org.

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