Ring in season with holiday concerts


December 14, 2004|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

The waning days of the year remain packed with holiday-theme programs - more on them in a moment - but don't overlook something completely different. You'll find it at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where the music department can be counted on to provide regular bursts of contemporary action.

UMBC's Faculty Recital Series offers a major work this week by groundbreaking American composer George Crumb, who has written some of the most challenging - and rewarding - works for performances and listeners alike.

Crumb's attraction to the poetry of Federico Garcia Lorca has inspired several extraordinary pieces over the past four decades. The item on this program, from 1986, is Federico's Little Songs for Children.

The songs will be included in a concert featuring mezzo-soprano Patricia Green, harpist Sonja Inglefield and flutist Lisa Cella at 8 p.m. Thursday at UMBC's Fine Arts Recital Hall, 1000 Hilltop Circle. Tickets are $7, $3 for seniors, free for students. For more information, call 410-455-6872.

Choral combination

The Baltimore Choral Arts Society will share its 21st annual Christmas concert for the first time with the Morgan State University Choir. The event, conducted by Tom Hall, will be dedicated to the memory of the Morgan ensemble's longtime director, Nathan Carter.

The program contains a wide mix of material, from classical pieces by Bach, Mendelssohn and Durufle, to the Baltimore premiere of a South African "Christmas anthem" by Frank Barry and Grant McLachlan, Come, Colours Rise.

WMAR-Channel 2 will broadcast the Christmas concert at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. Dec. 25 (the ninth year the station has brought the performance to TV viewers). The concert will also be aired - as it has been for 21 years - by WBJC, 91.5 FM, at 3:50 p.m. on Dec. 25.

And, for the first time, the performance will be carried live on radio, by WYPR, 88.1 FM.

The concert is at 7:30 tonight at Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St. Remaining tickets are $15 and $30. Call 410-523-7070.

Oratorio offerings

Although its own chorus was regrettably disbanded a few years ago, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's annual presentation of Handel's Messiah led by Edward Polochick continues. Polochick's Concert Artists of Baltimore Symphonic Chorale will join members of the BSO and soloists soprano Carolyn Betty, contralto Meredith Arwady, tenor Eric Cutler and bass-baritone David Pittsinger.

The BSO's performances of Handel's Messiah are at 7:30 tonight and tomorrow at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, 1212 Cathedral St. Tickets are $22 to $38. Call 410-783-8000.

Part I of Messiah - the part specifically related to Christmas - and the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Part II will be performed by the Handel Choir of Baltimore this weekend to open the ensemble's 70th season. On the podium will be newly appointed artistic director Melinda O'Neal, who has chosen Part V of Bach's wonderful Christmas Oratorio to round out the program.

Giving the performance added appeal is the use of a period instrument orchestra. Soloists are soprano Katherine Wessinger, countertenor Peter Thoresen, tenor Charles Blandy and baritone Ryan de Ryke.

The concert is at 4 p.m. Dec. 19 at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road. Tickets are $20 to $28 (more at the door). Call 410-366-6544.

The Columbia Pro Cantare Chamber Singers, directed by Frances Motyca Dawson, will spice up its eighth annual holiday concert with a program that includes Carols and Lullabies by noted American composer Conrad Susa and a selection of Hispanic carols. The performance is at 4 p.m. Sunday at Memorial Episcopal Church, 1407 Bolton St. Tickets are $15, $13 for seniors and students (more at the door). Call 410-465-5744.

Holiday singalong

The Largely Ludwig Chamber Ensemble will offer a holiday program that combines chamber music, jazz, Hannukah and Kwanzaa songs, and a communal sing-along at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church, 10 E. Mount Vernon Place.

Listeners are invited to take canned food to donate to the church's outreach program. Tickets, available at the door, are $10, $5 for seniors, $2 for students. You can knock a buck off if you take a canned item.

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