Sing-along at the synagogue


February 08, 2005|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,SUN MUSIC CRITIC

One of the most intriguing news stories in the music world lately comes from France, where a modest-budget, critically less-than-acclaimed film called Les Choristes (The Chorus) became a runaway hit when it was released 11 months ago.

This tale about a chorus formed at a boarding school for troubled boys in 1949 played to packed houses in the country; when the movie came out on video and DVD last October, more than 2 million copies were sold in France, a record there.

But the best part of the story is that kids all over France have started going choral. The past year has seen a 15 percent increase in the number of French children joining choirs - 30 percent around Lyon, the setting for the movie, which opens in Baltimore on Feb. 18. (It's an Academy Award nominee for best foreign language film and best original song.)

Perhaps as Les Choristes makes its way across America, budding choristers will pop up the same way.

Meanwhile, if you already feel like singing for fun and fellowship, Beth Am Synagogue has a great invitation. And you don't have to be a kid.

Everyone, regardless of age, experience or skill level, is welcome to join a "Community Sing" workshop on Saturday, part of the synagogue's 30th-anniversary celebration.

The free workshop will be led by Ysaye Barnwell, well known for her work in the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock. She will help the crowd sing its way through a variety of repertoire. Helping to give the enterprise a little boost will be Tom Hall and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society.

The workshop is at 2 p.m. Saturday at Beth Am Synagogue, 2501 Eutaw Place. Admission is free, but reservations are required. Call 410-523-2446.

The synagogue continues its anniversary celebration with a choral concert called "What a Beautiful City: Jerusalem, City of Hope." Hall will lead the Choral Arts Society in Jerusalem-related works by Verdi, Copland, Dave Brubeck, Barnwell and others. Rheda Becker will narrate.

The concert is at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the synagogue.

Admission is free, but reservations are required. Call 410-523-2446.

Off-beat programs

Conservative programming is still the rule, by and large, throughout Baltimore, but some welcome exceptions are ahead.

The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, led by new music director Markand Thakar, will balance familiar fare of Haydn and Rossini with Darius Milhaud's Concerto for Marimba and Vibraphone (with Barry Dove as soloist) and Michael Daugherty's Flamingo for two tambourines and orchestra.

The concert is at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson. For tickets, call 410-426-0157.

Three eminent but locally under-represented Eastern European composers will be featured on the next program by the Concert Artists of Baltimore. Bohuslav Martinu will be represented by his Concerto for Two Pianos, Krzysztof Penderick and Gyorgy Ligeti by choral pieces. Even the work by Tchaikovsky on the bill is off-beat - his absurdly neglected Orchestral Suite No. 1.

Edward Polochick will conduct the concert at 8 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills. For tickets, call 410-625-3525.

The soloists in the Martinu concerto, Marc Clinton and Nicole Narboni, will also give a recital of four-hand piano music by Mozart, Debussy and others as part of the Concert Artists' Music at the Mansion series at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Engineers Club (Garrett-Jacobs Mansion), 11 W. Mount Vernon Place. For tickets, call 410-625-3525.

Musical valentines

With Valentine's Day approaching, the Baltimore Opera will try to get you in the mood with "Let's Fall in Love: The Music of Cole Porter."

Performed by young artists of the company's Opera Studio, the program offers a parade of Porter classics, complemented by a meal.

Performances are at 7 p.m. Saturday (tickets are $95, including dinner) and 1 p.m. Sunday ($60, including brunch) in the Charles Room at the Belvedere Hotel, 1 E. Chase St. Call 410-625-1600, ext. 309.

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