Leave your comfort zone for live music

Concerts: Onyx Brass Quintet is to perform at 8 p.m. tomorrow in Smith Theatre, and Columbia Orchestra will be at Jim Rouse Theatre at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow.


Howard Live

April 08, 2005|By Eileen Soskin | Eileen Soskin,SUN STAFF

Live music. Alive music. Live audiences.

Come one, come all. But why should you? Why should you leave the comfort of your easy chair and venture out to a concert?

Our compact-disc players and television systems provide us with sophisticated sound systems that deliver wonderful musical experiences with the flick of a finger. Yet the most intense musical experiences come about only when we are present, not virtually present. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is like live music.

On a CD, the sound is so clear that you can hear the performers breathe; on television, the camera can zoom in so that you can watch the performers breathe; but when you are there, you are in control: you choose what to look at; you choose what to hear; you choose what to focus on.

A concert is an intimate experience even if you are sitting in an auditorium with hundreds of other people. There is nothing but you, the musicians and the music. There is no "pause," no "mute," and no opportunity to get a snack.

It is understandable that people like to be comfortable, but it is also a hallmark of civilization that communal experiences are vastly different from private ones; that profound communication is more likely face to face, where all the senses can be engaged, than long distance. The highest praise for a technological wonder is that it is "lifelike," but nothing is live except something live.

The following two concerts, tomorrow night in Columbia, should entice you to venture out.

Onyx Brass Quintet

What might you hear in a brass quintet concert, when two trumpets, a French horn, a trombone and a tuba perform together? Brass instruments can really ring out - one of the reasons they are associated with outdoor activities such as hunts, military events, fanfares and outdoor concerts. Ask a violin and a trumpet to play the same melody at the same time, and the violinist would be well advised to only pretend to play because the trumpet will easily drown out the string sound and, in addition, hold our attention.

Brass instruments do not always play loudly, but they always sound rich and full (when played well). Brass instruments can sound brassy, tender, commanding and edgy. A brass ensemble, playing perfectly in tune, creates a halo of sound that shimmers in the air. It is a breathtaking sound.

The Onyx Brass Quintet, performing as part of the Candlelight Concert Series at 8 p.m. tomorrow in Smith Theatre at Howard Community College, has been called "the classiest brass ensemble in Britain." The musicians (Brian Thomson and Niall Keatley, trumpets; Andrew Sutton, French horn; Amos Miller, trombone; and David Gordon Shute, tuba) have been playing together 11 years, honing their ensemble and individual performance skills. The program they will present includes 16th-, 18th- and 20th-century compositions, including works by composers such as Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) and Sir Malcolm Arnold (1921- ).

What might you hear in this brass quintet concert? Five polished performers playing crisply, beautifully, perfectly in tune and with "scrupulous attention to balance, timbre and nuance of phrasing" (BBC Music Magazine).

During a free preconcert lecture, to begin at 6:45 p.m., the artists will talk about themselves and the music they will play.

Brass players are usually extremely excited to emerge from behind their instruments and chat. Their comments will surely enhance your enjoyment of the concert.

Tickets: 410-480-9950, or candlelight.concerts@verizon.net.

Columbia Orchestra

You are guaranteed to have a good time at the concert being given by the Columbia Orchestra at Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. The concert's title, "Broadway, Beatles and Beyond," ensures that the audience will be smiling, keeping time, and perhaps dancing in their seats.

It is especially delightful to hear live performances of pieces you know well, and the Columbia Orchestra, under the direction of Jason Love, will tickle your senses. The program includes performances by the orchestra and two guest vocalists of music from Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, a medley of Beatles tunes (including "Eleanor Rigby," "Yesterday," "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Penny Lane"), and some well-known film music from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Platoon and Star Wars. You cannot beat the surround-sound available at this concert.

Information on "Broadway, Beatles, and Beyond" : 410-465- 8777, or www.columbiaorches tra.org. Tickets: at the door and at Music & Arts Center at the Chatham Station Shopping Center, the Music & Arts Center in Laurel or the Columbia Association on Wincopin Circle.

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