Drumming up help for flooded-out symphony orchestras


Critic's Corner

September 20, 2005|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,sun music critic

Although loved and celebrated as a jazz capital, New Orleans has a long history of classical music-making, too. Like just about everything else in the city, that heritage took a devastating hit from Hurricane Katrina.

The 68-member Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra was among the severely damaged. Its theater was flooded, its musicians scattered around the country.

The misfortune seems doubly cruel considering that the orchestra has been such an unlikely success story.

It was formed in 1991 out of the ashes of the defunct New Orleans Symphony and operated as a musician-run organization, an exceedingly rare situation in this country. It looked like it had settled in nicely into the city's cultural fabric. Whether it can pick up where it left off before the storm is far from certain.

Smaller orchestras in the Gulf region also were severely affected by the storm, which led to an outpouring of support from the nation's music community.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's Today section listed an incorrect phone number for information about Saturday's Nathan Carter Foundation benefit performance at Morgan State University. The correct number is 443-885-4440.
The Sun regrets the error.

Shortly after Katrina, Drew McManus of Bel Air used his regular blog, Adaptistration, on the ArtsJournal.com Web site, to provide a means of communication for displaced Louisiana Philharmonic musicians and to direct offers of help to them.

Thanks to McManus' efforts, orchestras in places as far as Honolulu and Seattle, as well as several closer to Louisiana, hired players for part-time work. "And there have been over 100 offers of housing, some long-term for the entire season," McManus said.

The American Symphony Orchestra League created a Gulf Coast Orchestra Relief Fund to support all the area's affected ensembles. Benefit concerts for the Gulf musicians are being given all over the country. One of the most emotional is sure to be in Nashville on Oct. 4, when the reassembled Louisiana Philharmonic gives its own benefit.

The Nashville Symphony has made it possible to bring in and house the displaced Louisiana musicians for the event. Organizers hope to raise $100,000 for the Philharmonic.

Closer to home, note the benefit concert planned this weekend in Baltimore to raise money for the Red Cross and the Gulf Coast Orchestra Relief Fund. Organized by pianist Lura Johnson and her husband, violinist Matthew Horwitz, the program will feature a strong sampling of locally based talent, headlined by eminent pianist Leon Fleisher.

Among the other participants: violinists Daniel Heifetz, Igor Yuzefovich and Lee Jeon; violists Maria Lambros and Peter Minkler; cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn; oboist Katherine Needleman; bassoonist Julie Gregorian; pianists Katherine Jacobson, Amy Klosterman and Sheng-Yuan Kuan; and guitarist Ronald Pearl.

The concert will be at 7 p.m. Sunday at Central Presbyterian Church, 7308 York Road. Admission is free. Cash and check donations will be accepted. Information: 410-947-4796.

For music students

The late Nathan Carter, who honed the Morgan State University Choir into one of the country's most vibrant ensembles during more than three decades, is being commemorated by a scholarship for Morgan music students.

To benefit the scholarship fund, the Nathan Carter Foundation presents a concert this week featuring the Soulful Symphony and soprano Janice Chandler.

Chandler, whose gleaming soprano has enhanced many an area performance, was a faculty colleague of Carter's at Morgan. Darin Atwater, composer-in-residence at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and founder/direc- tor of the Soulful Symphony (an African-American orchestra and chorus), studied with Carter.

The benefit concert will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Murphy Fine Arts Center, Morgan State University, 2201 Argonne Drive. Information: 410-885-4440.


Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.