Notable Places

From local churches to school auditoriums, classical music fills the air in venues far beyond the Meyerhoff


The old and unjustified rap against classical music holds that it's an elitist art form, reserved for the few and the wealthy. You can get a quick jolt of the truth around almost any corner in the area.

Although the largest and most obvious classical venue, the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, home of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, may come to mind first, there are all sorts of other places to find quality music-making.

From modest-sized recital halls and inviting churches to the elegant ballroom of a (usually) private club and the unfancy carriage house of a very fancy historic mansion, you'll find the sounds of great music all season long.

Consider this sampling of some beyond-the-Meyerhoff locales this weekend.

In the cozy concert room at An die Musik, the compact-disc retailer (409 N. Charles St.), the Herb Dimmock Singers will give an a cappella choral program this afternoon. The Fine Arts Recital Hall at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (1000 Hilltop Circle, Catonsville), where adventuresome music and musicians are always plentiful, offers soprano Patricia Green tonight and cellist Franklin Cox tomorrow.

Another soprano, Lori Hultgren, will give a recital for the Music in the Great Hall organization at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church (1710 Dulaney Valley Road) tomorrow afternoon at the same hour that two choruses will be raising their voices - Morgan State University Choir at Second Presbyterian Church (4200 St. Paul St.) and the Baltimore Masterworks Chorale at Grace United Methodist Church (5407 N. Charles St.).

Meanwhile, also tomorrow afternoon, top-ranked organist Paul Jacobs will be hitting the keys and pedals on a new organ at St. Mark's Lutheran Church (1900 St. Paul St.); the cello/piano duo of Cecylia Barczyk and Reynaldo Reyes will be in action at Towson University's Center for the Arts (Osler and Cross Campus drives); and the Aurora Guitar Quartet will make a plucky appearance at the annual concert series at Catonsville Presbyterian Church (1400 Frederick Road).

Such pileups of attractive concerts are common on weekends around here. The only problem is being spoiled for choice.

Typically, as you can see by this weekend's list, that choice includes performances held in houses of worship. Don't let that deter you in the slightest. Denominational affiliations are left at the door in churches or synagogues where public concerts are given. Everyone is welcomed, warmly. It's all about the music.

And some of these facilities have appealing acoustics as an extra draw, Second Presbyterian Church being a major example.

That church is home to Community Concerts at Second, which presents a vibrant mix of programs (this month you can hear percussionist Svetoslav Stoyanov in recital), and does so with no admission charge.

The Chamber Music by Candlelight series at Second Pres, featuring members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and all sorts of cool repertoire from the past and present, is also free. (No-cost or low-cost concerts are common at the area's secondary performance venues.)

At Grace Methodist, in addition to choral programs like the one this weekend, you can attend the annual Marathon of French Organ Music next month or a French-accented program by the Handel Choir of Baltimore in May. That Great Hall series at Towson Unitarian covers lots of interesting territory, too.

Here are just a few more churches that routinely help fill up the music calendar:

Central Presbyterian Church in Towson (7308 York Road), where a diverse series includes chamber music by BSO players and, next month, a recital by soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme.

First English Lutheran (3807 N. Charles St.), where choral works by Bach are performed on the first Sunday of the month.

Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian (1316 Park Ave.), which has a new concert series named for the Tiffany windows that adorn the church.

Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia (Oakland Mills and Dobbin roads), where local chamber-music ensembles, such as the Gliss Trio in May, are featured.

As for the more traditional performance spaces, a prime spot to hear recitals and chamber music by notable visiting artists, such as viola da gamba virtuoso Jordi Savall and his Hesperion XXI early-music ensemble next weekend, has long been Shriver Hall at the Johns Hopkins University.

It's hard to go wrong with any event presented by the Shriver Hall Concert Series, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this season with some extra events, including a star-filled piano festival next month that will spill over into the nearby Baltimore Museum of Art (10 Art Museum Drive).

Speaking of the BMA, its music- friendly auditorium is also home to some fine recitals presented by the Baltimore Classical Guitar Society. That society holds events at the Peabody Conservatory, too (14 E. Mount Vernon Place).

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