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A Good Year

See Some Of The Marylanders Who Made Their Mark On The Arts Scene In 2006

December 31, 2006|By Mary Carole McCauley | Mary Carole McCauley,SUN REPORTER

In the midst of all this enterprise, Rothman hasn't forgotten Charm City. He allowed the Maryland Film Festival early access to special films like Sunshine. He even had a hand in bringing one of Fox's biggest 2007 releases here for its opening week of production: Live Free or Die Hard, the fourth adventure starring Bruce Willis as top cop John McClane. After a year like this, Rothman and his friends in Baltimore have a right to yell out a big John McClane Yippee-ki-yay !

Michael Sragow


W. Gar Richlin this year was the right man in the right place at the right time.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra might not have made it all the way through 2006 had it not been for the Baltimore attorney and businessman.

He was asked to step in as interim president last January when BSO president and chief executive officer James Glicker resigned. Richlin deftly defused animosities between musicians and management and worked to rebuild trust among longtime donors.

In September, Richlin's straight talk proved critical in negotiating a new contract with the players, and greatly aided in averting a strike and possible financial collapse of the institution. In October, he turned over the job, and a much healthier, happier BSO, to the symphony's new president, Paul Meecham.

Tim Smith


Ballerina Michele Wiles is blooming on the nation's stages in some of the most challenging roles of the classical repertoire.

The 26-year-old beauty is a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, one of just 10 Americans in that position.

Fully recovered from a stress fracture that sidelined her for four months this year, she has caught critics' attention. (The New York Times has commented on "her new sense of ease.")

Wiles, who grew up in Pasadena, will appear in Antony Tudor's Dark Elegies at the Kennedy Center next month. She also will dance lead roles for the ABT this season in such demanding ballets as Symphonie Concertante and Swan Lake.

"There are rare occurrences in performance when all the hard work, all the repetitions and practices pay off, and the dancing comes easy," Wiles told The Sun in April. "I feel weightless and open and free. I don't even feel human half the time. It's almost as if I become the energy."

Mary Carole McCauley


Think good deeds and who comes to mind if not Suzanne F. Cohen, the longtime Baltimore Museum of Art trustee who gave the museum $1 million to endow its new free admissions policy?

Cohen has been on the BMA's board for nearly three decades, and in recent years she's supported major exhibitions of contemporary art there.

She's also donated funds for important acquisitions of works by artists like Ellsworth Kelly and Mel Bochner. And this year, she gave the BMA another $1 million for future shows.

"People today have a much better appreciation and interest in contemporary art, but there's also still great puzzlement about it," Cohen told The Sun in September, when her gifts were announced. "We see that as one of our very exciting challenges, to help people overcome that puzzlement."

Glenn McNatt


Already renowned for directing videos featuring the likes of Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige, Bel Air's Chris Robinson made an impressive big-screen debut this year with ATL, a coming-of-age drama centering on a group of Atlanta teens looking for a future beyond the mean streets of their hometown. The film earned $21.2 million at the U.S. box office, then received four nominations at October's Black Film Awards in Los Angeles.

And his good work didn't stop at the screen. Robinson continued his efforts as one of the founders of RockCorps, an organization that gives young people concert tickets in exchange for work in their communities.

True, 2006 wasn't perfect: At the awards presentation, Robinson lost the directing nod to Inside Man's Spike Lee, and the film lost to Akeelah and the Bee. But that barely dims the luster of what was, by any account, a pretty fine rookie year.

Chris Kaltenbach


TV on the Radio may have been the most critically acclaimed indie-rock band of 2006. The quintet's major-label debut, Return to Cookie Mountain, was a complex, stimulating mash-up of disparate styles and textures. Yet the music - often overlaid with left-of-center, politically charged lyrics - was accessible. The band's inventive musical vision so impressed rock legend David Bowie that he offered background vocals to "Province," a standout track on Cookie Mountain.

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