2 orchestras extend their reach

Critic's Corner//Music

Critic's Corner//Music

May 22, 2007|By Tim Smith | Tim Smith,Sun Music Critic

Baltimore can be very fertile territory for mid-sized ensembles. The Baltimore Chamber Orchestra will celebrate its 25th anniversary next season; Concert Artists of Baltimore just finished its 20th. Both will add performances next season, a good indication of success.

The two orchestras also have in common a knack for creative programming. Consider the BCO's final events this season.

This week, music director Markand Thakar will conduct Alberto Ginastera's Harp Concerto (with Nancy Allen, principal harpist of the New York Philharmonic), Mozart's Serenata Notturna, and Mendelssohn's incidental music for A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Next week, the BCO, in a program that got snowed out in February, will explore concertos by Ignace Pleyel, once as famous as Mozart and Haydn. Violinist David Perry and violist Victoria Chiang will be the soloists. Music by Bohuslav Martinu will fill out the program.

The Mozart/Mendelssohn/Ginastera concert will be at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, the Pleyel/Martinu concert at 7:30 p.m. May 29 -- both at Goucher College's Kraushaar Auditorium, 1021 Dulaney Valley Road. For tickets, call the Towson University box office, 410-704-2787.

For the 2007-2008 season, Thakar has chosen works that relate to issues and events from the early 1980s, when the ensemble was founded.

The crumbling of apartheid, for example, will be recalled with music by South African composer Stefans Grove. India's emergence as a major world player will be marked with a concerto by John Burge for an Indian string instrument, the veena. The rise of the AIDS epidemic will be remembered with a work by a composer who died of the disease, Lee Gannon.

The season also offers the premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff's Requiem for the Fallen, commemorating "those fallen in battle -- uniformed and civilian." It was commissioned by the BCO and the Handel Choir.

Works by Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Dvorak, John Williams and others will fill out the season. In addition to Kraushaar Auditorium, the BCO will appear at Beth Tfiloh Synagogue for the first time. For more information, call 410-426-0157.

The Concert Artists of Baltimore, a double-your-fun enterprise with chamber orchestra and chorus components, will expand from four to five programs at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts in Owings Mills.

Before getting to that, a word about the '06-'07 season finale Saturday. The entertaining program included a sensitive account of Copland's Appalachian Spring conducted by artistic director Edward Polochick -- the exquisite, endless diminuendo at the end was alone worth the price of admission.

Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals got a bright reading, with mostly polished work from pianists Nancy Roldan and Noel Lester and particularly colorful solos by cellist Gita Ladd and bassist Laura Ruas.

The chorus had a strong night, too, in spirituals, Stephen Foster favorites and Copland's Old American Songs (Brendan Curran's vivid baritone shone in "The Boatmen's Dance").

Next season, Polochick's diverse lineup includes Bach's B minor Mass, a pinnacle of Western music. Also slated: concertos by Beethoven and Brahms, John Rutter's Magnificat and the suite from Le bourgeois gentilhomme by Richard Strauss. There will be an all-operatic program and another in a continuing series of "musical biographies," this one devoted to the life and works of Handel.

The separate "Music at the Mansion" series at the Engineers Club in Baltimore will showcase pianist Ann Schein, violinist Earl Carlyss and soprano Esther Heideman.

For more information, call 410-625-3525.

tim.smith@baltsun.com

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